Fuel for thought — a few facts about the 4th of July and who votes in the United States

After posting Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up on July fourth, this is my sequel. Smile, hopefully Big Brother is not watching you on camera yet.

  • 35.5 Million: Number of People Traveling by Car to celebrate the 4th of July with family and friends.
  • 150 Million: Number of Hot Dogs Consumed Over the Weekend
  • 68.3 Million Total cases of beer sold [at 24 beers a case, that is more than 1.6 billion beers] on Independence Day weekend, the most popular holiday for beer purchases, followed by Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day and Christmas.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t these all democracies?

  • $247.1 Million: Value of Fireworks From China (no wonder the Chinese love the U.S. 4th of July holiday)
  • About 42.6 percent (103 million) of the people celebrating the Fourth this year will attend a fireworks display or community party, while 11.5 percent (27 million) will watch a parade, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • Millions of American flags are actually manufactured abroad. Nearly all of them – 97 percent – came from China last year, which sold us $3.5 million worth.
  • 48 Million: Consumers Shopping for Red, White and Blue
  • More than 48 million Americans will be shopping for decorations, apparel and party supplies this Independence Day, with average household spending jumping up to $71.23 – 4.5 percent higher than 2014’s $68.16 per household.

Then—to honestly measure patriotism—there’s this:

  • 2014 midterm election turnout lowest in 70 years – Just 36.4 percent of eligible voters turned out in 2014
  • Voter turnout dipped from 62.3 percent of eligible citizens voting in 2008 to an estimated 57.5 in 2012.
  • That figure was also below the 60.4 level of the 2004 election but higher than the 54.2 percent turnout in the 2000 election.

How would you measure patriotism—by the number of beers one drinks on the 4th of July or if they voted on election days?

_______________________

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

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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Will the Real 4th of July Please Stand Up

While I’m an apple pie fan, my thoughts were not on fireworks or celebrating the 4th. My wife, who arrived in America in 1986 on a student visa from China and who is now a U.S. citizen, is the one who bought the flag that hangs outside our house.

My job was to install the bracket for the flag, and while installing the flag a lot of conflicting thoughts were running through my head. For instance, the reason I don’t go to fireworks shows is because of the PTSD that came home with me from Vietnam as a U.S. Marine—a war that was based on lies by a U.S. President just like the war in Iraq.

I was thinking of the Swift Boat Veteran campaign against Kerry when he ran for president and how G. W. Bush probably won that election when he was a coward who used his family influence to keep him out of the war.  You see, Kerry served in Vietnam on a swift boat and he was wounded more than once. He even held dying friends in his arms. Yea, they were close calls for Kerry, flesh wounds, but they were still wounds, and even though the rounds, rockets, and mortars that came close to me never cut flesh, close is still too close because an inch more and bam you might be crippled or worse, dead.

I was thinking of the Koch brothers and all that they are doing to sabotage the People’s Republic of the United States that the Founding Fathers gave to America’s citizens. In fact, this morning, I read that non-profits that the Koch brothers fund are waging a PR campaign to get rid of the national parks. It seems the Koch brothers want the federal government to turn all the national parks over to the states and give the states the power to sell them off to the highest bidder in the private sector. — Koch-Backed Group Calls For No More National Parks

And the Koch brothers aren’t alone among the billionaire oligarchs who are out to destroy our people’s republic. There’s Bill Gates, Eli Broad and the Walton family waging an all-out war against America’s democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools to close them down and turn our children over to for profit, opaque, undemocratic corporate Charter schools to teach.  Bill Gates even wants to put Big Brother in every public school classroom by installing video cameras to spy on every teacher and make sure they are doing what Big Brother wants them to do with the so-called Common Core crap.

In fact, I’m reading a book right now that keeps me awake at night.  The book is about a conspiracy that isn’t a theory and it’s like reading a true crime novel but one that is based on the crime as it is happening instead of after the criminals were caught, tried, convicted and sent to prison. The book is called Common Core Dilemma – Who Owns Our Schools? by Mercedes K. Schneider.

