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AT EASE! Veterans Magazine Spring 2023

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PUBLISHERDevil Doc PublishingEDITORChristine WalkerASSISTANT EDITORVL StevensonSTAFF WRITERSShelby LakeEric McNailVL StevensonChristine WalkerFEATURE WRITERSDaniel DancerChristina MortelRomy MortelCristie RemmelStuart SaxPaul SullivanSALES STAFFEric McNailJennifer McNailChristine WalkerLAYOUT & DESIGNChristine WalkerCONTRIBUTING WRITERS:Chuck BradleyJamie BunettoRon DicksonGy.Sgt. Jesse EsterlyCapt. Gabriel GarciaDavid GethersTim GrutiziusSgt.Maj. G. LealJames McGrewOperation Deep DiveTMShannon RobinsonAdam WalkerBob WartmanGregory WilliamsRob YounceFIND US AT:TheATEASEmagazine.comCopyright 2021-2023 © AT EASE! Veterans Magazine and Devil Doc Publishing All Rights Reserved.AT EASE! Veterans Magazine, a subsidiary of Devil Doc Publishing, reserves all rights connected to all copyright and proprietary property contained in our official publication, website(s), social media accounts, videography, email marketing, branding and printed materials. This includes, but is not limited to, authoritative and/or written content, photographs, graphics and infographics, ad design, artwork including official company logos in design, color, and format and video(s). Any use of the above aforementioned in whole or in part may not be used for any reason without the express written consent of Devil Doc Publishing. The subject matter and opinions of Contributing, Feature and Staff writers are their own and are covered under their First Amendment Rights.A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITORA MESSAGE FROM THE EDITORChristine WalkerSpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 3To our Veteran Readers… I hope that 2023 is off to an remarkable start for each and every one of you! This issue begins our third year of publishing AT EASE! Veterans Magazine. On one hand, I’m shocked we’re still here. On the other hand, I am acutely aware that we continue to be a successful and thriving presence in the Veteran community because of you, our readers. I would also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of our staff, feature and contributing writers. Keeping in line with our primary mission of giving every Veteran a voice; your stories and articles have created an exceptional publication, 100% written by Veterans for Veterans. On a personal note, I have been honored to have myself and AT EASE! Veterans Magazine chosen as a Bunker Labs Veterans in Residence 23A Cohort. The ability to network with fellow Veteran entrepreneurs is invaluable. Moving forward, we’ve got quite a few irons in the re. The rst, and this goes without saying, is to continue giving an unhindered voice to Veterans. The second is, beginning this year, we will now be charging $5.00/edition for our eMagazine. This will give us the tools and resources necessary to reach a broader Veteran audience and ensure we are here for years to come. I would also like to give a very special ‘Thank You’ to my Assistant Editor, VL Stevenson. His dedication and willingness to go above and beyond for this publication, continually astounds me. I hope you enjoy this issue,

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Table of ContentsTable of ContentsMessage from the Editor 3OP-ED 5Operation Deep DiveTM 6For the Love of a Veteran 8Hope 10VA Loan Basics 21DD-214 & Beyond 22Credit Management 24Where Angels Gathered 30'Mortaritaville' 32CreatiVets 34On Air with Stuart Sax 38'I Remember When...' 40SPAM 41From My Point of View: Spring 47V2VG: I Know Your Intensions 48Sorry, It Doesn't Bother Me 49Hot Button Weapons! 50Poem: It's Not Yours to Carry 52Voice for the Voiceless, Part V 54To Be Free 58TAPS 61 Book Review: 'Links to Liberty' 62The Perfect Home Workout for Stress 64Mind, Body, & Soul: Rebuilding the Mind, Body, & Spirit 66Poem: What If? 67Ode for Memorial Day 6825 Veteran Podcasts 70Crossword: 'Spring' Scavenger Hunt 72Foursome! 73Salute to Satire 74Coming Up in Our Next Issue 761313EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY TO TELL25254242CalCulated CalCulated CourageCourageCalCulated CalCulated CourageCourage4 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023MCATAMCATASO WHY THE QR CODES? It is simply a way for us to utilize technology and help make your reading experience more interactive. IT’S EASY!1. Open your phone’s QR Reader or Camera.2. Hold it over the QR Code3. A drop down link will appear, just tap it and it will take you to the extra content/website.444436361111NOT ON OUR WATCH!If you are a Vet struggling with thoughts of suicide, know that you are NOT ALONE! You are loved and there is no shame in reaching out for help! VETERANS CRISIS HOTLINE988Press 1 For Immediate HelpWE TATTOO WE TATTOO THE BRAVE!THE BRAVE!

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OP-EDAT EASE! Veterans Magazine understands that our readers have opinions regarding certain articles that we publish and we want to create an atmosphere of dialogue. We welcome respectful debate, critiques and/or compliments, understanding that, if necessary, we can agree to disagree without losing the kinship and camaraderie as Veterans. Jamie B., Thank you for your respectful opinion piece. We appreciate your perspective and keeping it issue specific. Our primary mission at AEVM is to give every Veteran a voice, whether we agree or disagree with a certain topic. I think it's also important to note, the article you mention was written in 'stream of consciousness' style writing that is often used as a therapeutic outlet. It allows the writer to be vulnerable and write without censoring or editing themselves for the purpose of trying to make sense of their own thoughts and emotions. It's important to AEVM that Veterans who contribute feel comfortable taking off the mask we all wear, keeping it honest with themselves and our readers. The AEVM TeamSpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 5I read an article the other day in AT EASE! Veterans magazine. Admittedly, I have never met this author, and in no way am I judging him or intending any disrespect. However, being a Marine, and due to the overwhelming shame and disappointment I experienced from reading the article, I felt obligated to respond. After reading the article several times, I could not ascertain the purpose of the article. The only common theme I perceived, was Marines are badasses, which we are, and all other Americans are, “takers not willing to do their part, yet feel they have the right to enjoy freedoms that they won’t ght for.” It should be noted, freedoms such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are afforded to all Americans, including the military, merely by being born in this country – no ghting required.The concept of enjoying said freedoms is the core value of the United States Constitution, which all service members are sworn to support and defend. The article’s author recollected a story, “I was told by a neighbor that I needed a light on my ag for ying at night.” To which the author replied, “I told him until he ghts for it, don’t tell me how to y my ag.” I believe only those willing to ght should join the combat arms of the US services. Only the minimum number of civilians is necessary to join and go to war. I do not want civilians to see the monsters we become or ght against. I don’t want them to smell the burnt esh, the aroma of iron due to such large quantities of blood, the screams of fear, confusion, anger, and pain. It is the job of the servicemen and women to shelter Americans from this burden. Nor do I want them to feel deterred from their right to free speech and correct a retired Marine on proper US Flag etiquette. To that neighbor, on behalf of the United States Marine Corps, I apologize. Additionally, the author asks, “Where were you when this country was attacked on 9/11?” Personally, I was sitting on my couch in my underwear watching the live feed of the attacks. I was drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette after a 10-12 hour night shift as a Texas Police Ofcer. I can say without a doubt, due to the regularity of every shift, I, like many other ofcers, was putting our lives on the line long before 9/11. “The closest most have come to combat is watching the movie, We Were Soldiers.” I learned in the rst Gulf War; the anticipation of death is worse than death itself. That being said, I can genuinely say, responding to domestic disputes, sexual assaults, trafc accidents in the middle of a crowded highway, or approaching a stranger at a trafc stop with the absolute mindset the driver might pull a gun and shoot you, are all situations consisting of anticipation of death. Like a Marine leaving the wire, anytime your job requires you to wear a bulletproof vest, carry a gun, and cause you to mentally prepare yourself you might die today, is combat. The author asked, “Does the reader know the name of the rst Marine Killed in Iraq?” No, I don’t, do you know the name of the rst reman killed responding to the attack? Does knowing either name make any of us less deserving of our freedoms?” Ironically, the author states, “Those who mocked you, know only emptiness in their hearts, and to ll that emptiness they must put you down.” And in the very next sentence degrades the non-ghters as cowards, “While cowards lay in their beds hoping and praying that you would put down the tyrant, so he could lay in comfort and not have to ght for the freedom you provide” the author stated.In closing, I found great discomfort in reading how he, or anyone for that matter, could rationalize, generate, and then compose a statement where they can describe themselves as the “dark angel” or the “savior of the world’. To the author’s last point, “while other old men will realize their life lived for so long has no meaning. They will wish that they could have been the hero.” To that I say, anyone who denes a meaningful life being identied as a hero is only seeking glory. Jamie B. - USMC"For what avail the plough or sail, For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?or land or life, if freedom fail? " -- Ralph Waldo Emerson--

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6 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023DoD data focused on male and female FSMs between the ages of 18-64. This population provides the greatest detail of the military service experience and is validated by DoD.3OpDD™ used the denition of SIM cited by the CDC and NIH as accidents or undetermined deaths aligned with self-harm/suicidal behavior, which have been attributed predominantly to overdose deaths.MAJOR FINDINGSStates undercount FSMs deaths at a combined error rate of 25%• States undercounted FSMs status 18% of the time and counted non-FSMs as FSMs 7% of the time.OpDD™ identied a 37% greater suicide rate than reported by VA for years 2014-2018. The difference in the data is likely due to under-counting of FSMs deaths and the greater specicity of the decedent’s demographics, military experience, and death details available to OpDD™.OpDDTM identied that the number of suicides represented in the eight states (18% of US veterans), are 1.37 times greater than reported by the VA from 2014-2018. If these eight states and age adjustment represented a national rate:OPERATION DEEP DIVE™ SUMMARY OF INTERIM REPORTEXECUTIVE SUMMARYOperation Deep Dive™ (OpDDTM), a former service member (FSM)1 suicide and self-injury mortality (SIM)2 study encompassing eight states and ve years of death data corroborated by the Department of Defense (DoD), indicates that FSMs take their own lives each year at a rate approximately 2.4 times greater than previously reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). OpDD™ data analytics was able to identify FSMs with the greatest probability of taking their own life. This interim report highlights the need to expand data sets to include additional states and the VA, and jointly identify suicide and SIM prevention efforts for FSMs. The implications of the data for prevention analysis and prevention application raise awareness to help prevent FSMs from taking their lives because “Together, We Can Do Better.”ABOUT OPERATION DEEP DIVETMAmerica’s Warrior Partnership (AWP) has contracted with the University of Alabama to obtain state data. In phase two, AWP has contracted with Duke University to analyze state-provided death data, coordinate with DoD to corroborate military afliation, and identify commonalities of the person, military service, and their death. This rst phase of OpDD™ was funded by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.OpDD™ has examined ve years of FSM and civilian death data from eight states: Alabama, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon.In our Spring 2022 PTSD feature, we wrote an article on the Veteran suicide rates based on the VA's 2021 annual report. In reading the fine print of that report, we found that they were utilizing their 2019 data, essentially making the 2021 report void. In October, I saw a news article, explaining that the Suicide rates among Veterans was much higher than previously reported. This data came from Operation Deep DiveTM, of America's Warrior Partnership. I reached out to the lead investigator and through that conversation, we created a partnership to follow their ongoing study and share that information with our readership, as it continues to become available.Christine Walker | Editor in ChiefAll data and graphics are used with the express permission of America's Warrior Partnership and Operation Deep DiveTM. NEW STUDY FINDS VETERAN SUICIDE FAR EXCEEDS VA REPORTS

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 7• Approximately 24 FSMs die per day by suicide (determined by coroner or medical examiner) compared to the VA’s 2014-2018 average of 17.7 veteran suicides per day.• Approximately 20 FSMs die per day by Self-Injury Mortality (SIM)– previously listed as accidents/undetermined – over 80% are coded as overdose deaths.• If these eight states collectively represented the national rate, the combined death rate would be at least 44 FSMs per day which is 2.4 times higher than the VA suicide rate.OpDDTM analysis identied military service experience characteristics to rene the identication of FSMs with the highest probability of taking their lives.• The longer someone has served in the military, the lower their probability of taking their own life is 2% for every year served.• Those who served in the military for less than three years were at greatest risk for suicide/SIM.• Receiving a demotion during military service increased the FSM’s odds of dying by suicide/SIM by 56%.• FSMs from the Coast Guard were most likely to die from suicide/SIM, followed by Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force.OpDDTM analysis exposed lifestyle experiences to rene the identication of FSMs with the highest probability of taking their own lives.• In general, gender and race diversity were not associated with increased odds of suicide/SIM. Most FSM suicides and SIM were male and white.• Local and state communities differed for at-risk demographics and specic areas of concern depending on the characterization of FSMs in the community.• Living with a partner decreased the odds of suicide/SIM by nearly 40%.• Data indicate that FSMs are at a higher risk of dying from suicide/SIM or natural causes such as heart disease or cancer before age 64 than those who never served in the military.RECOMMENDATIONS• SIM must be included in any analysis of FSM and veteran death.• Improvements are needed at the local, state, and national levels regarding death reporting:o Data standardization and the use of ICD codes regarding suicide and SIM would improve insights.o Coroners and Medical Examiners need better funding with standardized tools and approaches for accounting for FSM deaths.o DoD and the VA should make available a tool for coroners/medical examiners to validate military service as a part of the death record.• VA must share data to ll in important gaps in OpDDTM datao Incorporating other sources of data, such as VA health care and benets, will improve the success of prevention approaches.o Integrating identied state death data with military service data enables the nation, states, and counties to develop impactful/measurable suicide/SIM prevention approaches.• States must make death data available, with proper controls, for research purposeso More state data are needed for OpDDTM. By participating in OpDDTM it will help the states and counties reduce FSM death.• This can be used to effectively identify those at higher risk. Increased participation by states will provide further details and data accuracy to assist in greater specicity of those most at-risk.One-size-ts-one approach is needed to prevent premature non-natural death. Former service member suicide and SIM methods of death differ signicantly from state to state and from community to community.• Prevention strategies must begin at the community level by holistically focusing on housing, meaningful employment, nancial security, relationships, purpose, physical health, and mental well-being. Solely focusing on the mechanism of death does not address the root cause of suicide/SIM.NEXT STEPS FOR OPERATION DEEP DIVETM• AWP moved OpDD™ to Duke University in order to expand the data set over the next four years and develop strategies that can be used at the national, state, and county levels to prevent FSM deaths.• Increase the number of states sharing data and participating in OpDD™• Incorporate US Department of Veterans Affairs data into OpDD™• With a larger data set, further analyze the cause of death in relationship to:o Years of military serviceo Time since discharge from military serviceo Characterization of dischargeo Military Service, Specialty, and Unit of Assignmento Military deployment historyo Incidents occurring during military service (e.g., MST, trauma, or exposure)o Protective factors of those who transition in the National Guard or Reserve prior to deatho Services received from the Department of Veterans Affairso Community services available• Work with government and non-government stakeholders to use OpDD™ ndings to help prevent FSM suicide/SIM.For more information regarding study design, methodology, data, and limitations, please refer to the Methodology Report.TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OPERATION DEEP DIVETM, SCAN THE QR CODE >> OR VISITAMERICASWARRIORPARTNERSHIP.ORG/DEEP-DIVE

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8 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023FOR FOR THETHE LOVE LOVE OF AOF A VETERAN VETERANLast fall, I had the privilege to connect with Lance Price, a fellow Navy Corpsman. During our conversation, he told me about a PTSD treatment he had undergone made possible through the Veteran organization, For the Love of a Veteran. Of course, I was interested … I’m always interested in sharing with our readers, the boots on the ground organizations and therapies that help to improve the life of our brothers and sisters.FOR THE LOVE OF A VETERAN The organization was started by Christine Waltz in 2013 in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Inspired by her son, who served in Afghanistan, the original mission was to “help those who selessly protect us every day. We are here to give aid and raise funds for Deployed Troops and homeless Veterans. We also aim to raise awareness and help in the ght against PTSD.”But in 2021, their mission focus changed to “’Saving Lives one Veteran at a time’ Providing access to a life-changing and life-saving medical procedure known as SGB (Stellate Ganglion Block) at no charge to our Nation’s Heroes, including Transportation and lodging if necessary.”MORE ABOUT LANCE PRICELance served as an FMF Corpsman for almost 18 years with the Marine Corps, with 3 deployments in OIF, 3 deployments in OEF, and a 15-month tour in Bahrain. He was diagnosed with PTS and TBI in 2007. Lance recalls, “I ended up getting medically retired after 18 years due to TBI and PTSD. That was one of my hardest moments, and in the last two years of my service, I was pushing a desk. All I’ve known is military for the longest time. It really set me off, [and made] my PTS even worse. Transition sucks!” STELLATE GANGLION BLOCK (SGB)After his discharge, Lance and his wife Amber, who is also a Marine Veteran, settled into post-military life. But Lance had a very short fuse and struggled with hyper-vigilance. For nine long years, he and Amber endured every treatment the VA could throw at him. In 2021, he connected to Christine through a mutual friend and learned more about For FOR THE LOVE OF A VETERAN VIDEOBy Christine Walker

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 9the Love of a Veteran and through her, found out about a groundbreaking treatment called Stellate Gangilion Block. According to the Stellate Institute website, Co-founded by Dr. James Lynch, a 31-year Army Veteran and Dr. Sean Mulvaney, a Navy SEAL and Army Physician , “The stellate ganglion block (SGB) is a procedure in which an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic, using ultrasound guidance, is made in the side of the neck around the main nerve that controls the “ght or ight” response (the sympathetic nervous system). This nerve, (the cervical sympathetic chain) which is a two-way conduit, connects the parts of the brain that control the ght or ight response (referred to as the central autonomic network) to the rest of the body. By blocking or “turning off” the trafc in the cervical sympathetic chain, it is believed that the parts of the brain that control the ght or ight response are allowed to completely reset, resulting in long-term relief of the associated anxiety symptoms.”1 A note of interest, SGB has been used in military treatment facilities since 2010, “to help keep warriors on combat teams at top performance.” And many physicians and clinicians believe that SGB should be incorporated into standard PTS/PTSD care.  1“When you’ve suffered with something for so long and all you want is your life back, you’re willing to accept some of these treatments that probably are not the best treatments for us, including putting lasers into my head, and they may even be making us worse. Who the hell knows? But when you’re so desperate you’ll try anything. And at the point I met Christine, I was desperate. So, when somebody said that they were gonna give me a shot of lidocaine in my neck, I was like, OK. Again, it’s not the weirdest thing I’ve been asked to do,” Lance said laughing. Lance watched the video and when he found out that this procedure had been used and tested since 2010, he was livid, “Why isn’t this in the news? Why isn’t this making frontline headlines? I’ll tell you why, because they don’t make money off of it. It’s a local anesthetic. It’s just lidocaine being introduced into a nerve in the neck. So, they don’t make any money off Big Pharma that way.”Meanwhile, Veterans like Lance are prescribed pill after pill, with little relief, and even worse, sometimes the prescription medications have staggering side effects that actually diminish their quality of life in profound ways. THE PROCEDUREBryan Weiss, Lance’s friend, and business partner shares the journey of Lance’s treatment. “It was scheduled for Monday, and we had been in Florida for an event. And my wife says ‘I think we should stay the extra day just to make sure everything goes right.’ She’s one of those ‘you gotta be around kind of people.’ And she was right. Monday morning, after breakfast, the doctor called, and he had COVID. The doctor canceled the treatment. And we’re in the back of an SUV that Christine’s husband Michael had rented. I see the look on Lance’s face, and it was like the rug was ripped out from under him. It was just another ‘Oh my God, here we go again’ kind of thing. And then I watched Christine on the phone all day, every doctor that does the treatment up and down the East Coast, and by 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon she had Lance scheduled in York, PA the next day. Airline tickets and everything, all set up. [I knew] this is someone who I wanted to work with now.POST SGBLance recounts, “I normally slept maybe two to three hours a night, unbroken…if that. Once I received the shot, I got home, and I think I slept for about 18 hours straight. I woke up and I felt refreshed. I could see things differently, and I was not as easily angered. I have now cut my VA medications in half because of SGB. I was suicidal, but thanks to the shot, I have had zero suicidal thoughts since I’ve had it. I can say it’s been a life changer for me. It’s not only been a life changer for me but also a life changer for all my family around me as well. My goal is to get the information out there because there are so many different types of treatment for PTSD, but it could just take that one treatment that’s going to help you. The more things that are out there for veterans to know of, the better off we are because there is less suicide. Especially after Afghanistan. I’ve Continued on Page 53

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Hope is the greatest gift you can ever give. Especially during a time when it seems like there is a void of hope. Share your dreams, goals, or aspirations with someone and watch how quickly they dash them with their lack of hope. This article is designed to give you hope. What is hope you say, glad you asked. Hope as a noun is, a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Now that we all know the meaning of hope, let’s take a deep dive into how hopeful we are.What are you hopeful about? What is that one thing you hope will happen this year? It doesn’t have to be personal; it could be something for a friend, family member, or our country. For starters, I am hoping the VA will get better at serving us, lol. It is ok to laugh. Seriously, I am hoping for more opportunities to speak and spread hope to others. This hope is what drives me, it helps me when I face rough days and difcult moments. When we have hope for something, it becomes the fuel we need to face adversities. If you are unable to think of what you are hopeful for this year, I would like to invite you to a quiet moment with yourself. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, why am I not hopeful? Has life and circumstances gotten the best of me and caused me to stop being hopeful? Do I have people around me who are hopeful and speak about hope? Hanging around people who are hope killers will cause you to stop hoping. Lastly, have your hopes been deferred, delayed, or denied? Having hope for something can be exhausting but it is worth the wait. Allow me to share a quick testimony about hope. I had a hope that took 15 years to come to pass. Every day, week, month, and year I would hope that it would be my turn, but to no avail. As I waited, I would see others get the very thing I was hoping for. I got mad some days, I got angry someday and I even wanted to stop hoping some days. However, what I was hoping for was too big to let go. Therefore, I continued to hope. I would get small victories of hope along the way, but not the big ones. It was the small victories that allowed me to stay in the ght. After waiting year after year, nally, the thing I was hoping for came through. I don’t know who is reading this article. However, I have this to say to you. Don’t stop hoping. It may seem like your hope is in vain but it is not. It may seem like you have been hoping forever. It may seem like it will never happen, but it will. Be of good courage and continue to HOPE. Your day is coming. Hope you the best!HOPEby David Gethers2907 NW Airport Rd.Idabel, OK 74745(903) 870-8222helihognllc@gmail.comSky-Hunters.comSKYHUNTER OUTFITTERS OPERATES 1 BELL 206 L3 HELICOPTER10% DISCOUNT FOR ACTIVE MILITARY, VETERANS & FIRST RESPONDERSFB & IG: skyhunteroutfittersWITH OUR SISTER COMPANYPREMIER PREMIER HOG HUNTING HOG HUNTING IN IN OKLAHOMAOKLAHOMA

