The Combat Veteran’s Paradox

I’ve been a guest on some of the world’s top podcasts, radio and television programs. I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker at Fortune 200 company events. I’m a national spokesman for a veteran’s charity. People line up for book signings to ask about my book and to talk about life in Special Forces. Most every person I meet thanks me for my service.

But in the eyes of the state of California, I am a menace to society and undeserving of the same rights as the person next to me in line.

This is what I refer to as the “combat veteran’s paradox,” or the current state of affairs where, on one hand, most of society dons yellow ribbons and shows their undying support for the combat veterans of the past decade, those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, who’ve suffered the tolls of war and lost too many friends in the process.

And on the other hand, the state believes those same skills and bravery that were so handy in combat zones fighting for that same state’s flag become a danger to society, causing them to strive to take away our arms, benefit of the doubt, and, yes, many times even children.

While the 22-a-day statistic is staggering and gaining much-needed attention in social media and the greater landscape of society, there is another military-related statistic that has fallen off the public radar: the military divorce rate and subsequent broken families.

It seems I find stories every day in the media, through conversations with friends or in social media of another veteran having his life torn in two by an angry spouse with full support of the state.

There was once a time when I believed every story had a logical explanation, that there must be some integral key factor that these men were leaving out to paint themselves as the victim in the story.

And then I experienced it firsthand.

I cannot explain to you how maddening it is that every friend or legal authority I tell my story to – whether it be a lawyer, police officer, or court official – responds with the same answer: “they [the court system] can’t just do that.”

In a logical world they would be correct, as I would have been in my assumptions before walking the line myself. But in today’s world, the same government whose flag we soldiers run to pick up, fight for and protect has no issues with throwing us to the wind when we need their help the most, claiming the same skills they needed when it was time for war leave us incapable of being a good father, owning weapons, or receiving the benefit of the doubt.

 

As a man who grew up in the South and spent quite a bit of time in military towns, I can attest to the masses of young girls who just “love a man in uniform.”

And when the nation is in a time of peace, it works out well for both parties.

The soldier is only gone for short-term training assignments, and may come home with some anger or resentment towards his chain of command or the system from time to time, but that is much different than the unwavering wounds of war.

But in a time of war, things are much different. It takes a truly strong woman to love a veteran – more than loving the man in uniform, more than just singing along with empowering songs or watching empowering movies, but a truly strong and amazing woman with steel in her veins.

To love a veteran is to understand that sometimes he just can’t see why your world is collapsing because they didn’t have a shirt in your color. He doesn’t understand your crying because you hurt yourself and a tiny speck of blood is momentarily on your little finger. And your power struggles at work with your arch nemesis in the next cubicle? Not on his radar of things to get worked up over.

A veteran who has walked into certain death time and time again, watched multiple friends die traumatically in their early twenties and toiled in the high desert heat while wearing a full uniform with well over a hundred pounds of gear and rucksack will have a difficult time showing empathy for your first world problems.

And in the days where everyone is a special snowflake, reality tv teaches young girls that if Kim Kardashian can be a star for nothing so can they, and filing for (and getting) a divorce is not only easier than getting married but almost just as common, these strong women quickly change the “till death do us part” portion of the marital contract to “till it gets a little tough.”

And in the eyes of the state, it’s always the veteran’s fault. While the rules state that a restraining order is a serious move (and does quite a bit of damage to one’s reputation, record and any security clearance they may have held), it is quick these days to levy one against a veteran with zero evidence, history of violence, or police record.

There are many documented cases (mine as well), where an angry spouse will perjure herself in court, contradict herself repeatedly and give no clear evidence of need, but the court will rush to file a restraining order and take the children away from a loving veteran father in favor of a proven liar because she’s angry and spiteful.

Why? Because the father is a combat veteran, and as he loves his children more than anything the state allows an angry spouse to use them as weapons against him.

And there seems to be little attempt for the court to curb this disturbing trend. Much like trial lawyers can be disbarred for frivolous lawsuits but rarely are, it seems the court system has turned a blind eye to women abusing the system (and our nation’s veterans).

