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Opinion: Thank you, veterans, for telling me how to celebrate every holiday

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Photo Credit: slgckgc flickr

An open letter to veterans from your civilian neighbor. He is writing anonymously because he doesn’t want your butthurt on his front porch.

Dear Veterans,

I’m just going to say what everyone is thinking: thank you from the bottom of my heart for your stick-in-the-mud Facebook statuses!

Every time I prepare for a holiday, I instinctively feel good about the food, fun, and drinks we’re all going to have. Fortunately, I have you nearby to remind me that the real reason for celebrations is to unite civilians and soldiers in being depressed, angry, or overly careful for the neighbor whose PTSD gets triggered by fireworks.

I particularly like the memes that show soldiers in the desert of some third world country, hating life while carrying machine guns and rucksacks on a crappy mission. Usually it says something like, “While you’re enjoying your holiday, remember the troops who can’t.”

Thank you! Now I can have a horrible time like they are having. That’s what you want when you’re overseas, right? For everyone else to feel guilty? After all, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and Halloween are all about the troops. There’s certainly nothing else that deserves recognition.

What you did on deployment was brave, necessary, and selfless. I will literally never be able to repay you, so the least I can do is never enjoy another holiday in recognition of your sacrifice.

I’m slowly learning the festivity rules, but that doesn’t mean you should relent in your effort to spoil a good time with memes and statuses. I won’t ever use fireworks again, and I’ll remember to thank veterans for making every holiday possible, except Memorial Day, because only those who died in service are allowed to be thanked on that weekend.

And god forbid that the fallen look down from heaven and see us all having a good time, the way they would have too, if they were still here.

Have an introspective Memorial Day, and thank you for your service!

 

Your neighbor, “Bob”

Miscellaneous

Opinion: If you call your spouse Household 6, I get to call your divorce a change of command

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veteran

By: Sgt Daniel Marks

Look, I get it. You love the Army and you want to bring everything about it into your daily life. I’ve been there. When I was in high school I got way into “Trainspotting” and started calling my friends “mates.” I was like 14, but whatever, I’m not here to judge. What I’m saying is we all do stupid stuff we aren’t proud of later.

So if you want to call your wife Household 6 you go right ahead. If you want to talk about needing to check “the training schedule” when someone asks you what you’re doing this weekend or discuss an “exfil plan” from the bar, that’s your prerogative. I won’t even call you a douchebag for it. At least not loud enough that you can hear me.

But you need to know that the use of military lingo doesn’t end when the good times in your marriage do. You need to know that if you call your spouse Household 6, I get to call your divorce a change of command.

Not only that, but I am going to ask you questions like whether she’s “already checking out a new unit” or “hopped on some Rear-D while you were deployed” or even if I can get a video of her doing some “partner assisted PT.” It’s only logical for me to deal with your loss by throwing something you did that annoyed me back in your face, and the commander of your household leaving the scene is a perfect opportunity. So I’ll ask you these things and more because the opportunities are pretty much endless no matter the reason you and your significant other elected to cut slingload on holy matrimony.

And let’s be honest, the first time I ask you if she used to be a drill sergeant because I hear she’s been smoking privates, you’re going to get mad. That’s natural. But I hope you can appreciate the fact that I put up with you and your slang equivalent of a high and tight by telling me you “take all commands from the tower” when talking about your wife.

Also, don’t be surprised if I insist on treating your divorce like an actual change of command ceremony. If I know the time and place you’re getting this done, you had better believe I’ll print out programs, and that I’m going to be there in uniform, with the guidon, 30 minutes early. And you absolutely need to be aware that I’ll be expecting to hear a speech, eat some Costco sheet cake, and get released for the rest of the day.

I’m not trying to be unreasonable. I won’t insist we sing the “Army Song” together to close out the ceremony. I just want to make sure we understand each other before you come at me all angry because I’m asking who your little fire team of kids is going to live with now.

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News

Opinion: Hey wait, no one ever thanked me for John McCain’s service either

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veteran

By a concerned, underappreciated American citizen

It has been 208 days since Sen. John McCain died and enough is enough. The reaction over the past few days by the “lame stream” media over comments President Donald Trump made regarding McCain are a constant, painful reminder that I have not yet been thanked for John McCain’s service either.

