‘American Sniper’: Clint Eastwood does Chris Kyle’s memory proud

American Sniper Bradley Cooper“American Sniper” Director Clint Eastwood was given a difficult task: he had to somehow squeeze Chris Kyle’s incredible life story into 132 minutes. What could have turned into an incredibly bloated mess had he tried to do too much was successfully streamlined in a way that stayed true to the autobiography while also teasing out the most important themes. Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller both give strong performances, and audiences across the U.S. have rewarded them for all the hard work: “American Sniper” made $105 million in its first four days of wide-release.

Clint Eastwood seemed to have two goals with “American Sniper”:

  1. Show the audience what makes guys like Chris Kyle tick.
  2. Demonstrate the destructive power of combat on the war fighter’s psyche, as well as the family unit.

A glimpse of what Mr. Eastwood was able to transfer from the page to the screen comes towards the end of Chris Kyle’s autobiography, where he writes:

“My regrets are about the people I couldn’t save — Marines, soldiers, my buddies. I still feel their loss. I still ache for my failure to protect them.

I’m not naive and I’m beyond romanticizing war and what I had to do there. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. Losing my buddies. Having a kid die on me.

I’m sure some of the things I went through pale in comparison to what some of the guys went through in World War II and other conflicts. On top of all the shit they went through in Vietnam, they had to come home to a country that spat on them.

When people ask me how the war changed me, I tell them that the biggest thing has to do with my perspective.

You know all those everyday things that stress you here? I don’t give a shit about them. There are bigger and worse things that could happen than to have this timely little problem wreck your life, or even your day. I’ve seen them. More: I’ve lived them,” (Chris Kyle, American Sniper. Harper Collins, 2012. Page 379.)

As I mentioned in my review of the book when it came out in 2012, Chris Kyle said that a guardian angel must have been looking over him on the battlefield on multiple occasions, yet he never really stopped to dwell on just how much of a guardian angel he was to his brothers-in-arms. The pressure he put upon himself to save everyone under his watch — an impossible task —would break any man. Yes, even Navy SEALs have a breaking point.

Families have breaking points, too. Again, Eastwood brings it home in a scene that takes place just before Chris Kyle’s fourth tour in Iraq:

Taya: Do you want to die? Is that what it is?

Chris: No.

Taya: Then just tell me. Tell me why you do it. I want to understand.

Chris: Baby, I do it for you. You know that I do it to protect you.

Taya: No you don’t.

Chris: Yes, I do.

Taya: I’m here. Your family is here. Your children have no father. […] You don’t know when to quit. You did your part. You sacrificed enough. You let somebody else go!

Chris: Let somebody else go?

Taya: Yeah.

Chris: Well, I couldn’t live with myself.

Taya: Well, you find a way. You have to. Okay? I need you — to be human again. I need you here. I need … you here. If you leave again, I don’t think we’ll be here when you get back.

Even to those who are closest to these very special men, it often seems like they have a death wish. But that is not the case. Even those who are supposed to understand what motivates a war fighter, can not. The question becomes: How do you dedicate your life to a man who has dedicated his own to ideas that are bigger than all of us?

At one point during “American Sniper,” Chris laments how obsessed civilians are with their cell phones, trips to the mall, and a variety of other seemingly-trivial things when he should be “over there.” But that’s the conundrum: Just as the principles a SEAL is willing to fight and die for make life worth living, it is also those little moments — a conversation on a lazy Sunday afternoon with your wife, or a quiet night alone with that very same woman — that make it special.

“American Sniper” is about one man’s attempt to successfully balance the desire to selflessly serve one’s country while also living up to the commitment to love and cherish his spouse with all his might.

Clint Eastwood may be an old man, but his latest movie shows that he can still direct better than most people who are half his age. If you get a chance, then you should check out “American Sniper” while it’s in theaters. It is one of the rare war movies within the past decade that is actually worth the price of admission.

Related: ‘American Sniper’ success prompts Michael Moore to take pot shots at deceased hero Chris Kyle

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Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ trailer is out, and it looks like a movie Chris Kyle fans will appreciate

Bradley Cooper American SniperWhen it was first announced that Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life would be made into a movie by Steven Spielberg, my first thought was, “Ummm, how is that going to work? Did Spielberg even read the book? Knowing his politics, I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be a horrible movie.”

