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

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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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The Current Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) and a Clueless Donald Trump

Did Donald Trump know about plans to drop one MOAB in Afghanistan?  The answer is no, but after the bomb was dropped the malignant narcissist in the White House saw his approval rating go up.

The UK’s Independent reported, “Pentagon officials said (general) Gen Nicholson didn’t need and didn’t request President Donald Trump’s approval before using MOAB.”

What about BlU-82, also known as the Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and years later in Afghanistan in the Tora Bora Region? Was the Daily Cutter the mother of all conventional bombs before MOAB?  The answer is no. Read on to discover the explanation.

MOAB weighs 21,600 pounds. The Daily Cutter (BLU-82) weighed 15,000 pounds and was also dropped by MC-130 aircraft.

BLU-82 was used extensively in Vietnam. For instance, during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, twenty-five BLU-82s were dropped on NVA and Pathet Lao Forces in Laos. That is about 375,000 pounds or 17x one MOAB.

More operations using BLU-82 followed.  The last BLU-82 was dropped in July 2008 at a Utah Test and Training Range.

In addition, another eleven BLU-82s were dropped in five night missions during the 1991 Gulf War adding up to another 165,000 pounds, almost 8x MOAB.

Then the U.S. Air Force dropped several BLU-82s during a campaign to destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan to kill and demoralize personnel and to destroy underground and cave complexes. American forces began using BLU-82 in November 2001 and again a month later during the Battle of Tora Bora.

It was the success of BLU-82 that led to the decision to develop the MOAB.

What about the impact of smaller bombs? During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force sent B-52s on well over 10,000 bombing raids. A typical mission delivered 168 tons (336,000 pounds) of ordnance on target, inundating an area 1.5 by 0.5 miles with an explosive force equivalent to 10 – 17 MOABs.

Since 2003, fifteen MOABs have been manufactured at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.

How did the Malignant Narcissist in the White House, Donald Trump, get credit for dropping one big bomb he knew nothing about until after the blast?  The answer is good misleading public relations and/or more lying propaganda.

Oh, and worth noting, during World War II, the UK’s Royal Air Force dropped FORTY-TWO Grand Slam Bombs that weighed 22,000 pounds each. Then after World War II, the United States developed the T-12 Cloudmaker that weighed 44,000 pounds, much larger than MOAB or the Grand Slam, but the Cloudmaker was never used.

Dropping another big bomb was really no big deal once we learn about the history of the UK’s Grand Slam, and America’s Cloudmaker and BLU-82.  Trump does not deserve any credit for the use of MOAB.

Did you know that Donald Trump went out of his way to avoid serving in Vietnam, and the malignant narcissist called sleeping around (having lots of sex with different women) and avoiding STD’s his “Personal Vietnam”?   – New York Times and The Hill

_______________________

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

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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.

_______________________

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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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.

_______________________

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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What happens when a unit of Marines throws a wild party in an L.A. County barrio?

After returning from the Vietnam War in December 1966, I went home on leave for 30 days to my parents’ house in Southern California in the San Gabriel Valley south of Los Angeles, and then reported to my next duty station, the 4th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. If you know anything about the 4th Marine Division, you might be thinking that couldn’t be right, because the 4th Marine Division was a reserve unit in the 1960’s.

If that’s what you thought, you’d be right, because the 4th Marine Division has been a reserve division since February 1966 to the present, but in 1966, the headquarters battalion was stationed at Camp Pendleton, not New Orleans, Louisiana where it is located today, and it was staffed by active duty Marines who were all Vietnam combat vets. Our mission was to train and support the reserves and to be ready if the division was activated.

In World War II, the 4th Marine Division saw action in Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.  It served again in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that probably explains why the division headquarters battalion moved to New Orleans to be closer to the east coast and the wars in the Middle East.

That’s enough history.

Back in 1967, a few months after returning from combat in Vietnam, I asked my brother if my unit could borrow his house in San Dimas near Los Angeles for a party, and he said yes. His wife volunteered to invite all of her single girlfriends and any single girls they knew.

A few weeks later on a Saturday morning, we drove in a caravan of cars more than 90 miles to San Dimas where we filled the entire block on both sides of the street with our parked cars.

We also brought trays of food from our unit’s mess hall because all of the enlisted men were invited, all ranks, but no officers. The previous weekend, I’d driven to Mexico with money collected from everyone in the unit to buy enough booze to fill the trunk of my car. While crossing the border on our way back, the booze was confiscated and my car was impounded. It was 2 a.m., and I made one phone call to the duty sergeant, who woke everyone up and collected enough money to get my car out of impound and replace the booze we’d lost but from a liquor store in the U.S.

My brother worked the graveyard shift so he wasn’t there for most of the party, and to make room for all the Marines and women my sister-in-law had invited, we moved all of the furniture out of the house to the garage and changed all of the light bulbs in the house and on the front porch to red ones.

The party launched about 9 p.m. and roared through the night with loud music, dancing, food, drinking and other activates that will go unmentioned here. Use your imagination. What happens when you mix dozens of Marines, booze and broads, who are all in a party mood?

About one a.m. I was sitting on the curb with two other Marines sharing a fifth of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey, and we weren’t feeling any pain when a car rolled to a stop in front of us.  There were several other cars, bumper to bumper, behind it. All of the cars were lowriders with hydraulics that lowered the chassis to the ground, and they had expensive paint jobs. Each car was crowded with tattoo laden gang bangers looking tough with their dark glasses on.

The window was down and the passenger in the front seat, who was wearing a white T-shirt with a red bandana tied around his forehead, said, “We come to party.”

I smiled. “This is a private party, and you and your friends weren’t invited, and I think you should stop and think about who’s in that house. Look at the rear bumpers of all the cars parked on both sides of this street before you do anything.”

