“The tree of liberty must be refreshed … with the blood of patriots & tyrants.”

The title of this post was taken from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in Paris, on Nov. 13. 1787. He sent that letter to William Smith. Those words do not appear in the Declaration of Independence. Those words do not appear in the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, and had a major influence on the United States Constitution. Jefferson’s quote about refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots & tyrants was an opinion to a friend, not for the public or justification for a revolution or civil war to replace the government.

In fact, Jefferson “wanted the new Constitution to be accompanied by a written ‘bill of rights’ to guarantee personal liberties, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from standing armies, trial by jury, and habeas corpus.” — THE FIRST AMENDMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA

When Jefferson was sworn in to become the third president of the United States (1801—1809), he took the same oath that is enshrined in the US. Constitution. Every president has taken that oath, an oath that defines what the Founding Fathers thought a patriot should be

There are many in the United States today that think they are patriots, but, because of that Constitutional Oath, some so-called patriots are wrong. They are not patriots. They are anarchists, loyalists (to Trump or another authoritarian), and traitors.

Patriotism is not defined as blind loyalty to an individual, the flag, a religion, or a militia. For instance: The Oath Keepers or The Three Percenters, et al. To these violent militias, nothing matters but defending what they blindly think is their country against anyone they see as a threat, and that means anyone that doesn’t think like them. If we disagree with what they think, they often reply with something like, “Go home. Go back to Russia, or Africa, or China…. Get out of my country.”

Imagine what it must be like to be blindly loyal to someone like Donald Trump and/or the U.S. flag with little or no knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. For those ignorant, misguided Americans, the concept of patriotism tied to the U.S. Constitution would seem alien because not every American takes the Constitutional Oath of Office, and many Americans don’t know what the U.S. Constitution says beyond the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and many also get the meaning of those two amendments wrong.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free to say whatever you want. For some liars, we have libel and slander laws. And writing for the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, Justice Holmes argued, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Just one year after Schenck, United States Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, in congressional testimony, claimed, “A man may say what he will, as has often been said; but if he cries ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, with the intent to injure the people there assembled, certainly his right of free speech does not protect him against the punishment that is his just desert [sic].”

So, deliberately making a false statement that might harm someone, may not fall under the protections offered by the 1st Amendment. Still, the individual making such a false statement is innocent until proven guilty.

“The founders (including Jefferson) required an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, ­______, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8).”

Today, who is required to take the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against both foreign and domestic enemies?

1. Every President of the United States

2. Every member of Congress

3. Every member of the state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, the United States and the states. (Again, think of all the Republicans in charge of state elections that defied President Donald Trump’s attempts to find votes that would make him the winner.)

4. Every judge (Think of the dozens of judges that ruled against Donald Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election, even judges appointed by Trump.)

5. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers

6. Federal employees, including postal workers

7. Both officers and enlisted servicemembers swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but in the Oath of Enlistment, service members swear they will “obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them], according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” However, officers do not include the president in their Oath of Office.

That may not be the complete list.

Most Americans who take that oath also live by that oath, and it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats, Republicans, or independent voters. To millions of Americans, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, their loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to an individual, religion, or private militia. Still, some that have taken the oath never intended to defend the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump told his supporters at a rally near the capital to “fight like hell.” He also told them to march on the capital, and they did.  Then they attempted to pull off a violent coup and install Trump as president for life.

I have no doubts that most if not all of that violent mob that attacked the US capital on January 6, 2021, thanks to Donald Trump urging them to “fight like hell” saw themselves as patriots following the flags they carried. But which flag: that mob carried US flags, Confederate flags, and flags with only TRUMP’s name on them?

The real patriots on January 6, were the capital police, risking their lives to save and preserve the U.S. Constitution they took an oath to defend, not Trump’s mob of loyalists, anarchists, and alleged fascists.