Interestingly enough, Mr. Spielberg dropped the project and Clint Eastwood was there to pick it up. “That makes much more sense,” I thought. Now that the trailer is out, it appears as though the world will get the Chris Kyle story it deserves.

“They fry you if you’re wrong.”

How do you win a war when the men responsible for securing victory are paranoid that any mistake they make will land them in prison for the rest of their lives? The answer: You probably don’t win. You lose. Or you wind up pulling out of that country for political reasons and then having to go back in when things spiral out of control…

Chris Kyle wrote in American Sniper:

 “You cannot be afraid to take your shot. When you see someone with an IED or a rifle maneuvering toward your men, you have clear reason to fire. (The fact that an Iraqi had a gun would not necessarily mean he could be shot.) The ROEs were specific, and in most cases the danger was obvious.

But there were times when it wasn’t exactly clear, when a person almost surely was an insurgent, probably was doing evil, but there was still some doubt because of the circumstances or the surroundings —the way he moved, for example, wasn’t toward an area where troops were. A lot of times a guy seemed to be acting macho for friends, completely unaware that I was watching him, or that there were American troops nearby.

Those shots I didn’t take.

You couldn’t — you had to worry about your own ass. Make an unjustified shot and you could be charged with murder.

I often would sit there and think, “I know this motherfucker is bad; I saw him doing such and such down the street the other day, but here he’s not doing anything, and if I shoot him, I won’t be able to justify it for the lawyers. I’ll fry.” Like I said, there is paperwork for everything. Every confirmed kill had documentation, supporting evidence, and a witness.

So I wouldn’t shoot.” — Chris Kyle, American Sniper. (Harper Collins, 2012), 149-150.

If you’re not familiar with Chris Kyle’s life, then check out American Sniper — the book. And then make sure to see Clint Eastwood’s cinematic take on the Navy SEAL’s life. I’d recommend seeing Angelina Jolie’s take on ‘Unbroken,’ but she apparently gutted one of the most crucial aspect’s of World War II hero Louie Zamperini’s life — his conversion to Christianity that kept his world from falling to pieces and allowed him to personally forgive the men who tortured him in Japanese POW camps. If you’re wondering why I feared Spielberg’s take on Chris Kyle’s life, just think about Ms. Jolie’s “Unbroken” for a few moments, but I digress.

I’m looking forward to seeing “American Sniper” when it opens in theaters December 25. If you are as well, then stop by here shortly after its release, check out my review, and let me know what you thought.

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

Related: American Sniper: More Dead Terrorists Than Sales By Occupiers?

Related: In remembrance: Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

The VA is failing Joe Geoghagan — and so are we. No veteran should ever feel trapped in a ‘pit’

Joe Geoghagan

Navy Veteran Joe Geoghagan needed help, and the Alabama VA failed him. For reasons I won’t detail here, I will now admit that I failed him as well — and I feel horrible. Hopefully, by telling his story it will slightly ease the pain of a man who has already suffered far too much, and perhaps shed some light on just how woefully deficient we as a nation are in taking care of the men and women who risk it all so that we might live in a safer world.

Joe enlisted in the Navy in 2003 and was honorably discharged almost five years later. During that time he deployed two times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. When he returned home he started suffering symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression, which was followed years later by perpetual nausea.

The Alabama VA couldn’t figure out what was going on with Joe, so it came up with a solution: Cut hole in his stomach, stick a tube in him, give him some Boost shakes five times a day and hope for the best. Then, not long afterward, he got a letter in the mail saying his mysterious stomach illness was not the result of his military service and that he would be having a portion of his benefits cut.

Why does it not surprise me that the same U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that denied 80 percent of disability claims filed by Gulf War veterans (citing “inadequate and insufficient evidence” to indicate that the cancers, chronic fatigue and migraines they suffer from are service-related) would pull that same sort of stunt with Mr. Geoghagan?