The fancy lowrider in front of me had a spot light on the driver’s side in front of the rearview mirror. The spot came on and the beam sliced through the dark and settled on the bumper decal of the nearest parked car that revealed it was a parking permit for Camp Pendleton and belonged to a Marine. The car pulled up and the spotlight moved to the next car’s rear bumper and then the next one and the next.

A few other Marines had come out of the house. One had a cast on his right arm and he held an empty vodka bottle in his left hand. It was obvious he was tanked when his glazed, glassy eyes glanced left and then right as he counted the cars filled with obvious gangbangers. He smiled and broke the end of the empty bottle against a tree leaving a jagged glass weapon in his hand.

The lead car drove away and the rest of the gang followed. They never returned.

The loud music continued along with the dancing and some hot sweaty romance when some of the girls coupled up with a few of the Marines.

At 2 a.m. I was still sitting on the curb with a few other Marines nursing another bottle of Jack when a sheriffs black-and-white squad car turned the same corner with its spot light on inspecting the rear bumpers on all the parked cars. It moved slowly down the street, did a U-turn at the stop sign and came back inspecting all the rear bumpers on the other side.  We watched the squad car stop at the opposite stop sign and idle. We heard one of the two officers on his mike calling their dispatcher, but we didn’t hear what he was saying.

With the call finished, the squad car made another U-turn and came to a stop in front of me. The two officers were not wearing dark glasses and the uniformed sheriff in the passenger seat asked, “Our shift ends at three and the entire squad wants to join your party. Is that okay?”

I shrugged. “It’s okay with me.” I looked at the Marine on my right, and then on my left. Without saying a word, they both nodded.

“We’d appreciate it if you turned the music down about halfway,” the officer said. “We had several complaints called in.”

By 3:30, more than a dozen off duty sheriffs in their civilian clothes joined the party that didn’t end until dawn. By noon, the house had been cleaned, the furniture returned and we were on our way back to base.

Two marriages resulted from that party and one of the girls was pregnant when she said yes to her Marine boyfriend that she’d met there. My brother came home from work about the time the sheriffs arrived, and a few minutes later he threw one of the Marines through a closed window, breaking the glass, when he discovered him in the back bedroom breaking the rules we’d agreed to before he’d said yes to the party.

_______________________

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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The Politics of Deceit

Every Thursday afternoon I drive to a local VA medical clinic and join a veteran writers group. One of the regular members, who never served in combat, seems obsessed with the glory of war. He can’t seem to hear enough stories from us combat vets. To listen to him, it seems that he sees war as wonderful and proof that the United States is defending and supporting democracy and freedom everywhere in the world.

Most combat vets don’t think the same. In fact, I haven’t known a combat vet yet who doesn’t question everything an elected representative or corporate CEO claims on almost any topic that leads to more profits or power for a member of the 0.1%. For some reason, being shot at by bullets, mortar rounds and rockets—not counting the threat of stepping on a land mine and getting your legs blown off—creates skeptics of most combat vets who saw action.

Now I have read for the first time in Newsweek [RECOMMENDED READING] that the POW-MIA flag was another propaganda campaign backed by President Richard Nixon to fool the American people and demonize the enemy and create justification for the Vietnam War and his illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos that he kept secret from the U.S. Congress (National Geographic Magazine). The POW-MIA flag was originally created to embarrass President Lyndon Johnson as a way to end the war instead of turning the Communists in North Vietnam and their South Vietnamese Allies into monsters who—it turns out—in reality didn’t hold a candle to the monsters the United States and its dictator in South Vietnam were.

If the United States is a great country that supports democracy and freedom throughout the world, why have there been so many repeated lies to start wars?

It’s obvious that the Vietnamese, who fought the United States, were not doing anything different than the Vietnamese have done before when they fought for 1,000 years to be free of China’s occupation starting in 111 BC and continuing to 938 AD.

The Vietnamese also fought French occupation for decades—French Indochina was formed in October 1887. After Gia Định fell to French troops in 1859, many resistance movements broke out in occupied areas. In the north, most movements were led by former court officers and lasted decades, with Phan Đình Phùng fighting in central Vietnam until 1895. In the northern mountains, former bandit leader Hoàng Hoa Thám fought until 1911. Even the teenage Nguyễn Emperor Hàm Nghi left the Imperial Palace of Huế in 1885 with regent Tôn Thất Thuyết and started the Cần Vương (“Save the King”) movement, trying to rally the people to resist the French. He was captured in 1888 and exiled to French Algeria. By 1900 a new generation of Vietnamese were coming of age who had never lived in precolonial Vietnam. These young activists were as eager as their grandparents to see independence restored.

Then beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s and escalated dramatically after the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident that resulted in Congress giving the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence.

I arrived in Chu Lai, Vietnam in 1965 with the 1st Marine Division’s 1st Tank Battalion. At the time we didn’t know that the Tonkin Gulf incident was exaggerated and based on a lie. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly purposefully so. While four North Vietnamese sailors were claimed to have been killed and six more wounded, there were no U.S. casualties.

In 1995, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with former Vietnam People’s Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on 4 August 1964 in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. “Absolutely nothing”, Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary—manufactured by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House staff with his permission.

Then there is President G. W. Bush’s lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq causing Congress to once again authorize another war based on more exaggerations and lies.

If you have watched the videos and read this post, are you still a deaf, dumb and blind U.S. patriot totally obedient to the elected and corporate leaders of the United States?

I wonder if you also know that similar lies and propaganda have been used for decades in the United States to destroy the labor unions of middle class workers and also demonize public school teachers—all for profit and power.

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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.

Best Choice on Jan 21 of New Cover

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

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