You might be asking yourself why I feel entitled to a thank you. Did I know McCain, or do my accomplishments in any way mirror his own?

I’m going to stop you right there and tell you no. And not just no but no and you’re asking the wrong (stupid) questions. The important questions, the ones you should be asking, are am I aware of McCain’s accomplishments and do I like thank yous to which I will answer sort of and absolutely.

Sure, I wasn’t in Vietnam when McCain was shot down or when he was tortured for five years or when he refused early release to keep faith with his fellow POWs. But I have news for you: lots of people weren’t there when that happened. Some of us weren’t even born yet. Some were never called to serve, and others didn’t really feel like going. Does that somehow make us less deserving of praise?

I also did not receive either an invite or a thank you for McCain’s funeral. While I wasn’t directly involved in the planning or execution of said funeral, I was generally aware of it. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, I love it when people thank me for stuff, especially when those thank yous are heartfelt, genuine, and unrelated to any of my words or actions.

It is for those reasons and more that I stand with the president and demand a thank you from the McCain family. They lost a husband, father, mentor, and friend on one day in August. I’ve had to live without completely undeserved praise for 200 something days since and counting. Do the right thing.

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Marine Corps

Opinion: Jerkin’ it at sea is a lot like jerkin’ it while not at sea

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By Sgt. Steven Mode, flight equipment technician

Sometimes things in life are the same, and other times things are different. One thing that is the same for me everywhere is wacking it.

On a train or in Bahrain, on a float or off the boat, masturbating is about the same wherever I go. Sure, sometimes I have to worry about getting knocked around if the seas are rough, or passing out if the porta-shitter is really hot, but generally speaking, the experience of jerking it has been pretty consistent. For example, one time I was beating it on the USS Bonhomme Richard, and another time I was beating it not there. See? Exactly the same.

Others may disagree, but nothing I’m saying is too wacko. People often ask me, “Hey! Don’t you think that masturbating on the USS Bataan is different from masturbating when you’re not on the USS Bataan?” But my answer is always a flat “NO! It’s the same for me everywhere.”

Think about it, what’s so different about rubbing one out in an unlocked quadcon on the USS Wasp versus doing it in another place? First of all, they shouldn’t have left the quadcon unlocked, but isn’t that basically the same as tugging it in the IPAC bathroom on Pendleton? My point exactly.

Last year, I was doing it when I was on watch in Iraq, and I was like, “Hmmm. This is about the same as that time I was doing it on my rack on the Green Bay, and I was right!” For me, it’s like going to McDonalds. No matter where I am, I know what to expect.

The only time it was different was when I was beating it back home in Michigan and my bathroom caught on fire because a rat got stuck in the space heater. Never had an experience like that before. Talk about crazy!

In conclusion, jerking it is something I do a lot and is about the same wherever I go. Thank you.

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Army

Opinion: General standing in front of us with hands on hips isn’t really making an impression

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(Photo: Defense Dept.)

By a grunt

I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’ve been in for three years, and I understand the chain of command as well as customs and courtesies.

But who the hell told general officers to always put their hands on their hips whenever they open their soup-coolers?

What does that signal? When I put my hands on my hips, I’m usually contradicting something a barracks lawyer just said, or else I’m fighting my bar tab at the Buckhorn Saloon. Which general has to fight a bar tab? They make so much money they just fart rainbow-colored fifty dollars bills and the bar staff run around picking them up like looters after an earthquake. Those generals leave the Buckhorn like nothing happened. Me, I’m talking to the cops.

So what is it with hands on hips?

I can see Adm. Halsey with his hands on his hips, directing naval combat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — there was a real war on back then! But mostly, I see my grandmother with her hands on her hips, scolding me for doing something wrong right before she spanks my hide.

So, to me hands on hips equals a paddling a’coming. I’m PTSDing here watching this general move his hands from his hips to putting his thumbs just inside his trouser pockets, and back again while using words I never heard before.

Does he want to inspire me or punish me? I don’t know. I don’t even know his name. Maybe it’s Gen. Grandma.