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 11M.A.I.D.There are many reasons why a person decides to join the military. One joins out of a sense of duty, love of country, honor or obligation, family tradition perhaps, or simply for college and job security among others. However, one thing is certain, a person is changed after having served. One of those changes is that the veteran develops a rather deep-rooted sense of cynicism about the system they served or the system(s) that exist to help them post-service.One may be curious as to why that is. After all, why would that be when there are, seemingly, so many veteran-assistance organizations and programs around? One simply needs to listen to veterans discuss the Veterans Affairs (VA) to begin to hear the horror stories that abound about the lack of appropriate medical care or prescription coverage.Likewise, there are many issues that veterans face when it comes to VA Comp & Penn claims and the monthly pensions they are issued, based on their disability ratings; some are fair, and many are considered decidedly unfair. All this to say that there are a great many problems within the VA system, a system that, when functioning does a great job of taking care of veterans and dependents and, when not functioning properly, puts a massive burden upon them. As mentioned, horror stories abound.This brings us to our brothers and sisters of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). They too have a VA, the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). The VAC is very much the same agency as the United States organization and has the same mission, to serve veterans in need.Unfortunately, lately, that mission has been a bit derailed by the public revelation of the VAC offering their veterans Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Yes, you read that correctly. The VAC, on multiple occasions, offered their veterans assistance in committing suicide instead of helping them with what they were contacted for. More on that later.MAID was legalized in Canada in 2016 and has had multiple amendments added to it to allow for greater and greater accessibility including, as of 2023, allowing for people who suffer from mental disorders to be eligible. (NY Post, 2022) It is important to note that MAID is not an ofcial VAC program and is not supposed to be offered by VAC employees.One of the instances that came to light was brought forward by a distraught CAF veteran who called the VAC seeking help for his diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) injuries. After speaking with a VAC caseworker, MAID was offered and naturally it was immediately rejected. This veteran then went public with the information.Another instance of MAID being offered was by CAF veteran Christine Gauthier, who is also a Canadian Paralympian of the 2016 games in Brazil. She claims she was offered MAID no less than four times and has since led a lawsuit. In response to her claims and lawsuit, Canadian Minister of the VA Paul Ledwell told the Canadian House of Commons that they investigated over four hundred thousand internal documents and found “no instances of MAID being offered.”However, many veterans in Canada, the United States, and indeed around the world scoff at Mr. Ledwell’s response and wryly respond that of course the VAC would say that, why would they incriminate themselves? Unfortunately for Mr. Ledwell, a further external investigation has shown that yes, in fact at least one VAC caseworker, now suspended, had suggested MAID on no less than ve separate occasions. That, naturally, ies in the face of their own, internal, investigation (National Post 2022).The VAC and America’s VA are bureaucracies with a great deal of red tape and hoops to jump through, and yes many veterans can and do, fall through the cracks. This is why it is so very vital that veterans stay on top of their situation by keep calling, emailing, postalmailing—whatever it takes to get the answers they need. Furthermore, it is so very important to have an educated and, ideally, accredited advocate on your side to make sure that you are receiving everything you are entitled to and not being offered, for instance, something like MAID.One can nd accredited Veteran Service Ofcers (VSO’s) by contacting their state’s military assistance ofce, or even their local VFW or DAV ofce. If that proves to be ineffective, please consider contacting and simply ask who their nearest VSO is and they can provide that information via email.Another key piece of advice is to keep copies, at least two, of every ofcial letter or email that is sent to you. One never knows when or how it could be useful. Most veterans already know this, and never, ever provide an outside agency with an original, always provide a copy even if it needs to be certied, do it. One also should keep a journal of names of caseworkers they spoke with, and times of a call, incoming and outgoing. Again, it could be useful if things go sideways. It may seem like overkill, but better to be safe than sorry.The Veterans Affairs agency is fantastic when it operates correctly and, by and large, is truly lled with people who are there to help and who wish to help. There are, as is said, bad apples, in every barrel. Please don’t let the horror stories keep you from seeking the assistance you earned or that your loved one earned. Keep ghting, and if you are mistreated, rock that boat. Do it for yourself, for your family, and for all who will come after you.of DishonorWritten by: Eric McNail

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"A     "A                           .”    .”— A  G— A  G12 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023

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14 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023How many times have we all been there? How many times have we wanted to call out military leadership for decisions, especially those motivated by political or personal agendas, knowing damn well that they are going to end very badly? What kind of moral certitude does it take to put everything on the line? Most of us know Lt.Col. Stuart Scheller as the Marine who, in uniform as a Battalion Commander, made a video calling out military and political leadership to be accountable for their horric logistical decisions during the pull-out from Afghanistan. His issue was not with the withdrawal itself, but the decisions made on ‘how’ the withdrawal was being executed. Decisions that not only let down service members on the ground but directly resulted in the death of 11 Marines, one Corpsman, and one Soldier on August 26, 2021. THE ROCKY ROAD TO VALHALLA…But who exactly is Stuart Scheller? What motivated and forged him into a Marine who was willing to put everything on the line? Stuart grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating college with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Cincinnati in 2004, he felt lost. Stuart’s only connection to the Military was a grandfather who served during WWII, storming the beaches of Normandy and he survived. But other than that, growing up, the military just wasn’t a topic of conversation nor was it seen as a viable option for his future. “I had graduated college and I found myself at a point in my life where I was searching for purpose, and I just couldn’t nd it. I thought perhaps a college degree would lead me down a path that was accomplished. I didn’t really nd that. And you know, pecking away as an accountant wasn’t fullling. It just happened that right at that time was the full-scale war, probably the height of Iraq, and it was all over the news. The truth is, I was always athletic and always aggressive. The reason I wanted to join the military was to get into the ght, not to just say I served. I really wanted to serve at the edge of the empire. I just had a calling to serve, so I talked to the Marine recruiter.”Yes, you read that right. “Nowadays everyone, when they think of the tip of the spear, they think of special forces. But back in 2004, for me, the Marine Corps Infantry seemed like the tip of the spear. I didn’t know the difference between an ofcer and enlisted, so I went into an enlisted recruiting station and [told them] I want to be an ofcer. [The Recruiter] said ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, why don’t you come back here and take this test, and then we can talk about it’. I guess it was the pre-ASVAB. I went back, [took the test], and scored really high.” Stuart said laughing. Eventually, he was pointed in the right direction and was off to OCC. “Most people have somebody in the family that’s in the military and most of the ofcers are prior enlisted or if they’re not prior-enlisted, they went through ROTC. And so, they all had some kind of baseline. I had no baseline. I didn’t even know instructors were gonna yell at me. I was lost. But I gured it out. My point is, it took me almost until I was a First Lieutenant to really be on par with my peers and start excelling. It took me those rst three years of just [getting] acclimatized into the culture to really be able to excel as a Marine.17 YEAR CAREERAs Marine Corps careers go, Stuart’s was damn near perfect. He was deployed ve times, spending time in Ramadi Iraq, and Paktika & Ghanzi Afghanistan; received three Meritorious Service Medals, three Navy Commendations, two Army Commendations with “V” for Valor, a Bronze Star, and a Combat Action Ribbon.Within Stuart’s upward projection within the Marine Corps, he denitely paid his dues and earned his rank. Seven years in, Stuart was a Captain and deployed on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. During one mission, Stuart recounts, “There was a helicopter ying machine gun supplies to an outpost on the edge of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I don’t know what happened. They pickled it, which means the pilot deemed it unsafe and dropped the container in the mountains. Once that happened, the leadership sent EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) up with the Army infantry to assess if they could reattach the HRST (helicopter rope suspension technique) to a wire and y it out. And they wanted EOD there just in case they needed to blow it up. I was working with EOD, so I went with them. The mission was supposed to be pretty simple; y in, see if we can hook it up, and if not, blow it up. That’s what our thought process was. We got own in and found it couldn’t be rehooked. So, we sent the request back to HQ to blow it up. But to our surprise, they said no, because it was all 50 caliber machine guns, [even though] they were all burned and useless. But they still wanted us to bring it out because it’s serialized gear. So we had to hike 50 Cal upper receivers and lower receivers through the mountains, which took much longer than expected because of the weight. At that point, we were moving so slowly that the Taliban probed us with a couple of gunghts, but it wasn’t intense. It was like, you know from 800 meters someone takes ‘a’ shot. You gotta stop and get security. So, the point is, the mission just drug out. By the time we got back to the landing zone where we had gotten dropped, it was nightfall, and the pilots were not comfortable landing there at night. The decision was made to come get us in the morning. We found ourselves in a position now at the top of this mountain realizing we had to spend the night and we were not prepared for that. As we sat on security, with the wind ripping on the top of the mountain, we froze. Hindsight is 20/20, obviously we should have packed better, but everyone just had their patrol day bag. It got so bad that I hopped in a body bag with another guy because I thought I was going to hype out,” he laughed. Shortly after returning stateside, Stuart recounts a story he wished he would have put in his book. “I had an IOC instructor, Captain Allen, who got out [of the Corps] and went to CIA Ground Branch. While I was at EWS (Expeditionary Warfare school), CIA Ground Branch came to give us a [lecture] on capability and what CIA Ground Branch does. Well, Captain Allen had just been in Eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan operating in that border Young, 2nd Lt. Scheller

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Spring 2023| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 15region, which is where I was for a year, and there were not many Marines there, so he just assumed, talking to 200 Marines, that no one had been there. And he starts saying, ‘you know, the Marine Corps’ purpose is not killing people, It’s stability. If people need to be killed, it’s us.’ So, I took issue with that. As I’m still listening to him, he keeps talking about the different roles of organizations and how lethal the CIA Ground Branch is, so I stood up and I asked the question; you said the Marine Corps is all about stability and you go kill people and you said you operated in Western Afghanistan & Eastern Pakistan. There is a network called the Haqqani network that I know you’re familiar with, and the leader of that network [being] Mullah Sangeen Zadran. If Zadran walked in from Pakistan into Afghanistan and you were able to talk to him, would you try to bring him into the government that we’re creating, or would you kill him? Allen looks at me, and he says, ‘Man, that’s a really good question.’ And then I lost it. Are you serious? You’re CIA Ground Branch, and I asked you a critical fucking question about the strategy of what we’re doing, and you haven’t thought about it, and you’re lecturing us about killing people? And then, that’s when it hit me. You know, all of our agencies are trying to prove lethality and validity without looking at the bigger picture. No one was rationally thinking why isn’t the CIA Ground Branch developing intel that can help us develop a coherent strategy? And since that’s the case, then what the fuck are we doing? Is there any real interagency strategy [or] war plan? Are they thinking at all? There’s no continuity and it’s, it’s bad business!”Scheller, taking a break in Andar AfghanistanScheller, taking a break in Andar Afghanistan“Senior generals are promoted based on their “Senior generals are promoted based on their willingness to please superiors. Said another willingness to please superiors. Said another way, they are promoted because they don’t push way, they are promoted because they don’t push back. Thus, when General Kenneth E. McKenzie back. Thus, when General Kenneth E. McKenzie addressed why he withdrew military forces addressed why he withdrew military forces in Afghanistan during the peak fighting in Afghanistan during the peak fighting season before evacuating American citizens, his season before evacuating American citizens, his justification, ‘I was following the orders I was justification, ‘I was following the orders I was given,’ was not surprising.” given,’ was not surprising.” – Lt.Col. Scheller, ‘Crisis of Command’– Lt.Col. Scheller, ‘Crisis of Command’

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16 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023In this instance of boldness, calling out the hypocrisy of Captain Allen, Stuart unknowingly foreshadowed his actions on that August evening of 2021. THE DECISIONWhat kind of inner fortitude does it take to concretely espouse the values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment? To what lengths is someone willing to go, putting absolutely everything on the line for the sake of moral integrity and to set the example genuine transparent leadership?On August 18, 2021, Marine Corps Commandant, General Berger released a message that stated: “Marines, As each of us tries to comprehend the speed and scope of events in Afghanistan this week, some may be struggling with a simple question: “Was it all worth it?” We see videos and photos, we read stories that bring back memories for some of us, and it becomes intensely personal. We value human life and we want to believe that what Marines have done in Afghanistan made a difference. While Sergeant Major Black and I don’t presume to speak for you or your family, we would like to offer our thoughts so you know where your senior leaders stand. We both believe – without question – that your service was meaningful, powerful, and important. You answered the call to serve, proudly carrying the torch of so many generations of Marines before you. You put the good of others before yourself. You fought to defend your country, your family, your friends, and your neighbors. You fought to prevent terror from returning to our shores. You fought for the liberty of young Afghan girls, women, boys, and men who want the same individual freedoms we enjoy as Americans. You fought for the Marine to your left and the Marine to your right. You never let them down. You never, ever gave up. You lived with purpose, with intention. Whether you realize it or not, you set an example for subsequent generations of Marines – and Americans – by living our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Was it worth it? Yes. Does it still hurt? Yes…”1On the surface this seems all well and good, but Stuart writes, “I felt a deep rage burning in my belly after reading the letter. If the Commandant had any Honor, Courage & Commitment, he would have acknowledged why the service members were so frustrated. They were frustrated by the way the withdrawal/evacuation was conducted. They were frustrated that senior leaders let them down.”The proverbial straw was the death of 13 service members by a suicide bomber in Kabul. A bomber that highly likely could have been one of the prisoners left at Bagram Air Base when it was deserted by American forces. Stuart’s decision to make the now infamous video was an outlet to voice his frustration with respect to the lack of transparency of leaders who utterly refused to be accountable for the devastating outcome in Afghanistan. But posting it was not as many suspect, immediate nor was it a knee-jerk response that Stuart would later regret. 1 fact, he recorded the video the evening of August 26th, saved it to his phone without posting it online, and went home; never mentioning it to his wife. Over the subsequent hours of making the video, he mentally and emotionally calculated the cost and the almost certain repercussions that would follow if it were posted. Stuart knew it would cost him his command, possibly his career, and the stability of his family, but the overwhelming, one truth kept coming back to him; “the reason people are so upset on social media right now is not that the Marine on the battleeld let someone down. That service member has always risen to the occasion and done extraordinary things. People are upset because their senior leaders let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying we messed this up.” THE AFTERMATHEach one of us has a personal moral compass. It’s effortless to speak about and even believe in ideologies like integrity, courage, honor, and commitment. But just how much are we willing to sacrice to live out our convictions? For Stuart Scheller, the answer was and still is… everything. Stuart posted the video, went up to bed and that’s when his wife walked in asking if he had posted the video. “Yes, I posted a video. You need to watch it.” She pulled up the video and watched from the chair in our bedroom… When she nished watching, she took a second to collect her thoughts. Then she stared at me lying in the bed. ‘Wow. You really went for it, huh? I wish you would have talked to me about this rst. Stu, you’re going to get us in trouble. You need to take this down. Please take it down.’View Scheller Video #1Ghazni, AfghanistanFOB Andar, Afghanistan

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… So, I took a deep breath and answered her, ‘Babe, there’s no taking it down. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once you’ve made a post like that. But even if I could, I’m not sure I’d want to. I really believe in everything I said.’…She studied me when I spoke. She knew me well enough to realize I didn’t post the video by mistake. She also absorbed the conviction on my face and realized I was in fact, ready to be red over the video… Trying to avoid the ght, I walked downstairs and sat on the couch. While I sat there, my phone rang off the hook. I didn’t have the energy to answer it. Some of the people who texted were able to get through. One of the text conversations was with a peer at MARSOC. He texted, ‘Stu, everyone knows what you said in the video is correct. But it will come at too high of a personal cost. And you’re not going to change anything. You need to take the video down.’ I responded, ‘I’m not taking the video down. This is the hill I’m willing to die on. The emperor has no clothes. You must see it.’2With the wheels in motion, routinely, Stuart would have been the rst in the ofce. But it just so happened that he had to take his son to an appointment, and by the time he arrived on base, he was being summoned to Command eld ofce. Within just minutes, Stuart was relieved of his command. Within 72 hours, Stuart made another video. He drove to his ‘farm’, which consisted of a tract of land with North Carolina Pines, and a refurbished school bus that was used by a Veteran non-prot group. “The school bus was normally a place where veterans discussed their experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. It felt like an appropriate place to state, ‘I want senior leaders to accept accountability. I think them accepting accountability would do more for service members with PTSD and struggling with purpose than any other transparent piece of paper or message.”3Sitting in a chair with a chess board in front of him, Stuart outlined the fallout from the rst video and doubled down on his commitment to his convictions. “… I just want to clarify my legal status. I have been relieved of my command, but I am still a United States Marine. Currently, I am not pending legal action. I think the plan was to hide me away for three years, letting an investigation take place, but not send me to a board of inquiry where they would have separated me on other than honorable conditions. And so I had the choice where I could remain silent, keep my retirement for three years, and quite honestly, live the dream. But I don’t think that’s the path I’m on. I’m resigning my Commission as a United States Marine, effective now. But I am forfeiting my retirement… I don’t want a single dollar. I don’t want any money from the VA. I don’t want any VA benets. … You know, all I asked for was accountability of my senior leaders when there are clear, obvious mistakes that were made.”In the advent of posting the second video, all hell broke loose. Within hours, his phone was blowing up, and well-meaning friends were asking about his well-being as if he were suicidal. Fox News and CNN picked up the story, NCIS was looking for him, but never contacted him directly, and the Marine Corps issued an ofcial statement hinting at a mental health breakdown. Stuart’s wife had had enough. She kicked him out of the house and not wanting to deal with people at that moment, he rented a cheap room at a Jacksonville no-tell Motel.“I laid in bed thinking about my next moves. Would the command order a mental health evaluation? I’m sure they needed validation 2 Crisis of Command; Chapter 10, pg 1323 Crisis of Command; Chapter 11, pg 147that I was crazy. Was I crazy? Was I expecting too much from my leadership? I didn’t think so… but then again…does a crazy person know they’re crazy? I hoped I was strong enough to stand up to their scrutiny. As I continued to play hypotheticals through in my mind, I listened to a young Marine having sex with what I imagined was a stripper in the room next to me. Listening to her scream made me laugh despite everything going on at that point. Semper Fi Mother Fucker (SFMF), I thought and then drifted off to sleep.”4 Monday morning, Stuart was given an order for a formal psych eval and escorted to the base hospital. After the evaluation, he was released and returned to his command, much to the chagrin of his CO. And while Stuart remained unwavering in his convictions, he continued to add fuel to the re with two more videos and several Facebook posts. In less than 30 days, he lost his command, was under investigation, his marriage became a casualty, and now there was a consistent and often heavily biased stream of reporters contacting him. UNEXPECTED ALLIESThroughout his Marine Corps career, Stuart had pushed his parents away. But while he was wrangling senior leadership within his command, his parents stepped up. Stuart also linked with a foundation that immediately connected him to an attorney and created a pay portal to assist with his legal fees. And then, of course, there were the junior service members who consistently thanked him for being their voice, showing their unwavering support. On Friday, September 17, Stuart arrived at work and was presented with a gag order. A week later, he decided to test the waters. “First, I wanted to see if my command would justify sending me to jail for violating a gag order. Second, I wanted to separate myself from political parties and demonstrate how my contempt was with the entire system of government and not one political party. Third, I wanted to apply pressure on the generals testifying before congress,” Stuart writes.5After making the social media post, Stuart was contacted by his attorney about his impending incarceration. He then called his parents, giving them phone numbers and instructions as his proxy, and nally, he wiped his phone. On September 27, 2021, at 0800, Stuart arrived at work and found the MPs waiting for him. He was given a connement order with the justication of being a ight risk. “Just for ease of the book, I say I showed up Monday at 0800 and I went to jail. But the truth is it took them 2 hours that Monday morning to get their shit together. So, I showed up 4 Crisis of Command; Chapter 11, pg 1535 Crisis of Command; Chapter 15, pg 197Spring 2023| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 17The Scheller's: Cathy, Stu & Stu Sr.View Scheller Video #2View Scheller Video #3View Scheller Video #4

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18 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023at 0800 and waited around. I thought; I guess I’m not going to jail. So, I went across the street to Wendy’s and got breakfast. Around 1015, they got nally got their shit together and processed me [into the brig],” Stuart said laughing.Two days after his connement, his parents were interviewed on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, and his father, Stu Sr. said, “I said last night on a program, Tucker, his crime was speaking truth to power and power couldn’t handle it. I also said that while he broke the chain of command; Austin, Miley, and McKenzie, they broke the chain of trust and condence in the American people. We’re mad. We’re mad as hell. And I’m asking the American people to nd your voice. Stand up. Demand accountability of your Congress people.”During his trial, Stuart had the opportunity to speak to the court and in part, he said, “We need senior leaders who possess the moral courage to push back when something doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, I understand that my process of criticism was unorthodox and not within ofcial Marine Corps channels. I essentially requested mast in a very public setting. I acknowledge that it was potentially damaging to the Marine Corps’ reputation. But I felt the conversation and need for change outweighed the potential negative bad press. I did what I did because I thought it was in the best long-term interest of the Marine Corps.”6Colonel Hines, acted as a fair judge and arbitrator, looking at the facts of Stuart’s case. He also sharply rebuked the conict of interest of his CO acting as convening authority, as well as listing himself as a victim on the charge sheet which bordered on illegal. He also recognized statements on the charge sheet that were clearly taken out of context. But most troubling to him was the leaked investigation to the press which also contained Stuart’s medical records. it was outright illegal, needed to be investigated, and he stated that it ‘creates a specter of unlawful command inuence.’ Stuart pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was ordered to pay $5,000 in nes.6 Crisis of Command; Chapter 17, pg 220CRISIS OF COMMANDOn Christmas Eve, Lt.Col. Stuart Scheller was formally discharged from the Marine Corps. As the dust settled and the gag order lifted, Stuart wasted no time documenting his journey in vivid detail. He published Crisis of Command: How We Lost Trust and Condence in America’s Generals and Politicians in 2022 outlining every detail of his mindset, his actions, and his motivation demanding accountability. In an interview on the Mike Huckabee Show, Stuart said. “First of all, I’m pretty tough to destroy, so maybe they underestimated that. In the end, Lt.Col. Stuart Scheller paid an extremely high price for his moral stance, but even to this day, he has no regrets posting that video. It was in fact, done so with Calculated Courage.*AT EASE! Veterans Magazine highly recommends every Veteran read Crisis of Command. It is expertly written and delves into the minute details of Lt.Col. Scheller’s experience. To nd out what Stuart is up to today, visit his website: We make generals today on the basis of their We make generals today on the basis of their ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of men can’t get us ready for war. men can’t get us ready for war. – Chesty Puller– Chesty PullerStu & Tucker, during an interview on Fox News. Lt.Col. Scheller & Attorney's on the way to court.< Scan to purchase Crisis of Command < from Amazon.

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20 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Fall 2022Veteran OwnedBi-MonthlyFREE to ReadPowerful Interviews With YourFavorite Business LeadersNeed a SHIFT in Life? shiftlifedesign.comCheck out Shift AdvancedLife Design Magazine!

