Transitions from War, from combat to active living

Mike Ergo was a Marine rifleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines from 2001-2005 and deployed to Iraq twice. Coming home from combat was rough. His body returned, but his mind and spirit were still in Fallujah for many years. … Triathlons, trail running, and endurance challenges like GORUCK have help him to overcome the sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety that are a part of PTSD.

The Biggest Race of My Life by Mike Ergo

“Lindsey Schmidt from Ironman’s PR firm reached out a few months ago to say they heard my story. Ironman wanted to get me on a cool, new veteran podcast to talk about why I race. It would be a chance to talk about the Marines on my jersey that keep me moving towards the finish line. I agreed to do the interview.  I wrote an eBook  about the Mind, Body, and Spirit. Finally, a chance to talk to a larger audience about a great way to deal with PTSD!

1927897_52180045766_8469_nMike Ergo is on the left

The interview started out great (listen to it here). We talked about how I went into the Marine Corps, ditched the band and joined the infantry, and shipped out to Iraq. He asked me what house-to-house fighting was like in Fallujah. Chaps was there in 2007 and has walked the streets of the former Baath Party hub. And of course, we chatted about how triathlon has helped me deal with the demons of PTSD and turn it into something positive. So Chaps throws the verbal jab and I take the bait.” …

This post is continued on Mike’s Blog Transitions from War from combat to active living – Reconnecting with Mind, Body, and Spirit

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Lloyd Lofthouse, the host of The Soulful Veteran, is a former U.S. Marine (1965 – 1968), Vietnam Veteran (1966), retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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Heavily Armed on the 4th of July

On the evening before the 4th of July this year someone set off some M80s or Cherry bombs, and it sounded like my house was the target. After slipping from window to window and carefully looking out, I left the house and checked the perimeter of my property looking for any signs of damage. While I was out staying in the shadows, there was no one in sight. The street was empty, and I didn’t find any damage or evidence of the explosives I’d heard that rattled my windows.

I went back inside, locked up, and later that night, when I left my home office after 8:00 pm, I took my loaded shogun with me to the family room where I watched a DVD.

All the noisy, flashy fireworks are a perfect cover for criminals and crazies to act, and that’s why on July 4th, I’m ready to fight. I slipped a large canister of pepper spray in my shirt pocket, hid a loaded pistol under a pillow and carried the shotgun to the family room with me to continue watching that DVD I started the night before.

With the 4th of July explosions popping off lighting the sky, every 10 minutes, I put the DVD on hold and slipped from room to room to peak out windows and make sure nothing suspicious was going on outside.  Even though there were plenty of explosions and flashy fireworks in the distance, I never saw anyone outside of the house, on the street, or across the street, but I stayed alert and ready anyway. To most combat vets with PTSD, when you relax and think everything is okay, that’s when the shit will hit the fan so you never relax.

Each window and door in my house has four locks. The last two locks can only be activated inside the house. No key will unlock them from outside. In fact, the workers that installed the new windows soon after I bought the house told me that one of my self-made locks was called a Deadman, because the simple, homemade device made it difficult for firemen to get in the house to save me.

I still remember my reply. “The threat of dying in a house fire doesn’t cause me to lose sleep. But the thought of some punk breaking into my house and me not being ready because I didn’t hear them does. If I know it is easy for someone to get inside my house without hearing them, I will be awake all night listening to every sound. I wanted to make sure that anyone breaking into my house had to make a lot of noise to do it and alert me. If a fire breaks out and kills me, too bad.”  I think that way because of the odds of a fire vs. a break-in.

According to FEMA, in 2010 there were 362,100 residential fires in the United States while there are about 131 million housing units.  That means the odds of my house catching fire are about a quarter of one percent.  But according to A Secure Life.com, “Data from the FBI 2012 crime report shows that we can expect one in every thirty-six homes in the United States to be burglarized this year (every year).”  Those odds are more than 3-percent or 12x the risk of a house fire.