I bet there’s a course in that knife-and-fork school that I heard new generals go to. I bet it teaches them to appear confident whenever they talk. I think that whole course is about how to properly put their hands on their hips. Lord knows the field graders I see can’t do it because when they talk they don’t inspire a damn thing in me except to not become a field grader. They constantly move their hands from their hips to the inside of their trouser pockets where it’s like they’re jiggling change or wangs. Generals and grandmothers are a lot better at this, but still.

Honestly, general, would you please take your hands, your hips and your entourage of POGs and just get the fuck out of my battle?

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Opinion

Opinion: We were winning when we left

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By Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush

As former Presidents of the United States, we feel obligated to address President Donald Trump’s sudden and reckless decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan after a mere seventeen years of combat operations. We are not sure how the war could have gone so wrong in just the two years he has been president, but rest assured that we were winning in Afghanistan when we left the White House.

In October 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom, sending American Soldiers and Marines to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan. By the time Trump was inaugurated as president, we had managed to retake all of Afghanistan’s provinces from the Taliban, some as many as six times.

In January 2009, at the end of the Bush presidency, we had 30,000 Americans deployed to Afghanistan. Security had improved, shops were reopening, elections were being held, and the Afghan army was learning how to fight. In January 2017, at the end of the Obama presidency, we had 8,000 Americans deployed to Afghanistan. Security had improved, shops were reopening, elections were being held, and the Afghan army was learning how to fight.

It is hard to argue with this continuous record of success. Any decade now, the people and government of Afghanistan will stop relying on U.S. soldiers and U.S. aid money to defend their homes.

We are also alarmed at President Trump’s comments about our allies, especially Pakistan. When President Trump said, Pakistan “doesn’t do a damn thing for America,” he neglected two decades of Pakistan sheltering and arming America’s enemies. From Mullah Omar hiding out in Quetta in 2001 to Osama bin Laden in Abottabad in 2011, there has never been a better friend to America’s enemies than Pakistan.

Why President Trump would only give a measly $200 million to Pakistan this year, why President Trump would want to negate the sacrifice of the 2,500 Americans who died in Afghanistan by not sending another 2,500 Americans to die there as well, is beyond our understanding.

He has also made no effort to consult the defense industry or the international heroin industry, both of which require our military presence in Afghanistan if they are to turn a profit.

We urge President Trump to reject his failed policy of withdrawing from Afghanistan and instead embrace our failed policy of remaining. After all, it’s not like any of our kids will be going.

George W. Bush served as the 43rd President of the United Sates. In the eight years he was president, 641 Americans died in Afghanistan. Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United Sates. In the eight years he was president, 1,747 Americans died in Afghanistan.

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Opinion

Opinion: I secretly want you to pet my service dog

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The following is an opinion piece by the disabled veteran whose service dog you are about to pet despite the clearly printed warning against that on his harness.

Pay no attention to the large embroidered letters that read “SERVICE DOG: DO NOT PET” on my dog’s blood red vest. I want you to pet Max. Go on, do it.

It’s fantastic when you distract him from his one job, making sure I don’t lose my shit in public. The truth is, I desperately want you to pet my service dog so that I can just melt down in this grocery store while you block him from getting to me. I come alive when anxiety floods my veins, sweat pours down my IED-kissed back, and my highly-trained service animal’s face is being lovingly smooshed by a stranger in a “Support the Troops” shirt. Don’t mind Max’s squirms to get away from you and back to his job. He’s just excited to get manhandled for the fiftieth time today.

I get it — Max is so cute. He can pick up my dropped pills when my nerve damage kicks in or plop his heavy head in my lap to lower my blood pressure. But his true purpose in life is to respond to you cooing at him and announcing that he looks just like your dog Charlie.

If service dogs really weren’t designed for petting, disabled vets like me would hobble around with a honey badger or chihuahua — anything but an adorable black lab.

Also, I am so grateful you donated to Hero Dog that one time (I got Max from Puppies Behind Bars, but whatever, they’re all the same). It’s almost like you paid for him. Max is practically your dog! Get a selfie! Or better yet, just let me take the picture for you.