The onus to write this article was not my own experience (although it was a huge mitigating factor), but several others that were so egregious I felt I had to spread them as far and wide as possible to show the gravity and scope of this epidemic.

In a veteran divorce case in Key West, Florida in 2010 attorney David L. Manz of Marathon, Florida implied that all military veterans were high risks for spousal abuse and domestic violence by virtue of their military training, which aggressively teaches them to kill and destroy.

This was not only kept on record in that case but seems to be echoed time and time again since in divorce courts around the country involving veterans, where the “innocent until proven guilty” attitude required in other court cases is thrown out of the window.

Another case in Pasadena, California involved a soldier who was deployed for a year to a combat zone. While he was deployed, his wife filed for divorce and left with their children. When he returned and petitioned for custody rights, the Pasadena Judge deemed him an unfit parent due to the year he had spent away from his kids.

It didn’t matter that it was an involuntary deployment that would have landed him in jail as a deserter if he refused; again, in the eyes of the State, the combat veteran has no rights.

In another case, a spouse filed for divorce from her disabled veteran husband because caring for him was too much of a nuisance. As a parting gift, the judge awarded her half of his disability income. You read that right – she didn’t want to help with his disability anymore, but more than gladly took the money for it.

Unfortunately, I could fill pages upon pages with examples. Last night I read another message from a fellow former Green Beret on a secret group we belong to speaking of the courts giving him the same treatment, only allowing him to see his kids in supervised visits which their mother has chosen rather frequently not to even bring the kids to.

And her punishment for contempt of court? Zero.

It’s amazing with treatment like this that anyone even wonders why we’re seeing 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

A characteristic that I’ve often written and spoken about is that while we veterans may have a gruff and solid exterior, inside each of us has more love for our families than I’ve ever seen in the civilian sector – so much that we would rush to sacrifice our lives in order to protect that which we hold so dear.

It is said that “nobody loves a warrior until the enemy is at the gate.” Our nation’s veterans have been keeping that enemy at bay for well over a decade now, but when they come home to find the only people in their lives they are supposed to trust, rely and depend on have become the enemy, how can they choose to go on?

And the fact that our nation would support the soldier by wearing a ribbon but also support a court system or angry ex-spouse that would treat our veterans like this?

That, my friends, is the combat veteran’s paradox.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war” and the host of “The Green Beret MBA” on iTunes.

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Special Forces soldier and author Robert Patrick Lewis on a combat patrol in Afghanistan

Are we the worlds police?

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            Or perhaps the more popular question these days is “why are we the worlds police?”  It’s a very valid argument if you have the misfortune of getting all of your news from American media, especially if you only follow one source of news for everything.

But if you are one of the small number who’s figured out their game and goes to other sources of news from around the world or great intelligence analysts like Stratfor and other private subscription-based intelligence services, you know what you get from American media is severely lacking in the global perspective, and probably already have an idea about what this article will contain.

For the rest of you, I’d ask you to step back for a moment and take a view at the bigger picture.  Sure hippies and protestors love to say that it’s because we’re war mongering psychopaths (even though as long as humans have recorded history there have been wars, large countries have taken over small countries, and in the past those countries usually raped the conquered literally and figuratively, while we allowed Iraq to give their oil exploration rights to China), but that’s not quite accurate.

From another standpoint, we can do what is usually great advice when talking about politics and/or government and “follow the money.”  It is true that wars and any type of military or governmental incursion take money, lots of money, and while the military is great at certain things, there are an awful lot of jobs they can’t facilitate efficiently or well, which is why private contracting companies take over and stand to reap the benefits of any type of intervention into another country.

This seems to be another major point today, with the term “military industrial complex” coming up over and over, used to explain everything from 9/11 to the war in Iraq.  The claims that industrialists and private companies influence our politicians to begin wars or step into other peoples incursions has so many rabbit holes, assumptions and connections that I don’t have the capacity to even begin to fully fathom, so I’ll go with what I know and have seen and experienced first-hand.

While the ground truth may be one or a combination of these things, there are two factors which I know greatly influence our role as the world’s police:  Firstly, stability, and motives which are based purely on our own well being.  Secondly, because it’s our job as a global superpower, and the same country who decries us for sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong today will scream in anger and blame us for not stepping in when it’s their neck on the chopping block.