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 21VA HOME LOAN BASICSVA HOME LOAN BASICSThe VA Home Loan is the best loan product on the market. Backed by the Veteran’s Administration, the VA Home Loan provides more exibility in qualifying for service members, veterans, and their families. The VA Home Loan Benet is only available to active duty service members and Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, National Guard and Reserve service members and Veterans with an honorable discharge, certain eligible spouses, and other uniformed service personnel. To use your VA Home Loan Benet, you will need to go through a lender. The VA does not lend money - they guarantee part of the loan against loss, which helps provide more favorable lending terms.There are many advantages to the VA Home Loan. First and foremost, there is no credit score requirement. The VA loan uses common sense in evaluating the creditworthiness of borrowers. Some lenders may place credit score requirements but the VA itself does not require them. Secondly, the loan requires no down payment. While most loan programs require at least 3-5% down, the VA loan requires ZERO. Third, the VA Home Loan does not require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) each month. This provides large monthly savings to you. With the VA backing, interest rates are often lower than conventional loans. Additionally, closing costs are usually less on a VA loan than other loan programs. The VA Home Loan Benet helps our veterans and service members get into a home with less out-of-pocket money. Veterans can also use their VA Home Loan Benet multiple times. For those without a balance on their entitlement, there is also no maximum loan limit as there is with every other loan program.While there is no monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) premium, there is an upfront fee called a VA Funding Fee. This fee helps to lower the cost of the loan to all VA-eligible borrowers. This fee must be charged on all VA loans unless the Veteran is exempt because of a VA disability of 10% or more. It can be paid upfront or included in the loan amount.To determine your eligibility and whether you qualify for a VA home Loan, you should speak with a lender who is knowledgeable in the VA Home Loan to discuss your homebuying goals. In this conversation, the lender will review your budget, credit, income, expenses, and monthly budget to make sure you are prepared to buy a home.If you have questions regarding eligibility and qualifying, please reach out to me at any of the numbers below. I am happy to answer your questions.ROB YOUNCE USNA ‘93 | Military Mortgage Advisor OVM Financial powered by Annie MacNMLS# 1521082Phone: 757-605-0513Email: ryounce@annie-mac.comWebsite:

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DD-214 & BEYONDMARKET YOUR BUSINESS WITH A CAPABILITIES STATEMENTWritten by: Christina Mortel22 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023Recently I had the opportunity to review a handful of company capability statements. The business owners want to grow their business by creating a new revenue stream selling products and services to local, state, and federal government agencies. Although the companies vary by type and size, the one thing they have in common is creating the capabilities statement; an absolute necessity for any business that wishes to compete in the government space.The Capability statement is a one-page marketing document with four main categories: Company Information, Core Competencies, Differentiators, and Past Performance. When combined, this information provides a snapshot for Procurement and Contracting teams to assess your business’s ability to successfully compete to ll their product or service requirements. Let’s discuss each of these categories and the pertinent information to include in your statement. Company Information: Located on the top or on the side of the Cap statement, is your company name, logo, business address, website, contact information, and business certications. If room permits, include NAICS codes, NIGP codes ( for state agencies), and other information in this area required from your account. In this example, the reader can quickly scan the lefthand margin and view the pertinent information in just a few seconds. Core Competencies: In this section, start with a few sentences about your company including business services. Then specify the three or four areas that are the bread and butter of your business. Then bulletized for a quick read.Example: Established in 2017, XYZ LLC provides consulting services to manufacturers in the aeronautical industry. We specialize in:• Supply chain management and sourcing ( add a sentence / phrase to inform on this point) • Distribution networks • Warehousing• JITDifferentiators: In the area, highlight what makes your company different from competitors and how you can add value for the project you are bidding on. Differentiators examples may include:• Credentialled personnel/technical /specialized staff

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• Monthly post project check-in and evaluation/ audits• Operates 7 day/week.• Free overnight shipping• State of the art equipment• Availability/ Response Time for Project• Experience / Institutional Knowledge• No accidents or personal injury in last 36 months• Supply chain expertise and sourcing• On call 24/7Past Performance and /or Past Experience: Note in this space the government and the private sector contract work your company has completed. List most recent rst in descending order by date/year, with a brief description of the work completed. You could also list by dollar value of the contract. Include a statement like “Contact information provided upon request”. This way the agency can contact you to learn more about the project from your client. If you do not have any past contract work, use any relevant past experience from previous employment. Site examples of work and outcome. It all counts toward building your credibility. See highlighted area in sample. The Capability statement can also be used with private sector businesses too and it is a helpful leave behind after a client meeting. Send it in a follow-up email to be top of mind with your client. This is a marketing piece, and you can use it at trade shows, procurement conferences, client calls, and more. Don’t forget to add it to your website so government entities can nd it easily. Recommendations:• Keep the Cap statement to one page if possible. You have eight seconds to connect with the reader. It is prime real estate on the page - make it count.• Do not make the reader search for information. Segment information in a clear format. • Start with a foundational capability statement and customize it to the product/service opportunity. This may include updating NAICS codes, adding relevant past performance, include language that shows you have experience to address the agency’s specic project. • Request the local APEX Accelerator (formerly PTAC ofces) to review your capability statement before sharing it with agency representatives.• List accepted payment options- credit cards, etc.Additional Resources:• VA Capability Statement Template. cs_template_v3.pdf ( . Scan the QR code, open and download the capability statement and start to write and format your own statement. • Texas Veterans Commission VEP Government Contracting Guide: Check out the guide for capability statement samples and current information on local, state and federal contracting: you to UTSA SBDC Center for Government Contracting, for the use of the Sample Capability statement in this article. Editors Note* - sample logo changed and watermark added to ensure copyright compliance and printability. Christina Mortel is a US Army Desert Storm veteran and serves as a Small Business Advisor at Texas Women’s University - Center for Women Entrepreneurs. She is owner of Get Write to Business LLC. Do you have a start up story? Connect with Christina

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A major component in assessing personal nancial health is understanding your credit report and score. Understanding the components that impact credit is like understanding how income is spent to support daily and periodic expenses. To put it another way, debt management IS credit management.There are three credit reporting bureaus that monitor an individual’s credit activity: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These credit bureaus are independent of each other and may report credit activity differently from each other. Credit bureaus receive information from creditors who subscribe to that credit bureau. Most major creditors subscribe to all three bureaus to report their account holder’s credit activity. However, some creditors may report to only one or two bureaus. Be aware that the credit report generated by each credit bureau for a particular account holder may not be all the same. Therefore, the rst step to credit management is to review the credit reports generated by each reporting bureau. If reviewing for the rst time, credit reports from each credit bureau should be requested. This is an important rst step to identify which credit activities are being reported to each credit bureau by the account holder’s creditors. Federal law allows a free copy of a credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus. is the ONLY website that free credit reports can be requested. PLEASE NOTE for 2023, everyone can get a free credit report each week from each of the three credit bureaus through December 2023.Credit reports contain personal information about credit activity with respect to payment history and status of accounts with creditors. The report is organized by personal information; names/alias, date of birth, SSN, current and previous addresses, and phone numbers; credit account information; the creditor, type of account, payment history, and any accounts in collections; any public records such as bankruptcies and foreclosures; and inquiries made by creditors to access your credit report. More information on credit reports: https://www.consumer the credit reports for accuracy. The Fair Credit Reporting Act,FCRA, requires that credit report information is accurate. Furthermore, once incorrect information is identied, creditors and credit bureaus must make corrections in a timely manner. If there is incorrect information in the account holder’s report, the account holder can submit a dispute letter to the credit bureau reporting the account. By law, the bureaus and creditors must verify the disputed account information and must make corrections of the incorrect information once the dispute is validated. Correcting inaccurate information in credit reports will have a positive impact on the generation of credit scores.Here is a link for sample dispute letters: https://www.consumer credit score is generated based on activity reected in credit reports. A credit score is like a “Grade” an account holder has achieved based on how well their credit is managed. The score attempts to predict how likely the account holder can repay the loan based on their credit report history. There are different credit scores for a particular account holder which differ depending on which company and scoring model is used. For example, when an individual applies for a loan, the creditor will request a scoring model to generate a score based on the credit report history of the applicant. The creditor will decide to approve or decline a loan application and interest rate based on the score. There are two major companies creditors may use to generate scoring models: Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), and VantageScore. Both companies use models that assign a higher score for individuals who have low risk of default based on their credit report history. Both companies assign a credit score in the range of 300-850. Although Different scoring models generate different scores, below are categories that most creditors consider in making their consumer lending decisions.• Poor: 300 - 579• Fair: 580 - 669• Good: 670 - 739• Very Good: 740 - 799• Excellent: 800 and Up (850)FICO uses ve categories of information from the credit report and assigns the category’s importance by percentage of each category.VantageScore uses six categories of information from the credit report. Instead of assigning importance by percentages, it describes the level of inuence for each category.Payment history and credit utilization are categories that have the most impact in the overall scoring algorithm of each scoring company. One of the most important factors that inuence your credit score is on-time payment for the amount required. Additionally, credit utilization (how much credit has been used or committed) also has a signicant impact on the overall credit score. A rule of thumb is do not exceed more than 30% of credit utilization to maximize the score assigned to this category. Three action items that can immediately improve credit score:• Review credit reports periodically; at minimum at least once a year. Dispute any incorrect information in the credit report to remove it from the credit report.• Pay loans when they are due and for the amount required (the minimum payment) to keep the account in good standing.• Pay down consumer credit balances down to at least 30% of credit limit. For example, if the credit limit is $1,000, do not carry more than $300 balance owed in the account.Managing credit has a signicant inuence on building nancial wealth. Long term, it will either cause a delay or accelerate the growth of personal wealth. Paying high interest rates (more cash going to the creditors) on loans due to below average credit score will directly slow down the growth of nancial wealth. Paying lower interest (less cash to creditors) on loans due to good management of credit allows more cashow towards wealth building accounts such retirement investments or savings.Regardless of the current nancial situation, managing credit with the available resources and tools will accelerate progress towards building wealth. Below are links to more information about credit reports and credit scores:Annual Credit Report Information:, Reports and Credit Scores: https://www.consumer Dispute Letters:,(s)%20in%20question%20circled.FICO: https://www. Mortel Romy Mortel is an Army veteran and an Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) through the Association of Financial Planning and Education®(AFCPE®). Romy has over 25 years of experience in nancial services, providing nancial education and counselling. He has a Masters degree in Personal Financial Planning, a graduate Certicate in Financial Therapy and Financial Planning. You can reach out to Romy in LinkedIn: AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023COMPARISON CHART | FICO vs VantageScore FICO VantageScore ↳Your payment history (35%) ↳The amounts you owe, or credit utilization (30%) ↳The length of your credit history (15%) ↳The mix of your credit accounts (10%) ↳Your new credit accounts (10%) ↳Your payment history (extremely inuential) ↳Your credit utilization, or the percentage of your credit limits you’re using (highly inuential) ↳The length of your credit history and your mix of credit accounts (highly inuential) ↳The amounts you owe (moderately inuential) ↳Your recent credit behavior (less inuential) ↳Your available credit (less inuential)

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EVERY VETERAN HAS A STORY TO TELLUSMC Written by: Jamie BunettoUSMC Written by: Jamie BunettoUSN, USA & USAF Written by: Shannon RobinsonUSN, USA & USAF Written by: Shannon RobinsonSpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 25

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As a Sergeant serving as the weekend Duty Non-Commissioned Ofcer (DNCO) for Inspector Instructor (I&I) Staff, 6th Motor Transport Battalion (b-), Lubbock, Texas, I was ordered to drive for and escort some former Naval Ofcer around town all weekend. Typically, being a DNCO for a reserve center means nothing more than occasionally checking some locked doors and ensuring the alarms are in order. Not only was I going to lose a weekend of liberty, but why did they choose a Marine for this task and not the Navy DNCO? Little did I know the assignment I was forced to complete was one of the most honorable and equally humbling experiences of my life. After briey researching, the “some Naval Ofcer”, I previously alluded to in nothing short of a deant manner, was one of the most infamous commanders of the century. I was assigned to escort and cater to the former Chief Naval Ofcer (CNO), US Forces, Vietnam, Admiral (ADM) Elmo Zumwalt Jr, US Navy (USN) Ret. while he was a guest at Texas Tech’s newly formed Vietnam Center. I was provided with an itinerary and keys to a brand-new vehicle donated by a local car dealership. I cannot lie, when I rst met Admiral Zumwalt, dressed in my sharp uniform, I felt proud that I was allowed to represent the United States Marine Corps. I felt like a mere drop of water in the proverbial ocean standing across from him. ADM Zumwalt, AKA “Bud” to close friends a family, expressed his gratitude and acknowledged his awareness of my being the DNCO and had no intentions of spending my weekend this way. He also explained that his wife, Mouzetta (Mouza) Coutelais-du-Roche Zumwalt would be my primary focus. I asked ADM Zumwalt why he wanted a Marine instead of a Sailor. He replied, he wanted only the best (a Marine) for the job instead of a Sailor; adding the gesture of a wink to justify a Naval Ofcer’s lack of condence in a Sailor. Soon after, I was introduced to Mouza. I saw one of the most elegant women I have ever met. Though, in appearance, due to her petite stature and currently relying heavily on a wheelchair for mobility, I quickly grew fond of her strong-hearted spirit, extreme intelligence, and infectious charm. Without hesitation, I realized Mouza was the Ocean and Elmo was merely a vessel that depended on her navigational guidance. This weekend was just the rst of many over the next several years as ADM Zumwalt visited. The additional escort opportunities were upon the request of the Zumwalt family, even after my break in service while I was a Lubbock Texas Police Ofcer. From the rst time to the last, it was never an assignment, but rather an honor. My wife and I both were given the pleasure of socializing with Bud, Mouza, and their children and grandchildren during and after the Vietnam Center events, creating an unmatched and humbled relationship.At this time in my career, I had one combat deployment having served in both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I held a deep appreciation for all branches of the US Armed Forces and their specic roles in a successful mission. However, never once did I or could I compare the Gulf War with what our military ancestors had experienced. Throughout the years, I met multiple Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients, multiple Prisoners of War (POWs), Doctorates of History and Military tacticians, Senior Military ofcers, local and state representatives, including members of Congress. During one of the visits, while attending a BBQ for ADM Zumwalt, the Former President of the United States, then Texas Governor, George W. Bush visited as a guest. I remember talking to Governor Bush and he asked if he could x a plate of food for me. This obviously shocked me. I remember thinking it was because he knew I was the ADM’s escort. After speaking with and observing him throughout the day, I realized it was his nature to support the military and law enforcement in general.Event after event, with luncheons, dinners, panel discussions, and private conversations, I found myself in the unique position of being surrounded by living history. Those I observed had molded the lives of previous and will for future generations. One dinner especially holds personal and professional meaning in my life. In 1999, in addition to many dignitaries, there were several commanders from the South Vietnamese Army and one Commander Lieutenant General (LtGen) Nguyen Dinh UOC with the People’s Army of Vietnam (North). Amongst the key historical gures were Chief of US Naval Forces Admiral Zumwalt, top Commanders of the South Vietnamese Armies, and the former Commander of the North Vietnamese Armies. This would be the rst time they had been in the same room and for some, the rst time they had ever met since the Vietnam War. The attentiveness in the room was penetrating. Enemies, friends, and foes alike stared across the room in anticipation of various, simultaneous, and foreign translations; through head nods, and straightened body postures began the communication. I watched in awe as hands met and slight smiles of admiration took place before all would break bread together. It was at this moment, this young, hard-charging, US Marine learned a valuable lesson. Whether staring down a rie at the enemy or across the table, you must always respect each other. Hatred is powerful, and admittedly, a required emotion at times. But respect, honor, and humility are always required in a true leader. Approximately ve years later, I found myself in Ramadi, Iraq as the Intelligence Chief for 2nd Battalion (Bn) 4th Marines. With more than 30 killed and 280 wounded during this one deployment, our Battalion lost more Marines and suffered more wounded than any American Battalion since the Vietnam War. With the usual fogs of war, we came home and continued the battles of our minds and our environments. Though consumed with anger, guilt, nightmares, suicides, depression, and anxiety to name a few, we pressed on. It was clear, we were living history. Less than two years later I was redeployed. This time I was the senior enlisted advisor and company advisor for the 1st Iraq Division. I, along with 9 additional Marines and one Navy Corpsman, made up a team of instructors with the mission of training the new Iraq Army. Our living quarters consisted of ve to six homes surrounded by HESCO Barriers (wired containers wrapped in cloth and lled with dirt), in a small village north of the Euphrates River. Our closest base, a village located approximately 13 Kilometers north of a big sign that read First Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF) Forward. “LIVING HISTORY”The Story of Jamie Bunetto - USMC – MSgt. Retired26 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023Continued on Page 57

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 27Growing up on a horse ranch just south of Fort Worth, Daniel Neighbors idolized Westerns. He admired the steadfast, quiet, noble Cowboy code of honor. His conservative family didn’t allow TV during the week, but on the Saturday nights he spent at his Grandparents’ house, he soaked up every Western movie he could. Those cowboys are partially what led Dan to join the US Cavalry.After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, Dan resolved to join the military. A weightlifting shoulder injury and double shoulder surgery prevented him from enlisting immediately, so he spent the next few years working every job he could—bounty hunting, being a body guard and bouncer, and selling motorcycle parts. When Dan approached the owner of the parts company he worked full-time for and expressed his interest and need for time-off to join the Military, his one mistake was telling Dan “No,” he couldn’t go. Neighbors accepted the challenge, quit, and found an Army recruiter that same day.The Texas Army National Guard recruiter, with an impressive video and a persuasive pitch, showed Dan “the coolest shit I’ve ever seen in my life.” The recruit not only got Dan to enlist as an Army Cavalry Scout but convinced him to “get everything done at once” and attend OSUT training at Ft. Knox that came with 6 months of bootcamp. Around October 2006, Dan headed to Kentucky, which was “cold as fuck” and very unforgiving for a cowboy from Texas. He continued on to specialist school, and deployed to Iraq as an E4 Army Specialist.In 2007, Neighbors deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His rst 30 days or so were spent training and acclimating to the upcoming missions. This largely included watching graphic videos day in and day out of what to expect in the eld and preparing for the rest of his deployment. He went on maybe a dozen missions before returning to Texas for a brief R&R.When Dan got back to the US, he was surprised and disappointed that no one seemed to recognize or care about what was going on outside of America. Even his tight-knit family he was so close with had moved on through the rhythms of their own lives. It was one trip to the grocery store that changed his mindset. A woman was griping about the check-out lanes, something so inane and unimportant. It appalled Dan to think that this was the America he was ghting for; these were the freedoms that people were complaining about. This experience, combined with his family’s apathy, switched Dan from a sacricial mindset to one of survival. When he went back to Iraq, “it was more for me than them.”When he returned, Dan was the gunner in a route recon team that ran from south of Diwaniya to FOB Scania, right through the hottest zone in Iraq. For his 400-day deployment, they checked the area for IEDs and ambushes, running between the two points to secure it for convoys. They prepared the route and provided extreme security for the traveling convoys. Despite the intensity in that area of the country, Dan liked the routine. He’d get up, work out, run the mission, come back, work out, sleep, and repeat the cycle. “It was the most settled and chaotic I’ve ever experienced my life. It was awesome. I loved it.”Neighbors was also included in the aptly named E4 Maa—the group who was sent to do some of the work NCOs couldn’t. That’s all he could tell me about the crew.Neighbors remembered one of his last missions, the one that both lled him with hope for the good they were doing and simultaneously destroyed that hope in him forever. Dan’s wife at the time sent the team a box of teddy bears to hand out to the little kids in the area whenever they went out on recon. There was one “nasty ass bear” that lasted the longest and became a symbol for good luck to the team because as long as that bear was in the truck, the unit had been safe. During his last mission, they stopped to speak with a sheikh, and a little girl came up to them from a Bedouin tent. “Her dress…looked like sand, her hair was matted, and her skin looked like clay.” Dan knew it was their last mission, so he handed her that last, old bear, and her desert face lit up as if they gave her the world’s greatest treasure. As they moved on, Dan scanned the area and watched her wave goodbye through the scope of his 240 Bravo. At the same moment she was happily waving, the sheikh walked over and slapped her hard to the ground, throwing the bear away. She stood, and her face switched from the sheerest joy to the purest anger and sadness. Dan was furious that she would forever associate a kind act—and the soldiers—with punishment and pain.Coming home after the war, stoic and grounded, Neighbors moved forward with the façade that nothing bothered him. To Dan, part of the sacrice is swallowing the experience no matter how hard it is; if you share it with somebody else, then they experience it with you, and it’s no longer your sacrice. So then, what’s the point of your service? “That’s what patriotism is to me,” Dan solemnly stated.Neighbors currently works as a Denton Police Ofcer, seeking to right the wrongs in the city. Every combat veteran has a story to tell, and just a glimpse into Dan’s story shows his commitment to justice and service to an America he believes in. The cowboy code that was instilled in him as a child is still very much ingrained in his ber as a man. He lives his life with values, patriotism, and a resistance to any threat towards American freedom. Just try telling him “no”— he’ll rise above the challenge and excel.Update from the Editor: In December 2022, Dan's liver began shutting down and he was rushed to the hospital. He is in need of a liver transplant, ghting for his life. Currently, Dan is in a Rehabilitation hospital trying to get healthy enough for his surgery. Please pray for Dan, his two young children and his family. To give to Dan's medical fund, please scan the QR Code. “dON’T TeLL me NO”The Story of Dan Neighbors- USA – E4 Army Specialist

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28 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023From the rural logging town of Eureka, California, Robert Garcia’s family didn’t provide the most structured upbringing. “Ninety percent of my family were drug addicts or alcoholics,” he said. He failed out of high school and left home at 18. After an attempt at continuation school, Robert moved to Phoenix at 19 and enrolled in DeVry University. He loved the mechanics behind electronics, but his learning disability made it impossible for him to focus on Algebra or higher mathematics. After a year of slugging through school, he remembers losing his job and getting kicked out of DeVry in the same week. He joined the military because he “couldn’t afford food. Dead serious.” Penniless and sleeping on the oor, he took the ASVAB. The recruiter, noticing he tested highly in electronics and was living off of nothing, brought Robert a paper bag full of frozen foods to help him out. “I will never forget that act of kindness on his part.” What Garcia needed was structure and discipline. At 21 years old, he arrived at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio. The rst few days were a complete culture shock. He was a bit older than the other guys at Basic. He remembers some boys “crying in their pillows like they were in prison,” but remarks that it was just 6 weeks and, for him, more like a summer camp where he knew he was going to be torn down a bit. “Maybe I just didn’t have the right amount of give a care, but nothing really got to me.” With a “wretched life” up to that point, he had nothing to lose, so he shut up, enjoyed the ride, got yelled at like everybody else, and learned to “be the shadow.”He enlisted Determined Contract and went into bomber avionics. Nine months of intense electronics training was a high order for him at the time. If he failed two tests, he would have been reclassed to Open General. Similar to his previous experience in school, he struggled with the tests and was called stupid all the time. At the end of the day, he tried to have fun with it and successfully completed training.Garcia was sent to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana for three years, working as a Bomber Technician. He was responsible for maintaining the plane systems, such as radar, monitors, or the occasional barfed-on keyboard (the B-52s shook so much, the training lieutenants often couldn’t handle the turbulence). It was at that point when he really got into achievement. Robert decided to go to night school and achieved his bachelor’s and two associate’s degrees. His enlistment was up in 2002, and he drove to San Diego where, with all of his training and degrees, the only job he could get was as a tow truck driver. $6.75 an hour, 12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. Within a month, he enrolled in the University of Phoenix to get his MBA. That’s when he started the long climb to success.He doesn’t know quite how it happened, but in 2005, Garcia got a job teaching Engineering at a low-income high school. For the rst two years, “there were no expectations.” On the far end of campus with little chance of running into an administrator, Garcia hit up the beach bars, slept in his car, and stumbled into class hungover; he didn’t care about anything. However, by the end of ve years, he had done a complete 180—he was running the Academy of Engineering. His methods? “Ninth grade, there’s a formula. You go full Drill Sergeant for two weeks, you scare the living shit out of them, and you establish dominance. It’s just like prison.” Eventually, he eased up with the Juniors and Seniors, but this kind of tough love and discipline earned him a reputation of absolute terror along with a nomination for Teacher of the Year. While he was teaching, Robert joined the Reserves, nished his MBA, and then pursued his Doctorate. During this time, the school lost funding for the program, and he was let go. It was after this, from 2006 to 2013, that he describes his life like being in a tunnel. He found technical writing and bounced between companies for eight years while still working on his Doctorate. Robert earned his Doctorate of Education degree at 37 and became an enlisted PhD.He realized that the corporate environment didn’t have the zeal that he was looking for; he wanted to work for himself. So, he focused all of his From the rural logging town of Eureka, California, Robert Garcia’s family didn’t provide the most structured upbringing. “Ninety percent of my family were drug addicts or alcoholics,” he said. He failed out of high school and left home at 18. After an attempt at continuation school, Robert moved to Phoenix at 19 and enrolled in DeVry University. He loved the mechanics behind electronics, but his learning disability made it impossible for him to focus on Algebra or higher mathematics. After a year of slugging through school, he remembers losing his job and getting kicked out of DeVry in the same week. He joined the military because he “couldn’t afford food. Dead serious.” Penniless and sleeping on the oor, he took the ASVAB. The recruiter, noticing he tested highly in electronics and was living off of nothing, brought Robert a paper bag full of frozen foods to help him out. “I will never forget that act of kindness on his part.” What Garcia needed was structure and discipline. At 21 years old, he arrived at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio. The rst few days were a complete culture shock. He was a bit older than the other guys at Basic. He remembers some boys “crying in their pillows like they were in prison,” but remarks that it was just 6 weeks and, for him, more like a summer camp where he knew he was going to be torn down a bit. “Maybe I just didn’t have the right amount of give a care, but nothing really got to me.” With a “wretched life” up to that point, he had nothing to lose, so he shut up, enjoyed the ride, got yelled at like everybody else, and learned to “be the shadow.”He enlisted Determined Contract and went into bomber avionics. Nine months of intense electronics training was a high order for him at the time. If he failed two tests, he would have been reclassed to Open General. Similar to his previous experience in school, he struggled with the tests and was called stupid all the time. At the end of the day, he tried to have fun with it and successfully completed training.Garcia was sent to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana for three years, working as a Bomber Technician. He was responsible for maintaining the plane systems, such as radar, monitors, or the occasional barfed-on keyboard (the B-52s shook so much, the training lieutenants often couldn’t handle the turbulence). It was at that point when he really got into achievement. Robert decided to go to night school and achieved his bachelor’s and two associate’s degrees. His enlistment was up in 2002, and he drove to San Diego where, with all of his training and degrees, the only job he could get was as a tow truck driver. $6.75 an hour, 12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. Within a month, he enrolled in the University of Phoenix to get his MBA. That’s when “NO LImITS!”The Story of Robert Garcia - USAF – E7 Senior Master SergeantContinued on Page 57