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February 24 to March 2, 2022

Living with PTSD One Day at a Time – a book review

If combat or abuse of any kind, mental or physical, has traumatized you, I’m suggesting you read this memoir, even if it is the only one you real in your life. If you hate to read, then listen to the audiobook. Geeze, no excuses! You may also want to read this memoir if you know someone with PTSD. Then, you may understand what life is like for them.

At first, I was going to title this review Traumatized in Nairobi. After I was halfway through Meyli Chapin’s memoir Terrorist Attack Girl, I have done little but think of what I’d write in this review. I woke up thinking about it. I thought about her story while exercising. And I think about it before I sleep and when I’m sleeping. The only time I didn’t think about it was when I was reading.

While reading her memoir, I virtually joined Meyli in her hotel room in Nairobi. Apparently, I wasn’t there, but my mind didn’t know that.

Her terror and fear became my terror and fear. When she talked about not wanting her little brother to know what was happening to her, that terrorists might murder her, I cried and laughed. When the two guys that probably were Navy Seals knocked on her door 17 hours into the attack on that hotel, I laughed again.

Meyli divided her story between brief scenes in the hotel room (regular print) and scenes taking place after the attack (ATA): in the US Consulate in Kenya and back in the states (italicized print). I think this was a stroke of genius, sharing the trauma of that terrorist attack and what happened to her later when she thought the nightmare was over, often on the same page. And every ATA scene mirrors what I’ve experienced with fucking PTSD in the last 55 years, helping me make sense of what happened to me back then.

To survive ATA, Meyli is learning, as I did, how to manage her PTSD so it doesn’t eat her, and I suspect she may learn to live one day at a time, too, if she hasn’t already.

Terrorist Attack Girl

Meyli, back in the 1970s after I graduated college with a BA in journalism, I was still drinking heavily. One afternoon, I sat on the floor in my living room with the barrel of a loaded sniper rifle in my mouth, ready to pull the trigger to end it all. I did not know what fucking PTSD was and what was happening to me. It was a desperate attempt to get rid of that never ending nightmare.

I snipped off the safety getting ready to fire and looked out the screen door one last time to see a teenager wearing headsets dancing as he moved down the sidewalk. That image stopped me from squeezing the trigger.

I thought, Dear God, if I do this, I might miss that kind of happy moment. So, instead, I learned to live one day at a time and bless each day as I turned off the lights, only to thank God when I woke up to a new dawn to live another one. Thanks to that dancing teen on that sidewalk, I have experienced many great days with laughter in them. The drinking didn’t help. In fact, the booze made the fucking PTSD worse, so I stopped in 1982, and became a vegan. Also, I now belong to two PTSD support groups that Meetup each week, through the VA.

As a former US Marine and combat veteran living with fucking PTSD since 1966, I could easily have written a book about Chapin’s memoir, but I did not want to turn this review into a story about me. The fucking PTSD still lurks waiting to pounce if triggered, along with the loaded pump shotgun I keep by my bed. Without that weapon, I touch each night before I turn out the lights. I couldn’t sleep. As it is, I think this review may be too long.

Meyli’s memoir taught me that the fucking PTSD I’ve lived with for so long isn’t my fault. That revelation lifted a heavy burden weighted by guilt off my mind. Somehow, I feel lighter, almost floating through each day.

But I’m still living one day at a time. Thank you for sharing that slice of your life with the world, Meyli.

NOTE: Amazon rejected this review the first time I submitted it, because I used the word fucking one time as an adjective describing what that acronym means to me. Once I removed that word, Amazon accepted the review without any other changes.

As you may have noticed here on my Blog, I added more fucking PTSDs to make up for that example of legal corporate censorship by an app programed to reject the use of certain words.

“Never for Glory,” a work in progress, the sequel to “The Patriot Oath”

Never for Glory is the unfinished sequel of The Patriot Oath. With 25 completed chapters, there are about 10 to 15 left to finish the first draft. The first five chapters have already been presented to two of the four critique groups I belong to. One of the two groups has heard all of The Patriot Oath. The second group hasn’t, and I am getting conflicting constructive criticism from the two groups. One group is suggesting a lot of changes, and the other group familiar with the first novel in the series likes what they’re hearing with little need for massive revisions.

