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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A Clear and Present Danger to the Republic

As a U.S. Marine, I came back from the Vietnam War in 1966, and PTSD followed me home like an evil, second shadow, and that PTSD conspired to wreck my life and drove me close to suicide a number of times. There was no support for combat vets with PTSD until the 1980s. Before then, we were mostly alone.

In the last decade the mental health support from the VA has helped me to manage my PTSD instead of letting it dominate me, but last week I heard from a reliable anonymous source within the VA that a transition team from the Trump administration has already visited the VA and told the top leadership they were planning to privatize the VA.

From what I heard it wasn’t “if”; it was “when” and “soon”.

A former old friend, we’ve known each other for about 60 years since we were children, already triumphantly explained in an e-mail soon after the election, right before I blocked him from sending me any more of his crap, that the VA was going to be closed, everyone that works there fired, and every vet would get a voucher of about $8,500 annually to pay for medical insurance in the private sector. This former old friend is also a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam vet that relies on the VA for his medical care, but he is also a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian, tea-party sympathizer, and libertarian thinker who listens to and believes many of the same misleading sources Littlefingers, who he voted for, relies on for his allegedly smart thinking.

The VA leadership told Trump’s transition team that the VA couldn’t be privatized easily, just because Littlefingers snapped his fingers expecting total obedience (my words, not theirs).  It would take an act of Congress and even then it would be complicated, because the VA is funded by both mandatory (more than half) and discretionary spending. The mandatory part is based on previous legislation passed by previous presidents and Congresses going back to the beginning of the VA all the way to 1811 when the federal government (and most of the Founding Fathers were still alive) authorized the first medical facility for veterans, and in 1917 when the US entered World War I, and Congress established a new system of veterans benefits, including programs for disability compensation, insurance for service personal and veterans and vocational rehabilitation for the disability.

For Littlefingers to legally erase the VA, or any element of the federal government, the Republican dominated Congress would have to cooperate and support him every step-of-the-way.

And last week, the Koch brothers, ALEC, tea-party people dominated Republican Party in Congress took a step that clearly signals they are ready to do just that.

New York Magazine reports, “The GOP Just Gave Congress the Power to Cut the (annual) Salaries of Individual Civil Servants to $1 … and the budget of any individual federal programs right down to zero.

“They executed this attack on the independence of the civil service by reviving an obscure provision enacted by Congress in 1876: The Holman Rule, named after the Indiana congressman who devised it, empowers any member of Congress to submit an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets the funding of a specific government program or employee.” …

“It remains unclear how aggressively Republicans will use the Holman Rule, which inspired some opposition within their own ranks. …”

But it is clearly obvious to me that the Trump administration and the Koch dominated GOP plans to roll the U.S. back to a time right after Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War (1861 – 1865), back to the Jim Crow era of racial discrimination and injustice, back to a time when there was no income tax, and the federal government was weak, very weak, when it came to protecting the people and the environment from racists, liars, frauds and con-men like Littlefingers Donald Trump, who will never be my President, and back to a time when there was little to no job protection and more than 40 percent of Americans lived in poverty.

And instead of creating jobs, Littlefingers will soon be in a position, with possible support from the GOP dominated Congress to get rid of and/or bully most if not all of the 2.8 million civil servants that work for the federal government with a legal threat to legislate many of them into poverty.

The VA, for instance, employs almost 345,000 people at hundreds of VA medical facilities, clinics, and benefit offices across the country. They are mostly civil servants and few working Americans can survive on $1 a year.

This is what “draining the swamp” really means to Littlefingers, with a long history of contempt and obvious hate for the law and anyone with more power than he has, and soon he will be the most powerful person in the world with help from Russia. Littlefingers is clearly the Kremlin’s President of the United States, a clear-and-present danger.

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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 historical-fiction love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t commit, 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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Did Sarah Palin really blame President Obama for her son’s PTSD?

I’m thinking that Sarah Palin, like Trump, has a serious case of runaway motor mouth without brakes, because she acts like the dumb blond stereotype, and she isn’t even a blond.

What am I talking about?

Well, “Sarah Palin’s freestyle performance earlier this week during her endorsement of Donald Trump for president drew plenty of attention. But what is drawing the ire of some vets are her comments appearing to blame President Barack Obama for her son’s PTSD, which led to his arrest for domestic violence on Jan. 18.” – Foreign Policy’s morning situation report.

Uh, Track Palin was an Army reservist who performed a tour of duty in Iraq in 2008, and Barack Obama wasn’t sworn in as president for his first term until January 20, 2009.

Besides being a loud mouth and a billionaire, who is the man Sarah endorsed for president? Donald Trump currently holds the title as the biggest liar ever according to fact check sites.

  1. FactCheck.org has crowned Trump the King of Whoppers.

FactCheck.org  said, “It’s been a banner year for political whoppers — and for one teller of tall tales in particular: Donald Trump.

“In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match.

