Sunday, April 19, 2015

USASOC Commercial

At 1:01 of this video you can see my MFF team conducting a night jump over San Vito Italy. I may have been the jumpmaster but honestly can't remember. This was a training jump and after we landed we went and had beers at the NCO club. We were in San Vito conducting Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) operations  for the Kosovo campaign but did this jump to maintain Level One Proficiency. I remember the camera crew being on board but it wasn't until much later I saw this commercial. The jump was in 1999.





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hawkeye 50K 2015: the Fifth


Not much to say really. I ran the race for the 5th consecutive year. Being my very first ultra it has a special place in the schedule. Finished in 6:46:42. Not great but not terrible. Pictures

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Defensive Firearms Coaches Course

So last week I invested some time and a bit of money doing something I have been wanting to do for almost 10 years. I attempted to become certified as a civilian firearms instructor. Not just an NRA instructor, although I accomplished that task as well, but an I.C.E Training Company Defensive Firearms Coach. I.C.E was founded by Rob Pincus. I have been following Rob, his training philosophy, videos and writings for quite awhile. His flagship Combat Focus Shooting program from what I have heard and read is a very worthwhile course to attend. With that in mind I registered for the Defensive Firearms Coaches (DFC) course. This would be my first step toward my eventual goal of becoming a Combat Focus Shooting instructor.

As an I.C.E. DFC I would be qualified to teach the company's Fundamentals of Home Defense Handgun (FHDH) and the Fundamentals of Concealed Carry (FOCC) courses. DFC itself is 3 days long, emphasis on the long. You hit the ground running from day one as the instructors tried to fit 25 lbs of knowledge into a 5lb bag of brains cells. It was sink or swim. This course was a semi private course contracted at a remote location in Iowa by Ernie,my friend and the owner of Cedar Valley Outfitters . Ernie is huge on training responsible gun owners and by contracting this course he figures he was making an investment in the future. There were 8 of us students and an additional 3 former students that were already certified but back for a refresher. The instructors were Jamie Onion, who co-created the DFC course with Rob Pincus and Michael J Anderson. There was many years of firearms experience in that classroom, from both instructors and students.

Day One started at 0800 and as all the students filed into the cabin/classroom, where we would be the next three days, as is normal we all picked seats around the room. This was a very non conventional classroom, literally a living room with a white board in the middle. I took a seat at the kitchen table that would be my desk and opened the black spiral notebook that would become my personal book of knowledge. DFC has no textbook, no handouts other than a suggested course outline. If  was going to gather any information I would have to do it the old fashioned way and work for it. Day One was jammed packed with information on safety and risk versus benefit. Physical comfort,intellectual comfort,competency,application of skill,effectiveness vs efficiency,plausibility principle, knowledge,communication,psychology,desire,ability, types of defensive handguns,ammunition,storage and security. From the beginning the instruction was modular,meaning non linear. So if a question was asked the instructors would move to another relevant subject without pause and then circle back to the original topic. This was confusing to some but I enjoyed it as it mitigated the constant "I will cover that later or the I will get back with you." The instructors made it clear from the first interaction with us students that the "I don't know but I will find out" answer was bullshit and would not be used. They held us as students accountable for the information presented but they certainly held themselves to the same standard. No notes were used in instruction and not once during the three days of training did I see either instructor unable to answer a question to the satisfaction of the student. In fact after a lengthy question and answer period, one of my fellow students muttered "They sure know their shit." We as students were also expected to "know our shit". Barely an hour into the instruction we started "teachbacks" of the material we had just went over. Even though I have instructed on the podium in the military and in the classroom as a civilian, I won't lie and try to pretend my heart wasn't pounding and palms sweaty the first time I got up and expounded on why we have firearms, consistency and choices of caliber for self defense. I started to enjoy the teaching after that first iteration however. I have always liked teaching, and firearms. I also like the no nonsense evaluations Once a student was off track or started to stammer and reach for words they heard "Sit Down, Try again." At the end of day one we went to our lodging with a teachback assignment for the morning. My brain was on fire.

