What the Active Military Really Thinks of Twitter-Fingers Donald Trump

Who is spreading lies that the majority of the active, U.S. military supports Donald Trump … Trump’s Fake News Machine that includes Breitbart, Fox News, and Alex Jones?

It looks like 70-percent of officers and 52-percent of the troops that are not officers can’t stand Trump.

“Rate Your Commander-in-Chief. A new poll from the Military Times reveals troops’ attitudes towards President Donald Trump. Overall, members of the military viewed Trump more favorably than the general public. …

“Officers tended to have lower opinions of the president; just 30 percent gave him a favorable rating, compared to 48 percent of enlisted troops. The findings are similar to results from last year’s poll, just after Trump’s election.” – reported by Foreign Policy Magazine

To U.S. military veterans and active military that deplorably support Donald Trump, I want to remind you of your oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. The evidence is overwhelming … Donald Trump is clearly an enemy of the U.S. Constitution.

This next paragraph is the oath of office for the President of the United States.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

_______________________

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

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PTSD is a Never Ending Challenge and when help arrives “Don’t Let Go”

I turned twenty-one in Vietnam. There was no cake with candles, no presents, no party, no happy birthday songs, but I remember the tracers from thousands of armed Marines lighting up the night from the 1st Marine Division’s perimeter, and that display of destructive, brutal power was not a celebration of me turning twenty-one. It was from combat.

When I returned from Vietnam in 1966, I had no idea I came back with a permanent illness that later in the 1980s became known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Combat vets aren’t the only victims of this disease. Rape victims, child abuse, domestic abuse of women, someone who grew up the target of lying, cruel bullies and trolls just like U.S. President Donald Trump (Trump is not the vicitm. He is the bully. He is the troll.), victims of muggings, survivors of accidents and brutal acts of nature.

Imagine my surprise when fifty-one years later, a twelve-year-old girl sang her way into my life through YouTube and offered me a lifesaver that helped me manage my PTSD better, and she probably will never know it.

PTSD is all about how our body reacts to fear.

From 1966 to 1982, I never talked about the combat, the snipers that almost took me out, our own troops firing on a patrol I was with on our way back to base camp, the mortar rounds that rained down on our tents, the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and grenades that maimed and killed others in my company, the ambushes, the recon missions, the rocket attacks that left one Marine in my unit headless, and the regiment/division sized field operations.

I was a field radio operator and in the field, through that radio, I carried on my back, I passed on orders that killed hundreds of armed Vietcong. Marine Corps training is intense. When we leave boot camp we are different from the child that arrived.  When we leave, we are trained killing machines.

When I was honorably discharged from the Marines and went to college on the GI Bill, that PTSD I didn’t know I had was behind the heavy drinking. I often say that between 1966 and 1982, I drank enough hard liquor and beer to fill a swimming pool.

My first step on the road that led me out of the darkness of PTSD managing me was an accident. I was thirty-six and my health was falling apart from all the booze, beer and bad food. Someone I worked with was a vegan and her husband, raised a vegan, helped me get off the liquor and change my lifestyle. Once the booze was out of my system and I was eating better, the vivid flashbacks of combat lost some of the intensity that woke me at night drenched in sweat and ready to fight with an unsheathed, razor-sharp USMC KA-BAR that I kept under my pillow and a loaded 45-caliber automatic pistol in an easy to reach drawer.

I came to the conclusion that the booze and bad diet made the flashbacks worse so I stayed sober and stuck to the healthy vegan diet Greg and his wife helped me transition to.

Decades later, after I retired from teaching high school English and journalism, I discovered that the VA offered counseling to help combat vets manage their PTSD. I’m in a group now and most of my friends are combat vets who also work hard to manage their PTSD.

I’m seventy-two and a thirteen old girl I’ve never met and probably never will meet has helped my PTSD demons to take a few steps further back. By definition, this young woman is a child prodigy, and I wrote about What does it take to become a child prodigy? for one of my other blogs in an attempt to understand what was happening to me because of her and her songs.

When she was twelve, she won America’s Got Talent by singing songs she wrote. She was signed by Columbia Record and Simon Crowell to a record contract. Her first album has only five songs on it. Her next album, with more of her original music, will be out November 3. I already have a copy of her first album and have preordered the longer one.