“He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”

  1. Politifact.com awarded Trumps’ statement the “2015 Lie of the Year” for only being totally correct in his claims and statements 1% of the time.

I think it is time to link Sarah Palin to the definition of a dumb blonde: “a blond-haired woman perceived in a stereotypical way as being attractive but unintelligent,” and The Urban Dictionary says, a dumb blond is “A person who can’t really do anything right.”

To discover who is really responsible for Track Palin’s PTSD, Sarah Palin would have to answer who started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — hint, it wasn’t President Obama?

Sarah Palin would also have to answer what incident took place in New York City that caused the deaths of several thousand noncombatants that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — hint, it wasn’t something President Obama did, because the war in Afghanistan started on October 7, 2001 and the Iraq War started on March 20, 2003. I wonder if Sara Palin knows who the president was on those two dates.

By the way, while serving in the U.S. Marines, I returned home from Vietnam in 1966 with a serious case of PTSD, and I have never battered anyone like Sarah Palin’s son, Track Palin, allegedly did to his girlfriend while waving around an AR-15. – nydailynews.com

In addition, according to an Op-Ed piece on Stripes.com, “The link between combat and civilian violence isn’t only anecdotal. Research has found a link between the after-effects of combat service and increased violence. At the Department of Veterans Affairs website, experts explore the available data. A study comparing post-9/11 veterans with the general public found that rates of violence among members of the general public that experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were at about 7.5 percent. Among veterans, the rates ranged from 8.6 to 19.5 percent. … Another study from the mid-1980s looked at violence rates among veterans of the Vietnam War. Among those veterans, one-third of those who suffered from PTSD exhibited “intimate partner violence” — aka domestic violence — versus 13.5 percent among those who didn’t have PTSD.” 

Stripes.com says, “It’s important to note that Track Palin likely had several other of those factors. He was divorced in 2012. He is still in his 20s. He served on active duty. The data suggest that, even without PTSD, his experiences and circumstances might lead him to antisocial or violent behavior. (Track was also involved in a notorious 2014 brawl involving several members of the family.)”

I think it is time to stop using the term dumb blond as a stereotype for an attractive but unintelligent woman who can’t do anything right, and all dumb blond jokes must be revised, and here are the first two revisions.

  1. What does a Sarah Palin do when her computer freezes?
  2. She sticks it in the microwave!
  3. Why are there six bullet holes in Sarah Palins mirror?
  4. Because she tried to kill herself.

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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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Invisible Enemies: Life on the Front Lines of a Modern Vietnam

It isn’t a secret that military veterans tend to be conservative and vote Republican. In fact, Gallup reports that veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. The reason I mention this is because Brian Welch’s memoir takes readers through Army boot camp to Iraq for two deployments, and Welch is brutally honest with his conservative views—a fresh perspective that most who serve in the U.S. military share but is missing from many films about war where the focus is usually on heroism, debauchery or the horrors of war. In fact, most films seem to be more concerned with political correctness than reality. But Term of Service (click link to visit Amazon and buy this book) avoids Hollywood hype and serves us combat as it really is.

Term of Service Cover

When we first meet the author in boot camp, he’s eager to fight for his country, but that eagerness fades when confronted by an elusive enemy that is seldom seen. For instance, unseen insurgents planting roadside bombs; invisible snipers shooting from a distance, or terrorists who become human bombs that infiltrate our lines and blow themselves up among U.S. Troops. The type of combat our troops faced in World War I, World War II and Korea seems to be a thing of the past. Instead of armies clashing with armies, today our troops often fight an invisible enemy.

This modern form of warfare grinds our troops down just like it did to combat vets in Vietnam where I fought decades earlier.  I think Welch’s honesty is refreshing, and anyone who wants to experience the tension of combat—the endless waiting not knowing what will happen next—and what it does to most of the troops, should read this book. War takes boys, runs them through the blades of a blender and when they come out, they are often cut and bruised physically and mentally.

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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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Discovering Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs with my ears

I can’t remember when I paid $3 at Half Price Books for an audio book of Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. You see, I enjoy reading. That’s why I buy books—audio and the old fashioned kind on paper—and DVD’s of films and TV series faster than I watch or read/listen to them, and they are all around me in the study where I write.  They are also books in storage under the house. I think I’ll have to live another thousand years to read them all—as long as I don’t buy more.

In an attempt to read faster, I started reading with my ears when I’m in the car on the way to the farmer’s market, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. And I drive in the slow lane to gain more listening time.

The reason I am now a fan of Winspear’s work, and specifically Maisie Dobbs, the main character in eleven of the author’s twelve novels, is because Maisie has a serious and convincing case of PTSD, and I came home in 1966 from Vietnam with PTSD.

As I wrote this post, I visited the author’s website, and saw that Pardonable Lies is the 3rd novel in the Maisie Dobbs series, and I smiled, because that means I have ten more to read—hopefully with my ears since I’m reading about four or five audio books to every tree book.