And I keep asking myself as I’m reading the book—I’m almost done and then I’m going to write a review—why the conspiracy this book reveals isn’t front page news in our corporate owned and controlled media. Then I tell myself I already know the answer: 90% of the traditional media is owned by six huge corporations and one of those media corporations is controlled by Rupert Murdock.

Then as I stand there watching the wind rippling the stars and stripes hanging from a flag pole attached to the side of our house, I think, how many Americans really represent the United States our Founding Fathers gave us—who reads and votes?

In the 2014 election, fewer people turned out to vote than any election in the last 70 years. In the 2012 Presidential election, 64% of eligible voters voted. The biggest excuse is they were too busy to vote (17.5%) or they were just not interested (13.4%).  And the turnout for the 2014 election was the lowest since World War II at 36.4% and look what we got.

Of all the socioeconomic factors impacting voter turnout, education has the greatest impact. The more educated a person is, the more likely they are to vote, as they have a better understanding of how the system works, how to influence the system, and why participation is important.

Thinking of the voter turnout, I ask myself: How many Americans celebrate the 4th of July with a barbecue, hot dogs, beer, apple pie and fireworks—the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air?  The 4th of July holiday makes for a great party atmosphere, doesn’t it?

I was also thinking of the Fairness Doctrine (1949 – 1987). The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.

The Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by two U.S. Presidents on the excuse that it was a violation of our freedom of expression: Ronald Reagan followed by the first Bush to live in the White House.

Does freedom of expression also guarantee the right to lie and mislead the public?

The last thought I’m going to share is this: studies show that 91% of elections in the United Stets are won by the candidates who spent the most money on the campaign propaganda they spin out to fool voters. – Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap

Will the real 4th of July please stand up.

_______________________

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

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

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This is a love story that might cost the lovers everything—even their lives.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Veteran Medical Care through VA Neglected by Obama Administration and Congress

UPDATE for June 6, 2014

Maybe we can’t blame the Obama administration for all of what happened at the VA. Maybe the GOP is responsible for wrecking the VA medical system so it broke down and was failing in its mission long before Obama was sworn in as President and moved into the White House.

From Forbes, we learn: “In the “old days” of the VHA, before President Clinton, many of those eligible for care wouldn’t use the system – the care was considered sub-optimal. Through reforms implemented during the Clinton years by Dr. Kenneth Kizer, the VHA went through an amazing transformation – and patient enrollment surged. Great primary care, a beautiful and relatively easy to use electronic medical record, AND a culture of accountability. Veterans received wonderful care for a great price. Unfortunately, in 1999, the GOP made it clear they were going to refuse Dr. Kizer’s renomination, and instead of being slung through mud, he resigned and went to the private sector.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynmcclanahan/2014/06/04/fixing-the-veterans-healthcare-mess/

UPDATE for June 4, 2014

ProPublica reports: “The scandal surrounding long wait times within the Veterans Affairs’ health care system has garnered national attention as VA secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amidst growing opposition to his leadership. To help make sense of the institutional problems that led to the scandal, we’ve compiled some of the best reporting about chronic issues of mismanagement in the VA.”

http://www.propublica.org/article/the-veterans-affairs-scandal-and-more-muckreads-on-va-health-care?utm_source=et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter

UPDATE for May 29, 2014

“An array of lawmakers from both parties called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign on Wednesday following the publication of a new report describing the “systemic” practice of mishandling medical appointments at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix that may have led to the deaths of 23 veterans.” – Foreign Policy Magazine

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/05/28/new_wave_of_lawmakers_call_on_shinseki_to_resign?wp_login_redirect=0

UPDATE for May 26, 2014

The American Legion reports that a Department of Veterans Affairs memorandum written four years ago warned that “inappropriate scheduling practices” were being used at some VA medical facilities “in order to improve scores on assorted access measures.” These practices were sometimes referred to as “gaming strategies.” The document, dated April 26, 2010, was written by William Schoenhard (appointed to the VA by President Obama in 2009), who then served as VA’s deputy under secretary for health operations and management. The nine-page memo lists several specific scheduling practices to avoid.