So let’s begin with stability.  I spent my life traveling, the son of a Navy pilot gone commercial who had grown up in Germany with Grandpa stationed there after WWII and been stationed in Italy with the Navy.  My parents were world travelers, and as such my passport stamps were already full before I was in middle school.

As a world traveler, I got to see many perspectives that most Americans don’t see up close.  Most Americans who’ve never left our own borders only know of the world what they’ve seen on television or in the movies, and don’t really understand what the real world is like.

As a great man once quoted, “you can never truly know a land until you’ve smelled it’s dirt,” meaning that no matter how many books you read, intelligence reports you read or shows you watch, you don’t know anything until you have boots on ground experience.  This goes for politicians, citizens, and Generals alike.

A very funny thing has been happening to me lately; I’ve had an inordinate amount of friends contacting me asking, “did you know we have military in Africa now?”  I usually laugh a little bit and explain that if they’d read my book “Love Me When I’m Gone” they’d know we’ve had Special Forces in Africa as long as Afghanistan.  But why?

To an outsider who can’t use higher order thinking, consider knock on effects, or understand the world, stability may not seem like a very important issue, but in the world of global politics and security, it’s perhaps the most important issue.  Why do we send money to third world nations who seem to hate us and are rife with corruption?  Stability.  Why do we spend money building up their infrastructure?  Stability.  Why do we have Special Forces training their governments and armies?  Stability.  And if they get too out of hand why to we send Special Forces to help overthrow their government?  Stability.

So if you are an American who’s never left our borders or traveled too much outside of the country, especially the third world nations, I want you to do a quick mental checklist of everything you’d need to get around here in the US running errands; let’s say you have to drive to the grocery store, buy groceries, maybe go to the bank and withdraw/deposit cash, take your kids to the doctor for a checkup, and later that night have sitter come watch the kids while you meet friends for a drink.  Better yet, what if you were planning a trip across the border, to either Canada or Mexico?

If you’re thinking about all of these things in terms of the United States of America, there is one common theme that you’d need for everything listed above:  a form of governmental identification.  This is why I see the voter ID laws as ridiculous, as you couldn’t do any of those listed above (if using a credit/debit card or food stamps like most of the country) without some form of ID, yet it’s racist if we require it for one of the most sacred rights of an American citizen in voting?  That’s an argument for another article entirely, so let’s bring it back and imagine you were embarking on the second option to go across the border.  In this case you’d need not only a drivers license, but you’d also need a passport in hand.

As a guy who can speak with experience about North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and many places in between, I can tell you that’s not the case for a large part of the world.  Not only do you not need an ID to drive or travel in many of these places, but you couldn’t use a credit card even if you wanted to.  Even in the European Union now, a group of some of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, once you’re within the EU borders, you can travel freely without having to show your passport.

But why is this so important?  It is one of the factors important in determining stability.  Another very important factor to be considered is corruption.  Sure our government and politicians are just as corrupt as any others around the world, if not more so, but the brightside (if you can call it that) is that our politicians are so greedy and enjoy such a lavish lifestyle that their price tags are very high.  That’s not so everywhere in the world were cost of living is only a tiny fraction of what it is here in the USA, and while a politician here may require a multi-million dollar bribe (oh, sorry, “campaign contribution”), a local governor in Mali, Niger or Djibouti may only require a few thousand.

What’s another factor in this stability equation we’re looking at? Infrastructure.  If a country doesn’t have the infrastructure to track it’s own borders, people, transactions and criminals, it’s basically an open market.  If they don’t have adequate border police, anyone with a determination can come into their country.  If they don’t have the infrastructure to monitor criminals and jails, someone can easily pay off a guard and walk free.  If they don’t have an adequate army, they have no way to control bad guys setting up camp in their back yard.

And that’s what stability all boils down to.  When you combine all of the factors listed above into one country or area, you have what we call an “off the grid” scenario, where a bad guy can disappear, operate completely unmonitored, unchecked and free to roam and do as he pleases.

Although it was popularized in the best selling novel by Tom Clancy and subsequent movie starring Harrison Ford “Patriot Games,” many Americans still don’t understand just how big the Sahara desert is in North Africa, and just how many terrorist training camps are set up there.