Day two dawned clear and cold but the weather man said it would warm up and the snow would start to melt. This was good news because after the morning teachback we would be taking it to the range for the balance of the day. Range work included The Warrior Expert Theory, 5 Fundamentals and Tactics for home defense, proper range safety brief,range setup, Extend,touch, press drill,The Balance of Speed and Precision drill, sight alignment/sight picture,volume of fire concept, and the critical incident reload. Since we were both taking and learning how to teach the FHDH course, we alternated on the range between receiving instruction and giving instruction under the watchful eye of our instructors. All the while being evaluated on our effectiveness,knowledge and technique. Day two ended with a live fire defensive handgun in the home scenario where we acted as student and instructor for each iteration. Day two concluded the portion of instruction on FHDH and we were sent back to the RON site with another teachback assignment for the morning.

Day three started once again with teachbacks and then we moved into the Fundamentals of Concealed Carry curriculum. The initial part of this class was the same as FDHD so we didn't dwell on past material. We covered holster selection, the definition of a Dynamic Critical Incident, carry positions,awareness,avoidance,deescalation,should versus could,counter ambush methodology and alternative force options. Then we moved to the range where we went over the startle response and the bodies natural reaction to ambush. Along with the same drills as the day before we both received and taught drills on presentation from the holster and multiple target engagement. We finished up the range with discussion on distractions in a public environment,contacting police and what to do when police arrive. Once again the final bullets were sent flying down range on a realistic Dynamic Critical Incident scenario where we had to act as both student and instructor. Once all the instruction was done the climax to the course was a 50 question essay test on all the knowledge we had learned over the past three days. The standard was 80% and no time was alotted for study. You either knew it or you didn't. Once the tests were completed we did a debrief and were told our results on whether we were certified or not would be emailed to us the following week. On the drive home my friend CJ and myself had our own little debrief on the past few days events.

Its been several days since the course ended and I have had time to decompress. I found out today that I had in fact done well enough to be certified as a DFC instructor. It is amazing how much I did learn and how much I have retained from those 3 days. However I know if you don't use it you lose it and I am anxious to start teaching some courses to some new defensive handgun owners. This was just the first step in a long journey. I am attending the Combat Focus Shooting Course in June as a student and as I said hope to eventually be teaching the course myself. I think I have the background, attitude and mental ability to be successful but time is playing a factor. I might have about 10-15 years where I can be an efficient,effective instructor before I am overtaken by events. Overall I really enjoyed DFC and I am fired up to move down the path to CFS instructorhood.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Two People Died Today

Two people died today. One was a talented actor the other was not. One was a warrior that later in life helped others in pain the other was not. One was a director and photographer the other was not. One was my friend the other was not.

Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek's Mr. Spock died today at the age of 83. By all accounts he was a nice man, a talented actor, a director and good photographer. I consider myself a Trekkie and have watched him in numerous Original Star Trek episodes and movies. He was an iconic character and he will be missed.

But my friend Jimmy McLaughlin also died today. Jimmy Mac was on the first Special Forces team I was ever a part of ODA 085. Jimmy Mac,Glenn Koski,Carl Clark, Dennis Oglesby, Kevin Riley, Rock Tyson, Jeff Barger, Brian Yost, Joe Ditoro and Dave Hill. It seems like yesterday and also so long ago. I arrived to Fort Devens Massachusetts in the Spring of 1991, new out of language school. My new teammates had recently returned from Northern Iraq and Provide Comfort I. I was the new guy Jimmy Mac was a senior member of the team. Like all new guys I took a lot of ribbing and Jimmy gave me my fair share but he also helped me when I asked questions and guided me. I read somewhere that it takes 5 years for a new Special Forces operator to really learn his job. Jimmy Mac and the other guys on that team set me on the right path. A path that ultimately culminated in my own combat deployment to Iraq as a Team Sergeant many years later.

Jimmy Mac was a funny funny guy and always had a laugh. After a few years we left for different teams and as often happens in the military we lost touch. I went to HALO School, became a HALO instructor, moved to Germany and eventually retired out of 3rd Bn 10th SFG(A) in 2004. I later learned Jimmy became a Warrant Officer moved around 10th Group as well. When Jimmy retired from the military he became a nurse and eventually a nurse case manager. Working at the hospital at Ft. Carson still helping soldiers.

A few years ago I was going through the Paramedic program and commenting on Facebook how much the clinical requirements sucked. Through mutual friends Jimmy contacted me, offered his support and told me about his own trials going through nursing school. We caught up on old times and eventually signed off. That was the last time I spoke to Jimmy. He was still guiding me, even after all those years. His passing saddens me, my circle of friends has grown smaller, the Special Forces brotherhood has lost another member far too young.