I’m a combat vet. I live with the fight or flight response of PTSD, and I have no intention to run away. That leaves me with one choice, to fight. If someone breaks in my house while I’m home, one of us is going to die and I plan on it not being me.

It wasn’t always this way. I was married for forty years and to protect my wife and family from the flashbacks, caused by the combat memories that followed me home from the war, I kept my firearms locked away and lost a lot of sleep. Now that I’m on my own, the weapons are out when I’m home, and I sleep better knowing the house is sealed – something I had no control over when I was married. What is a vet to do when the wife can’t sleep unless she leaves the bedroom window open, and she sometimes wakes up and leaves the house on hot nights to get some cool air, but forgets to lock the front door when she returns?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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Megan Leavey and her dog Rex, Semper Fi – Once a Marine, Always a Marine

I saw a film today, Wednesday June 14, 2017, based on the true story of a U.S. Marine and her dog.  While watching the film, I was with her every step of her journey. The first part of the film shows a young American that has lost her way due to the death of a close friend. Her family is dysfunctional and poor just like mine was. I identified with her reason for joining the Marines and that decision straightened her life out like it did for me.  When she reached boot camp and I watched her expression and body language as the DI’s tore into her and the other recruits. I laughed because that was me in 1965 at MCRD. Leavey went through boot camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

When Megan is asked in the film why she joined, she said, “To get away from my life.” I couldn’t have said it better.

But after book camp, she was still struggling to find a balance in her life, and that got her in trouble leading her to the shit detail that introduced her to the Marine Corps infantry bomb dog program and Rex.

The battle scenes in Iraq were intense, and I was there with her every step of the way.

After she leaves the Marine Corps, she finds herself lost again until she takes up the struggle to adopt and save the life of Sergeant Rex, her combat dog, who had been retired and was scheduled for euthanasia.

After Vietnam (1966) and the Marines (1968), it took me years to find that balance. It’s not an easy journey.

Since it isn’t a secret that she was reunited with Rex, who taught her what love is, I’m going to admit that my eyes got misty while watching this part of the film. If you see the film, I suggest that you take some tissues.

Megan Leavey grew up in Valley Cottage, New York. She enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and after boot camp was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where she was paired with military working dog Rex. They served together on two deployments in Iraq. They were first deployed to Fallujah in 2005, and then to Ramadi in 2006, where they were both wounded by an improvised explosive device. Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a “V” device denoting heroism in combat.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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Trump’s Great Military Defeat

Trump lied when he said he won the popular vote instead of Clinton based on his allegations of voter fraud without any proof. He did not win the popular vote.

Trump lied about the crowd that came to his inauguration. He said it was the biggest in history. It wasn’t.

Trump lied that he had the biggest Electoral College win in U.S. History. He didn’t. Out of 56 elections, Trump’s rank was #46.

Trump also lied about the military vote when he claimed that he won that.

But Trump wasn’t alone believing that the military vote supported him over Clinton. For instance, AOL News reported that US veterans voted 2-to-1 for Donald Trump. Brietbart, a fake media outlet of the Alt-Right lying, misinformation machine, also alleged that veterans voted in ‘Record Numbers’ for Trump. Another conservative media source, Newsmax, also alleged that Troops Backed Trump By 3-to-1 Margin over Clinton.

They were all wrong!

To be fair, this view was so widespread that even Bill Moyers asked Why do Veterans Support Donald Trump?

When I searched Goggle for the actual numbers, I didn’t find any. All of the claims I found were based on polls and opinions, and we know how wrong they can be.

To find an answer, I had to dig deeper and this is what I discovered.

There are two categories of U.S. military veterans. There are combat veterans and non-combat vets. Trump won the combat vet vote, but he lost the non-combat vets, the troops that have jobs in the military that support combat vets.

The exit poll results tell that story. CNN.com reported that 34% of (combat) veterans voted for Clinton and 60-percent for Trump.  But 50-percent of non-combat veterans voted for Clinton and only 44-percent for Trump.