Luckily, local media outlets and Sen. Jeff Sessions put pressure on the Birmingham VA Medical Center and Joe was admitted back into the hospital for further testing on Monday, July 14. Joe had to endure seven long months of constant vomiting, a drop in weight from 267 pounds to 130 pounds, and unspeakable mental and physical distress — but at least he’s one step closer to finding out what’s wrong with him. The funny thing is, after Sen. Sessions’ office began looking into the matter, the VA temporarily granted Joe total disability. He will now receive $2,859 a month to cover his medical needs instead of $577. Amazing how that works, doesn’t it?

If you’re looking for the VA’s side of the story, here’s what Birmingham VA Chief of Staff Dr. Bill Harper told a local station: “We have a cadre of people that are very happy, and we have a cadre of people who aren’t so happy.” He added that because the Medicare website on hospital comparison put The Birmingham VA “equal to and/or above average in three areas — treatment of heart attacks, pneumonia and surgical care,” it’s a clear indicator that the quality of care veterans are receiving is sufficient. “I would put [Alabama’s VA care] up against anyone else in the country and the proof is in the pudding,” he added. Perhaps Dr. Harper should have said “the proof is in the Boost shake.” Or maybe not, since that would remind people of how Joe has been treated.

Question: Is the Alabama VA a model of for veterans health care everywhere, or are they just like the VA personnel operating out of Philadelphia — cooking the books, retaliating against whistleblowers and attempting to bug congressional investigators?

ABC reported Tuesday:

The committee investigators were directed to a workspace at the regional office which was outfitted with cameras and microphones. Upon discovering they were being monitored, the aides requested to be moved.

“Am I surprised? No, I’m shocked,” [House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.)] said. “The VA may ignore everybody, but I stress you will not ignore this committee anymore.”

The Under Secretary for Benefits apologized to the committee, clearly embarrassed.

Despicable. How many “Joes” in Pennsylvania are there that we never hear about?

Here is what Joe told the Daily Mountain Eagle July 4:

Feeling despondent and being heavily medicated for depression, he attempted suicide last year.

“Though I’m not suicidal now, I can safely tell you that the disparity and hopelessness I feel on the inside has not changed,” Geoghagan said.

Although he is still determined to fight, he has made peace with the fact that he may not win this battle.

“I feel like I’m in a pit, looking up at this little speck of light where I fell in,” Geoghagan explained. “It’s so defeating to look at because you know you cannot reach it, no matter what you do. That light is my health and future.”

No veteran should ever have to feel like he is hopelessly stranded in a a pit. No veteran should ever be placed in a situation where suicide seems like the only option capable of easing his pain. It is culturally criminal for the individuals who send men and women off to war to allow a system to exist that would foster this level of despair upon their return home.

Right now I feel as though I could have made that speck of light just a bit bigger for Joe, but like I said — I failed him. Hopefully this blog post will telegraph just how much complete strangers care for his physical and mental well being. Hopefully, it will lift his spirits to know that others will read this and possibly share it with their friends, family and loved ones.

If you’re able to help Joe out, there is a Go Fund Me account seeking to raise $10,000 for his medical expenses. And if you meet a veteran, make it a point to be a speck of light in their life because you may just be the only one they see.

 

How to be successful in 10 steps: Naval Adm. William H. McRaven gives advice for changing the world

Admiral William H. McRaven

Want to change the world? You can start by making your bed. That was a lesson my own father taught me years ago and it’s a small piece of the advice Admiral William H. McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, gave the class of 2014 at the University of Texas at Austin.

If you want to be successful in life, all you have to do is listen to Admiral McRaven’s advice and follow it to the best of your ability. It’s really that simple. Many of the lessons he imparts in his speech to young Texans about to enter the workforce were taught to me in slightly different ways during my own military service (and by my father, a former Army Ranger) years ago. It’s really that simple.

Growing up, my siblings were smart — they listened to my father. They learned from the example that he set and used it to propel themselves to their own professional heights. It took me a trip to basic training and some time in less developed parts of the world to realize that he was right all along, but I think it’s safe to say that I’ve done a good job making up for lost time.

If you want to go to new places and achieve goals you never thought possible, listen to the advice of old Navy SEAL because he knows what he’s talking about.

Related: The New York Post has been kind enough to provide its readers with the full text.