With this post, I’m inviting readers that have read The Patriot Oath to have a look at Never for Glory’s first chapter and, if wiling, to leave comments letting me know what works, what doesn’t. Thank you. If this early preview works, I have another four chapters I’m willing to add to this post later.

Chapter One

After their first HALO jump together in 2002, Josh and Cheéte vanished into the Hindu Kush Mountains, a rugged area covering 160,000 square miles. Their orders had been to search for targets of opportunity, and for weeks they worked alone with little or no support.

Now, in 2019, seventeen years later, they were doing it again. Still, this time their C-130 belonged to The Oath Group, and it was 30,000 feet over Venezuela.

Getting ready for the repeat was like déjà vu all over again. Back then, they were Marine Corps scout snipers serving in Operation Anaconda against al-Qaeda, Taliban insurgents, and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. That had been their last mission together. Cheéte retired a few months later in 2003.

“I can’t believe my ghillie suit still fits,” Josh said. “It feels the same, hot and heavy. Too bad DARPA wouldn’t let me use that invisible, bulletproof combat suit for this mission. It was perfect last summer for our sortie in Montana.”

Cheéte grunted as he finished squeezing into his old camouflaged ghillie suit. Once he had it on, he looked like an unkempt yeti that needed to lose some weight. “Well, some of us don’t always get what we want. You’ve been out for less than a year so I’m not surprised your suit fits, but I think mine is going to eat me like it’s a starving anaconda.”

They were talking to each other through their helmet’s military-grade communication units.

Josh grinned as he fastened a g-suit around his abdomen and legs, covering most of the camouflaged outfit he wore underneath. Then he manually inflated the g-suit’s five air bladders. The pressure around the muscles would prevent blood from pooling in the feet and legs and push blood pressure up to the heart and brain. The last thing he did was to attach the oxygen mask and tactical goggles.

With a frustrating sigh, huffing, and puffing, Cheéte managed to do the same thing. Once they were on the ground, they’d ditch the gear required for the HALO jump. Their ghillie suits were designed to conceal them from prying eyes.

Like most Marine Corps snipers, they’d made their own unique disguises by hand and, when not in use, stored them in sealed, plastic boxes lined in cotton and kept dry with silica gel packets.

“I’m worried my Christian Crow wife knows about my two other common law wives,” Cheéte said, interrupting Josh’s thoughts.

Josh did a double-take and stared at his old friend. “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?”

“Well, in case I don’t make it home, I wanted you to know what’s going on in my life. My Christian wife said the only reason for sex is to create children for God. When I said no more kids, she cut me off. There’s no way I’m going without. I refuse to let my demons have an excuse to mess up my nights. What about you?”

“I have nothing to confess to anyone,” Josh replied.

“Ah, … what about Rachel and Mia?”

A green light came on, signaling that it was time to jump. At the same time, the C-130’s ramp started to yawn open, depressurizing the cabin.

Josh stood, ready to go.

“Well?” Cheéte asked.

“I haven’t had sex with anyone since Rachel was shot in San Francisco and is still in the hospital. So, I’m not that desperate.”  Finished, he walked off the aft ramp and dropped from sight, falling 30,000 feet toward the ground.

“Sheesh,” Cheéte hissed. “That’s not what I wanted to hear.” Then he was dropping with his belly pointed toward the ground, his chin lifted up, and his arms and legs spread out for stability.

As Josh fell hard and fast, he thought about Rachel and Mia. He’d lied to Cheéte. He was desperate, explaining why he was losing a lot of sleep. But he disagreed with the crap that sexual frustration was normal. So, shrug and take it in stride.

Bull shit! he thought. He couldn’t remember ever being celibate this long before.