So you take all of the stability factors above, put together with any cop show you’ve watched and think about how easy you would be to find, let’s say if you murder someone while out and about running your errands.

They could track your vehicle by the license plates or speed pass tags on your car and cameras along all the highways.  They could track your transactions via credit, debit, or ATM transactions to follow where you are.  They can track your GPS location via you phone (yes, even if it’s off and battery is removed), and they can find you via any GPS unit in your car.  If you get pulled over without a drivers license and fit a description they’re looking for you just bought yourself a ticket straight to jail….but somehow you don’t need one to vote, still mind boggling.

Now let’s look at a country in North Africa, and we’ll go through the steps of how you would get into a country to start a terrorist training camp “off the grid.”  I’m not giving anything away here or giving them any new ideas; as a Green Beret who operated in North Africa, I can tell you this was their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), and is available via open-source channels and simple connect-the-dots.

 

The border police are understaffed and underpaid (if there at all), so they have two options: just make a run for the border and drive across where you know it’s unguarded, or play it safe and pay off someone in advance to look the other way when you come across.

Pay off the local governor and/or police chief of the area that you’re going to operate, possibly a few military officials, and ensure that nobody comes in the direction where you’ll set up camp, and if they do it’s just another shallow grave in the desert for them.

Again you have to understand that many parts of the world don’t value human life as highly as we do in America.  You can call me crazy for saying this, but it’s based on real personal experience, and is why Americans line up and donate more money around the world to relief causes than any other country, many times over.

Once you’re in the country, you don’t need a drivers license to get around, you only use cash to buy supplies, and the government doesn’t have any real way to track you via satellite imagery, cell phone or GPS tracking, highly skilled intelligence analysts or cameras around the country.  That is, of course, unless America or another first world country concerned with their own security provides it.

Again, if you think that I’m crazy and just making up a nightmare scenario, consider Afghanistan.  This is how the Taliban and Al Qaeda set up and operated there, and are currently operating in the remote Waziristan regions of Pakistan, as well as the Sahara desert, Yemen, and other locations around Africa and the globe (especially growing now in the islands of Southeast Asia).

 

To the average person it may seem like an easy solution; just send drones over the entire desert and hunt each of them down.  Do a quick Google search to see just how big the Sahara desert is, then understand their are Bedouins who have lived out there for centuries and we can’t just kill indiscriminately, and you’ll start to get an understanding of why that sounds much easier than it is.

 

So now let’s move into my second point: the expectation of the rest of the world that we’ll be there to protect them.  Think of America as your Big Brother (funny enough that it’s our own description of our government).  You and your big brother may not get along; although you love each other, you probably fight all the time, with him usually beating you up and subjecting you to humiliation and wedgies.

But while your big brother beats up on you or may not let you sit at the cool table with him and his friends at lunch or the mall, you still expect him to help you if you get in over your head and get jumped or beat up by other people at school.  He’s your big brother, and it’s expected that he will help you rather than laugh and point.  If he doesn’t help you, you’ll harbor a greater grudge against him than even the kids who beat you up.

That’s how the world sees us.  Even the countries in the Middle and Far East who love to badmouth us in the public eye (see Syria, Egypt, etc), they still expect us to help when the going gets tough.  Sure, there are other large countries around with the ability, but the world knows that Russia and China couldn’t care less about other countries unless it serves their economic interest, so America, whether we like it or not, are the de facto big brothers, and world police.

So now let’s focus on the textbook example of this, Syria, and what is going on in the world today, and why we’ll see long-term consequences of our inaction there for generations to come.

We had a prime opportunity to step in early and handle the situation, at least offer some major assistance, but due to our own political mess and spineless politicians focusing on political theatre, did nothing, or very little.  The people there are being slaughtered by their own government, and while we’ve stepped into similar situations in the past, the administration chose the route to sit this one out, and only sent MRE’s at their expiration date as our assistance.

To cover their own rear ends, the politicians who chose inaction have let a huge smokescreen fly across the American media to make them look like the good guys, with the current news bytes showing Al Qaeda operating with the Free Syrian Army, and purporting that this is why we didn’t help.