Blue Skies Jimmy Mac..see you on the high ground. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

VA Chief lies about Special Forces service




VA Chief Lies about Special Forces Service

The continued misstatement of military service in this country has become rampant. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an ex Navy Seal or Green Beret who can't answer basic questions about their service because it is "classified". As any real special operator can tell you missions are classified people are not. Any special operator worth there salt has a benign and easily remembered cover story. This keeps them out of the limelight. Special Operators don't put themselves in the position to be challenged.
I read on another blog the authors opinion that the reason so many posers are coming out of the woodwork,  is that veterans have become idolized in this country. Different from the Vietnam era when they were villified, now a days every veteran is a "hero". Somewhere we need to find a happy medium.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

I haz Paramedic

This post is a bit overdue. I originally meant to write it last summer but due to reasons of which I will speak it didn't get written. Once it was appropriate to post I had simply forgotten until it just occurred to me that I had never brought closure to my Paramedic journey. So a bit of a recap. I started in Emergency Medicine in 2006 when I took an EMT-Basic course on a whim to see what it was all about. I graduated and didn't due much with that skill. When it came around for my 2 year renewal I discovered it was easier and cheaper to renew if I was actually running on a service. I started volunteering on a local ambulance service and the rest is history. Eventually I got hired for a paid EMT position. I progressed to EMT-Intermediate and I took the class for Advanced EMT although I never finished the written exam. More on that later.

Being a paramedic had always been in the back of my mind but in 2012 I realized I needed to get in the 2013 class at my local community college or it wasn't going to happen. Several reasons for his. They only accepted applicants once a year, my GI Bill eligibility would expire in 2014, and The National Registry of EMT was phasing out my current rating. It was go back down the chain or go up by 2016. So January 2013 found me sitting in the classroom as an new paramedic student. Fast forward 15 months and I graduated from the program in May of 2014 with a AAS degree in Paramedicine. That was all good and well but really only made me eligible to be nationally registered. The degree means I had completed the training I still needed to take the required practical (hands on) skills test and the written exam. Ask any Paramedic and they will tell you that theses tests are very difficult and definitely a right of passage.

The day of the practical I was nervous and very concerned about my performance. Not knowing exactly what to expect I had poured over numerous youtube videos in a final effort to cram for this hands on exam. I was really concerned about the static and dynamic cardiology stations:








As luck would have it I passed those stations with no problem. I did however have to retest the very last station I had tested. This was one of the oral stations where you were given a medical or trauma scenario and had to verbally relate in great detail how would handle the scenario, There were 2 of these stations during the test. I was surprised when they told me I had failed that station as I thought for sure I had done well. Good news was I only had to retest 1 station, bad news was I totally fell apart on the retest and was a no go. So this meant I had to pay another fee and drive 150 miles to retake the one station I had missed twice at the first available opportunity. So 2 weeks later I did just that. I was even more nervous than originally because now if I failed I would have to retest the entire practical after paying for a refresher class. But things went my way that day and I was in and out in less than 2 hours having passed the practical. I breathed a sigh of relief. But now I had to pass the written test.

Myself and National Registry of EMT written tests have a long and sordid history. These tests are adaptive meaning they base your questions on how well you are doing answering the other questions. They are also highly regulated. Here I write about my troubles with other tests:

NREMT EMT-I Practical

NREMT-I Written Exam

What I didn't write about was the fact that I took the AEMT written test 3 times and never passed it. I eventually stopped trying putting all my eggs in the paramedic basket. So I studied for my written test and when I showed up to take it I was apprehensive but hopeful. When I left the test center I really had no idea how i did. Well I bombed it failing 4 out of 5 sections. I was crushed. So I doubled down, spent money on a pay study site as well as the free one I already had. I gave it 4 weeks and tried again. This time when I left I knew I had not done well. I was not surprised at all to see that I had failed again. At this point counting AEMT and EMT-Intermediate, I was 1 for 8 in my last 9 attempts at an NREMT written test. Not very good odds. I was crushed and serioulsy doubting if this was something I could do. I had some long talks with a friend that I consider my EMS mentor and he told me some things that helped me feel better about the results but not the process. So I studied and studied some more. I approached the test center to take my last and final chance with the confidence of a gnat. As I answered questions I was feeling more and more confident however. This time was different somehow. I actually started getting optimistic. After the test I hoped against hope. I tried not to think about it for 36 hours until I forced myself to check my account to see if I had passed. Miracle of miracles I had passed!! I finally was a paramedic. Things have moved swiftly since then, I am working as a paramedic at 3 different services on a PRN basis. I still have much to learn OJT but my long academic journey is over.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Selection

I took a class today. It was an emergency medical class for "experienced advanced level" providers. I could very loosely be put in that category. However in my mind only loosely. I obsessed over the class, I studied and worried about failure and embarrassment. It caused me sleeplessness. It ended up being fine in the end and I passed with no issues. But it was another selection event. Events I put myself through on a regular basis, I am not sure why.