The temptation to keep both of his lovers, as Mia had suggested, was almost overwhelming. But, when he thought about going through with it, he heard Dr. Tate’s voice telling him that would be wrong. Then there was the Christian guilt his mother instilled in him as a child with the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”

He still didn’t understand why his mother started preaching that to him when he was seven. It couldn’t have been because of his crush on Rachel in 2nd grade. He never told anyone about that. There was no way his mother could have known.

To escape the jumble of depressing thoughts stirring up trouble inside his head, he gave himself over to the plunge. Jumping from 30,000 feet felt more like flying than falling. It was windy, loud, and intense. Josh’s senses became wildly alive. That’s why he had an obsession for HALO jumps. The thrill lasted about three times longer than a basic skydiver’s altitude.

With a stable belly-to-earth position, the fastest speed he’d reach was 120 mph. If he wanted to fly faster, he’d shift position so his head was facing the ground and his feet were pointed up. Then he’d drop at 180 mph. Josh had always wondered what it would be like to die like that. Every time he jumped, he’d been tempted to find out.

Checking out of life like that also offered him an easy way to avoid deciding between Rachel and Mia. Because this was a high altitude low open insertion, the main chute was programmed to open automatically at 1,900 feet. If that failed, the reserve chute deployed at 1,000.

The best way to bail out of life would be to use one of his keen-edged combat knives and cut the straps that held the two ‛chutes to his body.  He had about a minute left to make that decision.

Was there a better way to die if you were doing something you loved? He started laughing and thought he sounded possessed.

Still, there was Damian Bran, the man they were hunting. He was the one responsible for Rachel living in a hospital, trapped in a coma. Wasn’t that a good enough reason to hang on?

Bran had been a heartless CIA agent for thirty years who left the agency in 2009. He was also known as the Strawman because of his tall, thin stature. Soon after he retired, he’d joined a white supremacist neo-Nazi militia in Montana and ended up working for a ruthless libertarian billionaire, a match made by Mephistopheles.

Josh had been hunting Bran since Rachel had been shot. His efforts to find the former CIA agent had started by putting the man’s wife under surveillance. There had been no calls or texts in or out. Instead, she hadn’t budged from their home in a remote area of Minnesota and didn’t seem to care if she ever saw her husband again.

After The Oath Group’s successful raid in Northwest Montana on that neo-Nazi training camp, Charles Tweet, the billionaire that financed the militia, revealed it was Bran who introduced him to the profitable sex trade. It turned out that the former field agent had started trafficking children years before he left the agency.

Most of the young sex slaves Bran sold to Tweet had ended up working in massage parlors spread across the United States. But some of the most beautiful had suffered a worse fate. If one of them was unfortunate enough to catch the billionaire’s eye, they were doomed.

His last intended victim had been a seventy-six-pound thirteen-year-old Ukrainian girl. The billionaire had slipped a plastic bag over the child’s head while he was raping her. When Cheéte had burst into the underground room where it was taking place, the girl was being suffocated by Tweet, using a method known as erotic asphyxiation.

Later, during his interrogation, Tweet revealed that Damen Bran had introduced him to that risky erotic method. When the billionaire accidentally murdered his first victim, Bran had shrugged it off and said, “Females were created for two purposes. To give men pleasure, and if they survive, to make babies. Besides, when you’re kidnapping children and selling them for a profit, expect to lose a few. Think of it as collateral damage, a business expense.”

Tweet accepted that justification as gospel and had gone on to murder more than a dozen young girls over the years that followed. Now, the billionaire was in court, fighting to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. The judge had not approved bail, but his lawyers were claiming the evidence was inadmissible.

The information that pinpointed Bran’s location in Venezuela had come from Mia Belle-Chanson, one of Josh’s best friends and a former lover. To her fans, she was a singer-songwriter and a documentary producer. What her followers didn’t know was what she did away from a studio or stage. Because she’d been kidnapped in Haiti at the age of fourteen to become a sex slave, she now operated a secret network that rescued abducted children all over the world. Josh had met Mia when he and Cheéte had rescued her and several other girls soon after they’d been snatched.