President Obama appointed Eric Shinseki as the US Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2009.

Arne Duncan, who is orchestrating the destruction and dismantling of the democratic U.S. Public schools was appointed by President Obama to be the US Secretary of Education in 2009.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was appointed by President Obama to lead the US Federal Communication Commission in 2013, and now he is attempting to end Internet Neutrality and allow corporations to control the Internet with pay to play power to choke anyone’s site from being easily accessed—a clear form of censorship.

Do you see the pattern here?

UPDATE for May 22, 2014

Only in this White House could a Cabinet Secretary (Eric Shinseki at the VA) get not just one but two public presidential statements of confidence. … as internal documents emerge ( a 2010 memo) showing that an agency (the VA) knew about fraud and left the problem to such an extent that people died while waiting for medical care. What does it take to get fired from a job in the Barack Obama Administration? (The Fiscal Times)

What does this tell us—that Arne Duncan after being connected to fraud and lies in the Department of Education will be with us until the end of 2016?  See Smoking Gun 1 and 2 to discover the scandal at the Department of Education and how that is also being ignored. When will memos and e-mails of Duncan’s incompetence and fraud be splashed across the media, and when will Republicans (the GOP) admit that America’s public schools are the best in the world and the problem is poverty (see Smoking Gun)?

The GOP continues to hammer the Obama White House over four deaths in Benghazi (after several Congressional investigations find nothing that leads to the White House) but ignores that fact that children are dying in the public schools due to cutbacks thanks to Arne Duncan’s Department of Education spending billions on useless testing leading to full-time nurses losing their jobs in the schools. See: Another student dies after falling sick at Philly school with no nurse on duty

UPDATE May 20, 2014

The top official for veterans’ health care resigned Friday, as the Obama administration and Congress begin to respond to a growing political firestorm over allegations of treatment delays and falsified records at veterans’ hospitals nationwide. The House has scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki greater authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical Centers. (You may read the rest of this report @ Military.com http://www.military.com/veterans-report/steps-taken-to-address-va-firestorm?ESRC=vr.nl)

First published May 13, 2014:

What’s going on? First the Public Schools and now the VA!

First: Under President Clinton and a Congress dominated by a GOP majority, the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 that was meant to protect the United States from another Great Depression was repealed in 1999 leading to the Great Recession of 2007-08 under President G. W. Bush, the 2nd worse global financial disaster since the Great Depression.

Second: President G. W. Bush—with approval from a GOP dominated Congress—enacts the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and the U.S. Government declares war on its own Public Schools under the false claims that the public schools are failing when they aren’t.

Third: President Obama, with overwhelming approval from Congress enacts Race to the Top in 2009 along with the Common Core Standards as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act escalating the White House’s war on Public Education to Machiavellian levels.

Fourth: In early April 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court—dominated by a conservative majority—wipes out the overall limit on what a wealthy donor can give to political parties and federal candidates during an election cycle with the McCutcheon decision. This ruling reinforced the unwritten iron law that now prevails in American politics: Pay to Play

Fifth: A very real threat to Net Neutrality. Network neutrality is basically the principle that Internet access providers—[including] companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast—shouldn’t discriminate in how they handle traffic on the Internet. And without this neutrality, the Internet also becomes “Pay to Play” or vanish into obscurity.

Sixth: Now medical care through the Veterans Administration (VA)! Since the late 1990s under President Bill Clinton, the VA became an efficient model medical care system, and President Obama can’t reform something that works so what’s the best way to change that? The answer: make sure it needs reforming by introducing corruption through the VA’s top leaders.