‘Lone Survivor’: A part of Marcus Luttrell died so that we can see how to live

Lone Survivor Never Out of the Fight

“Winning here is a conscious decision. Make up your mind whether you want to pass — or choose to fail.” … “Just prove to your bodies through your mind that you can push yourself further than you thought possible.” … “Whatever you have to do — just find an excuse to win. Keep going.”

And so begins ‘Lone Survivor,’ the true story of former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s fight to survive in the mountains of Afghanistan with his band of brothers of Seal Team 10. Director Peter Berg wisely uses real footage of potential SEALs undergoing Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/S) during the opening credits to set the stage. These are men who believe winning — on the battlefield, in the business world or life in general — is a conscious decision. Men who willingly submit themselves to instructors of the “I’m going to introduce you to something called ‘not being able to breath,'” variety are, quite obviously, of a different breed. They are special on many levels. From a cinematic point of view, it also lets the audience know that death is about the only thing that can prevent a SEAL from his quest to “keep going.”

By this time in history, most people know the general details of Operation Redwing. In 2005, Luttrell and his team were sent to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to take out a high-value target who was responsible for killing scores of Marines. Their mission was compromised, and they were put in an impossible situation: Do you kill a small group of people who you believe are likely allied with the enemy — even though they are unarmed and could end up being innocent civilians — or do you let them go, knowing that if you are wrong it will unleash endless waves of Taliban soldiers on your position? The SEALs chose to let their captives go. The rest is history.

Given that so many people know how the story ends, it really comes down to whether or not Peter Berg, Mark Wahlberg and the cast and crew did it justice. Without reservation, the answer is “yes.” Peter Berg seemingly moved mountains in Hollywood to get the film made, Wahlbeg and the cast immersed themselves in their roles, and the realism of the violence is both gut-wrenching and satisfying — “satisfying” in the sense that viewers know it could have been given the “Hollywood” treatment, replete with unbelievable explosions that break the laws of physics.

Perhaps Berg’s greatest feat is his treatment of the mountain. As a “character,” the mountain is paradoxically vast and expansive while being claustrophobic and limiting. When you run out of real estate on a mountain from which to fight there’s only one way to go — down. And that’s exactly what happens. Fate dealt the SEALs the worst hand possible on that mission; even the mountain terrain seemed to be against them. It was chilling to watch it mete out punishment on their bodies as they attempted to find cover and concealment.

“There’s a storm inside of us. I’ve heard many team guys speak of this. A burning. A river. A drive. An unrelenting driver to push yourself further than anyone could ever think possible. Pushing ourselves into those cold dark corners where the bad things live. Where the bad things fight. We wanted that fight at the highest volume. A loud fight. The loudest, coldest, darkest, most unpleasant of the unpleasant fights.” — Mark Wahlberg as former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, ‘Lone Survivor.’

Critics of the film will respond to the SEAL desire for a fight with the “live by the sword, die by the sword” rejoinder, which is a fair argument. However, fans of the film are also spot-on by acknowledging a.) that evil exists, and b.) there is something truly special about a man who will go to the “coldest, darkest, most unpleasant” corners of the earth to stamp it out. In service to their nation these men say “Send me. Send me to the dangerous places that no one else wants to go to so that I may ensure that they never need to.” For that, we should be eternally grateful. For the cast and crew’s efforts to bring ‘Lone Survivor’ to the big screen, we should also give thanks.

“Brave men fought and died building a proud tradition and fear of reputation that I am bound to uphold. I died up on that mountain. There is no question that a part of me will forever be upon that mountain dead as my brothers died. There is a part of me that lived because of my brothers. Because of them I am still alive, and I can never forget that no matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets or how far you fall — you are never out of the fight.” — Mark Wahlberg as former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, ‘Lone Survivor.’

Why did Marcus Luttrell live while his brothers died? Perhaps so he could tell the tale. Perhaps so one day someone in a life-or-death situation will think back upon Marcus’ survival and remember that they too are “never out of the fight.” How many young kids will see ‘Lone Survivor’ and begin a path that will end with them in position to save others? Probably quite a few.

If you get a chance to see ‘Lone Survivor,’ do so. It’s an important film that is educational as well as entertaining.