Venezuela was the perfect country for a brute like Bran. After Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Madura’s rise to power in 2013, sex trafficking and child sex tourism had become common, and it was getting worse.

The intel from Mia’s rescue organization reported that Bran was living on an isolated cattle ranch located in Venezuela’s savanna southwest of the Rio Apure River.

Having second thoughts about dying, Josh checked his altimeter to determine how much time he had left to decide one way or the other.

AMAZON US

What if the U.S. Had Not Invaded Iraq? A Counterfactual Surmise

This post is about the wrong choices a U.S.President and Congress made soon after 9/11 – the invasion of Iraq.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Washington Post published a remorseful article about the negative effects of 20 years of was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hindsight is sometimes useful. Many books will be written about “lessons learned” from these past 20 years of warfare.

There’s a scene in the 2014 film “American Sniper” that sums up the country’s post-9/11 war lust. Chris Kyle, the late U.S. Navy SEAL played by Bradley Cooper, watches a newscast of the twin towers crumbling before his eyes. The camera fixes on Kyle’s steely yet stunned face as he holds his shaken wife, before cutting to an image of him in full military gear, glaring through the scope of his sniper rifle in the middle of an Iraqi town. (He goes on to gun down a woman aiding Iraqi insurgents.)

The film, which some critics panned as proto-fascist agitprop, spends no time interrogating this implied connection between the events…

View original post 1,140 more words

The End of the Forever War, leaving Afghanistan in 2021

I’m a former U.S. Marine and was sent to Vietnam in late 1965. I returned home to the states in December 1966.

At the end of the Vietnam War, according to History.com, about 7,000 people were evacuated by helicopter from various points in Saigon. And “Inside the South Vietnamese capital, U.S. ambassador Graham Martin rebuffed repeated calls to even consider an evacuation, let alone execute one.” In 1973, the president was a Republican. His name was Richard Nixon, and he was a much better human, regardless of his flaws, than Traitor Trump will ever be.

Before anyone climbs on the blame Biden wagon for what happened at the end of the Forever War in Afghanistan, click that History.com link above and read about the end of the Vietnam War. While reading, don’t forget that I was sent to fight in that war when I was 20. What happened over there changed my life.

Because of those changes, I don’t think like most Americans that never served in the military let alone fought in one of this country’s endless wars.

Pew Research reports, “There are around 19 million U.S. veterans as of this year, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.”

And not all of those veterans served in combat. Combat Wounded.org clarifies the number of combat vets vs veterans that did not end up in combat. “There are more than 2.5 million post 9/11 military veterans that have served our nation, which is less than 1% of the population. 80 percent of those spent some time in an overseas combat zone. Over 2 million served in Afghanistan and Iraq, spending 1 out of 3 years serving overseas. 60% are under the age of 34.”

Because of my experiences in Vietnam, I belong to two PTSD support groups. One through the VA and the other at a Vet Center, and I have never met one single combat vet that doesn’t think more like me and what I’m going to say in this post. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I’m sure there are some that will disagree with me.

Reuters reported, “Pulling the numbers from the daily updates shows that more than 100,000 people have been airlifted out of Afghanistan since Aug. 1. The White House refers to this total as the number of people the United States evacuated or whose evacuation it ‘facilitated,’ referring to those nonmilitary flights. The most evacuations happened in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, when 21,600 people were evacuated. In the 24 hours before Thursday morning, the number was 13,400.”

Probably because I’m a former Marine and combat vet, I have been following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning.

It was apparent to me early on that both wars were lost the day they began. The U.S. should have never invaded Iraq. After 9/11, once we knew who was behind the attack in New York, all of our military efforts to stop an attack on the US like that from happening again should have been focused on Afghanistan, not Iraq.

After both countries were invaded, the Bush administration focused on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan became an orphan. From the beginning, almost every decision by U.S. presidents was focused on nation-building in both countries and those efforts failed just like they did in Vietnam.