The Obama Administration and the Congress seem hell bent to privatize government. The public schools are in the middle of an all-out war with the federal government to turn education over to private sector Charter schools that are riddled with corruption and mostly worse than the public schools. It also seems that the VA is under attack as services and support has been eroding under the Obama White House and Congress.

Does this mean the VA has also been targeted to be privatized just like the public schools, prison systems, and even the military? After all, if the VA failed to provide adequate services, then the White House will have an excuse to demand reforms and that usually means privatization.

The American Legion.org reports: “At a May 5 press conference in Indianapolis, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (appointed by President Obama in 2009), as well as Robert Petzel (appointed in 2010) and Allison Hickey (appointed in 2011), VA’s undersecretaries for health and benefits, respectively. It was a decision the Legion arrived at gradually, after years of support. …

“Dellinger noted two of the most recent revelations that finally convinced him that top VA leadership in Washington needed to change: allegations that the Phoenix VA medical center kept a secret list of patients waiting months for medical care, which was linked by CNN to preventable deaths of about 40 veterans; and findings by a VA investigation that workers at the VA clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., had been instructed on how to falsify appointment records. …

“The American Legion expects when such errors and lapses are discovered, that they are dealt with swiftly and that the responsible parties are held accountable,” Dellinger said. “This has not happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There needs to be a change, and that change needs to occur at the top.”

The American Legion may demand changes within the VA but the problem originates from the White House and a neo-liberal president and his administration, who have clearly signaled that they are allied with neo-conservatives in the Republican Party with a common goal to privatize most if not all of government services.

Once the VA, the public schools, the military and the prisons are turned over to private sector, for profit corporations, does that mean the Constitution and Bill of Rights will be meaningless. After all, what the Founding Fathers wrote in 1776 was meant to protect all U.S. citizens from their own elected government and not private sector corporations (that didn’t exist in the 18th century) run by billionaire oligarchs and CEO autocrats.

For instance, the 1st Amendment freedom of speech protections only protects Americans from their elected federal and state governments. The 2nd Amendment’s right to own and bear arms also protects America’s citizens only from our elected governments—the feds and the states can’t legally take away a citizen’s right to own firearms.

But what happens when there is only a puppet government owned by the wealthiest 1% of Americans and all federal and state services have been turned over to, for instance, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, the Koch brothers, the (Wall-Mart) Walton family, and Hedge Fund billionaire’s on Wall Street?

Imagine what will happen if the IRS is turned over to Microsoft or Rupert Murdock’s Media Corp; if the U.S. Forest Service is privatized and turned over to the Koch brothers, and if President Obama is successful in doing away with Internet Neutrality.

Also Recommended:

President Obama’s Failure of Leadership

Who crowned Bill Gates the Emperor of Education?

Education Bloggers Network Supporting the Public Schools

The compulsory Common Core standards and the facts behind the Controversy

The challenge of teaching At-Risk Kids reveals why Charter schools are abandoning them

The successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

_______________________

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

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was never a POW but what about the next American War?

Two things happened in the last few days. First, I was shopping at Wholefoods and while waiting in line to buy dinner, I saw the cover of a May 2014 Economist Magazine with an Eagle sitting on a desktop globe and the banner headline asked: What Would America Fight For? The question haunting its allies

Cover of Economist Magazine May or June 2014

In that cover piece, The Economist said, “A survey last autumn by the Pew Research Centre suggests that 52% (of Americans) want the United States to ‘mind its own business internationally’, the highest figure in five decades of polling.”

After reading that, I laughed and thought: Americans may not have any say about the next war just like they had no real say in Vietnam or the 2nd Iraq War because they were lied to.

That leads me to mention one of my favorite quotes from President Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

You see, the reason I laughed is because all Congress and the President has to do is come up with a lie that fools more than half of all adult Americans to have the okay from the people to start the next war—and when that happens will probably be decided by those who profit the most from war.

It wasn’t that difficult to discover the corporations that benefit the most from death. I Googled: “who profits the most in the United States from wars” and discovered from USA Today that the business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.”