How many troops (non-combat vets) are there? The answer I found was 7.  That means for every combat vet, there were/are seven back at a base camp, stationed in Europe or somewhere else in the world, or even in the U.S. in support roles.

In 2012, Time Magazine asked “Does the Military Vote Really Lean Republican?” The nation’s 24 million troops and veterans account for about 10% of the nation’s potential voters, but they’re not the monolithic bloc many believe.

Crunching the numbers:

123,724,157 Americans voted in 2016 (not counting votes for 3rd party candidates). If ten percent of the voters were active troops or inactive veterans, then about 12.4 million represents the military vote. If we divide the military pie into 8 slices, the slice that represents combat vets is about 1.55 million troops, but the other seven slices total 10.199 million troops that served in non-combat positions.

  • Combat vets who voted for Trump = 930k
  • Combat vets that voted for Clinton = 620k
  • Non-Combat vets/troops that voted for Trump = 4.774 million
  • Non-Combat vets/troops that voted for Clinton = 5.425 million

Total for Trump = 5,704,000
Total for Clinton = 6,045,000

That means Clinton won the military vote by 341,000.

In addition, I discovered through an Open Secrets report that Members of the military gave three times as much money to Clinton than Trump.

Open Secrets said, “Active and retired members of the military have been showing far more support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than for her Republican rival, at least as measured by the checks they’ve written to her campaign.”

Eighty percent of the contributions from retired military went to Clinton, and Seventy-two percent of contributions from active military went to Clinton.

Then there is the fact that Clinton had the support of more retired generals and admirals (110) than Trump’s 88, and Clinton’s list had better reputations.

The Daily Beast reported on The Disgraced and Little-Known Generals Backing Donald Trump. “Among the 88 (retired) generals and admirals who endorsed Donald Trump on Tuesday was a commander who once reportedly demanded President Obama produce his birth certificate, an Air Force general who was reprimanded for his role in a deadly 1996 crash, four commanders who were present at one of the biggest scandals in Navy history, and a special forces general known for spilling secrets and trying to turn military campaigns into religious crusades.”

It’s clear  that the Trump does not have a mandate to ‘drain any swamps’, a phrase that is misleading code for flushing the federal government down a toilet after using the U.S. Constitution to wipe his ass and then flush that document away too.


Did you know that Trump is on the Top 10 list of famous draft dodgers? Do you really want this serial liar as the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.

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Does Tulsi Gabbard represent the future of the Democratic Party and the United States?

I was introduced to another rising star in the Democratic Party today.

Her name is Tulsi Gabbard. She represents the 2nd District of Hawaii in the House of Representatives; she is a combat vet and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Tulsi is impressive; quite possibly a hero, the future of the United States; the future of the Democratic Party.

I’m suggesting that we start to support candidates, NOW, for the elections in 2018 and 2020, and then mention them on as many blogs as possible. Even if you don’t agree with her, tell us why and mention her name.  It’s time to leave the Hillary Clintons and Donald Trumps behind and forge a new future for politics in America.

To be clear, I want Tulsi Gabbard’s name known across the Untied States.

And when the campaign of alternate-false truths begins, I highly recommend you check out what Vote Smart reveals about the real Tulsi Gabbard. I’ve already had someone claim that she couldn’t be trusted because President Littlefingers Donald Trump considered her for a cabinet post.

Seriously, someone distrusts her for something she has no power over!? Maybe Trump did this to cast doubts her way. In my book, only fools trust Tricky Trump.

Vote Smart is not a fact-check site. Vote Smart isn’t a misinformation or conspiracy theory site. Vote Smart is not a gossip mongering tabloid. Vote Smart is not biased.

Vote Smart reports the actual facts. Vote Smart offers a fact based bio, how she votes in Congress, her positions, ratings, speeches, and where her funding comes from. I focused on her actual voting record in Congress to make my decision.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher,  journalist, and award winning author.

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The Donald Trump Campaign’s Latest Stupidity Explodes on Twitter

Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, who is as ignorant as the Donald is and probably has the same narcissist ego, took to Twitter and blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the death of Captain Humayun Khan, who Trump insulted when he insulted the hero’s parents when the mother did not talk at the DNC.