Not so much.  Al Qaeda only stepped in and took hold there because this big brother sat on the sidelines doing nothing, and they stepped in to fill the void.  Why is this so bad for us?  Because regardless of reality, the world saw what was going on, and saw that while America stood on the sidelines, Al Qaeda stepped in to assist those who needed help, strengthening their view as freedom fighters to the Muslim world rather than terrorists.

Whether we like it or not, every child who survives this in Syria, whether the Free Syrian Army is victorious or not, will remember what happened.  Every child who lost one or both parents, who was displaced to another country as refugees, who sees the horrors of a long and protracted civil war, will remember that while America stood by and watched, Al Qaeda stepped in to help, and that is where their allegiances will fall.  If they’re ever asked to strap a bomb to their chest or attack an American convoy or embassy, this will be the deciding factor which may very well validate it in their minds as the right thing to do.  And it’s our own fault.

 

There is a great quote from a movie, I can’t remember which one, but John Malkovich plays a domestic terrorist, using cover as an American businessman just returning from a trip in Asia to give this story.  He tells someone over drinks (this is paraphased), “the reason the Japanese are so good is because of their outlook; American businessmen look only at the next quarter, while the Japanese look at the next quarter-century.”

Our current inability to focus on the long-term, big picture, global perspective is going to get the best of us if we don’t get it in check, economically, politically, militarily and in terms of our own future very soon.  We are cutting off our own nose to spite our face, and I blame most of it on our own broken political system.

Sure, money is tight, but we still have politicians lobbying for massive pork and bridges to nowhere (remember the money that went to Kentucky as a result of the last “government shutdown” deal?), but we pretend we can’t afford to pay for our own global security and stability.

So the next time you hear a protester on the street or newscaster telling you we shouldn’t be the worlds police, I hope that you remember this article, and understand that whether we like it or not, that’s exactly what we are (and have to be).

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soldiers, troops, war, meals, deployment

Leading by example/hot meals for troops

What Happened to Leading by Example?

            I really try not to complain just to complain, but I feel that this media provides me the ability to have a sounding board to address issues which, for some reason or another, I feel qualified to talk about, and/or see that the mainstream media isn’t honestly or accurately covering a subject.

I was reminded of something today that I heard whispers and rumors about not too long ago, but seemed to die in the wind very quickly.  Being that I haven’t been back to Afghanistan in about five years, but it looks like I may be back there very soon, this was an issue that for me, like many Americans, fell off the radar as it didn’t get much coverage.

The issue that has me all hot and bothered today is one that, when I really sit down and think about it, has many parallels into the bigger picture of how our country is being run, and by whom.  The issue that I’d like to remind everyone about and discuss today is the fact that troops in Afghanistan are no longer receiving hot breakfast or midnight chow.

I’m going to address why this is a much more important issue than say, you missing lunch breakfast because you were in a rush, but I’d like to remind you of a few things to put this in context.  In his time as President, Obama has now taken more vacations and played more rounds of golf that any former President to this point.

Congress and the Senate have made no cuts to their own pay or tax breaks (even while the Democratic politicians decry that large American CEO’s companies who pay millions in taxes aren’t paying their fair share, they haven’t made a single move to lean themselves).  There are rumors that the Obama Africa vacation (not official business, but another vacation) will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Way to tighten the belt while so many Americans are in financial straits and hard times Mr. President.

As much as the Left likes to decry and punish hard working industrialists and business owners, I know quite a few small business owners, and several who have turned their fledgling businesses into successful behemoths (which THEY built, not the government).  Every one of these men I know who is now extremely successful is only that because they understand delayed gratification, and were able to follow the age old saying “if you can be a lean cat in fat times, you can be a fat cat in lean times.”

This means that when times got tough, they tightened their belts.  When times were great, they didn’t loosen those belts very much.  When the business was hurting, they took pay cuts before any of their workers, spent much more than 8 or 12 hours a day working, and paid for their success in blood, sweat and tears.