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 29When Mike Wilcox graduated college in 1968, he knew he was going to be drafted. A country boy who grew up in the small, rural hamlet of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, he had never seen anything outside of his town. However, he wanted to y and gured he’d get a jump on the draft, so he signed up for the military himself.Wilcox dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps, who was a pilot in World War II. He applied to the Air Force was told to meet the recruiter in Muskogee. Mike drove through an ice storm to meet them, but they never showed up. Then, he was sent to the Air Force recruiting station in Tulsa. The recruiters told him that the test he was supposed to take was being revised, so he would have to come back at another time if he wanted to join the Air Force. As he was leaving the recruiting ofce, Mike spotted a “Fly Navy” poster directly across the hall. That day, he enlisted in the United States Navy and was on his way to the Naval Air Station in Dallas.On October 15, 1968, Mike and 40 other enlisted men passed their tests in Dallas and were soon on their way to Aviation Ofcer Candidate school in Pensacola, Florida. The 16-week course was meant to turn these young men from “a person into an ofcer and a gentleman.” Before the course concluded, his group was chosen to y the T-34B to test their capabilities and see if they could handle the aircraft.Four months later, Mike was commissioned an O1 Ensign in the US Navy Reserve. He was second in his class, so he had second choice if he wanted to y prop planes or jets. Number 1 in the class chose the prop pipeline, so Mike chose jets. “Wilcox, you’ll kill yourself!” Number One told him. However, about six months later, that same student, an admiral’s son, and his instructor pilot were killed.Wilcox had to rst complete basic jet training in Meridian, MS, where he passed everything for both the basic and the advanced squadrons. Then, he went back to Pensacola to complete his carrier qualications, so he could land aboard aircraft carriers. Passed. Soon, he was in Beeville, TX, completing his advanced jet training in VT-26. In May of 1970, he was designated an able aviator. Then, Mike had another choice to make—which plane he wanted to y. This decision took him to the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA, training the A7-Echo, a single seat, single engine attack jet. He and his fellow aviators trained formations, carrier landings, and dropping bombs; they prepared extensively to go to war.Flying was exhilarating. “To y across the Nevada Desert at 500 mph, 200 feet up, come across I-80, and cars are stopped for 5 miles to watch you—it doesn’t get any better than that.” However, it could come at a cost. In Mike’s words: “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.”Wilcox was assigned to VA-22, better known as the “Fighting Redcocks”, and deployed to the West Pacic in October 1971. The Anti-War movement was in full-force at the time, and as the squadron arrived at NAS Alameda, protestors crowded the gates. “They got all the coverage and attention, and we were the bad guys,” Mike remembers. Apparently, as they embarked from NAS Alameda, Jane Fonda stood on the Golden Gate Bridge and urinated on their ship as they passed under it.Anticipation was high on the aircraft carrier. “We knew what we were in for. If you play a football game, you lose, you go home. In war, you lose, you may not go home.”VA-22 sailed to the Philippines and docked at Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. They started ying combat missions and bombing South Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day. When Nixon was elected, he wanted to push back North, so, VA-22 began bombing North Vietnam. They lost two more from their squadron as well as their Carrier Air Group Commander.“War is not pretty, and it’s not nice. But that’s how it is,” Mike remarked. Even when they asked themselves “how are we going to win in a war of attrition in the South Pacic?” The squadron did what they were told. One of Mike’s most memorable ights was the Alpha Strike on Haiphong Harbor. They ew 24 jets in the sky with one mission: blow up a North Vietnamese power plant. Wilcox was ying on the XO’s wing, so wherever he ew, Mike was right on his tail. Enemy missiles bombarded the sky. “It was about as scary as you can get. I’ve had other ights, but when there’s 20 to 30 surfaced air missiles in the air at one time,” Mike chuckled, “you just hope they miss you. That was a wild experience.” From feet dry to feet wet, the whole Landing back on the aircraft carrier after the intensity of a mission wasn’t always easy, and “there’s nothing scarier than landing aboard an aircraft carrier at night.” Once, a squadron mate hit the ramp in front of Wilcox. His plane slid right off the ship. “He died, and I still had to come aboard. It made you search your soul. While you’re out on the deck looking for debris, you ask yourself ‘how could this wonderful guy die and you have all these evil people still living.’ It’s one of the reasons I became a Christian.”Wilcox returned to the US in May of 1971. There wasn’t exactly a “ticker tape parade” to welcome returning military, but Mike said that he didn’t face the Anti-War movement as much as other military members. He deployed back to the West Pacic in 1972; by that time, the Paris Peace Accord had been signed, so he didn’t engage in any combat missions. In October of 1973, Mike was discharged from active duty and remained in the Navy Reserves for 15 years. Back home, Mike decided he wanted to attend Veterinary school at Oklahoma State University; however, the process was very political, and the networking bureaucracy turned him away from the career. So, Wilcox got his Master’s in Chemical Engineering instead. He pursued a career in Oil and Gas, which took him to Texas, Alaska, and Indonesia. Mike remained in the Reserves until he was in Alaska, where he retired as a Commander O5.“I really enjoyed the Navy. It was a wonderful experience for me,” Mike said of his 20-year military career. The Navy took him across the world and introduced him to people from every corner of the United States. “I don’t want to do it again, but I’m glad I did do it.”“A FIGHTING RedCOCK”The Story of Commander Mike Wilcox - USN – Vietnam

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30 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023Much has been written about Con Thien, South Vietnam. Beginning in May of 1967, it was heavily defended by Marines, one battalion at a time rotating on and off the 525-foot-high hill. The average tour of duty on the hill was about 30 days, the same amount of time it took the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) to wear down the Marines both mentally and physically, inicting as many casualties as possible before the next battalion was charged to relieve them. The shelling of that hill was relentless and during September 1967 some of the heaviest experienced during the Vietnam War1. Con Thien was located about two miles directly south of the Ben Hai River, which separated North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the closest US military outpost to North Vietnam and easily within striking distance of mortars, rockets, and artillery lobbed at it daily from North Vietnam. 1Long, Joseph. Hill of Angels: U.S. Marines and the Battle for Con Thien, 1967 to 1968, History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA, 2016, pp. 33–33. Con Thien was strategically important because it offered the Marines an unobstructed view east to the coast of the South China Sea, north into North Vietnam, and west to the mountains. Equally important, it hindered the NVA’s access to enter South Vietnam.The Vietnamese word Cồn Tiên translated into English is “Hill of Angels.” When I rst heard the translation, I envisioned a gathering of angels circling just above the hill, ready at any moment to swoop down, pick up the next waiting soul, and escort him to heaven. They never had to wait long. For a Marine or Corpsman, it was the last outpost they would ever want to be assigned...for many, it was their last.After the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment (2/9) was ambushed by a regiment of the NVA in the DMZ in late July of 1967, we went back to Dong Ha to resupply, heal wounds, and generally recuperate. However, Operation Kingsher was not over yet...the second part was about to begin.A few weeks later on August 20, 2/9 left Dong Ha and headed back into the DMZ to an area called the “McNamara Line,” a defoliated and cleared strip of land a little over 200 yards wide roughly two miles south of the Ben Hai River. The “Trace,” as it was often called, ran east and west between two Marine artillery outposts, Con Thien and Gio Linh, seven miles apart. It was designed and planned by Washington DC’s Secretary of Defense McNamara and his entourage to stop the inltration of the NVA into the South; it only slowed them down or rerouted them to the other side of Con Thien toward the mountains. Marine and Navy brass had little condence that it would be effective, and they were right, but it was ordered to be built anyway.Our Battalion (2/9) was given orders to conduct search and destroy operations in the area around the Trace, so for the next month and a half, that’s what we did. Starting at about the halfway point between Gio Linh and Con Thien, we traveled up and down the Trace zig-zagging north and south, end to end. Most days we only traveled about two miles from one position to the next.We traveled the same ground so many times over and over to a point where fellow radio operator Gault and I decided to lighten our load. At one of our overnight positions, we buried a case of C-rations we had swiped from a resupply helicopter earlier in the day. As Marines in the eld, we were always hungry, and this seemed like the perfect plan. Our luck held when a few days later we came back around to the same position for an overnight bivouac. We dug up our rations and ate our buried treasure, thinking all along just how clever we had been. Although I will admit, we were not that clever because the reality was that we were privy to inside information. We operated the radio for the S3 Operations ofcer, so most of the time we knew where we were headed in advance. Still, there was always a risk of plans changing Marine and NVA positions in and around Con Thien during September 19-27, 1967. Map by Col. Long, Joseph. Hill of Angels: U.S. Marines and the Battle for Con Thien, 1967 to 1968, History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA, 2016, p. 5. Used by permission. Map edits by VL StevensonVL Stevenson – Corporal, USMCVietnam 1966 – 1968Where Angels Gathered...Where Angels Gathered...

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 31at a moment’s notice. So maybe for us, it was a little bit of cleverness and a whole lot of luck. Also, there was always the possibility the NVA could have booby-trapped the goods. Although, I’m sure we checked before digging. Besides the buried c-rats, returning to the same overnight positions afforded us the use of some of the pre-dug foxholes, making it even more inviting to have them ready-made and waiting for us. Heat exhaustion seemed to be our biggest enemy during this operation near the Trace. Mostly the newbies would succumb to it, but somehow we old salts seemed to survive no matter what. Water was a prized commodity, some days it was hard to nd. Helicopters would resupply us with 5-gallon Jerrycans, but they were not always timely, so I carried four 1-quart canteens on my web utility belt and one 2-quart rubber bladder strapped around my neck. Even then, I would often run dry. By the end of May 1967, all civilians in and around the Trace had been cleared and were resettled around Cam Lo, some seven miles south of the Trace. Therefore, the area around the Trace and Con Thien was declared a free-re zone…anything that moved: shoot it.There were small abandoned farms and villages scattered about the area. In one of these villages, we came upon a well. What a nd, we thought, fresh water! Only one problem. In their hasty retreat from the area, the NVA made sure we couldn’t use the well by contaminating it, so the water was not potable.We made only sporadic contact with the NVA during August and early September. Back in the rear at Dong Ha, our Radio Section sergeant decided to send out two new radio operators so they could get some eld experience. The new operators would be taking Gault’s and my place. So, on September 8 after 19 days in the eld, we returned to Dong Ha for a welcomed break.Because we moved every day or two, some of the Marines began to get complacent and didn’t always dig a foxhole, or if they did it wasn’t adequate. Knowing you were going to leave that position when you awakened the next morning coupled with the fact the NVA hadn’t shelled us recently, the incentive was not strong. However, in the early morning hours of September 12, all that changed. The NVA pounded 2/9 with more than 80 mortar rounds walking them back and forth across 2/9s position. I could hear all the commotion back in Dong Ha over the radio in the command bunker. When the NVA stopped, we had more than 80 WIA and six KIA. Our two new radio operators were also wounded and had to be medevaced. Gault and I had to return to the eld that day and retake our old jobs vacated by the wounded operators. Our two-day short break was over. I can only surmise that the high number of casualties may have been in direct inverse relation to the depth of many of the foxholes or lack thereof. Also wounded during the mortar attack were 2/9s battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel William D. Kent and executive ofcer Major Dennis J. Murphy. LtCol Kent was medevaced immediately, but Major Murphy was not and took command of the battalion. Later that day, Major Murphy’s wounds began to worsen and he was medevaced on the same chopper that brought Lieutenant Colonel John J. Peeler, who took command from Major Murphy. LtCol Peeler had been the 2/9s battalion commander before LtCol Kent in early July ‘67. So, in one day 2/9 had three different battalion commanders!Around mid-September, the monsoons began, and they were incessant. We were still humping up and down the Trace, moving positions every day or two trying to locate the NVA and then kill or disrupt them in any way we could, all in the rain and mud, and now the cold!In August and September 1967, G-2 intelligence reports indicated a heavy build-up of NVA troops estimated to be as many as ve battalions just north of the Ben Hai River about three miles from Con Thien, their primary target. On September 19, 2/9 was given orders to take up a position about one-half mile southeast of Con Thien. Another Marine Battalion, 2/4, took a position to the southwest and earlier in the month, 3/9 had moved inside the perimeter wire at Con Thien and took over defensive positions from another Marine battalion. What happened next will be continued in “Where Angels Gathered - Part Two” in the summer edition of AT EASE! Veterans Magazine. Dong Ha was also hit frequently with rockets. I’m standing in a 140MM rocket crater from an attack the night before. Directly behind me was our radio section tent where we were sleeping. The metal buildings to the far left housed a South Vietnamese laundry shop and our command center identied by the tall antenna. Dong Ha, May 17, 1967. © 1967 VL StevensonThe laundry shop, about 50 feet from our radio section tent, took a direct hit from the rockets. Dong Ha, May 17, 1967. © 1967 VL Stevenson

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32 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023I deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2004, just 15 months after the campaign kicked off with bombs falling on Baghdad. It was my rst deployment - no one warned me about combat landings. We were on the last leg of our trip (22 hours in) when without warning, the landing gear dropped with a loud thud, and we abruptly tilted sideways as the plane began rapidly descending in a tight twisting motion. I squeezed my eyes shut and tightly gripped my seat with one hand and the pendant on my necklace with the other. The plane then quickly straightened back out and began to drop straight down into a free fall sending my stomach to my throat. This is it, the end of the line. The wheels slammed onto the runway and the plane came to a screeching halt causing my head to jolt forward.“Welcome to Mortaritaville ladies and gentlemen.” Mortaritaville????I had yet to loosen my death grip as my ngernails dug into the seat.I later learned that C-130 pilots perform these landings (aka assault landing) to avoid enemy re, which was always a threat when landing at Balad Air Base, Iraq.I couldn’t point to the Middle East on a map when I joined the US Air Force in 1998. I signed up because I wanted to escape a volatile environment and get free college funds. I planned to stay for just 4 years. I gave birth to a baby girl in 1999 and plans changed. I did not expect conict, therefore, never imagined that I’d experience the atrocities of war rsthand.DAY 1 OF 179by Shelby LakeMortaritavillePhoto Credit: Mike Cook

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 33Shortly upon landing, a blast of blazing mid-day sunlight assaulted my unprepared eyes when the ight crew opened the paratroop hatch door.“Make sure you don your vest and helmet before dismounting the aircraft. Sgt Smith will escort you to the waiting area while the ight crew unloads the cargo,” the captain announced.The weight of my 20-pound Kevlar vest was already crushing me and my helmet kept sliding over my eyes as we were shufed off the plane. The sun-stained desert sand stretched as far as the eye could see, the dust-laden air blurred the line where earth and sky meet. It felt like walking into a 111-degree f oven, and I feared if I opened my mouth too wide, grit would quickly coat my teeth. It felt more like entering hell than the cradle of civilization.We waited for our bags in a white passenger bus on the scorching ight line for what felt like hours. Long enough to really start to process what we had in store for us. We are not in Kansas anymore Toto.The rst stop of the day was the “housing” ofce across base. I was surprised at how large the installation was. It looked like a little city with paved roads, littered with white Chevy S10s and desert sand-colored Humvees.“Welcome to the H6 housing complex”, the driver said as we pulled up, surrounded by endless rows of white trailers covered in green sandbags. They were called containerized housing units (we just called them “CHUs”) - aluminum box sleeping quarters provided as a “hardened shelter” to protect against mortars. Two weeks before I arrived a mortar debunked that theory by tearing through a CHU like a cardboard box. Luckily, the soldier assigned to it was at work when it happened.Gravel crackled under our feet as we toured the housing complex. The burn pit soiled the air, and it smelled like literal shit as the poop vacuum truck was emptying the Cadillacs (outhouse with six toilets). There wasn’t much else to it. Home sweet home.I had an hour or so to unpack and settle in before I had to be at the brieng tent for in-processing. I sat down on the toddler-size bed and took in my surroundings. The inside of the CHU was unimpressive, with cold oors and cheap faux brown wood paneling covering the walls. The only things inside were the bed, a small wooden nightstand, reading lamp, footlocker, re extinguisher, and an AC unit. I was exhausted and didn’t want to unpack - that would have made it real. I reached into my backpack and grabbed a picture of my 4-year-old daughter Kailynn and taped it on my footlocker. A lump formed in my throat – I didn’t move, just stared off for the next 45 minutes.We sat through deployment briengs for the rest of that rst day. It was like being fed information through a re hose after being kept awake for three days. The tent must have been at least one hundred degrees and I fought to keep my eyes open. The different topics included mental health services, chaplain services, medical intelligence, force protection, intelligence, and safety. Some briengs were more interesting than others.“This is a sandy”, said the medical briefer as she pointed at a picture of an insect that looked more like a small ee than a y. “It can cause this”, she pointed at another picture of someone with a gaping visceral ulcer the size of a grapefruit on his face. “It’s called Leishmaniasis. This is what can happen to you if you don’t chemically treat your uniforms and wear Deet Inspect repellent.” I better get my hands on more Deet.It was the Air Force Commander’s brieng that really had us sitting up tall in our seats. “Listen up folks, these people want you dead. We have been averaging two rocket/mortar attacks per day by Iraqi insurgents.”Aw, Mortaritaville.“Lucky for us they aren’t a great shot and usually hit the aireld. But sometimes they get lucky. They have hit the dining facility and a CHU in H6 in the brief time that I’ve been here. A couple of soldiers were injured badly. Therefore, you are to always wear your Kevlar when not inside a hardened shelter including walking from your CHU to the Cadillac and back. Immediately take cover in the nearest bunker or hardened facility when you hear an alarm red and stay there until the sound of all-clear. I want all of you to make it home to your loved ones.”I want all of you to make it home to your loved ones. The words resounded in my head as I lay curled up in my CHU later that evening. The last 32 hours have felt like a bad dream or a movie where it was all happening to someone else. I started to fade off when a loud thud woke me.What was that? It sounded like a car door slammed.“ALARM RED, ALARM RED, ALARM RED wwwwwhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaa,” (steady high pitch siren) wailed through the loudspeaker.Oh shit, what do I do...think Sonja. What did the commander say you should do if you’re alone in your CHU and the alarm sounds? My heart started racing. This isn’t really happening!I quickly threw on my vest and helmet and sat on the oor propped up against the wall with my knees tucked into my chest. I pulled my pendant out of my vest and held it tight as I thought about Kailynn.“Here baby girl, mommy got you this.” Two weeks before I left for Iraq, I handed Kailynn the other half of the split heart pendant I bought for each of us to wear during the deployment. “Put it in your hand and close your eyes whenever you are scared and miss mommy. It means we are always together in our hearts.” A single tear slid down my cheek.Ten minutes later, “ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR, ALL CLEAR.”1 day down, 179 more to go.

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34 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023Shortly after 9/11, Richard Casper felt, as many others did, the need to do something and get in the ght so he joined the Marine Corps. Ultimately, he wanted to go to Iraq and defeat the terrorists but instead, after graduating from the Marines, he was assigned duty at Camp David guarding President Bush. After Camp David, he was nally transferred to Iraq in early 2006. He ended up as a Humvee vehicle commander with a Marine named Luke Yepsen as his 50-cal gunner.Richard and Luke had much in common – the same humor, the same attitude, and soon they became best friends. However, on December 14, 2006, their friendship ended abruptly when Luke was killed by a sniper’s bullet while standing behind his 50-cal right next to Richard. The loss of his best friend was devastating. In the months following Luke’s death, Richards’s Humvee was hit by four separate improvised explosive device (IED) blasts, and each time he survived, but not without consequence. After each blast, Richard noticed that he was having memory lapses along with anxiety attacks and eventually his commander assigned him to a desk. After he was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2007, and later after he was out, was diagnosed with a traumatic left-brain injury and post-traumatic stress (PTS).When he left Iraq, he returned to his hometown in Illinois, and with his GI Bill, enrolled in some business classes at the local community college. Richard was having difculty in his classes. His anxiety attacks were so bad that some days he would reach for the school’s door, never open it, then turn around and go back home. Then he decided to just take a “blow off” course and signed up for art, having absolutely no art experience. His art teacher recognized the stress and anxiety Richard was dealing with and told him he would set his easel in the back so no one had to see what he was doing; he could just do his own thing.His rst art piece was a chalk pastel copying a photograph he took while visiting Luke’s grave. His instructor saw what he was painting and liked what he saw and explained it shows what you are going through; what’s going on in your mind. The instructor suggested he paint the grass any color but green and so Richard decided to paint the grass red. At the end of the semester, all the artwork was displayed for critique. His class makeup was mostly 18-19-year-old students who had never been out of the country much less seen combat. Then the comments started: oh, you painted the grass red because you are angry, another said you saw blood, then another you loved him. Richard immediately recognized these were all the emotions Richard CasperPhoto by: Jason Myers PhotographyCreatiVets - Photo at Luke Yepsen's grave sitePhoto by: Richard Casperby VL Stevenson

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he was feeling, and they were all coming out in his painting. The students didn’t know Richard or anything about him but seeing his painting, they all got it. All that from that one color. Think of all the other colors that can express emotions. He realized that the power of art was healing for him and that sparked the idea of helping other Veterans benet from the therapeutic value of art.After completing community college with an associate arts degree, Richard decided to enroll in the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of the best art schools in the country. He stated he was completely underqualied but was determined and they let him into the art program. Richard graduated with a bachelor’s in ne arts with a focus on sculpture.While attending SAIC, Richard worked as a bouncer in a country bar. He always liked country music and one night he met Mark Irwin, a famous Nashville country songwriter. He told Mark I’ve got a story to tell but I don’t know how to put it into words. The story he wanted to tell was about Luke. So, Richard asked Mark if he came to Nashville, would he write my song, and Mark replied absolutely. So, that was the beginning of CreatiVet’s introduction to the Songwriting for Veterans program.Over the years, through CreatiVets, Veterans have come to Nashville to work with songwriters and musicians to tell their own stories. Music is a powerful tool to heal. Not only for those writing and performing, but it's also uniquely healing to those that hear it.On Memorial Day in 2017, Christine Walker, long before she was the owner of AT EASE!, was going through patriotic videos on YouTube and stumbled across a song called 'They Call Me Doc' telling Shaun Bott's story as a 'Doc'. Having been a Hospital Corpsman herself, she sat listening to that song with tears streaming down her face. For decades, she had disassociated herself as a Veteran ... but deep down inside, she was still a Corpsman and always would be. At the time, this song gave Christine the courage to reconnect with the Veteran community as a whole. And unbeknownst to her, it would lead Christine on her own journey three years later, 'to tell their stories' through AT EASE! Veterans Magazine. Richard Casper, along with philanthropist and volunteer Linda Tarrson, founded CreatiVets in 2013 as a 501(c)(3) non-prot organization that could help other Veterans heal through songwriting, visual arts, music, and creative writing. When CreatiVets rst started they helped 12 Veterans and in 2022 they’ve helped over 400. They own a 3500-square-foot facility in Nashville where they have art and a room dedicated to songwriting. They’ve also partnered with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), the University of Southern California (USC), the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Belmont University in Nashville, and recently the Gary Sinise Foundation.Contact info: INFO@CREATIVETS.ORG 1123 12th Avenue South, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 (888)585-3799CREATIVETS.ORGSCAN THE QR CODE TO FIND OUT MORE >Spring 2023| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 35THEY CALL ME DOC CreatiVets - Chalk Pastel by Richard CasperMEN THAT MAKE THE THUNDERUNTIL IT FEELS LIKE HOME