I went through Special Forces Selection and Assessment way back in 1990. Without getting into the gory details,details of which I am still not supposed to talk about, SFAS was one of the events that shaped my life.  Selection is a pretty open secret. Discovery Channel even did an hour long special on it. However I did sign a document saying I would not divulge what happened so, I will not, but here is a link if you are curious http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/two-weeks-in-hell/ . Anyhoo ever since then whenever I do something difficult or outside of my comfort zone I refer to it as a "selection event."

These events take many forms. Sometimes having a difficult but necessary conversation with an employee is my selection event for the day, sometimes talking to a client, or trying to sell some business.Sometimes my selection event has to do with academics as it did today.More often than not the event involves something physical. I run ultra marathons, but trying to fit the training in around the rest of my busy life often becomes an event unto itself. I recently started participating in Crossfit which at 51 years old is really outside my comfort zone. I try to train and keep up on my defensive tactics which can also be embarrassing or difficult when you can't control your fine motor skills as desired.

But why? I once had a psychiatrist tell me I had low self esteem. This was after I took the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Index (MMPI) to get into The Special Operations Target Interdiction Course or more commonly called SOTIC or "sniper school". I ended being the honor graduate of that course despite her assessment. It is a fact that I often don't feel like I belong in the company of the people of which I am associated. On the surface I have an impressive resume but in reality I don't feel I deserve to even be mentioned in the same breath as most of the excellent special operators, paramedics or LEO I have worked with. Maybe that is what low self esteem is all about. All I know is I have this constant desire to test my boundaries and prove to myself I can conquer whatever obstacle I see, real or imagined. Self created or not.

On the other hand I also think by constantly putting myself through selection I make myself stronger. If you don't self select then you become weak and complacent. The weak and complacent wither and die. Am I as strong, fast, or skilled as I used to be? Nope but I am stronger, faster and more skilled than I would be if I just sat around watching TV. In the words of the immortal Toby Keith " I ain't as good as I once was ,but I am as good once as I ever was." So selection goes on. Life is a selection event, Life is an endurance event. I leave you with my favorite poem by Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night


Dylan Thomas1914 - 1953
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 By The Numbers




And so with the last post of 2014 here goes the traditional by the numbers post, 5th Annual.

Officiating
Well after 10 years it finally happened. I have stopped officiating. Last season the winter of 2013-14 I only officiated 2 wrestling tournaments. Probably about 45 matches. This season nada, I have officially retired from officiating or at least on hiatus.I have other things going on and being yelled at by parents, as much as I love it, has lost its luster. So for now I will just sit in the stands or my living room and second guess the officiating like everyone else.

Running
I hit 2000 miles exactly of movement this year. Most of that was running, some was rucking, or bicycling, or walking. 299 less miles of movement this year but I was down for 3 months with that dang Achilles injury. That seems to be clearing up and I am currently training for my next 100 mile race. I also joined a Crossfit gym so I can finally do the cross training I kept talking about doing.

Races
I ran 20 races this year. 2 less than last year but more varied. Some of the highlights:
1-100 mile DNF ( the scenery was outstanding)
1-100K
4-50K
3-Marathons ( 1 as pace group leader)
1-Cyclocross race ( this was fun and muddy)
3- Races ran with a 3X5 US Flag. 1 marathon, 2 5K

EMS
More than ever I am deeply involved in pre hospital medicine. I graduated the Paramedic program earlier this year and was certified as a Nationally Registered Paramedic.
3- Number of ambulance services I work for "part time".

Random Numbers
Years since joining the US Army-32
Years since Army Retirement-10
Years since Ranger School- 26
Years since SF Q Course- 24
Birthdays-51
Anniversaries-27

I connected with 2 old friends this year and we had a couple long talks catching up.

Well there is probably more but I am done. 2014 was a good year. Here is to 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Throwback Tuesday

I was looking back through my blog as it enters its 5th year. I have posted some good and some bad stuff. Here are posts from the last 4 Decembers that I feel are still good reads:

2010- So This is Christmas?