The old joke that all Republicans are businessmen, and all Democrats are lawyers seems to be singing quite true these days, and the fact that our country is being run by someone who’s never run anything before or had to face fiscal responsibility is showing in the way that Obama is treating the USA as a lawyer looking for padded billable hours, rather than a businessman trying to keep the ship afloat and maximize efficiency.

So even though we have the most lavishly spending President anyone can recount, a Congress and Senate who don’t pay taxes, can legally benefit from insider trading, and billions spent yearly on duplicate services because our government is “so transparent” that it doesn’t even know what its own branches are doing, we have to cut meals for our troops because we can’t afford to pay for it.

Bullshit.  The media outlets I’ve found who have reported on this story have brushed aside the important aspects of these meals, and being that most of our blue-blood journalists and politicians no longer have military service under their belt (God forbid they actually give something back to this country), they don’t understand the severity of this issue.

The two meals which have been cut may seem like no big deal to someone who’s never been downrange, so let me explain to you why breakfast or midnight chow to a soldier in Afghanistan is MUCH different than the oatmeal or breakfast bar you eat on your way to work.

Most of us here, safely at home, stateside in the USA (or wherever you call home), have a relatively normal schedule.  Even my busiest friends in the music industry like Mike Dawson or my movie producing friend Mike (man I know too many Mike’s) have at least a general time where they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, hit the gym, talk to the family, etc.

When you’re downrange in a combat zone, all of that goes out the window for combat operators.  The support and logistics soldiers have a little bit of normalcy and routine, but when your job is hunting bad guys, time is non-existent.

In Special Forces, we had a routine called “reverse cycle,” which plays a number of tricks on your mind and body, and was probably the toughest part of a deployment.  You see, we are called “The Green Eyed Devils” because we typically do our hits (missions) in the dead of night, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda got to know us by our beards and “Green Eyes,” illuminated by our night vision goggles.

But after you put enough of a dent in a terrorist network by pulling bad guys out of beds in the middle of the night long enough, they, like all of nature adapt.  To keep on top of them and never let them know what we were doing, we would go on “reverse cycle” as often as possible, switching from all night-time hits one week to all broad daylight the next.  They all have to lie down sometime, and our goal was to get them while they were dreaming of their 72 virgins, goats, or wherever they spent their trips to la-la land.  Doing this is highly effective, but means bed time will be 10pm one week, and 10am the next, hence the name “reverse cycle.”  When your sleep schedule is reversed that drastically, imagine what happens to your eating schedule.

So now put that in context of the midnight meal that was typical on big bases which housed many Special Operations units who do these types of missions.  When you’re in the middle of a heavy combat deployment, you really do not know which day might be your last, and you have to treat every single moment like that is the day.  As such, every single meal that you eat could very well be your last; the last time you enjoy that creamy, chocolaty bite of ice cream, the salty, juicy and bloody bite of steak, or more importantly, the last time you break bread with your Brothers.

You see, this isn’t just some trivial treat, as the media and non-Veteran politicians would think and like you to believe.  For many soldiers downrange, there is no such thing as 9-5.  Special Forces, Infantry, Intel specialists, computer techs, gas pumpers….a base downrange is running 24 hours a day, which means there is a large group of people working around the clock.

When a non-Veteran politician or journalist looks at something like midnight chow, they think it must be some lavish luxury for fatties to stuff their faces with pizza and cookies if they can’t sleep.  When a combat veteran looks at something like midnight chow, we remember just how good that omelet tasted, sitting around with your Brothers, trying to crack jokes, make light and forget that in an hour you’ll be on a helicopter, headed out to a dangerous mission which one or all of you may never come home from.

I still remember the first meal after the day I was blown up and shot; too high on morphine and fentanyl to have any appetite, still couldn’t feel the fingers on my left hand, any of my arm except the screaming pain every time I moved it, I just sat around the table with my Brothers, thanking God with every breath that I was still alive.

It wasn’t until they started poking fun at me for not eating (it’s a very well known fact amongst my friends just how much I love to eat) that I decided to go back and get a plate of food, which I devoured once my brain turned on from the constant buzz I was hearing and realized just how hungry I was.  If it hadn’t been for that meal I may have never popped back out of the numbness that comes from the shock of being injured in combat, so yeah, I take meals in a combat zone pretty seriously.