Perfectly Imperfect, her first shorter album, reached #9 in the U.S. and #11 in Canada. This child prodigy’s name is Grace VanderWaal. Something about her and the songs she writes and sings is helping me manage my PTSD better, and I’ve been trying to understand what that is, and I think I’ve figured it out after watching her first almost hour-long concert a half dozen times. It’s the themes of her songs and her nonverbal language. Studies say that nonverbal language is 70-percent of communication. Her fans call that being genuine. Some critics and a friend of mine have called her an old soul. I think it is her nonverbal language that makes her genuine to some and/or an old soul to others.

I don’t think she is an old soul. Grace is unique because of a number of factors. One was the family environment she grew up in. Her mother, father, and I think especially her older sister, are a big part of who she is.  Genetics also plays a role in Grace being a child prodigy. Child prodigies are unique as I explained in What does it take to become a child prodigy? Another factor is that some of her songs are about bullies and in interviews, Grace has mentioned that she was a target of bullies in grade school. I was also a target of bullies when I was a child, and that is probably the reason I went into the Marines to make sure no one ever messed with me again.

In “Clay”, one of her original songs, she sings,

“Your silly words
I won’t live inside your world
Because your punches and your names
All your jokes and stupid games
They don’t work
No they don’t hurt
Watch them just go right through me
Because they mean nothing to me
I’m not clay”

In another original song, Gossip Girl, Grace touches on this topic again.

Grace is thirteen now and this month she went on her first concert tour starting with the Austin City Limits Music Festival. If the full concert is still available through Red Bull TV, you can access it through the next link. I tune in to this concert every evening because her songs and her performance help me sleep better. I think that is because of the combination of her genuine joy at performing for a huge crowd of fans that love her and the themes of her songs.

Austin City Limits Music Festival
Red Bull TV told me this video is only available for a limited time. If you click the link, I hope it’s still there.  Red Bull TV said they aren’t allowed to sell a DVD of this concert, so I sent an e-mail in an attempt to reach Simon Cowell and see if his record label will offer it on DVD soon.

Grace’s next video is a song called “Escape My Mind”, and Grace performed it live in Austin for the first time.

“Escape My Mind” is another original song, and I understand what Grace means because I can’t escape my mind either, but Grace is helping me to at least escape the PTSD demons tattooed in my mind for a few hours while I’m sleeping and that is a first. I hope it keeps working. I think the joy Grace feels while she sings and receives the love of her fans is the reason for whatever is happening to me, and I hope she never loses that genuine joy for her music and life as her career grows. If she manages to keep hold of that unique genuineness, I’ll continue to be her fan, but thanks to my PTSD, I’ll probably never attend one of her concerts, because crowds are a trigger for my PTSD, and I work hard to avoid those triggers. That’s why I want to buy a DVD of Grace’s first concert.

The Grace in this concert, and all of her previous performances is still the genuine thing, and that helps me feel better about life. It’s all about escaping the demons even if it is only for a few hours at a time. Like I said in the title of this post, if help arrives, “Don’t Let Go!”

_______________________

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

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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?

_______________________

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.

_______________________

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

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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?

_______________________

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

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Lying Malignant Narcissist Planning for the VA Medical System?

The popular-vote loser and allegedly illegitimate President Donald Trump wants to privatize the Veterans Administration. The Liar-in-Chief claims that vets are not getting the medical care they deserve.

But Bill Moyers.com reports, “Scamming US Veterans: Efforts to Privatize Veterans Administration’s Health System … Evidence suggests that a privatized system would make worse any problems veterans now face in getting care — and it is likely to cost more money.”

The VA currently has 168 VA Medical Centers (hospitals) and 1,053 outpatient sites.

How much do you think the VA infrastructure is worth – all those hospitals and clinics that were built with public funds over the last century – Trillions?

Just one of the 168 VA hospitals, the one in Palo Alto, has over 800 beds, including three nursing homes and a 100-bed homeless domiciliary – all to serve more than 67,000 enrolled Veterans.  Although the cost of building a hospital varies depending on where you live, an answer on Quora estimated the cost is about $1.5 million per bed. If accurate, the VA hospital in Palo Alto is worth about $12 billion.

If one VA hospital is worth about $12 billion, what are all of them worth?

Some states are already giving, yes giving – not selling, public schools and the property to private sector, for profit, corporate charters and those charters, when they go out of business, and many close their doors annually, can sell that property resulting in a 100-percent profit because that land and the buildings were free. If the state wants that school back that taxpayers already paid for, then it has to be paid for again with public funds.