What kind of selfish prick would I be to deny you? Your tax dollars paid for my military service, injury, and delayed VA benefits. Max is our service dog. So go on, scratch his ass. You’ve earned it. I’ll just be over here riding this panic attack alone until you’re done.

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Army

Opinion: Are we dead or just in Kuwait?

An existential op-ed written by your squad leader in Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

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kuwait

Guys, I have to come clean: I don’t think we survived this past deployment. I don’t really feel anything anymore. The color has run out of the world. All is awash in browns, grays, dust and burning, stifling, ball-sweat inducing heat. We must question our purpose, the point of it all. Are we dead or just in Kuwait?

Why are we here? Is there nothing other than absurdity in this bleached pan of our waking nightmares? Is there nothing more than watching how many Kuwaiti soldiers it takes to devour that foreign delicacy chocolate cake?

Has life been reduced to watching other living, breathing service members — not merely our own, but the entire Western world’s — go on real deployments? This can’t be Hell, can it? Hell does not have a gym or an MWR. (Or does it?)

I’m certain Hell has better chicken wings.

Was it Kierkegaard who once said, “we shall not decide which life fights the good fight most easily, but we all agree that every human being ought to fight the good fight? Unless of course they’re sentenced to this godforsaken desert by the Military Intelligence Readiness Command?”

Trust me, that was purely rhetorical.

I’m pretty sure this place was the last thing Camus saw flash in front of his eyes before the crash. We are condemned to be free, but what is the nature of this freedom? Condemned to roll our laundry into balls repeatedly, like some modern Sisyphus?

The freedom to complain about internet lag or the sheer lack of Black Panther on haji disk? Was life ever more meaningless?

Wait. That’s why I can’t remember Iraq. That was a lifetime ago, when we believed in COIN and David Petraeus. We are assigned here. This is life now. Somewhere between smelling a burn pit here and the meth back in Fort Huachuca.

We aren’t dead, but we are in hell.

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Marine Corps

Opinion: I am very tired

By Gen. Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps

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Good Morning, Marines.

As the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, it is my distinct privilege to lead and serve you in this unique and essential war-fighting organization. Despite the hardship of this position and the responsibility it entails, working alongside our dedicated Marines and Sailors has been one of my life’s greatest joys.

However, one thing has weighed heavily on my mind these past few years, a confession that needs to be made before God and man, alike. Fellow Marines, I, Gen. Robert Neller, am very tired.

I’m just exhausted. I’ve been doing this shit since 1975, and I’ve got to tell you, man, I’m pooped. I legitimately can’t remember the last time I slept. I think I took a nap in the Pentagon parking lot last week before a meeting with Dunford, but I’m really not sure.

I mean, what kind of shitty-ass job is this when I can’t let my head hit the fucking pillow without some cracked-out aide telling me a 28-year-old staff sergeant in Miramar texted a picture of his ding-dong to a lance corporal and now its on Reddit. What-the-literal-fuck, Marines?

Or how about this, the other night, I was having dinner with my wife — who, by the way, has seen me about four times in the past eight weeks — when I get a call from Gen. Berger, who’s like, hey Commandant, guess what, a 7-ton in Okinawa just crashed into a light pole, and now you have to speak to the fucking Japanese Prime Minister. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

Listen up idiots. I get it. This isn’t a zero-defect organization. Mistakes happen. I’m fucking tracking.

But you assholes — and I’m speaking to everyone subordinate to me, which is literally all of you — need to get your heads out of your buttholes, for… I don’t know… the next three hours.

Just let me rack out under my desk. I mean this. I will call a Marine Corps-wide safety stand down if it means I can take a nap.

Bottom line, Marines: It’s not easy at the top.

So next time you think about drinking and driving or smoking near a fuel pump or breaking into the amnesty box, please reconsider. Remember, protect what you’ve earned and let me sleep. If you have any questions, I’m in the fucking Global.

Gen. Robert Neller is the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Commander, Marine Forces Command from July 2014 to September 2015 and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command from September 2012 to June 2014. He hasn’t had a full eight hours of sleep since around 1997.

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