The American Taliban, Traitor Trump’s dangerous and violent MAGA mob says President Biden blundered and should resign or be impeached.  To all those armchair generals and REMFs, I say, “Bull Shit!” If you want to know what REMF means, Google it, or just click the link and/or watch the video.

Those who have fought in war, like Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who coined the phrase, “War is hell,” know it better than the fools blaming President Biden for not conducting a perfectly organized withdrawal from the Forever War in Afghanistan.

There was never going to be a perfect ending to that war. There has never been a perfect ending to any war. Someone always loses. Own it.

Now, I’m going to make a few comparisons:

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as Saigon in 1973. In Kabul, the US evacuated more than 100,000 people in a little over two weeks. How many did the U.S. evacuate from Saigon? The answer is mentioned earlier in this post.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the Kuwait airlift by Air India of 170,000 Indians in 1990. That airlift was carried out before the U.S. started the Gulf War the same year.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the U.S. military evacuation of 91,000 people out of a North Korean port by the U.S. Navy in 1950.

Kabul in 2021 was not the same as the Berlin Airlift (supplies not people) in 1948 – 1949, and that happened during the Cold War. I wonder how many people know what the term Cold War means.

It’s so much easier to plan an airlift when no one is shooting at you or threatening to attack if you don’t leave by a certain date.  It’s so much easier to  complain and assign blame when you are a member of Traitor Trump’s American Taliban, an armchair general, or an REMF.

******************

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and combat vet. He’s the author of the award-winning novels My Splendid Concubine, Running with the Enemy, The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova, and the memoir Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé. His short story, A Night at the Well of Purity was named a finalist in the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

His latest novel is The Patriot Oath.

After 24 years, Special Forces legend Josh Kavanagh has retired from the military and is going home. But his oath to the Constitution didn’t end there. His sister Suki wants Josh to help her get revenge. He still loves the tough girl he left behind, but can Rachel trust him?

The Patriot Oath post I should have written 8 days ago.

On August 8, my latest novel, The Patriot Oath, was published and released. The e-book is still on sale for $0.99 until Monday, August 16, ends at midnight.

The Patriot Oath’s launch is the best I have ever experienced.

When My Splendid Concubine came out in December 2007, it only sold 221 copies its first full year in print. However, over the next 13 years, this historical fiction thriller and romantic suspense novel would go on to sell more than 24,000 copies — not counting the 41,243 that were given away free during a Book Bub Promotion in  2015.

Running with the Enemy has been out since December 2013 and has only sold 320 copies.

Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, was published in June 2014 and has only sold 405 copies.

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova arrived in February 2015 and has only sold 142 copies in its first six years.

What makes this book launch different from the others?

The Patriot Oath has sold more than 290 copies in its first nine days, and the Kindle Countdown Deal doesn’t end until midnight on the 16th.

Here are the first three reviews, the only reviews at this time. The other three are only ratings with no reviews.

 Daniel Pyle

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read

Reviewed in the United States on August 8, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Great story and unforgettable characters!

wdnleg

4.0 out of 5 stars good book

Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2021

Verified Purchase

excellent characters, interesting moral ambiguity. sad ending. but one of the best books of its type that i have read in a long time.

 

Joe D

4.0 out of 5 stars I hope this is just the beginning

Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021

I really enjoyed this book, particularly the characters. I will be disappointed if this not book 1 of a multi-book series.

For Joe D: I’m working on the sequel to The Patriot Oath. The title is Never for Glory and there are 24 chapters completed with more to come.

The Patriot Oath is the first book I’ve written that started from a prompt in a Veteran’s Administration PTSD support group. Writing helps combat vets manage the trauma that followed them home from war. Some groups use music, others rely on horses or dogs, and then yoga and art.

That PTSD writing support group meets once a week. Back in March 2018, in one Wednesday morning session, I didn’t have anything new to share, so I decided to write to one of the prompts (long forgotten) we were offered at the end of every session.