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36 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023“We tattoo the brave,” is the mantra of the rst known business to open a tattoo studio on a military base and American Tattoo Society (ATS) owners, Ryan and Nicole Harrell, are proud to be part of this groundbreaking occasion of rsts. While there are several stories about how the tradition started, one thing is for sure, there has been an enduring love for tattoos throughout military history. Warriors have used tattoos and other body modications to signify their status dating back thousands of years. Roman, Greek, and Celtic Soldiers, as well as ancient tribes worldwide, have all embraced some form of body art. Christians even had tattoos during the Crusades. In earlier American history, Sailors were credited with popularizing tattoos in the west by showing off ink acquired in exotic lands. The rst American Tattoo Studio opened in 1846 in New York by German artist Martin Hildebrandt who famously tattooed both Union and Confederate Soldiers during the American Civil War. It’s reported that by 1925, 90% of US service members had work done. Subsequently, hot spots for acquiring tattoos started popping up near large military bases. Today, tattoos are more popular than ever among military and Veteran communities. Some of this popularity can be attributed to changing societal views regarding tattoos, which are becoming more favorable among younger generations. According to studies, 41% of millennials have one or more tattoos. Therefore, to maintain their ties to society and appeal to recruits, the military branches have lessened tattoo restrictions in the last two years. The US Air Force helped further pave the way for this cultural shift by hosting the rst-ever Tattoo Studio on a military installation. In September 2020, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and American Tattoo Society (ATS) partnered to open the Nellis Air Force Base studio near Las Vegas.ATS has a reputation for being one of the most awarded and highest-rated tattoo businesses around and the owners are a total badass married couple who strongly advocate for military service members, Veterans, and their families. It all started when Ryan was in the middle of selling his advertising agency in 2014 and met Nicole who opened a tattoo studio in 2013, Fayetteville NC. She was seeking marketing help for her company while teaching full-time. Ryan came into the shop and knew right away there was something special about the industry. Together Ryan and Nicole created the American Tattoo Society brand and it soared from there.In 2015, the couple started the All-American Tattoo Convention with their rst show in the Ft Bragg area of Fayetteville NC. According to Nicole, the goal of the convention was “to allow the bravest heroes in the world to be tattooed by some of the best tattoo artists in the by Shelby Lake

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world.” It also helps raise money for Soldiers and Veterans with PTSD and other combat-related injuries. This year, they are hosting their sixth annual convention from 14-16 April 2023 at the Crown Complex in Fayetteville. 2016, ATS further expanded by opening a location near the Camp Lejeune area of Jacksonville NC, and shortly following Nellis AFB, they opened three more studios on military installations: Ft Bliss (El Paso Texas), MacDill AFB (Tampa Florida), and Travis AFB (Faireld California).Both Ryan and Nicole have strong military ties and wouldn’t have met in Fayetteville if it wasn’t for Ft Bragg and the US Army. Nicole’s father is retired Airborne with over 20 years in, and according to Nicole, “would still be jumping out of planes for Uncle Sam if they would let him.” Ryan had an agency that helped businesses with marketing in military regions, and ATS is involved with the military communities near their locations, and even run free events because “these are our people,” Ryan explained. The traveling ATS tattoo artists also love the unique experience of tattooing on a military installation. “Tattooing the military is cool because they always want to get cool tattoos. Depending on the branch, they will come in and say, ‘can I get a skull and dagger and whatever else you think is cool right here?’ And of course, I say ‘absolutely!’ Also, the stories in the chair are sometimes too wild to believe. I didn’t go to college, but it sounds like the same stories I hear from my friends who did, haha,” - Marcus Collier (tattoo artist).“I also think it’s really cool to meet people from literally all over the world. At Nellis AFB we met people from Europe, and it was wild to hear their different accents and hear about their country and military service. I really can’t pick a better opportunity for a young up-and-coming tattoo artist, or really any artist”! – Amber Collier (tattoo artist). Patrons like the convenience of getting a tattoo on base and military leadership appreciate that ATS will not give service members unauthorized tattoos according to each service’s latest dress and appearance standards. Not only is ATS providing a professional and convenient service that troops love, but they also adhere to the most stringent health and sanitation standards. The Army developed the Interim Body Art Standards and Inspection Guide in 2021 to provide necessary oversight of tattoo businesses on military installations. The guidance was adopted by the Air Force shortly after. A military installation is truly the cleanest and safest place to get a tattoo.ATS now has 6 open locations with big plans for further future expansion. According to Ryan “2023 & 2024 will be very busy for us at ATS!”If you want to share your military-inspired ink with the AT EASE! Community, please send an email to with the following information: Name, email, and daytime phone Military afliation Story and/or symbolism behind your military-inspired tattoo Clear pictures of tattoo(s) Top submissions will be selected to be published in the Summer 2023 addition.

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Broadcast interviews allow both the guest and the interviewer to interact in a way that becomes interesting and informative to the viewer/listener. If done correctly, everyone benets from the stories shared. My interactions with my guests are often eye-opening and even humorous at the same time. Most of them are people that you have never known but, hopefully, when the conversation has ended you feel connected to the person much as you do through print media. We hope to broaden your perspectives of the stories that veterans tell by sharing some of them gathered through my broadcasts. These are real people with real stories to share. Some have overcome challenges and others have chosen the challenges they live each day. While each of them is different, they all share the same thread of having served in uniform for our country. All of them are relevant to the mission of AT EASE! Veterans Magazine. These are their stories, and they are your stories, and we hope that you enjoy them.Often a suggestion for my podcasts comes from a friend or even from a previous guest. Someone with an interesting career or background or hobby. Often it is a combination of all three. And sometimes it is like opening a treasure chest and nding riches beyond belief. Tarra Gundrum is one of those treasures. The more I dug, the greater the fortune I discovered.Tarra Gundrum, or “T-Gun” as she is known by friends, has worked in the corporate, public, and private sectors in her career. But that is not where her story starts or where her passions have carried her over the years. Tarra’s journey through life started with early challenges of racism and continued with her interracial relationships and the circle of friends that she continues to share. She developed tough skin early and as her avenues opened, so did her awareness and tenacity.But it is the story in between where she was and where she is today that really grabbed my attention. This beautiful young black woman chose military service to grow and mature and to better face her future. And not just any military service. She is a U.S. Marine not only to the corps but to the core! She excelled in every way in the Marines, eventually becoming a drill instructor and a martial arts trainer. Behind her incredible smile and infectious personality is a woman who knows how to be a junkyard dog when necessary.Perhaps it was her tenacity in military service that led Tarra to embrace her love of the outdoors and to welcome ongoing physical challenges. Nothing stops this Marine. Nothing. She is an avid hiker, camper, shing enthusiast, hockey player, archer, cyclist, swimmer, runner, triathlete, and more, and not necessarily in that order. Oh, and for the record, T-Gun never knew how to swim before becoming a triathlete. But she’s a Marine!She is all of this in addition to being a wife, mother, corporate executive, fundraiser, organizer, and activist. Over the years she has shared her cycling passion with many others and helped start the BGDB – Black Girls Do Bike chapter in Washington County, Wisconsin. This led to her vision to raise funds for the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial and Education Center. How would she do it? By retrotting her tour bike and cycling 950 miles to Washington, DC! Did we mention that she is a Marine?Tara felt that her experiences needed to be shared. Her friends agreed. What do you do about that? Of course, you write a book! Finding My Possible: How I Changed My Narrative and Created a Life of Adventure was released in early 2022 and her story owed like the life she has lived. It is about setting our sights beyond the horizon and doing whatever it takes to get there.Within a few weeks of having her on my show, I received a call from Tarra asking for more information about what it takes to do a podcast. Another challenge was creeping into this Marine. She wanted to share her thoughts with others, so she set up her platform and studio and started “The Possible Project Podcast”. It is said that imitation is the greatest form of attery, and I was humbled to be one of T-Gun’s early guests on her show. She is not only a good student but now a good teacher as well.She is proof positive that if you can dream something, you can make it a reality. Goal setting is an everyday part of Tarra Gundrum’s life whether it is about family, friends, business, or personal challenges. This may be difcult for some people to understand and accept. Setting our sights on things we perceive may be out of our reach, makes the challenge even more exciting. Especially for this Marine!!Tara Gundrum | T-Gun38 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 39Have you ever dreamed of becoming a business owner? David MacMelville didn’t. Back in 1992 he didn’t know what he wanted to do, so he joined the Navy right out of high school. His goal was to take advantage of the educational benefits to set him up for a future career outside of the military after his 4-year enlistment. After boot camp, David attended Aviation Electronics Technician school in Millington, TN. This was a fast-paced school that compressed about 2 years of a traditional trade school into about 9 months. Upon completion of initial training, he arrived at his first command and began working on the full avionics suite of the Navy’s E-2C Hawkeye. After 4 years, according to Dave “I was having the time of my life” so he decided to re-enlist. In true military fashion, he was assigned to a job that had nothing to do with all of this knowledge and training he had gained. His next assignment was Recruiting. No more turning wrenches and fixing airplanes. Instead, he learned a lot about business, marketing and sales during this tour. At the tail end of that tour, the tragedy of 9/11 struck the nation. As an E-6 he was called to immediately report back to support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two more combat deployments and many years later after several more transfers, reassignments and promotions Dave ended up back in Virginia managing all levels of aviation maintenance and finally moved to Maryland where he is in charge of the maintenance department for research test and development of new aircraft systems. Nearly 29 years later, David is about to retire with many new choices to make. “Do I sit on the porch and drink ice teas? No, too boring to do that. Do I just take the easy route and look for a corporate job? No, too limiting. Maybe I’ll look into becoming an entrepreneur? Yes, that sounds like a good challenge. But where do I start?”David took advantage of the numerous transition programs provided by the military, but he still felt ill prepared for making the leap. “The thought of starting a business from scratch was beyond my comprehension.” After doing his research, David reached out to Irving Chung, a franchise consultant and franchise owner. With literally thousands of franchises available, he helped him navigate the entire process. Irving conducted a comprehensive consultation in which he walked him through a series of questions to help narrow the search. After meeting the franchisor corporate staff from the CEO on down he finally chose a franchise that he believed will provide him resources to ensure he is successful. Long story short, entrepreneurship is within your reach, and there are people out there to help guide you on the path. David is about to take the bold step of owning his own business as a Floor Coverings International franchise owner launching summer of 2021.From Enlisted, to LDO, From Enlisted, to LDO, to Entrepreneurto Entrepreneur“While I felt qualified and competitive for several job listings that I looked at, it was time for me to perform a bit of soul searching and decide what I really wanted out of life.”Why are Veterans Why are Veterans Selecting Franchises?Selecting Franchises?•• Proven track recordProven track record•• Less riskLess risk•• Established infrastructure Established infrastructure •• Full operating proceduresFull operating procedures•• Comprehensive training and Comprehensive training and ongoing support ongoing support •• Brand awarenessBrand awareness•• Experienced leadership teamExperienced leadership team•• Marketing resourcesMarketing resources•• Easier fundingEasier fundingWhy are Veterans Why are Veterans Selecting Franchises?Selecting Franchises?•• Proven track recordProven track record•• Less riskLess risk•• Established infrastructure Established infrastructure •• Full operating proceduresFull operating procedures•• Comprehensive training and Comprehensive training and ongoing support ongoing support •• Brand awarenessBrand awareness•• Experienced leadership teamExperienced leadership team•• Marketing resourcesMarketing resources•• Easier fundingEasier fundingIrving Chung is a franchise consultant with FranChoice. He is also the Director of Entrepreneurship and Board Member at the Dallas/Fort Worth Veterans Chamber of Commerce.To learn more, contact Irving for a free consultation.Irving ChungFranChoice Franchise 908-9791bigconsideration.comDavid S. MacMelvilleLCDR USN NAS PAX MDVX-20 Maintenance Officer

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I Remember When...I Remember When...In the boonies of O Luan Pi in Southern Tiawan, on leaving our defensive positions, I maneuvered my men around a knoll and moved further north to our rendezvous. We did extremely well and delayed our “enemy” from reaching their objective. I remember that during one of our ten-minute breaks (Take ten, expect ve, get two, breaks over, move out), I placed my jacket under my head and tried to get comfortable for a bit. A few minutes later, we were all called back into formation and continued toward our objective which was a rendezvous with another unit. About an hour or so later, I realized I had left my jacket where I was resting. My interpreter, Sergeant Wong, said he would jump in our jeep and hustle back to get it. I said, “ne”, and he disappeared around some little hill.Sometime later, Sergeant Wong, his civilian guard escort (policeman) and a little peasant farmer drove up to where I was standing. These three Chinese were yelling at each other and it almost came to blows. I stepped between them and asked what the hell was going on. Sergeant Wong told me he had picked up his civilian escort on the way to retrieve my jacket. When they arrived at where my jacket should have been, the farmer was wearing it while he worked with his family on a rice paddy. The civilian escort (policeman) wanted the farmer to hold out the arm that had picked up my jacket, where I had foolishly left it. This asshole of a policeman intended to hack off the farmer’s hand. He said it was the hand that did the “stealing”, therefore it had to be removed. Can you believe it? I was told it was my decision. The civilian policeman would accept my decision.I gave instructions to Sgt. Wong to interpret verbatim that I was going to tear that policeman’s head off. Sergeant Wong happily interpreted my tirade with the largest smile on his face. My rst major international decision involving two cultures, (east vs. west), two different religious outlooks (Christian vs. Whatever), and it was my decision!! To me, this was totally unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. With Sergeant Wong interpreting, I apologized to the farmer, gave him an arm full of rations and told him he could return to his family, but he would have to walk back. With the biggest smile on his face and a scowl offered to the civilian policeman, he hustled out of sight as he slipped a couple of cans of rations into his baggy trousers. It still haunts me today that something like that still exists elsewhere in this crazy world of ours. ANOTHeR SGT. wONG Paul Sullivan, Ret. Captain, USMCPaul Sullivan, Ret. Captain, USMC resides in Massachusetts with his wife Beverly. 40 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023“MARINES ARE BUILT THROUGH THE ETHOS OF STRUGGLE AND SACRIFICE.” – GEN JAMES JONES“MARINES ARE BUILT THROUGH THE ETHOS OF STRUGGLE AND SACRIFICE.” – GEN JAMES JONES

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 41If you are under the age of fty and/or never served on foreign soil, then the word SPAM may simply refer to unwanted notications in your online mailbox. You may at this point wish to switch to another article in the magazine.If, on the other hand, the mere mention of SPAM tickles your tastebuds, then you may want to wrap a bandana around your neck and settle in for some delicious recall. While serving in Vietnam in the late ‘60s, one of the greatest joys (if there were any in Vietnam at the time) was a trip to the PX for supplies. It usually included shopping for soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and talcum powder before heading to the aisles with the real necessities like, beer, cigarettes, and just about anything that was packaged in a can. One of those necessities was SPAM. We usually grabbed a dozen cans or more because we knew it would last longer in our hooches or ruck sacks than the beer or cigarettes.This incredible delicacy was packaged in a 12-ounce can and contained only six ingredients. Those were water, salt, sugar, potato starch, sodium nitrate, and a mystery concoction of processed something that vaguely resembled meat. It was rst produced in 1937 and became a staple for the troops during WWII and Korea. I think some of those cans actually made it to the PX shelves in Vietnam. The stuff has an incredible shelf life.Today it comes in a woosy pull tab can. Back in the day, you needed a military can opener called a P38 to uncover and enjoy your SPAM. In the eld we would use a knife or bayonet to eat it or simply scoop it out of the can with your index and middle ngers. Some of you are no doubt nodding like a bobble-head at the mention of this.The real joy of SPAM was the unlimited ways it could be prepared. All that was really needed was an open re and a pot or pan to prepare a feast for a king…or, in this case, a hungry soldier. We were fortunate to have in our unit a trained short order cook, Ray from Long Island, who was a culinary magician with SPAM. He could slice it, dice it, cube it, fry it, grill it, braise it, boil it, sauté it, puree it, mash it, spread it, roll it, blend it, and often all in the same recipe. A cast iron skillet was Ray’s weapon of choice and he took care of it like we maintained our weapons. He was also known to stash charcoal under his bed and pick up pieces of dry wood while out on patrol. He was one of the few people I knew who could start a re using a magnifying glass or by actually rubbing two sticks together.Breakfast was Long Island Ray’s specialty. The smell of SPAM sizzling in a skillet meant a great meal was about to happen. Eggs were a rare commodity Ray often spent his available dong and piasters getting fresh eggs and spices from the local mama sons. Anything you needed; mama son could get it for you. And I mean anything!! We would often bring an extra can or two of SPAM for breakfast to make sure there was enough for everyone. Sometimes it was simply scrambled eggs with SPAM, but Ray always added something to perk up the avor. He was also known to add a few spices or Tabasco sauce to just about anything to give it some oomph. Occasionally, Long Island Ray would score a can or two of condensed or evaporated milk to create his version of Hollandaise sauce to pour over the fried eggs on top of that sizzling SPAM. Ah, I can see it, smell it, and even taste it at the mere mention of it.While breakfast is still considered to be the most important meal of the day, any meal with SPAM in the eld was a treat. One of the easiest recipes was fried rice with SPAM. For this recipe you needed two utensils; a good size pot for the rice and the fry pan for the meat. We would boil water for whatever kind of rice we scored for the day and then dice up the SPAM (usually into ½ inch cubes) and bring it to that familiar sizzle in the pan. Season to taste and if you could secure an egg or two that was a real bonus. The beauty of Ray’s SPAM rice was it was awesome when made fresh and not bad if there were leftovers for the next day which rarely happened. Then there was Long Island Ray’s infamous SPAM Kabobs. Being in or near the jungle, there was an abundance of twigs to use for kabobs. Ray would cut the meat into large cubes and roll them into whatever spice mixture he had concocted like what Texans do to smoke a brisket. He would then alternate pieces of mushrooms, onions, peppers and even pineapple, mango, and guava. When the coal or wood was just right, the kabobs hit the ames. The aroma would draw troops from blocks away and, of course, we had to save some for the guards on bunker duty. For special occasions like a rotation back to the states, Ray would prepare his version of Surf ‘n’ Turf by combining a locally caught snakesh, goby or tilapia with his grilled or braised SPAM. We actually used real plastic dinnerware for these celebrations.Try adding some fried SPAM to your breakfast skillet or tacos or mac ‘n’ cheese or as an extra pizza topping. You’re only limited by your imagination. Long Island Ray is now cooking up his SPAM recipes for our veteran brothers and sisters in heaven, but there are times when the breezes are blowing from the right direction that I swear, I can smell those kabobs on the grill. by Stuart SaxSPAMSPAMThe Culinary Delights of

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42 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023THE CRASH OF 150685It was a beautiful sunny and warm southern California day that July 30, 1970. There were only light winds, and the temperature was in the low 80s, a perfect afternoon for ying. In the distance, a USMC Hercules KC-130F, with BuNo 150685 marked on its vertical stabilizer, appeared in the sky and was approaching Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Lake Forest, California. It was coming in for a landing and was practicing an assault landing (aka high obstacle approach) maneuver for training purposes. The procedure was designed to help avoid enemy ground re by maintaining altitude, then approaching the runway at a steeper-than-normal angle, aring the aps when nearing the runway, then landing.The ‘685 aircraft made its high-angle descent toward the runway but experienced a harder-than-normal touchdown. It bounced hard, losing some of the landing gear, dropped onto the left wing which separated it from the aircraft, rolled over upside down, lost all four props, and skidded down the runway. All the time it spewed fuel as it skidded and then burst into ames engulng the plane as it came to rest about midway down the runway. Inside was a crew of ve that included Major Walter Zytkewicz, Captain Robert Walls, First Lieutenant Robert Mullins, Staff Sergeant Kenneth Davis, and Corporal Kenneth Metzdorf. SSgt Davis was the only survivor while 1sLt Mullins died at the scene. Maj. Zytkewicz, Capt. Walls, and Cpl. Metzdorf died a few days later from their crash injuries.THE EARLY YEARSRewind a year to 1969 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, when Mr. and Mrs. Keene gave birth to a baby boy and named him Johnathan. When Johnathan was a year old his cousin, Capt. Robert Walls was killed in the aforementioned plane crash. Johnathan’s father was the youngest of sixteen children so that explains the disparity in ages between Johnathan and his cousin Capt. Walls.Johnathan’s father was in the Navy and when he was discharged, as a civilian, he continued to work for the Navy and Civil Service for the rest of his life. Johnathan always had a respect and close connection with the military. As a young boy, Johnathan accompanied his parents to Arlington Nation Cemetery to visit his cousin’s grave. As he grew into adulthood this tradition continued especially because of the compassion he felt for the Vietnam vets and now the casualties from the War on Terror. To this day, he continues to visit at least twice a year, once on Memorial Day and the other on Veterans Day. THE DISCOVERYOn one particular visit in February of 2019, Johnathan stated, “I was standing in front of Capt. Wall’s gravestone and I just happened to look to the left and was reading the gravestone next to my cousin. The name was Major Walter Zytkewicz with a death date of August 7, 1970, just one day before my cousin’s date.” At this time, Johnathan hadn’t made the connection between the two Marine aviators. As he stood there, “Something just grabbed me, I can’t explain it. This is the time where I felt there was Divine intervention taking place because of the way I was feeling,” Johnathan expressed. He immediately went home, looked up Maj. Zytkewicz, and found out he was on the same ight as his cousin. Both were killed as a result of the crash. This prompted him to investigate the rest of the crew and Johnathan’s journey began.VMGR 352 SQUADRONAfter scouring the internet for months, Johnathan identied the other aircrew members and started contacting family members to put their stories together. He was even able to get a copy of a redacted crash report of the ’685 crash from 1970. He found the squadron that his cousin’s KC-130 was part of and reached out to the VMGR1 352 Squadron and fortunately it was still active. The squadron was located at 1VMGR is the designation for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport SquadronMarine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, San Diego, California. Johnathan made contact with the squadron commanding ofcer and had several conversations about the ‘685 incident. Johnathan told him the story of the ‘685 crash and the Marines that were lost. Through these conversations, Johnathan determined that the incident had almost been lost over time within the squadron. It was now Johnathan’s mission to ensure these Marines were not forgotten. Since the rst KC-130 was lost in 1965, there have been a total of eight KC-130s and 43 Marine aircrew members lost.Johnathan designed a memorial plaque with all the crew’s names from the KC-130 150685 crash and presented it to the squadron on December 11, 2019. In attendance were the squadron, over fty families and friends of the crew as well as the news media. It was a tearful and memorable day at VGMR 352 where friends and family were gathered to get answers about their loved ones, bring closure to that tragic event, and nally give the crew the honor and remembrance they so truly deserved.THE VMGR MONUMENTOn one occasion after a visit with his cousin and the Major, as Jonathan was leaving the Arlington National Cemetery grounds, he noticed numerous monuments to different military organizations. He began to wonder if there were any memorials for the VGMR Squadrons. He discovered there were monuments for individual incidents but nothing that captured all the VMGR as a whole in one monument and none that went back as far as the ‘685 1970 crash or beyond. Johnathan sat down and began his new mission, to design a monument for all of the VMGR incidents. He had originally thought the monument he designed would nd a place in Arlington Nation Cemetery but, “after reconsidering, it just didn’t seem to look right in that space,” he recalled. He then thought about the Semper Fidelis Never To Be Forgottenby VL Stevenson