2011- How do I feel?

2012- Is it Just Me?

2013-Paramedic Update

Here's to another year of blogging

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ultra Runner of the Year

Allow me to geek out for a second. During my normal long run this Saturday I was listening to a podcast as I often do. The discussion was about voting for Ultra Runner of the Year. The discussion centered around this, what qualifies you as Ultra Runner of the Year? The Mountain, Trail and Ultra (MUT) community is so varied how do you decide?

Here is part of the dilemma, suppose you have an athlete that has won 4 50K races and a 50 mile race against stiff elite competition and you have another athlete that has dominated the 100 mile distance winning 3 of the biggest 100 mile events also against stiff competition. In the only head to head match up the first competitor crushed the second however the first has never run the 100 mile distance. So who is the best?

It really goes to your philosophy of what an ultra runner is. Personally I vote for athlete #2 as to me the 100 mile distance is the gold standard of ultrarunning. Pretty much any marathoner can complete a 50k and 50 miles is also not a huge stretch. But 100 miles.. well things happen in 100 miles that just don't happen in the other races. I think an Ultra runner ought to be doing ultra things.

Also the voting doesn't include any Europeans. Ultrarunner of the Year ought to include the entire field shouldn't it? I mean Killian Jornet is so head and shoulders above every other MUT runner he is in a class by himself. The dude runs up ladders for gods sake!



In the only North American race he ran this year, the Hardrock 100, He beat the course record and seemed to be lolygagging to do it. But he is European and has spent most of his year doing  Fastest Known Times (FKT) ascents of different mountain summits. But what about other Euros? So I am a Killian Fanboy but he is probably not UROY. I would vote him the best all around Mountain Athlete of his generation however.

It is just so confusing. What about stage races? Are they Ultras? This looks pretty Ultra to me.



Anyway it was a rousing discussion and I am excited to see who wins.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Red Herring

I was doing my normal lunch run today and a random memory came to mind. I thought I would write it down.

In 1993 I was a  young SSG on my first Special Forces ODA. I was on ODA 085 B Company 3rd Battalion 10th SFG(A)Fort Devens Mass. It was winter and my ODA was conducting our annual ski training at Cannon Mountain New Hampshire. We spent our days skiing and taking instruction and nights bunking at a Boy Scout camp, drinking beer and bullshitting. What a way to serve your country!!

My team was colocated with a sister team 081. We shared the same cabin and after hours we all kind of hung out together. One night after most guys had hit the rack, Myself, my teammate Jimmy Mac and two guys from the other team Jeff and Mike were up talking and drinking the last bit of Apfelkorn. Apfelkorn is a German apple schapps and is pretty potent. Jeff was from Alaska and while we were drinking he was munching on some smoked herring that he said was from his home state. Not being a fish eater it smelled pretty nasty to me although he swore it was delicious.

As we continued to talk Jeff and Mike got the idea that they needed to "share" this fishy loveliness with their Team Leader. Team Leaders in SF are Captains but despite that they are generally the least operationally experienced members of the team. Unfortunately once they do become experienced they are wisked off to a staff job somewhere and they are never on a team again. They only return to an operational position when and if they become a Company Commander. So many of the good officers are looked down on because they want to remain at the team level. The end result of this is that the enlisted guys spend years on the teams and they constantly harrass new team leaders until that team leader earns their respect.

Jeff and Mike called their team leader " Little Buddy" and they constantly tormented him. He took it all in good humor because what else could he do about it? Well anyway these two thought it would be nice if they put smoked herring in every orifice of Little Buddies gear and clothing. They even put some in his wallet. We all had a good laugh at their little joke and we went to bed. So the next day I had forgotten all about this little prank. About noon I was getting on the ski lift for another run and Little Buddy skis up and sits down beside me. On the ride up the mountain he tells me how he has been finding fish in his gear all day. He has searched all over but he can still smell it. He asked me if I knew anything about it. I was thinking " Did you check your wallet?" But I denied knowledge of any activity. Deny, Deny, Deny and make counter accusations. All the poor guy could do was look at me, shake his head and say " THOSE FUCKING GUYS!!" I laughed all the way up the mountain.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Nov Race recap- Beverly Trail Run/Living History Farms Off Road Race/Survivor Cross/Chilly Chili Extreme 5K

I have been remiss in my race reporting. It just seems like I say the same things over and over. So let me briefly recap each race I have run in the last few weeks

Beverly Park Trail Run-Snowy,local and fun. I wore my yaktrax extremes and I am glad I did. Took some Go Pro video which I will post later. Good times

Results






Living History Farms Off Road Race- My first running of this. It was fun and crazy. Lots of runners and mud and costumes and water crossings. I ran steady but not too hard. I will run it again

Results



SurvivorCross_ This was a cyclocross race that was held on the same course as the LHF race about 2 hours later. I registered on a whim, not having ridden a bike race in a few years. it was the most fun I have had in awhile. Muddy and same water crossings. Much harder on a bike. And trying to get that bike up some of those hills GOOD LORD!!!! Also good times!!