Related: Marcus Luttrell: The humbling tale of an American hero who calls himself a ‘coward’

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

Marcus Luttrell: The humbling tale of an American hero who calls himself a ‘coward’

Marcus Lutrell

Years ago I read ‘Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10.’ It’s the story of a 2005 mission along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that was compromised and ultimately the battle for Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell to stay alive long enough to tell the tale.

Years ago I said that if Hollywood was smart, the studios would make it into a movie. ‘Lone Survivor’ has been made into a movie, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Walhberg, but Hollywood made Mr. Berg do some serious heavy lifting to get it done. I guess we can say that Peter Berg is a smart guy… Regardless, it will be out in January, 2014.

For those who want to really get a taste of what these guys volunteer for, I suggest watching Anderson Cooper’s recent ’60 Minutes’ interview with Luttrell. Although I’m very familiar with the ‘Lone Survivor’ tale, I still had a hard time watching the full interview without tearing up. To know that there are men like Marcus Luttrell, who are willing to lay their lives on the line for the rest of us, is incredibly humbling. It’s nearly impossible to hear his tale without wondering how you would react in the same situation. More often than not, my mind tells me that I’d fall far short of the bravery and heroism he displayed.

What must it be like to be Marcus Luttrell? The vast majority of Americans call him a hero — and yet a part of him believes he is a coward. I can only pray that one day he accepts that his self-evaluation is harsh and unfair, and that he might find the peace that will come along with that realization.

Here is how Luttrell recounts the final moment’s of Lt. Mike Murphy’s life, who sacrificed himself so that the rest of his team might have a chance to live.

Luttrell: Mikey was up and pushed out onto this boulder out in the middle of the draw in this wide open — no cover, nothing — He was on our satellite phone.

Anderson Cooper: Luttrell saw his lieutenant make the call. A call Mike Murphy knew would likely cost him his life.

Luttrell: He took two rounds to the chest because it spun like a top and it dropped him. And I tried to make my way up to him. He was my best friend, and I already lost Danny and I knew that Ax was dying and I didn’t want to lose him. That’s all I wanted him to do, was to come down to me. That’s all I wanted him to do, was come down to me. I heard his gun go off and a lot of gunfire in his area. I was trying with everything I had to get to him. He started screaming my name. Hey was like, ‘Marcus man, you gotta help me! I need help, Marcus!’ It got so intense that I actually put my weapon down and covered my ears because I couldn’t stand to hear him die. All I wanted him to do was stop screaming my name. And they killed him. And I put my weapon down in a gunfight while my best friend was getting killed — so that pretty much makes me a coward.

Anderson Cooper: How can you say that? …

Luttrell: Because that is a cowardice act, if you put you weapon down in a gunfight. They say every man has his breaking point. I never thought I’d find mine. The only way to break a Navy Seal is you have to kill us. But I broke right there. I quit right there.

Marcus was later blown off the side of the mountain he was fighting on, but managed to crawl his way to a source of water — with a broken back. It was there that he met the man who would save his life.

Luttrell: When I got to that waterfall and got those two sips out of there I was actually looking around thinking, ‘you know, this is a pretty good place to lay down and die.’

Cooper: You were ready to die.

Luttrell: I wasn’t ready to die. I just knew I was dying.

Anderson Cooper: That’s when an Afghan man appeared. Luttrell later learned his name was Mohammed Gulab.

Luttrell: He came up over this rock ledge and started screaming at me. ‘American! American!’ and I swung around on him. I had my finger on the trigger with the safety off. He started walking at me. He was like “Okay, okay.” He lifted up his shirt to show me he didn’t have a weapon. He was like: “Okay. Okay. Okay.” I lowered my weapon and I pulled the grenade and pulled the pin and said, ‘I’ll kill all of us.’

Anderson Cooper: You were prepared to blow yourself up along with everyone else.

Marcus Luttrell: Yes. I wasn’t going to get taken.

Ander Cooper: Why do you think you didn’t kill him?

Luttrell: I can’t tell you. I don’t know why.

Anderson Cooper (narration): Luckily, for Luttrell, Mohammed Gulab, who lived in a nearby village, was not a member of the Taliban.