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DID YOU DID YOU KNOW?KNOW?DID YOU DID YOU KNOW?KNOW?Because each offers different benets, having both at your disposal will broaden your health insurance coverage options.If you’re a veteran, it’s important to understand how VA benets and Medicare work in tandem before you make the choice. The VA’s health care package and Medicare are two distinct programs. They do not work together, but rather, alongside one another.Our organization can help you understand those benets and show you how they work or 940-597-2001Veterans who receive health care benets through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can also enroll in Medicare upon turning 65. Memorial Park adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, and thought that would be a perfect t. He called the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation to see if they would be interested in having the VGMR monument in the park. The Heritage Foundation was very accepting and excited to have the monument.Next, Johnathan contacted a monument manufacturer and sent them his drawings. They were impressed with the thoroughness of his drawings and design. He recalled, “I’m an engineer by degree so the drawings were not a challenge, but the artistic side of the design was out of my wheelhouse. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. Again, I think it had to be Divine intervention that was guiding me.” Then they gave him the cost of $150K which shocked him. He had no idea the cost would be that high.Johnathan already knew Alan Stinar, historian for Marine Corps Air Transport Association (MCATA) for KC-130s, when he was researching the ‘685 crash. MCATA is a 501 (c) 3 non-prot charitable organization made up of former and current VMGR Marines, So, he decided to call Alan and explain the challenge of creating the monument and its cost. Jonathan sent his drawings to Alan and within ve minutes Alan called him back and said yes, I think we need to present this to the Board of Directors at MCATA. Alan and Johnathan then presented the memorial to Dave Harshbarger, MCATA President, and it was agreed that MCATA would take on the fundraising effort for the memorial. Additionally, this allowed the Marines of MCATA to memorialize their fallen brothers and sister.FUNDING THE MONUMENTMCATA invited Johnatan to their 2022 reunion as their keynote speaker and pitch the monument to the organization. “After I nished the presentation, there was not a dry eye in the room,” Johnathan recalls. The MCATA members realized that their friends and brothers were nally going to be remembered. To kick things off, Johnathan’s engineering rm donated $7,000, the rst large donation. Later after the reunion, Gordon England, former Deputy Secretary of Defense under Bush and Obama, made a substantial donation. Then the money began to pour in; it was an amazing outpouring. Johnathan stated that one common theme he heard from all the friends and family of the fallen was, “I never want my loved one to be forgotten.” After hearing this, he was convinced more than ever that he was on a mission with purpose, and this will be his strongest driving force to bring this monument to completion—To honor those Marines who gave all and to never let them be forgotten.WAYS TO DONATEThe memorial monument, when completed, will cost $153,500. That includes the cost of materials, design, production, installation, and ongoing maintenance. MCATA is trying to raise $180K for the project. Additional funds above the cost of the memorial are being raised to assist with the expense of the memorial dedication. So far, they have raised over $142K.You can donate at:

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44 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023SERVING AFTER SERVICESERVING AFTER SERVICEHow A Professional Fraternity Is Mobilizing VeteransBy: Gregory Williams

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For veterans and U.S. servicemembers being a part of an organization must feel right. Not everyone’s military experience is the same. For some, they enjoyed the rollercoaster ride of physical training, executing missions, and career development while for others they couldn’t wait to run out of the house of horrors that was lled with toxic leadership, backstabbing, and bureaucracy. In the end, everyone leaves with unique life experiences and the capability to still do good in their local community.Today one organization seeks to help male veterans and servicemembers hone their capabilities by blending community service and professional development under a Greek-lettered system. “I don’t know if joining the fraternity has changed my life more than it has opened my eyes to what it is that I need to do for those less fortunate,” Michael Gilbert Harris, a national vice president with Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. and U.S. Army veteran, said. “I believe what makes us special and different is the brotherhood we have with one another and the continued focus on the fraternity’s missions.” Since 2017, Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. has fed tens of thousands of families nationwide through its Herculean Effort Program, mentored more than a hundred young men through its Mighty Warriors Youth Program, and recently started an employment initiative called the Liberty Work Program, which will help veterans and their family members secure employment opportunities. Founded by three U.S. veterans, the fraternity has grown over its short inception mobilizing hundreds of members throughout its 14 chapters worldwide. Harris, an Operation Desert Storm veteran who served with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, said the fraternity appealed to him as he retired from a 28-year career with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole. “I joined Mu Beta Phi after a fellow veteran and co-worker told me about the fraternity and what they had planned on doing for veterans in our community,” Harris said. “Besides doing our part in ending veteran homelessness, we give back to the community through food drives, coat drives, and hosting health education workshops.” Besides serving those who suffer from food and clothing insecurities, the fraternity focused its efforts on several community service efforts including its “Kings Against COVID” campaign where chapters distributed PPE throughout ten states and were one of the only Greek-lettered organizations in the nation to collect clothing items for Afghan refugees during Operation Allied Refuge. “One of the best decisions I could have made was joining this fraternity,” Yoel E Barone Hernandez, a member of Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. and U.S. Navy veteran said. “I feel we’re different from other organizations because we take action on matters.” Hernandez, a former Independent Duty Corpsmanwho served both in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, said the members of the fraternity truly live its ethos of mission, brotherhood, and professionalism. “It’s amazing to be able to identify issues,debate a course of action, nd the best way to implement decisions, and get to work alongside other like-minded individuals,” Hernandez said. “For the fraternity to only be ve years old and already have a track record of accomplishing tasks on a national scale is uncanny.”As the fraternity garners nationwide recognition including being awarded the “2021 Most Outstanding Community Service Award” by the Professional Fraternity Association and having its podcast series “The Phiner Life Show” nominated in the critical information category by the People’s Choice Podcast Award, the organization continues to offer professional growth opportunities for its members in the non-prot sector. “I love how we bring new members into the organization that were feeling out of place after their military life ended and introduced them to a legit brotherhood,” Hernandez said. “For me, I feel like I reconnected with my old self who believed in doing good deeds because and more than ever, I can give more of myself fearlessly.”Whether it’s helping veterans nd their tribe in today’s world or offering service members unique community service opportunities, this professional fraternity is taking brotherhood to a whole new level.TOP: New York, NY - Rual Riddle, a member of Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. and U.S. Army Nation-al Guard member, hands out PPE to Brooklyn residents during a COVID-19 response campaign.BOTTOM: San Diego, CA - ,Members of Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity conduct community service on board the USS Midway.TOP: Washington D.C. - Arthur Thomas, retired U.S. Army chief warrant ofcer 3, and Gregory Gadson, retired U.S. Army colonel and "Battleship" movie actor, are inducted into Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. as honorary members.BOTTOM: Philadelphia, PA - More than 20 veterans participate in a crossing ceremony with Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc. San Diego, CA - Gregory Roberts, a member of Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity and a U.S. Army veteran, conducts community service on board the USS Midway during the organization's intake process.Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 45To Find Out More @ Mu Beta Phi, Scan the QR Code:

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46 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Winter 2022As veterans ourselves, we know the challenges of service and being a veteran. We want to help…no strings attached! We will be vetting organizations and businesses to provide you with trusted places to shop, communicate, reach out, and interact with those that will understand you best. OUR MISSIONTo provide the “One Place” for Veterans of the Armed Forces to find everything they may need as they exit the military. We want to make our military ecosystem work for the Veterans.

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whatever is going on in the world. Art for me is my happy place where I can get lost for hours and hours without a care in the world. Art is rejuvenating, healing, and satisfying. As a Veteran working in the Veteran community, as many of you know there is a shared experience of grief when someone close to you chooses to end their life. It is traumatizing for those of us left behind. I’ve shared that moment in time with many others who receive THE “call”. The world as we know it stops for a few brief moments while we take it all in. The anger, the frustration that maybe there was something that could’ve been done to prevent that. The sadness of knowing that person no longer exists in this world but has chosen to transition. The sadness of having to plan to attend a funeral where you’ve become accustomed to seeing your “funeral friends” of having to talk about the epidemic and feel helpless at not knowing how to prevent it. And the worst possible conversation is with those who don’t understand and are dismissive of the suicide epidemic, calling it weak or undeserving of compassion and undeserving of further thought past the funeral. The most appalling and saddest conversation of all is the latter. I created SPRING because it beckoned me to create happiness, a respite from the hurts of life. It was a call from my soul to the sad event of losing a dear friend to an illness that took his life too soon. It was from the sadness that I created beauty, happiness, and it was from the amazing memories of knowing my friend that I wanted something to signify what that friendship meant to me. My battle buddy will never be forgotten as long as my eyes can gaze upon that painting. Spring is my “happy place”. My thoughts will wander to past memories of chats about philosophy, art, goals, dreams, love, our dear Veteran community, business goals, and of what we wanted to do when we got so old, we couldn’t do anything else.I decided that I needed something that would make me smile and would also give me a feeling of warmth, friendship and that life is beautiful. Life Is Beautiful…it is worth repeating because often we go through life not realizing that the sun has a warmth to it, a friendly feel to it and it energizes each one of us. The owers that surround us are beautiful with their bright colors and scents. The breeze that caresses our skin as we walk outside is wonderful to feel and it makes us feel alive. How many things do we ignore because we are too busy, too preoccupied, or too distraught by life? How often do we avoid sitting outside and miss out on the wonders of nature that await us to notice it? Life is Beautiful…if we only take a few moments to see what others miss.In the pain of life, we must nd something that is beautiful, that gives us a sense of peace, and that brings back joy. One of the things I’ve been working on is remembering that there is a fast path to my joy and that path is my art. Art takes me to a place of peace, joy, and beauty. Art takes me to happy memories and the wonders of life. Art is where God resides. Art is my life. No matter what “Spring” surrounds me and gives me that respite to enjoy the beautiful colors and the happy thoughts that emanate from looking at Spring. My battle buddy might be gone, but my friend’s essence is all around me, in nature, in the breeze, in the sun, in the water, in the butteries that visit, and above all, always in my heart and thoughts. His transition was a peaceful one as a result of a complication from being in Afghanistan and after many years of dealing with the wounds. I know he is resting in peace and I know he is in a better place. I hope you have enjoyed gazing upon my little gem titled Spring. If you wish to contact me, please send me an email: cristie@bludragon I would love to hear your thoughts. My art is available from my website: May your 2023 year be amazing and may it be prosperous. The year of the rabbit…an absolute reason to create more art about the imaginative, creative, happy rabbit who compels us to go down the many rabbit holes and create our own wonderful life. Have you ever thought about the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? What did the rabbit signify in the movie? I love to analyze symbols and mythological characters. The rabbit is for sure intriguing, to say the least.FROM MY POINT OF VIEW:FROM MY POINT OF VIEW:By Cristie RemmelWhat better way to start the spring edition of the “AT EASE!” veterans magazine than with a piece of art that signies Spring? I absolutely love this little gem. I’ve been experimenting with alcohol inks for a while. I love the vibrant beautiful jewel-tone colors and how the colors mix to produce different effects. For those who like watercolors, the process is very similar but with alcohol and inks specially formulated for that purpose.One of my most favorite philosophers is Rabindranath Tagore and it was one of his quotes about life that inspired the piece: “What is Art? It is the response of man’s creative soul to the call of the Real.” ~Tagore. For me, art is just that, an inspired piece from my creative soul that calls me or compels me to bring something forth and make it real. Art is the place I go to when I want to withdraw from the world of business, stress, sorrow, or SpringSpringSpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 47

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48 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023'I KNOW YOUR INTENTIONS'As a First World Country, it is important, we nd First World problems to complain about, or at the very least make some up. A great example of this is the powers to be demanding the United States military forces focus on the use of proper pronouns instead of marksmanship or tactics or hand-to-hand combat. This concept can easily be seen as absurd if we simply look at what is the purpose and makeup of the US military. The US military forces are needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security.Veterans2Veterans Group has established a strong social media presence, and with that comes trolls. Instead of commenting on our work with veterans, service members, rst responders, and their families. The successful food and toy basket program or the fundraising for other local charities, what about praising our head-to-head confrontation with the US Army on behalf of one of our brothers and sisters? Instead, this troll wasted 4 months just to complain about our secondary logo, the initial complaint was not the issue. The real problem came as we did our research and proved our position to be correct, which led the troll to state in a matter-of-fact way “I know what your intentions are,” yet was unable to specify the reason for his claim.V2VG as it has become known created a secondary logo in 2020 to list those we serve. Although our secondary logo looks slightly similar to the American ag, it varies in far more ways. There are 50 stars in the upper left corner, but not on a eld of blue, on a black eld with a Gadsden snake in the back. Unlike the Colors, there are only 11 stripes that have the names of the primary groups we assist and their identied color. Written by: Chuck BradlyTo accuse us of violating the ag code and being disrespectful, it is imperative to know what constitutes the American Flag. As per The United States Code, Title 4 Chapter 1. Description of the Flag. The Flag of the United States has (1) 13 horizontal stripes, 7 red and 6 white, the red and white stripes alternating, (2) The union consists of white stars with 5 points on a blue eld placed in the upper quarter next to the staff and extending to the lower edge of the 4th red stripe from the top and, (3) The union of the ag contains 50 stars, each star with one point upward. The number of stars is the same as the number of states in the Union. By the denition alone our logo is not consistent with the denition given.The disrespect of desecration of the American Flag consists of, but is not limited to: Whomever knowingly MUTILATES, DEFACES, PHYSICALLY DEFILES, BURNS, MAINTAINS ON THE FLOOR OR GROUND, or TRAMPLES UPON any AMERICAN FLAG.

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As Afghanistan fell to the Taliban following the asco of the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021, there was an understandable outrage from the veteran community. A moral injury had occurred. As a retired Marine, friends, and family reluctantly asked me “Did hearing the news upset you?”No. Sorry, but it doesn’t bother me. This response may elicit surprise, shock, or disgust. Allow me to explain. I served three tours in Iraq as an infantryman and was wounded on the second tour. I lost Marines and friends. I’ve stood by ag-draped cofns and fought back tears at the sound of taps. Years later I watched news of ISIS ooding in from Syria, through the same town where I bled in Husaybah, Iraq. It didn’t bother me.I’m not callous to the pain and suffering of the people in those war-torn countries. They are fellow human beings who want to live in peace and raise their families. They desire a quality of life characterized by a relative measure of prosperity and freedom from violence. It is a blessing for us to live in our country instead of theirs. I cannot, however, measurably affect their circumstances.Why does the brokenness of Iraq and Afghanistan not bother me? Simple: I wasn’t ghting for them. They were broken long before we got there, and they will continue to be so for a long time afterward. Not one person I know fought “to make Iraq/Afghanistan a better place.” Even the most fervent among us fought to “get back at them” after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. “Them” was ill-dened. We did not ght to make someone else’s country a better place. Those few who thought so were idealistic but not realistic. Rudyard Kipling wrote “The Young British Soldier” in 1895 including the line “When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains.” The Russians fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and again in Rambo III. Nothing changed. I held no illusions Afghanistan would become a bastion of freedom and democracy. Veterans who fought Nazis returned to walk the beaches of Normandy with their families. Veterans of Iraq cannot imagine walking the streets of Fallujah to get some falafel.Like many, I was eager to be tested in combat. This is not a psychopathic desire; it is inherent in the character of a warrior. Further proof is found in the regrets of veterans who did not see combat and see themselves as lesser, or as having “missed their chance.” Those veterans are no less a warrior, no less signicant than those who have seen combat. They simply were not tested by the confrontation of esh and steel on their watch. They were ready but just did not get the call. I encourage them to hold their heads high. We know you had our six.Many young people on their rst enlistment state adamantly that they are “getting out” because of unfullled desires to see combat. It is a short-sighted and professionally immature perspective. The one compelled to serve in combat must commit themselves to the profession of arms, train for years, and wait for the call. I remind veterans to recall Article 1 of the Code of Conduct. “I am an American, ghting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.” The culture of the Marine Corps teaches when there is a ght, we go. After the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, a reporter asked a Marine if he thought we should be there. The immediate and matter-of-fact response is profound, “Well, the Marines are here so I should be here.” There it is. We ght for one another. We go wherever the ght is. The politicians decide where “over there” will be. We don’t have the luxury of picking which ght to sit out because we disagree with the reasons for being there. War is an extension of politics. The military is but one instrument of national power leveraged when diplomacy, information, and economics fail to produce the desired results. Before going to war politicians should clearly identify a few things. Number one why are we going? Number two what denes success? Finally, what is our exit strategy? Our country’s leaders failed in this respect. The blame lies with the politicians and civilian leaders. The generals and admirals did not decide when we would go to war or come home. They advised our national leadership, but once the decision was made, they promulgated warfare within the rules of armed conict and the political restraints established.Sadly, we lost the wars. For many of us, the cost has been very personal and we now move forward with this moral injury. If we do not adjust our perspective anger, bitterness, and disillusionment, it will overtake us .I attended a reunion last year with the veterans of our rie company, including men from all walks of life and ethnicities. We hiked to the grave of one of our brothers, Medal of Honor Recipient Corporal Jason Dunham. We shared our grief and our love for one another. We reected on what transpired and how we are to live now in its wake. We did not discuss the current state of Iraq. We know our brothers did not die in vain. They were not ghting for Iraq; they were ghting for each other and us. We counted the cost knowing some of us would not return. At times we wish we could take their place. Tragically, some have taken their own lives as they assume unwarranted guilt. If the fallen could speak, they would wish us to live good lives, to laugh hard, and to love deeply. We may cry but we need not despair. It is noble to ght for the well-being of people in another country, but that was not our cause. We must recalibrate our perspective so that we can respond “No, it doesn’t really bother me.” Sorry, but it doesn’t bother me. Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 49Adam Walker served as a Marine infantryman for twenty-five years, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant with three tours in Iraq and a Purple Heart. You can read more of his work on his blog: takeitontheleftfoot.comby Adam Walker

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Names, statues, words, and numerous other signicant identiers of American history and culture are currently under attack. The common denominator is that these targets are all Hot Buttons that the Puppet Masters use to create controversy and division.A Hot Button is an emotional and usually controversial issue that triggers immediate and intense reactions.A Puppet Master is a person or group that secretly controls other people or things, as if they were puppets.Attacking these Hot Button targets triggers immediate and intense reactions not only in the Puppet Masters’ anarchist henchmen and minions (Puppets) to destroy these things but also in those of us who are determined to save them.WHAT’S IN A NAME?In the previous issue of “At Ease!” veteran’s magazine (Winter 2022), I wrote an article titled, What’s in a Name? Since writing that article, I have become even angrier, watching the mountains of Woke crap that are being force-fed to us almost daily by our treacherous and treasonous news media.Woke is a term that today’s liberal anarchists have hijacked from the early Black Civil Rights movement and appropriated as their own. Conservatives and our ilk use the term “Woke” pejoratively to identify extreme-left liberals.The movement to rename military bases (the subject of my previous article) has nothing to do with right and wrong, but is rather, just another Hot Button weapon. It’s a manipulative ploy used by the Puppet Masters to cause various segments of our society to clash with one another. This movement is designed, led, and nanced by both foreign and domestic anti-Americans (the Puppet Masters) who lurk in the shadows. We are probably familiar with some of these people…we are just not completely aware of their involvement and their shadowy plans.The renaming of military bases is just one phase of their expansive plans. Once the original nine bases presently scheduled for renaming are in fact renamed, there will be more bases with more reasons for renaming. These continuing actions will target a variety of honorable people for a variety of innocuous reasons.WHAT’S IN A STATUE?Numerous statues of Confederate Generals have been taken down. But that isn’t enough. Anarchist mobs have either physically torn down, or forced the removal of statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Christopher Columbus, Lewis & Clark, and others. The contrived reasons for these actions are as numerous as the statues themselves. And we can expect that Hot Button list to continue expanding.WHAT’S IN A WORD?Deb Haaland, President Biden’s Interior Secretary has declared the term “squaw” derogatory and has initiated a process to remove it and other names that she deems derogatory, from federal government places (1,400 of them…and counting). Nearly 650 peaks, lakes, streams, and other geographical features on federal lands that carry the term “squaw” have recently been renamed. Originating from the Algonquin language, the word “squaw” means “woman.” Squaw is now identied as a misogynist and racist word.So, at any time, for any reason, any word (no matter how simple and pure it has been in the past) can, by any person, be deemed inappropriate. Sounds like year-round Christmas for the Puppet Masters, with endless gifts of neatly wrapped Hot Buttons.Through the years, many totalitarian regimes, notably the German Nazis and the Communist Soviet Union, have used the strategy of altering the meaning of words to advance an agenda. MISC. WHAT’S IN A…?Do you feel overwhelmed yet?... I do! There are just too many Hot Buttons to discuss here, but the following should give you some idea as to what we’re up against.Through hundreds of years, very few historical accounts have changed. What has changed though is perspective. For more than 6 decades, President John F. Kennedy has been the darling of nearly all Democrats. Using today’s Woke standards, the liberal left (most Democrats) would consider Kennedy a white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobe, and whatever else suits the moment. The only thing that has changed in these past 60 years is…perspective. Princeton University removed President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its Public Policy School. Why?... With ‘guidance’ from the Wokes, Princeton feels some of Wilson’s policies were racist. Again…perspective.Self-proclaimed Woke, LeBron James continues to excoriate Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, for racism. The evidence?…an innocent photo taken in 1957 when Jerry was 14 years old. And yet again…perspective.The Detroit Public School board voted to remove Dr. Ben Carson’s name from a public high school because he served in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.LGBTQRXYZ… activists are calling on NASA to rename the James Webb Space Telescope to the Harriet Tubman Space Telescope. NASA said, “No”…Hooray! Wokes protest against the very things that make it possible for them to protest.Allowing people to assume any identity they chose, regardless of reality. I say, “If you’re born with one, you are one.” Surveys show that most Native Americans were Saddle up! We are at War! It is not a conventional war, yet one with an enemy (the Puppet Masters) intent on destroying the United States of America. by Bob WartmanHOT BUTTON WEAPONS!HOT BUTTON WEAPONS!50 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 51not offended by the name or the mascot of the NFL Washington Redskins but there were plenty of race-obsessed white Leftists who were offended on the Native Americans’ behalf, and bullied the team through its sponsors (Cancel Culture) to change its name.” Rather than caving in and changing their name from the Redskins to the Commanders, the Washington Redskins could have scored a small victory by simply changing their mascot from an Indian Brave to Mr. Potato Head (The Washington Redskin Potatoes). The Wokes will undoubtedly nd some reason to remove the name of squeaky-clean President Harry Truman from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier the USS Harry S. Truman…and Admiral Nimitz? Well, he won’t be far behind.There is no room for argument with any of this as the reason for it happening is unreasonable in itself…that is unless you nd the destruction of the United States of America to be reasonable.We are at War!…and by we, I mean We the People!We the People!.....not just those of us who are offended by this subversive crap, but also those who have elected to walk in lockstep with the Puppet Masters. We are all being attacked by the Puppet Masters whose aim is to continually overwhelm us with one problem after another until we get tired, lose interest, and give up. Fair-minded people tend to accept compromise as a legitimate tactic and it can be if we are negotiating with other fair-minded people. We both walk away from the negotiation table with a partial victory and move on to other business. However, it seems the Puppet Masters look at compromise as just another weapon…an incremental win. They will continue pushing the same or similar issue time and time again, demanding compromise on the most recent portion we had previously “won”. This strategy will go on until they eventually reach a total win on the issue. This might take years, but they seem to be much better at the waiting game than we are.Leonardo da Vinci speculated, “There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” Until those people locked into the third of these 3 classes, open their eyes and their minds, America as we know and cherish might cease to exist.To quote Rod Dreher, Senior Editor at The American Conservative, “If you aren’t willing to ght the culture war, your culture will be taken from you”. Great quote, but while this might seem like a culture war, I believe it is much more. It is an actual, physical war, taking place all around us. Having lived for so long in the lap of luxury, peace, and prosperity, we…and by we, I still mean We the People! have gotten lazy. We have sat idly by and allowed our schools to be taken over by liberal Marxists. We have allowed our political representatives to become wealthy off their inside knowledge of the stock markets. We have allowed our news media to be taken over by foreign and domestic anti-Americans (the Puppet Masters).I guess to a degree, we’re all conspiracy theorists, just some more than others. Do your own research and decide the level of belief you have. Google a few of these groups: World Economic Forum; New Bretton Woods; Bilderberg Group; the UN; Trilateral Commission; World Bank.See for yourself how their plans run parallel to much of the “strange” behavior of our present-day governing bodies. There are overlapping groups like these around the world with some people holding membership in several. They have public web pages, presenting the guise of transparency. Much of their actual business though, is transacted secretly and their publicly stated goals are merely the method by which they will use to reach their true goal…The New World Order. Many of their stated solutions y in the face of our freedoms and liberties.To nd a little reason for the seemingly unreasonable actions of many Libs, research Saul Alinsky and read his, “Rules for Radicals”(published in 1971). It outlines a strategy for destroying America.This strategy has now been in play in the USA for more than 50 years.His key targets of control are Healthcare, Poverty, Debt, Gun Control, Welfare, Education, Religion, and Class Warfare. Does any of this sound familiar?WAKE UP AMERICA!!! Even the Wokes need to Wake Up! Many Wokes are good, patriotic Americans who have been hoodwinked. At least some of them can be moved into the second of the three da Vinci classes.May God continue to bless the United States of America!Bob Wartman – Sergeant, USMC,Chu Lai, Vietnam 1966-1967.Retired from the Telecom Industry, Bob lives in Kentucky with my wife Carol.