My short piece for that forgotten prompt was about a Special Forces combat vet on his way home after being in the military for 24 years. That’s when Josh was born as the main character. After sharing my first piece with Josh as the main character, I featured him in every weekly prompt. That worked great for about five weeks until Josh, and the other characters in his story took over. At the time, I had no idea what was going to happen to Josh and the others. I didn’t know their stories would turn into a novel with The Patriot Oath as its title.

Fast forward to today, Sunday, August 15, 2021. The Patriot Oath has been featured in an author interview by Many Books., established in 2004. The interview starts here: Lloyd Lofthouse – Thriller and Romantic Suspense Inspired by PTSD. The interview explores the story behind the novel.

If you are a reader, you might want to stop here, but if you are an author, too, keep reading to learn a bit about how I promote my work to find readers that might be interested.

 Many Books is ranked at #24,842 by ALEXA, out of more than 30,000,000 websites and Blogs. Founded in 1996, Alexa is a global pioneer in the world of analytical insight. Alexa’s traffic estimates are based on data from its global traffic panel, a sample of millions of Internet users using one of many different browser extensions. Its global traffic rank measures how a website is doing relative to all other sites on the web over the past 3 months.

You might be curious why I’m mentioning ALEXA and ManyBooks global traffic rank.  When I’m setting up a book promotion, I use ALEXA to determine if the sites I’m using are doing better than most sites on the web. I don’t want to invest my time and money in sites that have little or no traffic. I also promote through BookBub and Amazon. BookBub ranked at 8,511 by ALEXA. Amazon is ranked #11.  As a flexible rule, I usually promote my work through sites ranked less than #500,000.

Underground

Poetry as PTSD therapy continued.

In 1965, three Marines
barely out of high school
invaded a World War II Japanese bunker
hidden in an ancient Okinawa cave

Japs placed their machine guns here
marks on the rock revealed
where napalm scorched
that killing turned American soldiers
into hometown heroes

At the back, that rocky nest twisted
vertical to a horizontal gap
like acrobats, we three twisted like worms
to go deeper underground
crawling through mud
sandwiched between thick slabs of primordial rock    
It was tight in that damp, narrow space
beneath the surface.
we three cockroaches crawled
through that volcanic vice
that an earthly shudder might seal

Okinawa was home
to deadly snakes lurking in dark places
one by one, our WWII issue military flashlights flickered
died
the darkness absolute
there was no dripping water
no echoes
just the sound of ragged breathing surrounded by silence
with no way to discover the way out

Panic was not an option

We three shoved with our feet
and clawed with our hands
there was not enough room to lift our heads
between the slabs of hoary rock
while plowing through muck
surrounded by the starless midnight

A spot of light appeared
signaling an end to our journey
witnessed by the stars and a full moon
we tumbling out of a notch
into the gully outside Camp Hanson,
swearing never to return
to that natural dungeon

We were still young
when we shipped out to
set boots in Vietnam a month later

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Managing my PTSD started with Poetry

“The term posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become a household name since its first appearance in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-lll) published by the American Psychiatric Association, In the collective mind, this diagnosis is associated with the legacy of the Vietnam War disaster. Earlier conflicts had given birth to terms, such as “soldier’s heart, ” “shell shock,” and “war neurosis.” The latter diagnosis was equivalent to the névrose de guerre and Kriegsneurose of French and German scientific literature. This article describes how the immediate and chronic consequences of psychological trauma made their way into medical literature, and how concepts of diagnosis and treatment evolved over time.”  – US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

Then the VA’s National Center for PTSD was created in 1989 by an act of Congress.

Even most of the Hollywood movies that deal with PTSD didn’t start to come out until the 21st century.

What about Life with PTSD?

I didn’t know what was going on about PTSD in the 1980s. I was too busy teaching in a community based public school district 1975 – 2005, often working 60 to 100 hours a week.  If I wasn’t teaching, I was planning lessons, calling parents, and correcting the school work my students turned in.