Luttrell: He gave me water. I was bleeding real bad. Three other guys plus him picked me up and carried me down to his village.

Without Mr. Gulab’s help, who protected Luttrell at great risk to his tribe, the soldier would have died. Like Luttrell, Mr. Gulab’s story is worthy of its own movie: An Afghan tribal leader stands up to death threats from the Taliban to protect a severely wounded American, shuttling him from house to house (and ultimately a cave) to keep him safe, just long enough for a rescue team to extract him from the area. After the American leaves, the threats to his Mr. Gulab’s family and friends are far from over.

If you have time, seriously consider watching the full ’60 Minutes’ interview.

Editor’s note: A friend mine who was a Ranger let me know this morning that his buddy — who was part of the extraction team sent to find Luttrell — has just published a book: ‘Lest We Forget: An Army Ranger Medic’s Story,’ by Leo Jenkins. If Mr. Jenkins is anything like my friend it’s bound to be a very frank and honest book.

Related: ‘Lone Survivor’: A part of Marcus Luttrell died so that we can see how to live

Related: American Sniper: Chris Kyle, Guardian Angel who doesn’t know it

Related: Lt. Cmdr. Rorke Denver’s ‘Damn Few’ is damn awesome

Pentagon declares war — on ‘healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian’ men

US Navy SEALs, SEAL Team One
Years ago I was a proud member of Charlie Company, 1/18 Infantry Battalion. I was a ‘healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian’ man. As it turns out, the Pentagon was at war with me from behind the scenes and I didn’t even know it. Due to some great reporting by Todd Starnes and a courageous officer who knows when enemies are trying to destroy the military from within, we find that race-baiters now have enough rank to warp the minds of future military leaders.

A controversial 600-plus page manual used by the military to train its Equal Opportunity officers teaches that “healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian” men hold an unfair advantage over other races, and warns in great detail about a so-called “White Male Club.”

“Simply put, a healthy, white, heterosexual, Christian male receives many unearned advantages of social privilege, whereas a black, homosexual, atheist female in poor health receives many unearned disadvantages of social privilege,” reads a statement in the manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI).

It gets worse. This manual, which some sick and twisted souls at the Pentagon approved, encourages officers to “assume racism is everywhere, every day.”

The subject of white privilege emerged in a 20-page section titled, “Power and Privilege.”

“Whites are the empowered group,” the manual declares. “White males represent the haves as compared to the have-nots.”

The military document advises personnel to “assume racism is everywhere, every day” and “notice code words for race.” They are also instructed to “understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism.”

“Assume racism is everywhere, everyday,” read a statement in a section titled, ‘How to be a strong ‘white ally.'”

Why on God’s green earth are there military personnel who are taking a page out of playbook of race-baiters like Peggy McIntosh?

When I went into the field, conducted a live-fire exercise or was deployed as a young soldier, race never — never — came into consideration. When you know that the guy next to you would lay down his life to protect yours, color is meaningless. When you know in your heart that you would gladly do the same for him, the idea that “racism is everywhere” is repugnant.

I served with men of every ethnicity you can imagine, and all I cared about was whether or not they were a “good guy” at their core. Did he have my back when I needed it or not? That’s all that mattered.  It is quite obvious that whomever wrote this 600-page piece of garbage never went to the field, never was deployed — or, if so, they were the kind of person who finds a way to push paper instead of carry a rucksack.

When I exited the military and entered college, I was shocked by how obsessed with race my college professors were. Their minds were so diseased by intellectual rotgut that they said things like “the American dream is dead” and “all white people are subconsciously racist.” I came to detest everything my professors stood for, because it was obvious that their worldview only sowed anger, distrust, and envy where it didn’t need to exist. At times I often wanted to leave school and return to the military because it was the one place that I knew for sure didn’t have much patience for political correctness and excuses for failure. That appears to be changing…

If officers in the U.S. military are now being subjected to the psychological warfare that professors tried to use on me when I stepped on campus, it’s only a matter of time before things unravel. You can not successfully complete mission after mission if you are told to “assume racism is everywhere, every day.” If you have been told to look at the “battle buddy” next to you in your foxhole and believe that he is a racist, you will behave much differently than if you were allowed to realize on your own that he is and always will be your brother-in-arms.