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SCAN THE QR CODE TO GET STARTEDGET TO KNOW US!It’s not yours to carryIt’s not yours to carry, the burden of those life’s you have taken. It’s not yours to carry.It’s not yours to carry, for you are the one who stood up against evil.It’s not yours to carry.It’s not yours to carry, While lesser men cower in their beds, you ran to the sounds of the guns. It’s not yours to carry.It’s not yours to carry, rest my friend for the burden of killing, It’s not yours to carry.For the tyrants who justify their evil deeds. You will return to nd him. But evils death, the burden of killing… It’s not yours to carry.By Sgt.Maj. Greg Leal (Retired)United States Marine CorpsIT'S NOT YOURS TO CARRY...

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 53FOR THE LOVE OF A VETERANlost three times the amount of my fellow veterans in the war at home than I did on the battleeld.” Lance and Bryan both cautioned however, SGB is not a ‘cure all’. Although, it will give the Veteran immediate and short-term relief, about 6-9 months is the average, which is time for the brain to begin to heal itself. Some Veterans require a second or third injection, but so far Lance has experienced a reprieve for over a year with just one procedure. PURPOSE & MISSIONWith a new lease on life, Lance and Bryan jumped headlong into creating a Florida chapter of For the Love of a Veteran. The reality is, while SGB is a game-changer for Veterans with PTSD, it’s also expensive. SGB can cost anywhere between $2500-$5000 per procedure. This amount includes travel & lodging. Very few clinics offer the procedure, and It is not covered by insurance. And it is certainly not covered by the VA, except for a few facilities, and ONLY as a last resort. So far, their chapter in Florida has raised funds for several Veterans to receive SGB at no cost to themselves, but their vision is raising enough money so that any Veteran who wants the procedure can get it. “I mean, that’s the point that we’re at, but that’s what we’ve always done. You know, if somebody else doesn’t want to pick up the gun, we’re going to pick it up and move forward,” Lance said. To nd out more about For the Love of a Veteran or SGB, visit :FORTHELOVEOFAVETERAN.ORGContinued...SCAN HER TO VISIT 'FOR THE LOVE OF A VETERAN' WEBSITELANCE & AMBER PRICEHope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.Proverbs 13:12TLV

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54 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023STAY IN THE FIGHT Ooh Rah!! Fellow service members and Patriots, My name is James McGrew and I am a 3rd Generation, United States Marine, “Once a Marine Always a Marine”. I served with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Fox Company, Weapons Platoon. I was stationed at Camp Lejune, North Carolina from 2003-2007. In 2005 I was deployed to Iraq and would have the great honor to serve my country in combat, during this tour of duty I, like so many combat veterans, would be hit by an IED explosion while manning a Machine Gun Turret atop a humvee. Most veterans know during this time in 2005; It was the height of the Iraqi war on terror and these were not up-armoured humvees, they were re-treds from previous conicts and had makeshift 7 ton armour bolted to the sides and some sandbags on the oor, that when hit just ew off in all directions. Man those were the good times. In 2007 I was Honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and like so many courageous veterans this is where my toughest battle would begin. I was broken, alone, and missed my brothers A VOICe FOR THe VOICeLeSS pT VA LETTER FROM JAMES MCGREW, USMC

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 55in the service everyday. I would go thru divorce, custody battles over my children, and even suffer from addiction. “ I should probably say this started as prescribed medication from the Department of Veterans Affairs”. Addiction, depression, PTSD, along with an untreated Traumatic Brain Injury would lead me down roads of despair that I wouldn’t have wished on the worst of terrorist. I would attempt suicide on a number of occasions and the last attempt would land me not in a Mental Health Institution but, behind bars in a Maximum Security Prison for a term of 4 1/2 years. In 2018 I was released from prison and would continue to ght for my life, checking myself into a long-term treatment facility. I graduated the treatment program and even found myself attending college courses for Substance Abuse Counseling. Life was really great for the rst time in a really long time, I was sober and focusing on staying mentally healthy. My goals were to help others who suffered from depression, poverty, and drug addiction. As we all know life is ever so fragile, and our story is never over until that day we all rest in Gods Marine Corp in the blue sky’s above. On January 6th 2021, I attended the Stop the Steal Rally in Washington DC and I’ve been charged and convicted of crimes for my involvement during this rally. I won’t write this letter and say I did everything right that day. I will maintain I don’t deserve anything close to the 78 months I received. I physically hurt no one and broke or stole nothing that day. I will also say I too have a side of this story and as loud as I scream it, many have yet to hear it or just refuse to listen to the evidence. I would ask only that one day when the 14,000 hours of video is released to the public that you then make your own informed decisions on what is the truth of January 6th. Since my incarceration in May of 2021, I have been held in the DC-Gulag and for nearly 1 1/2 years was denied religious services, not given adequate medical treatment for issues related to my Honorable military service to my Country, held in deplorable conditions, not been allowed to see my family, verbally assaulted by ofcers some who have called me a terrorist, and held in solitary connement for months on end. I will end this letter there and I want the Patriots of America to know I love the United States Of America with every ber of my being and I am Proud to say I have fought and bleed for the Values which she represents, but more importantly I fought then and I ght now for the Brother’s and Sister’s to the left and to the right of me. The rest of my story has yet to be written. SEMPER FI JAMES MCGREWA VOICe FOR THe VOICeLeSS pT VMy name is Gabriel Garcia, retired U.S. Army Captain and I am a J6er. I am a father of three beautiful children that are the world to me. Like so many Americans I went to D.C. in the rst week of January 2021 to attend Stop the Steal and hear President Donald Trump speak. As we all know that day turned into something else that no matter what the fake media or the shamble J6 committee states THERE WAS NO PLAN!!! If so, like so many others we must have missed that memo the same way the FBI did. That day unfolded sporadically throughout the day. Many Americans felt the election was stolen and wanted to voice their opinions. That day turned somewhat violent once the Capitol Police started opening re with gas canisters and rubber bullets into the peaceful crowd outside the Capitol which in returned triggered some within the crowd to act. I was arrested in the early hours of January 18, 2021 with a loud bang at my door and next thing I know I have red dots from the Fed’s rie all pointed at my chest with Secret Service, and even someone from the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) involved in this search; even though I have been retired from the Army for years already. After I was searched and placed in handcuffs one of the agents did exactly the opposite of what the warrant stated on opening my phone by forcing my face into the camera of the phone to open it. Below is exactly word for word what the warrant stated in reference to dealing with any electronics that open by biometrics.While attempting to unlock the device by use of the compelled display of biometric characteristics pursuant to this warrant, law enforcement is not authorized to demand that the aforementioned person( s) state or otherwise provide the password or identify the specic biometric characteristics (including the unique nger(s) or other physical features), that may be used to unlock or access the Device(s). Nor does the warrant authorize law enforcement to use the fact that the warrant allows law enforcement to obtain the display of any biometric characteristics to compel the aforementioned person(s) to state or otherwise provide that information. However, the voluntary disclosure of such information by the aforementioned person(s) is permitted.My takeaway from all this in regard to our Justice System and J6 is that we clearly have a two-tier Justice System that the majority of Americans cannot even begin to comprehend unless they are currently going through it themselves. A LETTER FROM US ARMYRET. CAPTAIN GABRIEL GARCIA

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There is also a few patriots that are truly involved in seeing what is really going on as well. Take for example how ANTIFA in the summer of 2020 at the Portland Courthouse tried to burn it down and had some of those ne citizens sprayed chemicals at the Federal Police guarding the courthouse that night. Well, they did not get the early wake up call by the FBI in the early morning hours. In fact, it was found that the 18 U.S.C. §§ 231(a)(3), 2 (civil disorder); charge was dropped for fteen of these scumbags charged federally because it stated it was in the best interest of justice. What Justice are we talking about? I wonder if these scumbags that participated in the summer of love of 2020 had their bank accounts closed, kicked out of social media platforms, kicked out of Uber or even Airbnb. Short answer, absolutely not. I am sure they could also travel without TSA fumbling their private parts every time they travel. My Country sent me to war in Iraq and I went into the Presidential Place in Baghdad in another country fully loaded and got a medal for it. I come back home to peacefully protest and looking at doing time for going to the Capitol with a water bottle that I offered to one of the Capitol Police. For our Political Prisoners, continue to pray for them and their families. I dealt with prisoners of war that were treated more humane than our own U.S. citizens sitting right now in the DC gulag. At the end of the day, I am blessed not to be sitting in jail and like so many J6er's that have no criminal past record, we are treated like America’s most wanted. Keep the faith, keep ghting and don’t depend on anyone to include even those in Congress or the Senate that you think might be your ally to help you out. God Bless America and GOD Bless all our Patriots involved in this Political prosecution.GABRIEL GARCIACPT, U.S. ARMY RETIREDSUPPORT JEREMY BROWNJeremy Brown, MSgt, is a 20-year career Veteran in the US Army’s Elite Special Operations Community with the 1st Ranger Battalion, he served our Nation honorably with multiple deployments in OIF/OEF and is the recipient of two Bronze Stars. On January 6th, Jeremy was in Washington DC to provide security detail for the speakers. Although he never stepped foot inside the Capitol, Jeremy has been in PRETRIAL incarceration for over 18 months. He has been charged with two low- level misdemeanors. JEREMYBROWNDEFENSE.COM | PATRIOTMAILPROJECT.COMDemand Demand JusticeJustice for the for the January 6th Political Prisoners!January 6th Political Prisoners!AD PAID FOR BY AN AMERICAN PATRIOT“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”— Martin Luther King Jr.

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he started the long climb to success.He doesn’t know quite how it happened, but in 2005, Garcia got a job teaching Engineering at a low-income high school. For the rst two years, “there were no expectations.” On the far end of campus with little chance of running into an administrator, Garcia hit up the beach bars, slept in his car, and stumbled into class hungover; he didn’t care about anything. However, by the end of ve years, he had done a complete 180—he was running the Academy of Engineering. His methods? “Ninth grade, there’s a formula. You go full Drill Sergeant for two weeks, you scare the living shit out of them, and you establish dominance. It’s just like prison.” Eventually, he eased up with the Juniors and Seniors, but this kind of tough love and discipline earned him a reputation of absolute terror along with a nomination for Teacher of the Year. While he was teaching, Robert joined the Reserves, nished his MBA, and then pursued his Doctorate. During this time, the school lost funding for the program, and he was let go. It was after this, from 2006 to 2013, that he describes his life like being in a tunnel. He found technical writing and bounced between companies for eight years while still working on his Doctorate. Robert earned his Doctorate of Education degree at 37 and became an enlisted PhD.He realized that the corporate environment didn’t have the zeal that he was looking for; he wanted to work for himself. So, he focused all of his extra energy outside of tech writing on building up his own businesses. He started SHIFT Magazine and his own business consulting company, The Warrior Strategist.It was in 2018 that Robert’s life took some major turns. He volunteered for a six-month tour at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. His mother had terminal cancer when he left, but since she was doing well and had already passed her three-month life projection by two years, he gured six months wouldn’t be a risk. Robert was working at the busiest air operations center on earth in the most high-stress job he’s ever had. Suddenly, he was told that his mother was in her nal days, and he should probably give her a call. He got off shift and called her home. His aunt answered and said she hadn’t spoken in three days, but once his mom found out it was Robert on the phone, she started speaking. “She was choking on blood and every word was a struggle” Garcia describes in an article he wrote for LinkedIn. He talked to his mom for an hour and a half, and said “I didn’t focus on anything negative because I knew she was dying. There was a lot of anger, a fucking lot of anger, and I let it go. I reversed the roles and thought if I was dying and it was the last call with my kid, how would I want it to go? It was very emotionally hard.” The next day, Robert’s aunt told him that she died in her sleep. He was offered a ight home, but he said no because there wasn’t really anything he could do. He quietly cried through the next couple days at work, and all he received was a hand signed card the Commander had a unky run down to him. While his Reserve Unit supported him well, he didn’t receive that support in Qatar. So, like he learned back in Basic, he put his head down, went into “turtle-mode” and got his work done to nish the mission.When he returned to the States, nose to the grindstone, Robert started building up his businesses. He withstood a mental breakdown where he called the Veteran Hotline from pure, debilitating exhaustion. He put his energy into The Warrior Strategist, helping veterans and business owners command the entrepreneurial world with practical, straightforward techniques. He’s published eight books and helped several clients achieve business acumen and success.Tenacious and resourceful don’t even come close to completely describing Robert Garcia’s journey. “One thing I’ve learned is the military augments who you are. If you’re a real piece of degenerate garbage that makes bad decisions, the military is going to make you tenfold. If you’re a good person who is highly motivated, the military is going to turn you into a dynamic leader.”Robert Garcia truly molded himself into the latter."No Limits" continued from page 28Typically two Americans and on many occasions only one American bedded down in their respective Iraq Company Homes with 10-15 Iraq Soldiers. It was not lost to me, the possibility some of these men might have been directly and/or indirectly responsible for killing and/or wounding the American Comrades I served with on my last tour or some Americans that followed. Our team was not forthcoming with displaying trust with our new roommates. We slept with loaded ries (round in the chamber) within arms reach. I for one also slept with a loaded (round in the chamber) 9mm handgun under my pillow. A whole lot of luck and my experience with the Vietnam Center helped me through the year-long deployment. I don’t know if ADM Zumwalt and the North and South Vietnamese Commanders trusted each other. Without reservation, I am condent they respected each other. I too respected the Iraq soldiers that were once the enemy and are now newly formed allies. The Iraq SgtMaj I instructed once served under Saddam Hussein and soon became a respected ally of mine. Our small team relied mostly on foreign translations, we patrolled, fought side by side, and broke bread together. Clearly not at the level of commanders I witnessed years before, but on a personal level, I observed history, made history, and now I "Living History" continued from page 26Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 57HAVE A STORY TO TELL?We're always looking for Veteran stories! Whether it's your story, a family members or a Soldier you've read about... let us know! We are also looking for 'Boots on the Ground' Veteran organizations, making a tangible difference in the lives of Veterans. ... Every Veteran has a story to be told...Email us at:

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58 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023To Be FreeAfter a long walk through the park to clear my head, I approached my Condo; a bittersweet ending to another attempt at letting the world back in. Every attempt felt like a heart attack; difficult breathing, tightness in my chest, and hyper alertness was all I felt no matter how nice the day was. Avoidance never helped because my demons were already inside me. As I stepped over the curb onto the apron there was a melted ice cream cone smashed on the ground. I liked ice cream and thought for a moment of the wasted treat. The fact that no one else paid any attention to it was as I expected. I could see the door attendant poised and ready; reaching to open the door as I approached. It was a tedious journey, but one taken every day, and always difcult. Not just the long walk but the meticulous and complex route needed to avoid the memories hidden along the way. A familiar route learned from dozens of mistakes. Every trigger as I began to call them recalls a moment of torment; Shocking, saddening, and unavoidable at rst but over the years have become the tools of my afiction. I live in a prison of the mind. Secret to the world and without walls except for the ones conjured along the way to protect me. I hoped to avoid conversation but knew it would be unavoidable. The Doorman wore a crisp uniform and stood erect, proud of his position. Anxiously making a symbolic gesture like a salute, tipping his hat at me as I passed, exaggerating the motion to make sure it caught my attention; It hurt. I nodded and told him not to do that. It was unnecessary, but he could not help himself any more than I could. “In for the evening Sir?”Another unnecessary gesture because he knows very well that I rarely go out and never at night, but it is part of his routine and I have come to accept it. Life is like that; you must accept things. I would never tell him that I was haunted by the intrusion of darkness. It’s embarrassing because I know it is a problem made worse by fear; not of any danger but of the memories buried deeply in the night hours. He wants to be my friend, and, in another life, it would be possible, but for now he, like everyone else, is at arm’s length. I couldn’t tell him the things that haunt me. I’m only now telling my doctor and I see her every month. She tells me that healing takes time; an ironic statement because time is all I have left. Weeks, months, maybe years of therapy and I still can’t go outside without tidying up my apartment, not excepting the possibility of returning unharmed. The world is a dangerous place, but it’s mostly the little things that get to me. The little gestures, the nod, tip of the hat or smile only remind me that I do not deserve those symbols of respect. I’ve tested the pitfalls of street life but it’s like I’m invisible; never been mugged or even threatened. It’s like the poison inside me ashes “Danger, stay away.” It’s only the little things that I must guard against. My door must stay closed. It’s that lock on my emotions that protects me.It took me a moment to take that next step. Passing through the lobby to my apartment takes courage. So many people, so much space. Halfway across I spot the Concierge turning my way, also eager to greet me as usual. I quickly threw up my hand to block him before it was too late. It worked as usual, but I wonder if he’ll ever learn to leave me alone. He’s not the only one because others are laying in wait; the lobby is like a mineeld. Courage, that is all it takes. The rst steps will lead to second steps, and usually that is all it takes to get me to the elevator. I live in a ridiculously small apartment on the 43rd oor of an expensive building. Fortune did not bring me here; it was an inheritance like most things in my life. Good and bad, I take things as they come. No joy, no tears! Things just seem to happen. I’ve accepted this life because it’s the easiest; If you stop caring about the world then the pain becomes bearable. I actually look forward to the day I lay my head down and nobody notices that I’m gone.Shiny brass, meticulously polished by loving hands adorned the doors as they silently opened on the elevator, and I entered. This small eight by ten conveyance was like a safe room within a larger safe room; I was sealed in but there was comfort in knowing the world was sealed out. Breathing a little easier now I looked for my oor’s button. I knew very well where it was, but this was one of many things that had become a compulsive routine. It was right where I knew it would be, and I pressed it; number 43. I was alone, safe and it was quiet. At least I thought I was alone until she spoke. “Hello.” The accent was distinct and at once recognizable; adrenalin ooded my blood. I hadn’t seen the woman standing in the corner. When I turned to look at her it took me a moment to see her. The light was dim, and she was small, wearing all black except for a red scarf tied tightly around her neck. I didn’t know how to respond. She was Vietnamese and wearing a Coolie hat, it has been years since I saw one and it was not a good sign. “Hello,” again. I was still shocked and didn’t know how to answer. I nally managed to say a hello and turned back to face away from her.She was still there and as the elevator ascended through the shaft her small voice cut into me, “Do you remember me?” I told her that I did not know her and moved closer to the door trying to extend the separation. She repeated her question with authority. I did know her though, and she knew that I by Ron Dickson

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 59knew. It was a long time ago and dark much like now when the memory had lled my brain. It was a tsunami now that cut through my gut.Again, “Do you remember me?”; a slightly sharper tone.She was not going away, neither of us were.“I know who you are.” It was the best I could muster. I more than knew her, I had killed her and her friends. Probably her family too. It was 50 years ago, a dirt road, the war was going on and I did my part to illuminate the caravan, making sure the bomb fell on target. I was aiming for the trucks not her. I didn’t care back then who else was down there. I blamed it on the mission, but back then I did not even think about people. Not back then. I thought just like I had been trained to do; they were not people, they were targets.Now there was silence except for the beating of my heart; subtle at rst, but now hammering at my chest wall as if trying to escape; a choice not available to me. She had not pressed her oor button yet, which must mean she’s following me. She will get off on my oor and kill me. I hoped it would be quick, I deserved it and I was ready.Time began to slow down as I expected her next response, but it didn’t come. I waited and tried to relax my muscles, so her knife wouldn’t hurt so much as she thrust it into my back. But it was not a knife I saw in her hand; it was a large ring of keys dangling from her tiny wrist as she reached past me and pressed number 40. I took an uneasy breath. Maybe It is not me she wants, some other poor bastard on the 40th oor. When the doors opened, she quietly slipped past me. Looking up, her countenance revealed a longing like she had been waiting for something she didn’t expect to get, something from me. Something I needed too but was too afraid to ask for. She was a little thing, a child maybe? No, she was death and she had just given me more time. I started to call her back. Get this over with, more time would only make it worse. But I was afraid of her, I didn’t want to remember her.When I got to my apartment, I quickly looked around for her before unlocking the door. I was safe again as I turned the deadbolt behind me. I checked it two more times before I could relax. There were only two doors here and I had locks on both. I would never tell anyone about the second door. It was normal enough but led out onto a balcony and I had a padlock on it. It was the lock that embarrassed me. It wasn’t there to keep people out; it was there to keep me in. I’m on the 43rd oor and I don’t trust myself. I threw the key away after I put that lock on, so I could never open it again. It keeps me safe.Life wasn’t going to be routine anymore. She had come back and was out there somewhere waiting for me. I began to weigh my options, to form a plan, to work out the solution. I couldn’t stay here forever; it was already too long in the waiting. I would need to face her. To tell her I’m sorry, that it was my job, my duty. I couldn’t tell her that because even though it was true, it was only an excuse and not an apology. I don’t even think she’s real. It’s not possible because she’s dead. Maybe a grandchild? No, she would never be able to know it was me. What could I say anyway? Maybe she’s just part of the staff and if I told her the story, emptying my heart, then she would know. She would know my secret and life would be worse.I decided that she is real because I’ve seen her before many years ago. I’ve spoken to her in a language she didn’t understand but I didn’t know how to say I’m sorry in her language. Those memories are part of me now and I only think of her in my dreams. Always ending the same with me watching in horror as the blast blows down trees in a great circle leaving nothing but broken and burning pieces of things that were once someone’s life. It was never going to stop, and now that she had escaped my mind, she was coming for me. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep anyway so I moved to the glass doors leading to my balcony to look out over the city. Maybe the sounds of the street below would get my mind thinking about something else. If only I could smell the air and feel its coolness, things would be alright. I closed my eyes and took it in, but something was wrong, A breeze was owing in, and I actually could smell the air and could feel its coolness. To my horror the doors were open, and the lock was gone. I dropped to the oor and began searching, but no lock. I couldn’t remember what kind of lock it was but knew it had to be easy to nd, but the more I looked the fainter the memory became. I ran back to the front door to see it was still locked. She must have my key on her ring, got in and unlocked my padlock. She opened the doors and hid, but where was she. There’s only one room here and I’m standing in the middle of it. I inched over to the balcony to see if she was out there, but she wasn’t. I grabbed hold of the curtains as if I thought they would support my weight and glanced over the edge. It was at least four hundred feet to the ground. I had done the math before and knew I would have no more than ve seconds to regret coming out here before I hit the ground. My stomach was churning, and I was about to throw up. I turned to come back in, and she was right there, ten feet in front of me, an apparition walking toward me. I had nowhere to go. I yelled for her to get out, I told her that she was not even real, but she kept coming. Her eyes ate into me, and I inched backwards until I had no more room to back away. My worst fears had come true, this is where it all ends.“What do you want?” I begged to know.She stopped and stood motionless for a moment then pulled off her red scarf and threw it at me saying “I forgive you! Let go and set me free!”It stunned me, and as I saw her face silhouetted against the stars, retreating into the distance, I realized that the moment I feared the most presented itself as a horrible gift. The accuracy of the math I did months ago was now all I thought about. It took two seconds to realize what had just happened, leaving me with three seconds. The air passed over me with increasing speed. The curtain was still grasped in my hand and uttered viciously as if not wanting to be part of the carnage waiting for me. Two seconds and time stopped. Staring down I could see it, a mangled body smashed on the ground. The bones were the only distinguishing part of a human, the rest being just a smashed mass of unrecognizable body parts. Suddenly the last 50 years vanished, and I was no longer falling but standing in the troop door of my plane, a C-130 transport specked out to drop ares along the Ho Chi Minh trail. I played a minor role in the mission, but it was still combat, and I got shot at on every ight. I wish that was what gave me nightmares, but it was worse. The jungle in this part of Vietnam was thick except for the crater and downed trees marking the detonation point of the bomb. Two thousand pounds of high explosives leaves a very recognizable signature on the ground. Turning from the Starlight scope, the two hundred knot wind roared past just inches from my face. As soon as I had been able to see the rst body, I got sick. The little caravan we targeted was gone. I didn’t know it then, but that sick feeling would never go away. Someday I would need to face that vision again and today was that day. One second left! I released my grip and set her free, it was all I could do, and our bondage was liberated.