I’m a woodworker. That’s my hobby. Last summer on a Saturday, even with all my safety gear (goggles, Hepa filter mask, ear protection, gloves) I still ended up with a wood-chip embedded under my left eye lid and that chip was scratching the surface of my eye.  When I called the VA’s 24/7 nurse, I was told that there was a high risk of losing vision in that eye. She said, “Get to a hospital emergency center as soon as possible.”

My vision was blurred and the pain was intense.  The closest hospital emergency room was at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, and my VA medical coverage might not cover the cost of that visit.

It cost my former sister-in-law several thousand dollars when her youngest son had a severe asthma attack, and she didn’t have health insurance.

“For patients without health insurance, an emergency room visit typically costs from $150 – $3,000 or more, depending on the severity of the condition and what diagnostic tests and treatment are performed. In some cases, especially where critical care is required and/or a procedure or surgery is performed, the cost could reach $20,000 or more. “ – CostHelper.com

I couldn’t risk it but I couldn’t drive, so I asked a friend to drive me to the VA hospital in Palo Alto, California where the VA has a 24/7 emergency medical center. That VA hospital is huge.

After arriving, I didn’t have to wait long before I was seen by two doctors who then referred me to a specialist, a doctor on call from the Stanford University’s Medical Center. The Stanford doctor drove to me at the VA hospital and saved my eye.

I discovered, when possible, the VA has partnered with many private sector and university hospitals to make sure vets get the care they need. After all, The Washington Post reports there is a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States, and it’s going to get worse.

In any huge system there is going to be problems, but my experience with the VA is that the problems are few compared to the private sector where I had my medical care for decades before I retired from teaching and turned to the VA for medical care.

And U.S. News.com reports, “Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”

“People don’t just die from heart attacks and bacteria, they die from system-wide failings and poorly coordinated care,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery and health policy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “It’s medical care gone awry.”

Turning the nation’s vets over to the private sector, for profit medical care system is not the solution to any problems the VA medical system has.

In fact, thanks to the VA’s innovative computer information system, most of the mistakes that cause deaths outside of the VA do not happen there.

From the Bill Moyers piece (link above): “The key point was that the VA system effectively tracks patients through their various contacts with doctors and other health care professionals.”

“This reduces the likelihood that they will get unneeded treatment, but more importantly, ensures that the patient’s doctors are aware of the other treatments their patient is receiving. A major problem for patients seeing multiple doctors is that none of them may have full knowledge of the set of conditions afflicting the patient or the drugs they might be taking. By keeping a central system and having a general practitioner assigned to oversee the patient’s care, the VA system minimizes this source of mistakes. In fact, this model is so successful that most providers have tried to move in the same direction in recent years.”

The VA also negotiates the cost of drugs with the private-sector, for-profit drug industry. The Los Angeles Times reports, “the VA pays 40% less for drugs than Medicare.”  In fact, if Trump and/or Congress allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices too, the savings could be about $30 billion annually.

Back to Bill Moyers: “Nonetheless, as Alicia Mundy points out in a recent Washington Monthly piece, the VA system still did quite well by most measures. An analysis done for the VA in 2010 found that nearly all the studies comparing the quality of VA care with its counterparts in the private and public sector found that the VA provided care that was as good or better than what was available in its competitors.”

The New York Review of Books says, “Privatization means that a public service is taken over by a for-profit business, whose highest goal is profit. Investors expect a profit when a business moves into a new venture. The new corporation operating the hospital or the prison or the fire department (or the school) cuts costs by every means to increase profits. …

“For the past fifteen years, the nation’s public schools have been a prime target for privatization. Unbeknownst to the public, those who would privatize the public schools call themselves ‘reformers’ to disguise their goal. Who could be opposed to ‘reform’? These days, those who call themselves ‘education reformers’ are likely to be hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, and billionaires, not educators. The ‘reform’ movement loudly proclaims the failure of American public education and seeks to turn public dollars over to entrepreneurs, corporate chains, mom-and-pop operations, religious organizations, and almost anyone else who wants to open a school.”

It’s already happening to our public schools; it can happen to the Veterans Administration too. I don’t want some greedy SOB like Donald Trump to destroy the quality of VA medical care.

_______________________

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

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.