There was a day when we used to cherish terms like “lead from the front” or “the buck stops here.”  We are in an era where people see fit to elect politicians based on whose going to give them the most benefits for doing the least, rather than those who have proven themselves to be capable leaders and have stood up and defended this country by donning a uniform when it was time, and we are reaping what we sow.

Remember that politics and public relations are all a game and a play on words; when you have a politician or journalist with zero military experience trying to tell you what’s best for a soldier, don’t waste your time listening; find a veteran or an active soldier and ask them, the only people who seem to have the true picture and idea of life in a warzone.

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Author Robert Patrick Lewis on the Dr. Drew Podcast 3/8/13

Download the Dr. Drew podcast on iTunes or the Adam Carolla app to hear “Love Me When I’m Gone” author Robert Patrick Lewis talk about PTSD in troops.  This episode was recorded at Carolla 1 studios on February 22nd, but will air March 8, 2013.

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California exodus, welcome back to Texas

Those of you who know me and/or have read my memoir, “Love Me When I’m Gone,” know my story, how I ended up here in Los Angeles, and how unhappy this place makes me.  For those of you who don’t, here’s a quick refresher:

I was born in Florida, lived there for a few years until Air Florida went under and my dad got a job flying for Southwest Airlines.  I spent the next 20+ years of my life in the state that God blessed, Texas, and only left when it was required for my service in the Army (I left for Infantry Basic Training at Ft. Benning, GA, a month after I graduated from Texas State University).

When it was time to leave the Army I was living in Colorado with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), with nothing really holding me there except the Army and my brothers, but Cindy had an entire acting career flourishing here in Los Angeles.  I moved here with some hesitation, but with most of the opportunities for us being here, it was the smart move….so I thought.

At this point in my life I’ve lived in Texas, France, Germany, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and California, and have spent significant time in Italy, Austria, Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.  I’d say I have a pretty well-rounded view of the world at large, and have recently found that although I consider the United States of America the greatest nation our civilization has every known, I believe that California is determined to make itself the worst, veritably unlivable for any decent, hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, and only welcoming criminals, welfare cases and politicians, catering to their every need and alienating the productive.

At first we had to live here because of my wife’s profession; you don’t have to know much about movies to know what Hollywood is.  But, the true fact of the matter is that the only real accomplishment that the inept California politicians can really put to their name is that they successfully ran Hollywood out of Hollywood.

You see, even though movie stars are the most liberal and avid supporters of President Obama and his ever-increasing taxes, when it comes time for them to put their money where their mouth is, they run immediately for the state that is giving them the highest tax breaks; because California actually practices the ultra-leftist policies which they publicly support, it cannot afford to give any of the tax breaks that other states and nations can.

Because of my wife’s profession we have a large number of very good friends who are movie and TV producers, stunt men, actors, writers, etc.  The majority of them have second homes or condos in places like Toronto, New Orleans or Puerto Rico now because they are only in Los Angeles for casting…once it’s time to film (and hire crew and pay taxes), they are off before the first check is drafted.

As a true conservative, this has infuriated me to no end; I heard a saying once that “Democrats are lawyers, Republicans are Businessmen.”  I never put much faith in that saying until I moved here, and found that California politicians make the absolute wrong business decision at every single chance, and now I whole heartedly believe it.

This has led to a domino-effect in the State, and it’s getting worse and worse.  As the movies began to leave and take hundreds of millions of dollars a year away from the state (not just the cost of the movie, but the hotels the actors and crew stay in, meals they eat, gas they pump, booze they drink, etc), the state started to feel the squeeze.  As I’ve learned, large, poorly-run organizations like California can’t stand the squeeze for very long, and have to find someone else to pass it along to.

So California decided to put the squeeze on every person who actually earned a paycheck…..which was already less than 50% of the state.  California has more unemployed/welfare recipients than workers, and so instead of changing this dynamic, they chose to just squeeze the workers and corporations which hire them.

As a knock-on effect, many corporations, smart enough to be truly forward-thinking and know what the outcome of this would be, left the state.  Smart states like Texas, rated the best state in the nation for business for several years running, have been actively courting these businesses, successfully landing most of them.