The top five were:

  • Lockheed Martin with arms sales of $36.3 billion in 2011—total sales were $46.5 billion
  • Boeing with arms sales of $31.8 billion—total sales were $68.7 billion
  • BAE Systems with arms sales of $29.2 billion—total sales were $30.7 billion
  • General Dynamics with arms sales of $23.8 billion—total sales were $32.7 billion
  • And Raytheon with $22.5 billion in arms sales and $24.9 billion in total sales

What happens to individual fortunes and lost jobs when 78% of Lockheed Martin’s income comes from arms sales; 46% of Boeing’s; 95% for BAE Systems; almost 73% for General Dynamics, and more than 90% for Raytheon?

If you’re curious how much the defense (arms) industry spends to lobby Congress, all you have to do is visit Open Secrets.org to discover that 978 lobbyists who worked for this industry in 2011 spent/donated $138,182,721 to influence elected representatives to make sure the federal government continued to spend heavily on defense and of course the best way to justify this much spending is to start another war, and who will the U.S. attack next?

Then Sunday Morning (May 11), I went to the theater to see “The Railroad Man”, and the horror of war hit home hard. I think this is a film that every adult American should see—especially the CEOs of the arms industry, the lobbyists who work for that industry, Congress and the President. “The Railroad Man” was based on a powerful, real story of British troops who became POWs in Singapore during World War II. The main character, Eric Lomax played by Colin Firth, survived the war but came back with a severe, traumatic case of PTSD that makes what I brought home from Vietnam seem tame in comparison, but I was never a prisoner of war—water boarded and tortured.

Let’s look at the cost of two recent wars: the Vietnam War (1965-1975) cost $738 Billion with 58,209 U.S. deaths and 153,303 wounded, and the 2nd Iraq War (2003-2010) cost $785 Billion with 4,800 U.S. deaths and 31,965 wounded—according to a report issued June 29, 2010 by the Congressional Research Service.

The reason I mention only these two wars was because both were started based on lies fed to America through the corporate owned media so enough Americans would be fooled long enough to support the wars.

What do you think the next lie will be, and where will that war be fought?

_______________________

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

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Photo for Amazon Countdown Deal

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The war to take over America’s public Schools

Make no mistake, there’s a war being fought in America. It started about thirty years ago; when G. W. Bush was president that war heated up—with Obama it just got hotter. There are a number of key players with goals to take over America’s democratically run public schools. These billionaires will spend millions on propaganda spreading lies to deceive.

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reform.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. The total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are considered the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “On average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

A good site to discover the major players behind the war to take over America’s democratic public schools and follow the battles being fought across America may be found at Diane Ravitch.org.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the multi-award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

A surprise family reunion—Navy father returns home

Recently, I logged on to discover another story about a father serving in the United States Navy returning home after a six-month overseas deployment.

I’m a sucker for this genre of YouTube homecoming videos, because as I watch them I relieve that moment forty-seven years ago in December of 1966 when I returned home without warning at three in the morning after a combat tour in Vietnam. I wrote about my return in Coming Home. There was no YouTube back then.

It’s powerful moment to watch a family reunion when a military father or mother returns home from a dangerous war zone.  

However, this time I questioned why this homecoming should gain national attention in the media. What was unique about it?

Rachel Martin writing for Indiana News Center.com said, “First Class Petty Officer Scott McComas has been serving overseas on the island of Diego Garcia for the Navy Reserves. McComas says he’s been gone for a year, four times before.”

I was curious where he served the other four times. Maybe one or more of those deployments was in a more dangerous place than Diego Garcia.

The island of Diego Garcia is really remote and isolated.  It’s 1,970 nautical miles east of Africa, 967 nautical miles south-southwest of the southern tip of India and 2,550 nautical miles west-northwest of the West coast of Australia.

Princeton University Press says, “The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States. Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured.”