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"The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his." -- Gen. George S. Patton --60 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023

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62 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023LINKS LINKS TOTO LIBERTY LIBERTYBOOK REVIEWBOOK REVIEWLinks to Liberty: Defending the Great Chain at West PointBy Robert J. Skead & Robert A. SkeadPublisher: Knox Press | Premuted PressCopyright © 2021 Robert J. Skead with Robert A. Skead"Norman Maclean in his book A River Runs Through It wrote, “I am haunted by waters.” I, however, am haunted by liberty, and more importantly, what it costs. The pain and conflict I lived was imaginary but yet so real for me. The opportunity to live a moral life, pursue one’s dreams and happiness, and do so in a free nation is a privilege. I am now so much more grateful for the men and women who died for our nation and who now protect us than ever before."As a teenager I was an avid reader, but not of the uffy, cotton candy teenage romance novels of my contemporaries. Instead, I would ‘sneak’ books off of my dad’s massive bookshelf that was lled with historical accounts of bravery and betrayal, sacrice and service; stories that were about real people and real events. Maybe I was a weird kid, or maybe it was just a precursor to publishing a Veterans magazine, who knows. But when I was approached by the author of Links to Liberty to review his book, even though it was geared towards kid, I was 100% on board. Links to Liberty: Defending the Great Chain at West Point is children’s book and the third in the series American Revolutionary War Adventures. Written by Robert J. Skead & Robert A. Skead, a father and son duo, who are also members of the Sons of the Revolution. Their ancestor, Lamberton Clark, served in the Continental Army and Connecticut Militia. Robert Sr. also served in the US Navy during latter part of WWII and was part of the Aviator training program. Links to Liberty: Defending the Great Chain at West Point chronicles the journey of 16-year-old twins, John and Ambrose Clark. The book opens with a brief synopsis of the previous books, reminding the readers that they were thrust into the world of Revolutionary Scan the QR Code to Find Out More...espionage after nding out that their father, Lamberton Clark, was a courier spy for General Washington. As a reward for their valiant actions and saving their father’s life, they are faced with the decision to either attend Yale or continue on their path as a members of the special infantry unit, the Continental Light Dragoons. In the meantime, John inadvertently comes into the possession of the journal of a dead British spy, leading the twins, their older brother Berty and Father to West Point clearing the path for the birth of our sovereign Nation. Interwoven throughout the book, are the overarching themes of historical details of logistical and covert brilliance, Divine providence, and the seless patriotism of our founding fathers and military leadership.I highly recommend American Revolutionary War Adventures series to kids, young and old alike. Even as a student of history myself, I learned so much that was not taught in my American history classes.

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“If the freedom of speech “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be and silent we may be led, like sheep to the led, like sheep to the slaughter.”slaughter.”-George Washington

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64 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023During my time on active duty as a Marine I held multiple billets. I served as a Substance Abuse and Control Ofcer, a Section Leader, and Suicide Prevention Ofcer. Holding these collateral billets while attempting to manage 7 to 14 Marines was challenging to say the least. I remember the days when I would sleep in the Ofce or come in on the weekends while everyone else was enjoying their time off. The stress was intense, especially because each billet would be audited and you didn’t want to fail and audit. I know my own key to survival was through tness. This was the time I would be able to focus solely on me. Most of my time at work was dedicated to the unit and making sure others were taken care of. I truly believe that peace is found when take time to put ourselves rst. No matter how much work needed to be completed the gym was my home, it was my peace, it was what some call a safe place. But what happens when we don’t have time to hit the gym? We have to improvise, adapt, and overcome. Check out this awesome quick home workout. It’s great for getting a quick leg burn. Beginners should try for 3 rounds, Intermediate should go for 5, and expert should do 7 rounds. Veteran Fitness:THE PERFECT HOME WORKOUT FOR STRESSBy Daniel Dancer | USMC...As always you should consult a Doctor before participating in any exercise. Working out can help reduce stress by pumpin up your endorphins. If you want to feel better working out is a great idea. Huge shoutout to my Wife Deanna Dancer for being the model for this article. We are Camp Freedom Fitness. A Woman owned, Veteran Run Company.

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 65This journey wouldn’t be possible without my amazing wife Deanna. She’s the CEO of Camp Freedom Fitness. She cooks for our clients and does all the back end, behind the scenes work. I run the programs and coach the clients. The best part about this journey is that most of it is online. Most of our clients are all over the US. We send them workouts, build their diets, coach them, and train them. Having an online platform means we can work with more people more often. You can always nd us on Facebook at @campfreedomtness or visit our website at campfreedom . We would love to meet you. ......Enjoy the Workout! I hope you enjoyed the workout! Take care of yourselves and remember to make yourself a priority. SQUATS1. Start in the standing position. 2. Squat down, try to ger your glutes just below your knees. 3. Return back to the standing position4. Do 20 squats. FRONT LEG LUNGES1. Start put in the standing position. 2. Lung forward with the left leg.3. Return back to the standing position. 4. Lung forward with the right leg. 5. Do both legs 10 times. SIDE LEG LUNGES1. Start out in the standing position.2. Lunge to the right side. 3. Return back to the standing position.4. Lunge to the left side. 5. Do both legs 10 times. SIDE LEG RAISES 1. Start out in the standing position. 2. Lift your left leg to the side. 3. Return back to the starting position.4. Lift your right leg to the side.5. Do 20 each leg LEGS ON FIRE!LEGS ON FIRE!Repeat this circuit based off your current tness level.

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66 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023Greetings, fellow veterans,My name is Tim Grutzius, and I am a non-combat US Army Veteran (1989-1992) and a retired 25-year re service veteran. During my tenure with the re department, I developed post-traumatic stress injuries due to occupationally related exposures associated with this profession. When I became a reghter/paramedic, I knew I would see bad things. However, what I was not taught during paramedic school and the academy was the degree to which these events would affect my psyche. Three-and-half years into this career, a call to service forever changed my life. On a cold and lonely night in 1998, I responded to the suicide of a colleague who was a friend, mentor, and a reghter’s reghter. I worked with him for three years and never knew he struggled as he hid it well.For the next sixteen years, I struggled with the ups and downs of undiagnosed PTSD. Traumatic calls continued to pile up with no end in sight. I was chronically stressed, always angry, and short-tempered, and my sleep hygiene was inferior compounded by an interrupted sleep cycle due to the nature of my job. As these years passed, my ability to do the job at peak performance declined. The results of an annual physical indicated that I was pre-diabetic. The department doctor told me I needed to make changes to improve the quality of my life, so I did.To heal my body, I improved my nutrition and exercise regimen, shed pounds, and adopted a holistic lifestyle focused on the mind, body, and spirit. I now wanted to share my journey with others, and in 2013 became a personal trainer. Yet, the pain that dwelled within prevented me from reaching a higher potential. In 2014, I hit a low point from a mental health standpoint. However, all was not lost because the Universe had my back.In the years following my friend’s suicide, I repeatedly remarked that the re department should have sent those involved to counseling. I waited for this but never took the initiative to do it myself. In 2014, a turn of events guided me to take the training offered by the newly formed Illinois Fireghter Peer Support Team. During the second day of training, I learned about PTSD. My heart began pounding as I realized the therapist instructor was talking about me (guratively speaking). I asked and became a client of this woman and it was the best decision I had made to begin healing my mind. I am still a REBUILDING THE MIND, BODY, & SPIRIT; ONE BREATH AT A TIMETim GrutiziusTim Grutzius is a graduate of the YAM Yoga School (Laurel Park, NC) and is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. He is a recognized Level I teacher through Warriors at Ease (trauma-informed training), and is the Owner of Mind Body Badge Yoga and Wellness ( peer support specialist with this ne organization.In 2015, I began healing my spiritual self when I found a regular yoga practice. After relocating to Western North Carolina, I became a yoga teacher in February of 2022 and now share the gift of yoga with others. It was an incredible nine-month journey to exploring my greater purpose, and my appreciation for life has deepened further. I enrolled in the Warriors at Ease(WAE) Level One yoga teacher training a month after graduation. This program helped me understand my mental health challenges from a research-based perspective. The most exciting portion of this training discussed how trauma affects the brain and causes memory and sleep issues, hyperarousal, and chronically elevated stress levels. I then learned how yoga and meditation might reverse the effects of said conditions. This training helped me connect the dots to my PTSD in an understandable way. I will attend the level two training soon. As a goal, I aim to offer trauma-informed practices to active-duty military, veterans, rst responders, and other high-stress occupation personnel.As a WAE teacher, I will carry out the mission of assisting the military community and fellow veterans by creating a safe space where they can reconnect to their minds, body, and spirit using the tools of breathwork, movement, and meditation. To conclude this article, I will offer you, the reader, a way to re-center when times become chaotic.

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Spring 2023| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 67REBUILDING THE MIND, BODY, & SPIRIT; ONE BREATH AT A TIMEWHAT IFSgt.Maj. Gregory Leal, USMC (Retired)What if I could have changed the outcome? What if I could have changed the end of the innocent men, women, and children used as human body shields, or the little girl I couldn’t save, porcelain doll, and others who by no fault of their own? What if instead of guns up, running to the target triggers, pulling rounds hitting the target, Head shots, skull shattering, blood and brains splattering though the shattering glass. What if guns down? What if?Don’t tell me, you dumb worthless fuck to get over it!I did what I had to do, doesn’t ease the pain.......VETERANS CREEDVETERANS CREEDI AM A VETERAN, I HAVE SEEN AND DONE THINGS MANY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND.I AM A WARRIORI WILL NEVER ACCEPT DEFEAT.I WILL NEVER QUIT AND I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN BROTHER OR SISTER.IF THEY ARE HURT, I WILL CARRY THEMIF I CANT CARRY THEM, I WILL DRAG THEM.I WILL HELP THEM FACE THEIR ENEMIES.TO INCLUDE THE DEMONS FROM WITHIN.THEY ARE MY BROTHERS & MY SISTERS.I AM A VETERAN! Mini PracticeFind a position that feels comfortable and safe for you (sitting or lying down).Feel the support of the oor beneath you, inhale deeply through the nose, and exhale through the nose.On the next inhale, breathe in peace and balance. On the exhale, breathe out and let go of that which no longer serves you.Repeat as many times as needed to nd grounding. If your mind wanders, return to the breath. May what I have shared assist you in rebuilding your mind, body, and spirit one breath at a time. Take this journey one day at a time and be gentle with yourself. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, comments, or concerns or to learn more about the WAE program and my offerings.Fraternally yours,Tim To meditate with mindful breathing is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life. – Nhat Hanh

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68 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAYODE FOR MEMORIAL DAYby Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) Done are the toils and the wearisome marches,Done is the summons of bugle and drum.Softly and sweetly the sky over-arches,Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is dumb.Dark were the days of the country's derangement,Sad were the hours when the conflict was on,But through the gloom of fraternal estrangementGod sent his light, and we welcome the dawn.O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions,Sweeping away to the uttermost parts,Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pinions,Bringeth her message of joy to our hearts.Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot measure,What did it cost for our fathers to gain!Bought at the price of the heart's dearest treasure,Born out of travail and sorrow and pain;Born in the battle where fleet Death was flying,Slaying with sabre-stroke bloody and fell;Born where the heroes and martyrs were dying,Torn by the fury of bullet and shell.Ah, but the day is past: silent the rattle,And the confusion that followed the fight.Peace to the heroes who died in the battle,Martyrs to truth and the crowning of Right!Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal,Out of the dust and the dimness of death,Burst into blossoms of glory eternalFlowers that sweeten the world with their breath.Flowers of charity, peace, and devotionBloom in the hearts that are empty of strife;Love that is boundless and broad as the oceanLeaps into beauty and fulness of life.So, with the singing of paeans and chorals,And with the flag flashing high in the sun,Place on the graves of our heroes the laurelsWhich their unfaltering valor has won!This poem is in the public domain.

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Spring 2023| AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 69

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25 VETERAN PODCASTS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT25 VETERAN PODCASTS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT1. Operaon Freedom Recovery :Hosted by Dan Miller. hp:// The Unprofessional Veterans: Hosted by The Rev & The Kid. hps:// The Red, White & You Show: Hosted by Dean McMurray. Website: hp:// The Truths We Hide: Hosted by Annee Whienberger. Website: hps://e-whienberger5. Someone You Should Know: Hosted by Stuart Sax. Website: hps:// NonProt Architect: Hosted by Travis Johnson. Website: hps://nonpro Entrepreneur on Fire: Hosted by John Lee Dumas. Website: hps://www.eo Vercal Momentum: Hosted by Richard Kaufman. Website: hps:// Jocko Podcast: Hosted by Jocko Willink. Website: hps:// Airman to Mom: Hosted by Amanda Human. Website: hps:// The Stoned Vet: Hosted by Sgt G. Website: hps:// The Hoarding Soluon: Hosted by Tammi Moses. Website: hps:// Veterans Be Real: Hosted by John Valenne. Website: hps:// Disgruntled Docs Podcast: Hosted by Disgruntled Docs. Website: hps:// The Military Veteran Dad: Hosted by Ben Killoy. Website: hps:// The Ambious Vet: Hosted by Chris Homan. Website: hps://theambi Home-Bound Veteran: Hosted by Keith and Laura. Website: hps:// Mind of the Warrior: Hosted by Dr. Mike Simpson. Website: hps:// Team Never Quit: Hosted by Marcus and Morgan Lurell. Website: hps:// Borne the Bale: Hosted by Tanner Iskra. Website: hps://le-Podcast/B08K568Z9121. Frontlines of Freedom: Hosted by Denny Gillam. Website: hps://frontlineso The Warrior Soul: Hosted by Chris Alpert. Website: hps:// Mentors for Military: Hosted by Robert Gowin. Website: hps:// Bale Buddy: Hosted by Keith McKeever. Website: hps:// Veteran on the Move: Hosted by Joe Crane. Website: hps:// AT EASE! Veterans Magazine | Spring 2023

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"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."- Winston ChurchillSpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 71

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CROSSWORD ANSWERS:EXERPT FROM 'BORN IN A BAR II'...One summer weekend while on liberty, it was suggested that a couple of us Marines go golfing. I’m a semi-pro mini golf player, but real golf is another story. I golf with a set of clubs that I’ve had since the early nineties and consists of a driver, a 3-iron and 7-iron, a baseball bat, and a small cooler.Our foursome included myself, Gunny Pete, a Staff Sergeant (ironically his last name is Woods) and a Lieutenant that Pete worked with. Pete and I were much more interested in having fun, drinking, and driving the golf cart. The Lt was young enough to have fun but was still trying to maintain his professionalism. The SSgt was the ‘pro-golfer’ and took golf extremely seriously, with his custom thousand-dollar clubs, Jack Nicklaus polo shirt, khaki pants, golf shoes, and a custom golf cooler containing some German beer called Klackermatsch Schlafittchen Weinerschnitzel or something. I’d never heard of it. The Lt wore typical boot Lt garb: Polo shirt, belt, sandals, and an Ironman watch, had light beers and two waters. We two Gunnys looked like we were someone’s cousin Eddie and showed up in ball caps, shorts, and t-shirts, carrying a case of PBR that we started drinking before we left the house.The first two holes or so started out normally. We made small talk about work, and then an extremely attractive beer cart girl showed up with shots. Any chance of serious golf was now out the window.As she poured shots of Jameson for me and Pete, the Lt had a confused look on his face and said, “It’s only (He took a long pause and looked at his watch) 9:45!”I laughed and said, “It’s okay, Sir. We are professionals. You and Tiger over there stick to golf. We got this.” SSgt Woods didn’t appreciate being called Tiger, which I had no doubt he’d been called before.Somewhere around hole number five a different beer girl showed up. She wasn’t as attractive as the first, but she had a great personality and was a lot of fun over the course of the day. More shots. Pete got her phone number in case we needed ‘help’ while on the course. This was the end of the civilized and friendly golf outing.Pete and I began making up golfing stories to tell the Lt since Tiger wouldn’t shut up about all the different courses he’d been on and all the celebrities he’d met. My favorite golf story went something like this: One day at the Combined Arms Staff Trainer on Lejeune, a bunch of officers were telling each other golf stories and one casually asked me if I had any to share. “Of course I do, Sir.”“It was a beautiful summer morning. The weather was damn near perfect. Slight breeze, not a cloud in the sky. I was having an okay game up to that point and was hoping just to stay competitive with the rest of our group. It was the eleventh hole, a par four, a short straight run with a slight dogleg to the left and onto the green. I lined up for the swing and hit the shot of my life. It landed not far from the green and took a very favorable bounce and was heading straight for the hole. Now, I’m thinking Holy shit, hole in one?!? Our group all watched the ball roll toward the cup with anticipation. Then that god damn windmill got in the way.” I said this while making a downward motion with my arm.Tiger was not as amused as the Lt was.The next few holes were pretty much a blur, consisting of shotgunning beer, more shots, and playing whack-a-mole. The only score we were keeping track of was who could come up with the worst pick-up line to tell the beer cart girl at the next few holes. Loser bought more shots.“Have any advice on getting my balls closer to your hole?” said Pete. Tiger walked off in disgust after Pete then turned to him and asked if he needed any help washing his balls while seductively playing with the ball washer. We didn’t see Tiger again until the next day.I have very little recollection of anything after the shots on the thirteenth hole. According to the Lt we had played golf cart polo on holes fourteen and fifteen before Pete threw up in Tiger’s expensive cooler from doing cart donuts, resulting in me also throwing up in a nearby bush. I vaguely remember throwing myself on the ground and playing dead after another group yelled, “FOUR!” and their ball landed in the same bush. Shortly after, our cart girl came back and told us we were about to get flagged by the manager if we didn’t calm down.Somewhere in the middle of the fairway on the seventeenth hole, our electric cart died and we had to push it the rest of the way through the eighteenth hole and back to the clubhouse.Pete tried to wash off the puke-filled cooler in the small water hazard next to the clubhouse. He was now wet, smelled like beer and puke and yet the beer cart girl still agreed to go out with him. I guess his cheesy pick-up lines worked.We ended the day with a course record, most shots taken over eighteen holes. Alcohol shots that is.FOR mORe INAppROpRIATe SHeNANIGANS, SCAN THe QR COde beLOw: FOURSOME! by Gunny Jesse EsterlySpring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 73

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1Salute to SatireI wish to share a story that happened to me on a very bright and sunny morning as my platoon prepared to leave that little village in Taiwan, overlooking a beautiful piece of territory fty yards from the sea. In determining how best to move my platoon to a “more advantageous position”, I took a stroll through the boonies, out onto a knoll several hundred yards to our rear. I was sitting in a patch of tall grass, adjusting my compass with a map, determining the best approach forward to our next objective, when I sensed a certain uncomfortableness about my surroundings. Actually, I got the heebie-jeebies and chills and a feeling that somebody or something was leering at me. For whatever reason, I slowly picked myself up and began to take a step forward when I heard a soft hissing sound. I froze. Now, get this, just beneath me where my butt had just been, (maybe I was sitting on it for all I know), curled up in a striking position was a very thin, green, brownish, twig-like snake. I could do nothing but wait for it to strike out at me. I had a walking stick, but no time to reach for it. Shit! I’m dead! Was I lucky one more time? Yes, most denitely. Instead of striking at me, it slid backward and moved off to my left not even looking at me. Maybe it was his way of thanking me for getting off him when I was sitting. I don’t know, but I began to step, gently that is, towards the opening from this soft, comfortable, warm-in-the-morning sunny place. Guess what I spotted to my left and right? Three, four, maybe ve more of those bastardly snakes! I had to have been in a snake pit! Honestly, have I ever lied to you? I got my ass out of there in quick time! My interpreter called them “Thou-sand pacers” because that’s all the time I would have had before my blood would have coagulated and I would have dropped dead. PS - USMC Heebie Jeebies74 AT EASE! Veterans Magazine |Spring 2023

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Spring 2023 | AT EASE! Veterans Magazine 75

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Coming Up In Our Next Issue: • Exclusive: Marshall Terrin, USMC• Liberating Dachau• PTS/PTSD Awareness• Veteran Stories• Day 2 of 179• Plus our regular feature articles

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This is a historic time in America. We are witnessing a clash of giants in a ght for dominance of American culture. Whether we return to our historical roots or pass into a new form of governance is seriously in contest. This book is a chronicle of those who represent the bellwether of this storm for conservative dominance – a group of people who are being imprisoned and persecuted for a cause they believe in, by a government that views them as enemies of the state. This book is their story in their own words, written by their own hands. The American people need to read The American Gulag Chronicles and spread awareness of what has happened and is happening to these patriots in this Republic we hold dear. What happened to them could potentially happen to ANY AMERICAN! ~ Tim RiversAVAILABLE NOW! “en the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger and invite You in? Or naked and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And answering, the King will say to them, ‘Amen, I tell you, whatever you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:37-40 (TLV)AMERICANGULAGCHRONICLES.COM** PROCEEDS GO TO J6 DEFENSE FUNDS. ** PROCEEDS GO TO J6 DEFENSE FUNDS. $45ORDER NOW!The American Gulag Chronicles presents a personal and poignant look at one of the most signicant events in recent American history. Through rst-person accounts, this book brings to light the injustices and inequalities that have emerged in the wake of the events of January 6, 2021. Whether one views these events as a riot or a planned disaster, they have had a lasting impact on American values and those who hold them dear.PUBLISHED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

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