Governor Jerry Brown, an ultra-liberal, proven inept democrat who is helping to sink the California ship, was quoted last week as saying to Governor Rick Perry that “people will always go where things happened in the past” about their state woo-ing California businesses.  Is it no surprise that he doesn’t understand that there’s a difference between where things USED to happen and where they ARE happening today?

But, we stayed.  As the squeeze of taxes forced more businesses and people forming the tax base out of the state, the social services started to decline.  As the place with some of the highest taxes in the nation, we have arguably the worse police and fire departments that are constantly being de-funded and outsourced (a drunk driver ran into Adam Carolla’s house a few weeks ago and the LAPD wouldn’t even send a cruiser out….to a man who pays a huge amount of taxes every year and employs quite a few people, no service whatsoever).

The public school system has become virtually unusable, only acceptable to people who’s children don’t speak English, who are happy because it’s better than the 3rd world nation they immigrated from, and decide daily that rather than strive for excellence, the school system should be dumbed down and forced to accommodate their kids who aren’t used to education and who’s parents offer no assistance.

A bill was proposed in California last year that would have made it easier for immigrants here on student visas who graduated from California Universities to be granted easier access to visa’s and green cards if they received high-science degrees like medicine, engineering, physics, etc.  It was struck down by the ultra-leftists who said it would be too much of an advantage over others who would come here exclusively for welfare and free benefits.  Seriously, the wrong choice at every turn.

In spite of all this, in spite of crime and unemployment spiking, the home prices staying at a median prices around $500,000 even though unemployment is above 20% and median income is below $50,000, we stayed.  But the California Leftist politicians have outdone themselves, and if they pass the most recent bill proposed, this camels back is about to break.

California has proposed some the most draconian, leftist, un-American gun legislation that our nation has ever seen.  It seems as if they completely forgot that The Second Amendment grants American citizens the right to bear arms, even though it is clearly stated that right “shall not be infringed.”

I don’t have time to explain it without getting extremely angry and possibly turning into the Hulk; don’t take my word for how far off the beaten path these lunatics have gone, read it here:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/California-lawmakers-propose-tough-gun-laws-4261890.php

Sorry California, but that’s the final straw.  Governor Rick Perry, if this legislation passes, you’ve got another family of Texans coming back home to the promised land.  I am a man of quotes, and one of my favorites is that “anyone who forgets history is doomed to repeat it.”

If you look into the not-so-distant history, look into the timeline of what has happened every single time a populace has been disarmed.  Shortly after Turkey disarmed its citizens, the Armenians were massacred in an act of genocide.  The same happened in China, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Africa, and every known instance of a populace being disarmed.  The left can call me crazy and say i’m overreacting, but all I’m doing is pointing to history.  As a fan of statistical analysis, I love the idea that on a long enough timeline, you can find the trends in anything…….

This is the final straw California, and I know my family won’t be alone.  I know that you won’t be going through South Central Los Angeles, Oakland or Fresno taking guns away from the gang bangers and criminals.  You’ll come to take them from the law-abiding citizens who you don’t think will put up a fight, while at the same time you leave the criminals armed and reduce your Police force to the point where we can’t expect any assistance, even at a lengthy response time (it took 5 days after our house was robbed to get a detective out here).

You will soon reap what you sow, and the hole you are digging is getting extremely deep.  If you pass this law, it will be the sign that there is no saving you, and with an ROI (return on investment) so low for what we pay in the highest tax rates in the nation, you’ve been pushing it for a long time.

Even Joe Biden has been caught on camera admitting that these gun laws WILL NOT prevent another Sandy Hook, WILL NOT reduce violent crimes, and WILL NOT reduce gun-associated homicides or violent crimes.  If you are trying to get the citizens who pay your tax base and keep this state running to leave, there are much easier ways to do it.

Don’t believe me, listen to good old Joe here:

http://youtu.be/TTyoppK_aDM

The ball’s in your court; since the entire political class and most of the lunatics in this state are Dems and Leftists, I’m pretty sure I know what will happen if it comes up for a vote.  Thankfully I have a great friend in Austin who has a house ready for my family and I to move in.  Your move California.

 

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