Results





addendum- Chilly Chili Extreme 5K

Late addition to this race report. After I posted about the other races I ran this race on a whim. I had raced it 2 years ago and it was fun. I like this race because it is small. This year about 20 folks. And the extreme part is because there is no trail or road. You literally just run through the woods,ditches, fields, creeks, md etc. This year he course was a little longer (almost 4 miles) and there was a lot more water. We had to cross two waist to chest deep streams at an ambient air temperature of about 38 degrees. Was a great muddy,wet and muddy race. I came in about 6-7 minutes slower than my previous running of this race due to the longer length and being a less fit than 2 years ago. However good news was I still came in 4th place just like 2 years ago. And I won my age group due to the magic of birthdays. Good race I will do it again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vietnam

I was talking to one of our salesman at work today. He was in my office where on the walls I have a few  pictures and memorabilia of my time in service. He mentioned he had been in for 19 months, 13 of which he spent as a medic in Vietnam. We talked and laughed about some common Army things that span the generations. I mentioned I was involved in a Veterans Service Organization called Team Red White and Blue. I explained our mission and then he said something that makes me sad. He told me when he got back from Vietnam he tried to join the VFW and they wouldn't let him because Vietnam was not a "real" war. He was treated poorly by the very people that should have embraced him..other veterans. Recently the National Commander of the VFW sent out this letter.

VFW NATIONAL COMMANDER PUTS POSTS ON NOTICE
Below is a message from VFW National Commander John W. Stroud:
I am extremely disturbed by the recurring reports from the field as well as the media’s portrayal of the VFW as an organization that is comprised of old and out of touch veterans who would rather drink in a dimly lit canteen than open their doors to our younger veterans. The VFW’s mission is far too important; our objectives and causes for which we work far too critical; and the current situation of the veteran population far too dire to let the negativity of a few divide us and dilute our efforts. We must empower the younger veterans to be forces of change within our organization while lending them the institutional knowledge to be effective leaders for future generations of veterans.
The fact remains that the stereotypical, dingy, dark and smoke filled VFW Post and canteen do exist, but they have no benefit to our organization, provide no aid to our mission nor to the veterans we strive to help and serve. These Posts are in the minority of our organization, but in order to shift the paradigm we must challenge every member to hold their Post accountable. It’s time for our membership to be emboldened into action and to push their Posts to strive for the high ideals that the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was founded upon.
Accordingly, I am charging my current Department VFW Commanders to be advocates of change and to challenge the officers of the subordinate units within their command to be more than officers —  challenge them to be leaders cognizant of the current challenges today’s veterans face. To do this, our VFW Posts must change their operational tactics to better reflect the modern crises younger veterans are facing on their new “battlefield” – the homefront.
For those members and Posts who would rather serve themselves than the countless veterans who are in need, remind them that this organization exists for the benefit of all veterans rather than those of an entitled few. I want to make it clear that I will willingly provide my complete support to any of my Department Commanders who move to shut down any Post, or remove from our leadership rolls, anyone that is not committed to the goals of the organization.  They simply don’t belong here. The need is too great for a dynamic and modern VFW that can continue to advocate and respond unhesitatingly to the needs of all veterans in the 21st century and beyond.  To do less, would be an unconscionable betrayal of our responsibilities as Americans and as veterans.
John W. Stroud
VFW National Commander

I am a life member of the VFW but I no longer attend my local meetings because I too found this propensity to talk and not act. Surprisingly the very veterans, Vietnam Veterans, that were snubbed are now the majority members and hold most of the leadership positions. Let us hope Commander Stroud is successful in his endeavor to welcome our younger veterans. Every VSO needs to evolve to stay engaged and relevant. To any veteran that was ever ignored or made to feel their service was not valued or somehow less than anothers I say Thank You For Your Service!