During those years, the PTSD was still managing my life in devious ways, playing a role in my first two divorces.

Maybe it was a survival mechanism that kicked in that stopped me from drinking too much booze on a daily basis and often being hung over the next day before I started drinking again. I crossed that threshold in 1982, the year I stopped drinking booze of all kinds and drastically changed my lifestyle from fast-food and alcohol to become a vegan.

Thirty-nine years later, I’m still a vegan and haven’t been drunk once.

During that drastic lifestyle transition in 1982 where I lost 60 pounds and turned orange from drinking too much  organic carrot juice, I was working days and earning an MFA in writing nights and summers.

The summer of 1982, I took a poetry workshop and most of the poems I wrote that year explored the  mental and physical damage caused by war.

This post is the first of many. I am going to dust off those decades old poems, update and revise them, and publish them here on my Soulful Veteran Blog.

Chocolate in the Mud by Lloyd Lofthouse

Dark is better
Magic black
Spiritual money
Treat yourself to a truffle
Buy a bon-bon

Discovered in the rain forests
Two thousand years ago
Maya and Aztec royalty
Drank it frothy
Spicy and bitter

Mom baked
Mouth-watering
Chocolate cakes
Along with pecan
Chocolate chip cookies
Heating the savory
Kitchen scented air

Hanging around like a puppy
Scraping the frosting bowl clean
Licking the spatula
Was more fun than playing
Front yard pirates

Rainy days still trigger
Left over memories
Of that long ago kitchen
Bringing desire
A craving for something creamy and dark
Like a chocolate fudge Sunday
Smearing lips with sticky
Lip clinging excellent mud

When I was a U.S. Marine
No longer a child
It rained hundreds of inches in Vietnam.
Slogging in from a recon patrol or ambush
Surviving another day after too many close calls
With mucky fudge clinging to our weapons

That mud was a reminder of younger days
Raised in a country
Where pampered children
May be a protected alien species
Living a fantasy life filled with
Chocolate treats

Today, when some turn eighteen
They join the military like I did
Take the Loyalty Oath
Washington was the first to take
Before shipping out to Iraq and Afghanistan

Will those troops dream of chocolate in the bloody Sand Box?

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran,

retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.

What is Russia doing to get Traitor Trump reelected in 2020?

Lloyd Lofthouse

When I Googled this topic, why were the first two sources VOX and the BBC? Why not the New York Times and other major traditional American news sources? To be fair, the NYT and the Atlantic was mentioned on the first page of the search but they were near the bottom of the page.

VOX is a general interest news site and in 2019, readership was estimated to be 33.4 million visitors to its website, less than 10% of the US population. Vox is an American news and opinion website owned by Vox Media. The website was founded in April 2014 and is noted for its concept of explanatory journalism. Media Bias/Fact Check rates VOX as Mostly Factual for its reporting, a bit lower than the BBC’s rating.

The BBC’s global reach is 468.2 million people a week and it is one of the most trusted news sources in the…

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RAGE! Trump RAGE! Trump RAGE! Trump

Soon, Donald Trump may be responsible for more deaths when his followers start a Civil War to keep him in power.

Lloyd Lofthouse

Have you seen the recent 30 minute documentary about COVID-19 and Trump? The documentary says that 90% of the U.S. deaths from the virus could have been avoided, and Trump is responsible for those deaths.

Here’s the link to American Pathogen, the documentary. I had to stop at 21 minutes because I could feel the RAGE growing inside my chest like and H-bomb ready to explode.

Then there’s “Rage”, the new book by Bob Woodward.

President Trump is defending himself after interviews from a new book by legendary reporter Bob Woodward reveal that Trump acknowledged the deadliness of the coronavirus in early February and admitted in March to playing down its severity.

NPR reports, “This is deadly stuff,” the president told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation, according to the book, which is called Rage. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so…

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