But Captain Khan sacrificed his life to save his men from a suicide bomber in 2004 when G. W. Bush was President, four years before Obama was elected president.

Of course it isn’t Katrina’s fault if Trump ordered her to do it. From what I’ve read of his business history based on the experience of people who once worked for him, the Donald is an extreme micromanager and no one does anything without him knowing and approving.

In addition, this is what I’ve been thinking. Captain Khan deliberately risked and then lost his life to give his men time to fall back from a suicide bomber rushing their position in a car. Why did he only get the Bronze Star, why not the Medal of Honor?

How was it Hillary Clinton’s (HRC) fault? Because in the Donald’s twisted brain, she voted for the bill that approved the Iraq War.

On 60 Minutes, Donald Trump clearly blamed HRC for voting for the bill that approved the Iraq War – watch the next video to hear him say it with your own ears – and you will also hear that he didn’t blame Mike Pence, his VP running mate, who not only voted for the bill that authorized the Iraq War, but authored it. That means Pence helped write the bill.  All HRC did was vote for the bill. Since then, HRC has publicly admitted she made a mistake signing the bill that approved the Iraq War, but Pence has never admitted it was a mistake that he wrote and voted for it.

In the 60 Minute’s clip, Trump also claimed he never supported the Iraq War since the beginning.

However, FackCheck.org reports that “On September 11, 2002, Howard Stern asked Trump if he supports invading Iraq. Trump answers hesitantly, “Yea, I guess so. You know. I wish it was, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Conservative Critics often dismiss fact check sites that reports conservative lies, because they think these sites are biased against conservatives – even though the same fact check sites report the lies that liberal politicians also say in public – but that doesn’t change the fact that Trump said what he said in 2002.

In addition, on January 28, 2003, Trump appeared on Fox Business’ “Your world with Neil Cavuto,” on the night of President Bush’s State of the Union address. Trump says he expects to hear “a lot of talk about Iraq and the problems,” and the economy. He urges Bush to make a decision on Iraq. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” he says. But he offers no opinion on what Bush should do.

How can anyone that is sane, who’s knows about this and calls themselves an American citizen, support Donald Trump?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.

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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The Ignorance of Donald Trump on Display with another Foolish Twitter Rant as he insults a U.S. Marine

Donald J. Trump went on another Twitter rampage after the Democratic National Convention ended, and in one Tweet he said, “General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #Never Hillary”.

This is another example of how ignorant and foolish Donald Trump is.

How could General John Allen (click link to discover Allen’s accomplishments) fail badly in a fight he never fought? Although he served in Iraq, he never had command of the Multi-National Forces West, and he retired from active duty more than a year before the Islamic State of ISIS and/or ISIL was established.

Who is General John Allen? CNN reported, “Allen graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976, and has racked up a long and distinguished list of accomplishments both on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an attempted role as peacemaker to one of the longest and most intractable conflicts in the Middle East.”

General John Allen commanded the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from July 18, 2011 to February 10, 2013, and then he retired from active service after having served the United States as a U.S. Marine for 37 years — something the Donald has never done because during the Vietnam war, Trump managed to avoid being drafted with several deferments. Read all about it in Was Trump a ‘draft dodger’?

In fact, in June 2014, Aljazeera reported, “Sunni rebels declared new ‘Islamic caliphate’. Armed group ISIL changed name to Islamic State, and says its empire extends from Iraq to Syria’s Aleppo.”

ISIS has operated out of Iraq & Syria since 1990 under several different names and did not appear in Afghanistan until 2015 about two years after General Allen retired from active duty.

Do we really want a president who is this ignorant and libels and slanders people without knowing what he is talking about? Donald Trump is a liar. Donald Trump is a loser. Donald Trump is a fraud. Donald Trump has a thin skin. Donald Trump is a coward and a bully. Donald Trump is a small man no matter what size his body parts are.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.

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