How Do We Fix The Problem?
On Facebook this morning, I asked for people to put forward ideas on how we fix the problem of the troops being treated as infants. In my previous post here you (our readers) posted comments discussing all the ways this was being done -- and the problems created by the practice. Deebow had a comment that included a suggestion I liked, which was to get Gen. Mattis involved in the reform.
So, sound off! What suggestions do you have to fix the problem?
I ran this back on 1 March, but think I am going to be posting it every six months instead of once a year.
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While the right to an opinion is respected, there is no legal, moral, or ethical requirement that all opinions have to be respected, because quite frankly, some of them are so poorly thought out, posited, or considered so as to be beyond idiotic. Nor do I acknowledge or accept that all opinions have equal value and acceptance by myself or anyone else. They don’t. Deal with it.
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This concludes the declaration, and we return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
C. Blake Powers
aka Laughing Wolf, LW, etc.
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The Troops As Infants
This morning, a graphic made the rounds on Facebook purporting to show the number of mass shootings on military bases before and after the gun ban. The graphic was questionable in some regards (gun ban started under Bush Sr. and was taken to new "heights" by Clinton, numbers not verified, etc.), but it raised a much larger and more interesting question: How has the whole idea of infantilizing the troops worked out?
Just a bit over a year ago, I was asked for an honest opinion by a commander over something done months previously to which I was witness. Short version is that because the commander wanted to make a good showing at something, he had ordered his troops locked-down (confined) to barracks so that no one would/could drink the night before. My response that if he wanted his troops to act like adults they should be treated as such was not well received, but did appear to sink in at least somewhat.
I would invite you to share your thoughts over on my Facebook page (specific link here), and for those of you who aren't on Facebook, here. What have been the results of the ongoing efforts to treat the troops as children who not might make the "right" choice but as children who WILL make the wrong choice gone? Is it time to rethink not only the gun ban, but the entire philosophical approach?
PS: One, Facebook has the old Soviet crowd green with envy over the perfection of the memory hole, as not only did the graphic disappear but all posts related to it/linking it. Two, my page is approaching 500 likes, would love to break that number and if I can tell who was #500 and #501 I will send them a print if they like.
Challenge To Old Media: Remember Them
For once, I find myself completely and totally in agreement with President Obama: the shooter yesterday was a coward, who committed a cowardly act.
As such, I will not name it as it deserves no fame, no recognition, only obscurity. Already its photo is huge upon many homepages, front pages, and other media outlets.
These names, their photos, their stories, deserve to be writ large in memory bright:
John Roger Johnson
No only is it the right thing to do, but I will bet that any outlet that bucks the trend and does so will do well by it. Do the right thing, the different thing, and push it off the front page and put them upon it.
Remember and honor them and the others murdered and wounded yesterday.
Navy Yard Shooting
I'm covering this on Facebook, and want to remind everyone of the following:
Initial Reports Are Always Wrong
That said, it appears to be a multiple-shooter event. There are NO accurate numbers for wounded/killed at this time. Twitter #NavyYardShooting brings you the best and worst of coverage/discussion. The only confirmed info out right now from the Navy says that there are multiple injuries and reports of fatalities, but latter are not confirmed.
All we can do now is hold those affected in our thoughts and prayers, wait for real numbers and solid info, and hope for the best. Oh, and let idiots self-identify.
UPDATE 1356 hrs: The only solid info right now is that three wounded were transported to the hospital, and that is because the hospital confirmed it. Of the three, all were reported consious and alert. They also confirmed there are casualties, no word on number or anything else. That was a few hours ago. It appears that there was more than one shooter, but that is not confirmed. The old media has once again identified an innocent person as the shooter, and there is a LOT of bad info out there. Take anything in the media with a tun of salt for now. Is things develop will update at FB and here as I can.
UPDATE 1400: Per Navy, shelter in place order remains in effect. RPT Shelter in place order at Navy Yard remains in effect.
UPDATE 1430 Hrs: DC Mayor and Police Chief are confirming that 12 have died, police are seeking two suspects, and that FBI is taking over as lead agency for investigating the shooting. Navy has confirmed that shelter in place order remains in effect. Situation is still active.
UPDATE 1455 Hrs: As a result of the incident, the Navy has issued an "Order to Account" for all Navy uniformed personnel, both active duty and selected Reserve, assigned to commands in the D.C. metro area. The order also applies to family members, Navy civilian employees, as well as, NAF and NEX personnel. Personnel muster through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). To muster, visit the NFAAS website at https://navyfamily.navy.mil. You know the drill, report in.
UPDATE 1500 Hrs: White male being sought has been identified and is NOT a suspect or person of interest. Search continues for "B/M 50 yrs, w/rifle, drab olive military uniform"
UPDATE 1630 Hrs: Transcription notes from press conference. Press conference notes: additional suspect still being sought; no idea of motive at this stage, that will be investigated, no reason to suspect terrorism but not ruled out; additional victim has died (male); no additional information on victims at this time; baseball game is postponed; still active scene, please continue to shelter in place if there/nearby; still looking for info from public on shooting/shooter; FBI confirms Alexis is shooter, seeking info, everything they can about him, his associates, etc.; oh sweet fluffy lord save me from politicians near a mic; FBI dot gov will be releasing information; 13 confirmed dead including shooter, a "dozen or more wounded" or injured without being shot; we don't know that there's a second gunman on the loose, but need to run down lead/info; multiple engagements with suspect leading to final gun battle with suspect; one of the worst things we've seen in DC. Another press conference in two hours.