I pray for the military, because it is obvious that the enemy within is much more dangerous than anything a foreign nation can dish out. I also pray because that’s just what healthy, white, heterosexual Christian men tend to do.

Our “power” doesn’t come from racism or exploitation — it comes from our faith in God, self-discipline, honesty, integrity, personal courage and a will to succeed. That is something that Pentagon paper-pushers who hang out with race-obsessed professors — instead of with real soldiers in the field — will never understand.

Boot Campaign: Texas group does our troops — and the nation — proud

Pushups for Charity
Years ago I read Marcus Luttrell’s book ‘Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10,’ and was blown away. It captured the complexities of war in ways I had rarely seen on the nightly news. Luttrell’s tale brought tears to my eyes and left a lasting impression in my mind. Apparently, it did the same for five women from Texas, who went out and started Boot Campaign, a non-profit dedicated to helping war fighters and their families when they return home.

This past weekend in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of taking part in the final event of the year for Pushups for Charity, which worked in conjunction with Boot Campaign to help raise funds for our returning war fighters and their families. Men, women and children of all ages and fitness levels came out to do as many pushups as possible within 90 seconds, with the goal of hitting 10,000 before the end of the day. There was a lot of people who needed a shower when all was said and done, but the goal was ultimately accomplished.

The thing that most struck me about Pushups for Charity was the sense of community the event instilled in participants from the get-go. All of the Team Leaders were upbeat men and women who made complete strangers feel as if they were longtime friends. It was hot and humid with no wind and no shade — but no one cared because everyone was having fun. Organizers, participants and the audience that cheered and clapped with each round all seemed to concentrate on a shared bond — love of the military. There was no amount of sunburn or sore muscles that could take away from the joy of moment.

After I got home on Sunday night, I was looking at a picture of myself with Team Leaders Mark Little and Chris Nesbitt and wondering why I seem most at ease (no pun intended) around soldiers. I laugh more. I smile more. I’m more “me” in those moments than in any other social situation.

I think a clue to the peace that company brings me can be found in the bio for CPT Mark Little (U.S. Army Ret.), which reads:

Mark enlisted in the Army in 2002. Mark spent 4 years as a Combat Engineer learning and performing the craft of a demolitions expert.

Mark was deployed to Iraq as a Platoon Leader for the 3rd Infantry Division. He spent 99 days in Iraq, conducted over 150 Combat Patrols, and received 3 direct IED blasts, resulting in 2 Purple Hearts and the loss of both of his legs.

Mark is the Captain of the USA Warriors Hockey Team, which provides recreational hockey therapy to wounded Service-members, he actively Crossfits, and is excited to help the Boot Campaign with their critical mission of supporting our Nation’s Heros as they return from combat.

Mark is a Hero Team Leader because every fiber of his being is dedicated to serving his fellow Military Service-Members and refuses to let injuries get in the way of completing any mission he undertakes.

Selfless Service. Check. Courage. Check. Perseverance. Check. The list of qualities that I respect, admire and seek to cultivate in myself are so often found in individuals like CPT Little that it is in their presence where I feel most comfortable.

Pushups Charity FB

There is something extremely awe-inspiring about men and women who can have both of their legs taken from them and, upon healing, get out of bed and essentially say to the world, “You took my legs and knocked me down? Okay. I’ll just build myself some new legs and stand right back up again. And on top of that, I’m going to be just as hard-core awesome as I ever was.”

That is the character of winners. These are the individuals we should look to for inspiration. Their stories are the ones that should not be forgotten.

The next time a political party comes knocking on your door, I suggest laughing them off and turning to an organization with a track record of actually keeping its promises. Boot Campaign is one, but there are many, many others. And if you can’t give money, you can always take 90 seconds out of your day during the next Pushups for Charity event to knock a few out. It won’t cost you a dime, and you’ll meet some incredible people in the process.

Best,

Doug

'The Rock' is batting 1000 for awesomeness. He's relaunching movies, he's got a great new show with 'The Hero,' and now it turns out he's connected with the Boot Campaign.
‘The Rock’ is batting 1000 for awesomeness. He’s relaunching movies, he’s got a great new show with ‘The Hero,’ and now it turns out he’s connected with the Boot Campaign.