In addition, the UK forcibly evicted/removed the 2,000 people who lived on Diego Garcia before the U.S. military moved in. Source: Global Post.com

For years I imagined the island of Diego Garcia was a desolate, freezing rock surrounded by nothing but a brutal, stormy ocean. Then I searched YouTube and discovered I was wrong—really wrong.

Diego Garcia is a tropical paradise with warm to hot temperature year around and if you watch the embedded video above you will discover breathtaking beaches and crystal clear water.

What about all the American troops who are serving in dangerous or risky overseas deployments? There are still 69,000 American troops fighting in Afghanistan; 15,000 are in Kuwait; 28,500 in South Korea not far from the threat of the lunatics in North Korea; 3,628 in Kyrgyzstan; 2,714 in Bahrain, and 806 in Qatar.  Source: U.S. Deployments Overseas

In fact, the vast majority of Navy deployments are at sea on Naval ships and submarines inside metal hulls. Some of those deployments are in dangerous waters like the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea.

Then again, maybe it was the uniqueness of that Indiana corn-maze that made this homecoming a worthy news item, and it really had nothing to do with a Navy father coming home from a tropical paradise. And it’s cute to watch a young daughter throw herself in her daddy’s arms because he’s been away from home for six months.

_______________________

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

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 2 of 2

It’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam, and over those years, the few times I’ve been in threatening situations, my thoughts are not of running away or breaking down in tears of fear. Instead, I’m thinking of the fastest way I can kill the person I perceive as a threat. If I’m close enough, I’ll be looking at his throat thinking about digging my teeth in and tearing out his jugular.

In the film “Patton”—played by George C. Scott—there is a scene where the general explodes in anger at troops who were in military hospitals suffering from severe PTSD—known as battle fatigue or shell shock back then.  The violence they had experienced had traumatized them severely. But General Patton thought anyone who suffered from PTSD was a coward and a fake.

I think that Russell Ireland, who owns the Big I’s Restaurant in Oxford, Massachusetts, is evidently an uneducated throw back to that World War II era, who does not think a war veteran suffering from PTSD deserves the same respect as a vet who lost body parts and probably also suffers from PTSD.

To Ireland’s way of thinking—just like General Patton—if the injury isn’t physical, it doesn’t count. For example, missing body parts.

I never know when my PTSD is going to flare or what may trigger it. When I’m awake, I’m always vigilant of my surroundings watching for threats.

 At night and early morning hours I often wake up and see enemy combatants in the darkness—they seem real but I’ve experienced this so many times over the decades that I often stare at them and maybe use a flashlight I keep by my bed to make sure it isn’t real before I can go back to sleep.  And by my side is a .45 caliber Glock automatic with a loaded magazine.  In the closet is a pump shotgun. In the gun safe are more weapons and boxes of ammo.

I did not buy these weapons to go hunting. I bought these weapons so I could sleep at night knowing I was prepared for the unexpected that my PTSD keeps reminding me is out there. Watching the daily news also doesn’t help so I avoid it most of the time. Before Vietnam, I read newspapers. After Vietnam, I stopped reading them. Newspapers are filled with reminders of crimes and violence in the United States that may trigger PTSD symptoms.

PTSD wasn’t recognized until the 1980s and then vets started to receive help from the VA.  I have carried the dark shadow of my PTSD with me since 1966 and didn’t get any help from the VA until after 2005 when I discovered that I was eligible.

And ignorant idiots like Russell Ireland don’t have any idea about the time bomb they may be triggering when they confront a vet with combat induced PTSD. He may have been fortunate that James Glaser had his trained service dog by his side.

By the way, it’s been forty-seven years since I served in Vietnam and I haven’t killed or physical attacked anyone yet. As for Dr. Phil, I’ve never been impressed by his show. It’s more of a shock and awe thing promoted by Oprah [she’s the billionaire who owns the show] while Dr. Phil acts the guru to an ignorant mob of fools—Dr. Phil’s net worth is estimated to be $200 million or more earned from his show.

Return or start with Ignorance of PTSD might be dangerous: Part 1

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

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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