This is off topic, but then again it might be of interest to a few of us, so... When I thought I was on my way to Afghanistan last fall, I sold my car. Right now, I get around great locally on shanks mare, public transport, and occasional use of a friend's car. The problem is long distance.
I find that I really need to get back to Indiana from Atlanta by Friday afternoon if at all possible. So, anyone have any experience with ride-share services, Megabus, or other transportation options? Thoughts or suggestios that don't involve car rentals or buying a new car?
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 7
Today is the final day in the series.
Start with Kelly Crigger's hard look at Suicide is Selfish. It is an unflinching look and one you do want to read.
Then, RU Rob wraps up with What's Next? The answer is, a lot.
There is no one approach that works for everyone, and there are a host of factors involved. Can the military, particularly the Army, do better? Yes. Can WE do better? Yes.
Reach out. Stay in touch. Share the articles. Join in discussions. Help find solutions that work on the small scale. Help make changes in the large scale so that more will take advantage and get needed help. Fight.
Yes, fight. This is no less a battle than combat, and lives are on the line. The lives of those who serve or have served. Your brothers and sisters in arms.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 6
First up, a strong post by Clarence Matthews on How? He lays out his own experiences in working with suicide prevention, including failures and success. Amidst the gritty and pragmatic view is something more, something you need to read and consider. It should spark some very good conversations and discourse, and you should be a part of it.
Next comes a very different view from Stephen Parks on Ask for Help, or Kill Myself? His view comes from having gone through the process, and his thoughts echo what I've heard from others that led to my post a few months ago. This is something that needs to be addressed.
Finally, a very interesting article on how nutrition and lack of same may be a factor in suicides. You really do want to read Nick Barringer's post on Could the Answer be at Sea? A lot of conventional wisdom on nutrition and health is flat out wrong, and as researchers begin to truly dig into nutrition, metabolism, and health they are discovering that some surprising things are making a difference.
Read, and most of all please share.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 5
Day 5 pulls no punches. Three very powerful and moving posts are up. Read them and share them, please.
Start with CPT Bettis's post on The Domestic Enemy. His honesty, and courage in being that honest, should be a beacon to any in leadership, especially senior leadership. The work done by MG Pittard also deserves recognition, praise, and expansion.
Doc Bailey is also brutally honest even as he makes deft use of words in Suicide Isn't Painless. He shares what happened to friends, and his own thoughts, in a moving post that talks about earning your way and the high price of happily ever after.
Finally, Mark Endy contributes an intense and personal piece with We Ramble On. "Once you realize that you still have some fire left in you it gets easier. It’s only until we are completely lost that we find ourselves."
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 4
The first article deals with loss, and what happens When the Brotherhood is Gone. The article both points out and builds in part on what was discussed in The Facts yesterday -- we don't have good data. More importantly, it raises a very good question that most/all of the so-called experts seem to be missing.
The second article is on Animal Suicide. A powerful piece, it will resonate with those who have been there, and may have some disturbing content for those that haven't. Trigger points.
Finally, there is Forever Into Darkness. This poem shows a mindset, and is shared to show that mindset and that one can move beyond. We need to strive, not just survive.
Please read and share this important series. Nothing like this has ever been done before on this topic, and the service it is (and represents) needs to be distributed far and wide.
9-11: Thoughts and a Call
I've written before about The Day, and today I found that those words are gone courtesy of the cyberattacks that claimed both my former sites. In all honesty, I'm not sure that is a bad thing or that the world is any poorer for it. Last year I wrote in optimism, courtesy of the visit my niece and greatest nephews made to a memorial I still can't go to.
This day is a hard one for me, perhaps the hardest since The Day.
That morning saw me early in to work at NASA, to see what had come in overnight and scan the news sites to get a brief of the day. When the first report came in of a plane hitting the World Trade Center, my first thought was an accident, something on the order of the B-25 that hit the Empire State Building. That thought was dashed within minutes, and I made several calls duty required, then tried my best to keep up with what was going on via any channel I could. My boss at the time was a former "EWO-ready" type, and I think he and I were the only two with any military experience or knowledge in our parent organization. I know I freaked out one person when I was able to tell my boss "The President is NEACPed" pronouncing it 'knee-capped' and having to explain the term, and then explain that Air Force One was also the lead National Emergency Airborne Command Post. I also still want to dropckick the genetials of every smug bastard who rags on Bush for his actions that day so hard that said genetials become earrings, but that's another rant. That morning, I was focused on gathering hard intel and coping with shame.