Pentagon: Women ready for combat roles — and M60s to magically fly

Years ago a buddy of mine said that political correctness was going to kill the military. I plan on seeing him when he flies in from Germany next month, and when he does I will buy him a beer and tell him he was right. And when I go down to Ft. Benning to visit him I will buy him another round just for good measure.

Behold the bizarre in all its glory:

The Pentagon is lifting its ban on women serving in combat and will begin allowing female service members to hold any jobs for which they qualify, including special operations, over the next few years, according to a memo from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the secretary of defense.

“The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service,” ArmyGen. Martin E. Dempsey says in the memo, dated Jan. 9. The Washington Times obtained a copy of the memo.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously join me in proposing that we move forward with the full intent to integrate women into occupational fields to the maximum extent possible,” Gen. Dempsey wrote. “To implement these initiatives successfully and without sacrificing our war-fighting capability or the trust of the American people, we need time to get it right.” …

Anyone who has had to carry a SINCGAR (i.e., a heavy-ass radio) on his back during a 25 mile road march, or the M249 SAW — or both simultaneously because the guy in front of him was sucking wind hard core — knows that unless the physical standards are lowered, this is virtually impossible and a horrible idea. Anyone who has had to carry his 250 pound buddy knows that physical standards will have to be lowered to make this happen. Anyone who has had to lug an M60 for any length of time knows that social engineering is going to kill good soldiers. Hence, the time needed to “get it right.” Correction: to get it wrong.

How do you get women to “qualify” for an infantryman’s job? You change the requirements for the gender that generally lacks the combination of upper body strength and stamina to hold the job in the first place. You can’t fool biology, but that never stopped masterminds from playing their little sociological experiments before, has it?

Remember when the Marines opened the door to female infantrymen? Both applicants dropped out.

The first two women to try to join the elite combat ranks of the U.S. Marines have dropped out of infantry training, the Marine Corps Times reports.

A second lieutenant was dropped Friday because of unspecified medical reasons, a Marine official told the paper, published by Gannett, USA TODAY’s parent. It was not clear whether she was hurt or became ill. She had already conquered the punishing endurance test. …

The other officer dropped out Sept. 28 after not completing the introductory endurance test of the 13-week course at Quantico, Va. Nearly 30 men also washed out on the first day. The class started with 109 students, 25 percent of whom will not finish.

Let us pretend that a woman is able to meet all the physical demands placed upon your “average” Special Forces soldier (as if such a thing existed in the first place). If she was placed on a team, then a sexual element would automatically be added to the mix that has no business being there. Anything that distracts from mission readiness puts lives in danger, and this plan would do precisely that. I’d tell a story about female MPs and infantrymen on tower guard years ago to prove my point, but this blog is not rated R.

Long story short: Having a porn magazine and a “happy sock” won’t get a guy killed. Dating — or “just” hooking up — with a team or squad leader will. There have never been love-triangle altercations between two angry dudes and a “happy sock.” The same can’t be said for men and women in close quarters.

It’s really hard to explain to a civilian just how different military culture is from everyday life, and then just how different the sub-culture of infantry guys is. How do you explain “the gauntlet” to a civilian without inadvertently prompting a CBS special on hazing? How can I explain how having my clavicle fractured by a giant bastard of Viking decent happened in part because he was evil, and in part because he really loved the heck out of me? How do I explain the classic wrestling/beat down matches between platoons, where dozens of men wailed on each other, body slammed each other, punched and kicked and bruised each other … before going out for a night of partying? How do I explain that all of it added to unit cohesion and if — and that’s a big if — you were able to keep all the standards the same and plugged a random woman or two into the mix that it would change everything?

Women Air Force pilots? Great. Women Company Commanders? Awesome. Women serving their country in general? Fantastic! We need more patriots. Women … grunts? When M60s fly.

Editor’s Note: I will be reviewing “Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior,” by Rorke Denver within the next few weeks. I will have it posted on its release day at the latest. If you disagree with me on this issue you might want to hold off until you read the review…