This is where I copy and paste from Winspear’s page on The World of Maisie Dobbs: “The period of time from the mid-1900’s until the 1930’s was a time of unprecedented change in Britain. The devastation of The Great War, mass emigration to America and Canada, rapid social changes—not least votes for women—to be followed by the Roaring Twenties, the General Strike and the Depression. It was a time of burgeoning artistic expression, with the movements that we now know as Art Nouveau and Art Deco demonstrating a dramatic departure from the Victorian age.

“The Great War demanded that there was hardly a field of endeavor left untouched by a woman’s hand, so that men could be released for the battlefield. The first women joined the police force, they worked in construction, on the trains and buses, on the land and in all manner of military support roles. The made munitions and they worked close to the front lines as nurses, ambulance drivers; as intelligence agents and code-breakers. And after the war, it was these same remarkable women who, more often than not, faced a life alone, for the men they might have married had been lost to war.

“It was also during these first decades of the century that scientific methods of detection were being rapidly developed. From medicine to international travel to the study of the human mind, all benefited from a time that was both terrifyingly painful in terms of the cost to human life, and yet demonstrated a hunger for innovation and a fascination with the avant-garde.

“It is in this world that Maisie Dobbs came of age.”

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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.

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Killing Season was obviously too brutal for many Americans—even the critics

According to Box Office Mojo, Killing Season’s widest release was to 12 theaters for seven days and then it went to DVD. I think this decision was made because most film audiences in American prefer romance and fantasies—not the brutal, bloody reality of gory, brutal up close and personal hand-to-hand combat.

The film was released on July 11, 2013, and it was a flop at the box office earning a total of $39,881 in theaters. Peter Sobczynski reviewed the film and gave it less than one star. Sobczynski says, “The film is quite awful—badly written, ineptly staged, horribly acted, historically suspect and boring beyond belief—and fully deserving of its ignominious fate.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t agree with Sobczynski. I didn’t think it was a bad film—and was that because I have no taste, or because I’m a former U.S. Marine who fought in Vietnam?

To me, this film reveals rather brutally what combat does to two men, and how war might leave mental scars that run deep. In fact, similar brutality appears in my novel, “Running with the Enemy”. If you have a weak stomach and lose sleep easily over reading about or watching extreme violence, this film and my novel are not for you.

Here’s a brief plot summary without spoilers: In Belgrade, Serbia, former Scorpions soldier Emil Kovač (Travolta) meets an informant to retrieve a file on American military veteran and former NATO operative Colonel Benjamin Ford (De Niro). Ford has fled to a cabin retreat somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, to forget the war. Now a recluse, he meets Kovač, posing as a European tourist, during a hunting trip. The two men become friendly, until Kovač reveals his true identity. Intent on revenge for something Ford allegedly did in Serbia, he initiates a gory game of cat-and-mouse with Ford. The latter is badly injured but is quick to rebound.

I find it interesting that the film had 257 customer reviews on Amazon, and 132 were 4-and-5 star reviews—that’s 51%.  Only 62 were 1-and-2 stars—that’s 24%. More than twice as many reviewers enjoyed the film, and I was one of them.

The Most Helpful Review said, “Killing Season is a movie that thrills and leaves you thinking. It is timely because the tension echoes many of the current situations going on in society. In their own right each of the two in the movie have their reasons (and justifications) for their points and places. In the end (sorry, no spoiler here) the stark realization of the view from the other side really brings home the powerful moral of this movie. De Niro is his usual amazing self and Travolta delivers a nearly convincing eastern bloc persona. Well worth seeing.”

I also scanned the 1-star reviews and the most detailed one I read ended with: “If you’ve ever wanted to see De Niro piss on his own leg to heal a gaping wound this is your chance. You won’t get another.”

I asked Google why it might have been a good idea for De Nrio to piss on his wound, and Wise Geek.org says, “As difficult as it might be for some to comprehend, the medical benefits of urine have been widely studied in many areas including, but not limited to, the effect of pee on wounds. Normal urine is not only pH balanced, it is non-toxic and is believed to contain many nutrients and healing compounds. Normal urine is both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, making it a potentially ideal treatment for cuts, abrasions, wounds, and skin infections of any kind.”

>>>Focus on the key word there: “normal” urine.<<<

I don’t know about you, but don’t expect me to pee on my wound if I was in the same situation. I’d rather use powdered cayenne. I keep some in the car, bathroom, kitchen and my wood shop. In fact, Earth Clinic.com says, “For stopping profuse bleeding, we eagerly recommend using powdered cayenne to speed up the coagulation process and close the wound.”

I learned about using powdered cayenne on wounds when I belonged to a wood-carving club. Every veteran wood carver in that club had some fine ground pepper/powdered cayenne stored in their tool box with their super-sharp carving knives—just don’t put powdered cayenne or black pepper in your eyes, mouth or nose. It burns really bad, but surprisingly doesn’t burn when sprinkled on cuts and gashes—at least that has been my experience.

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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.

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

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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?

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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.

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

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