I was of a generation that grew up with MAD, EWO (Emergency War Orders) and worst-case planning, and the Cold War, which was oft far warmer than the public ever knew or wants to know. I had been thinking about the unthinkable since early high school, and in to national security issues since my senior year. I knew that many good things, smart things, put in place during the Reagan years had been torn out or down by a later administration. By that time, I was no longer as involved with such things as I had been, as Cold Warriors were a dead and dying, and unneeded, breed according to that administration. Honestly, I was glad to step away for a number of reasons. Very glad, until The Day.
That morning, I saw the failure not just of one particular administration, but of all of us who had sworn to be prepared. The fact that we had not pushed, kicked, screamed to prevent some of the dismantling, or to get new preparations in place that we knew were needed. That day, I felt fear as we waited to see if there was more to come, anger at what had been done, and shame that it had happened and that those of us sworn to prevent such had failed no matter the reason.
For a brief moment, we as a Nation were one. The Giant sat up. Sadly, the strings of partisan politics and special interests were merely loosened, not removed; and, more strings have gone into keeping The Giant down. I honestly believe that for the last eight years that our leadership "class" has been far more interested in venal partisan and personal gain than in being statesmen and doing what was right for the country. Elements of our military leadership have been far more interested in returning to looking good rather than fighting good, and enacting social experimentation within the ranks even though they know that it will cost lives, battles, and even wars in the long run.
It is not our moral compass that is off. It is much worse than that. Many of those who "serve" in leadership have not just lost their way, they are convinced that we the people can't and/or should not be allowed to make decisions for ourselves, that we are not capable. They see the opportunity to become rulers, royalty, and claim us as serfs. They are more than willing to do almost anything to gather short-term power, forgetting that such ensures long-term ruin.
I was silent once before. Go here to watch and remember what came when we were silent. Go here to remember, and breathe. Remember those who danced in the street in delight at our deaths. That is what comes of silence, of the failure of good men (male and female) to act.
Remind the self-annointed aristocracy that they are servants, and force them to be good and faithful servants rather than the venal self-serving things they are. Listen not to the chanting priesthood that is the media. Remember, think, and get angry. It terrifies enemies at home and abroad that the sleeping giant was awkened and they work to try to put it back to sleep. Bring it fully awake, and fill it with great and terrible resolve. Awake Republic, while you still can.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 3
Today brings you two remarkable posts. The first is by Mr. Twisted, and to call it information and fact-dense is an understatement. He has done us all a huge service by digging into numbers, trends, and the lack of serious study of the problem. Among other things, the rate of suicide has gone up not just with the generation currently serving, but among older veterans too. A lot of memes being pushed as fact don't (yet) have a real basis in fact, and the fact is that we need some serious studies to establish them. The memes that only the weak, that current troops are at greater risk than older, and that this is a new problem are hindering and not helping. That we don't have good data, that there appears to be a long-term latency cycle, and other important points are there. In terms of analysis and study, I think this may be the single best article I have read in any media of any type (public, academic, other) at any time on this subject.
The second post is powerful in a different way. SFC (R) Michael Schlitz talks about his own thoughts on the subject, and how those thoughts were things that also helped him get through portions of his recovery from extensive burns and the loss of his hands. "Why? " is a post you need to read, and his offer and links are things to keep onhand.
Suicide is not a problem of just current troops. It is a problem that spans generations and wars. It is a problem that metaphorically is like finding yourself in the dark in a swamp, and no maps, rece, or intel on your location or best paths to get out. There are individual lights out there like SFC Schlitz who can help those who are close enough and choose to go to his light and voice; but, we urgently need to do more. We need intel so that we can better chart the swamp so as to help all who must go through it.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 2
First up is a powerful poem from SGT B. It really should be submitted for literary awards, and read by all who serve or who have served. Next up is a simple but profound question from RU Rob and a link to a music video on red flags you need to listen to (and I highly recommend your learning more about Soldier Hard). Finally, Peter Nealen talks about The Need For Purpose. He raises points that you really need to consider.
Take the time to read these posts, watch the video, think, and share them. Get these out far and wide. And, make a call. As Rob notes, when was the last time you talked with your battle-buddies? Doesn't matter which war, make a call.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 1
There is an introductory post up, and Suicide Prevention Day is an older post that hightlights part of the problem the Army has with the issue.
As a side note and explanation: RU Rob and I have talked about this subject, and it was our discussion that led to my previous post (also reposted at the Rhino Den). It also led to this series of posts that begins today, with a number of authors stepping up to discuss, explore, and address the issue.
Please, now and in the days ahead, take a moment to read, to think, and to share these stories.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Ranger Up is stepping up in a big way to address the growing epidemic of troop/veteran suicides. Anyone who thinks this isn't a problem isn't paying attention to the numbers and the trends. Starting Sunday, you are going to find a series of articles at the Rhino Den by a number of authors, some of who bare their souls, or at least their demons.
Be aware I will be bumping this post and linking to articles as I can. This is a topic that needs to be addressed and considered no matter the other events of the day. I strongly urge you to read, think, and make considered responses -- and most of all, do what you can to make a positive difference.