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Posts tagged “military

Another 11th

Twenty-one years is a long time. There’s a whole generation of, for all intents and purposes, adults that weren’t even alive when 9/11 happened. The enduring changes that occurred afterwards are really the only thing left from that day. We, humanity in general, have a short memory for things like that. It’s history and we don’t learn from history, much less the present. It’s on odd day and even when it happened we acted in odd ways.

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Music to kill myself to

This time of the year is always hard for me. It’s close to the anniversary of my last suicide attempt and while a lot has changed, there’s always some things that stay the same. Today marks the end of year three of my 365 days of academia and today we’re talking about suicide and music. What is it about a song that when you hear it you remember things so clearly? This post wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for something very special that occurred this year and there’s been a wide range of emotions leading up to it.

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The dead don’t speak

In combat it’s easy to forget when someone is killed. Forget isn’t the right word, but you’re fighting to survive, so you literally don’t get the chance to process the loss in the moment. All good things come to an end however and it’s often not right away that it sinks in. You experience that fresh loss for a long time before it sets in. You forget that the person has died. You look for them in the group you’re serving with until it clicks. The truth is, the most painful part of loss isn’t the initial death. It’s having to live loss that over and over before it finally becomes your reality.

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And then DARPA appeared…

DARPA and I go way back. Right after I got out of the military back to be exact. Not that more than one or two people even know my name (and probably only vaguely), but DARPA is the reason I’m where I am today, even if the people who helped me get here don’t remember me. As much as I love the DARPA origin story, that’s all it’s ever been, that is until today, when school-PI let me know that DARPA was paying attention.

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For the love of war

Aren’t there enough things trying to kill us? Between global warming, pollution, and the pandemic, I feel like something somewhere wants us gone. Then again, humans are stupid, I include myself in that statement. So here we are talking about something I wasn’t expecting to talk about and that my dear readers is combat.

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Another Veterans day reminder

Well it’s that time of the year again where I remind people that toxic patriotism and performative patriotism is bad. So don’t do it, seriously. I have a lot of mixed feelings about today. Mostly it’s a time for me to remember friends that aren’t around… I guess? I remember them normally anyway so it feels extra, this isn’t a happy thing and I don’t particularly thing we should “celebrate” in the traditional sense. I appreciate the others may have different opinions on the matter, but for me it comes down to the weaponization of patriotism and that needs to be stopped. Veterans day is less about people and more about politicians. It’s politicians use military as a weapon day.

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Surgical recovery, yet again!

Well today is officially day one of my recovery. Yesterday (here) I had my…. well it’s in the double digits that’s for sure, surgery. I was spoiled this year as I only had a single surgery, normally I go in once every six months for something and I’ve had that routine for the last six or so years, so yeah double digit surgery count, but I don’t remember the exact number, I think it’s 13 (spooky!) in any case I lived, despite the VA hospitals best efforts.

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If you’re reading this, it’s already too late.

How’s that for a spooky title? Normally I write my posts the same day you all get to read them. It’s a nice system that keeps me just stressed enough to keep going. I’m only semi-joking. This post however was written yesterday, or today for me. The reason is simple, if you’re reading this then I’ve already been whisked off to surgery again. Not that this wasn’t a planned thing, but I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it since I have two surgeries every year as it stands. This year it’s just one so I hold out hope that means the six month shuffle of something new being painful/swollen/etc. is slowly coming to an end.

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Twenty years later

I was still in high school when the towers fell. It’s weird to think that was twenty years ago, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. There’s a whole generation of young adults who were born after that event and somehow my brain doesn’t like that thought. It’s a reminder of the life I lived I guess and all the years that were shaped by that event. When the towers fell, child me — because really I was still just a kid — bought into all the propaganda and decided that I would serve my country. I obviously have mixed feelings about that choice.

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I’m still afraid to open my eyes

There are some events in life that will forever change you as a person. I’m not the person I was when I went into the military and I’m certainly not the person I would’ve been had I chose not to enlist. Some things just stick with you for your life. This isn’t a military story though, I don’t particularly like talking about those days. Instead this is yet another story of my transition to civilian life and how difficult it was to make the leap. How even now, the stability I’ve found is only just so.

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Fourth of July

I’m a veteran. I have mixed feelings about most patriotic holidays (okay, all patriotic holidays) and today is no different. We could all use a day off and I honestly couldn’t care less about how the holiday is celebrated. The only real issue I have with how it’s celebrated is with the fireworks. The world is on fire at the moment (literally) and we don’t need to help it along. My main issue with the holiday is (of course) toxic patriotism and the inevitable misogyny and white supremacy that comes with it. Of course, that is how America was built…

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On Memorial day

I come from a somewhat long line of military service. When my grandfather immigrated to the US he served in the Navy and fought in the Korean war to become a citizen. My father served in the Army and enlisted specifically to fight in Vietnam. Then I went off to the Marine Corps shortly after 9/11 and subsequently Iraq. War is hell, but then again so are people. It’s Memorial day, which means today is my time honored tradition to tell you all to just stop.

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Cracks in the support system

Family, friends, relationships, these are just a few things that provide people with a safety net. How many people, if they lost their job, would be able to rely on family for support? Surely not everyone, but a good portion of people have others to help them if they were in need. Hell, here in the US we’ve made it almost necessary to rely on the kindness of others to crowd fund for healthcare needs. Like it or not, people need people, well most do anyway…

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VA healthcare in a pandemic

With the pandemic stretching now over a year, which really feels like twenty, eventually healthcare was going to be an issue for me. I’ve already had to have a surgery during the pandemic, which was nerve wracking not because of the surgery, but because of COVID. Well it’s become a struggle to keep trying to put off getting care when I’m someone who needs pretty regular care. I went from bi-weekly appointments to once every 6 months or more, not ideal.

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Book chapter update

It feels like it’s been a while since we talked explicitly about the book chapter I am writing. A lot has happened since that first post, mostly edits and what not. Since the second round of edits was due yesterday (and I hit that goal, thank you!) it won’t hurt to do a bit of a refresh and remind everyone why I took on yet another thing on my long list of to-do tasks.

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Please don’t thank me for my service

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.
I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.
Art by the amazing Lora Zombie. (two days in a row, because I love her art)

Yesterday was veterans day, the day before that was the Marine Corps birthday. I purposefully was going to ignore both, but an interaction on twitter the other day made me realize that I should at least touch on the subject. My feelings surrounding my service have always been complicated, but why not talk about it?

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NDSEG Fellowship Tips

I might as well talk about it, this will be my second time applying for NDSEG, so today we’ll go over exactly what that is, why I’m doing it, and why, if you’re working on a PhD, you may want to do it as well. NDSEG is tricky, but if you get it then you should be pretty well set for funding, it’s a great program, but it also means you’re being funded via the DOD.

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Surgery update – Day 7

Basically this…

Well it’s been a full week since surgery (if we don’t count the day it happened). Not going to lie, things aren’t looking good at the moment and if what I’ve read is correct I have another 2 weeks of walking around with what appears to be two large cantaloupes under my skin. If that doesn’t sound like fun, well that’s because it’s not.

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That time I was really bleeding and no one cared

Actual photo from that day! I was tweeting some of this story as it happened (at least the ER part) It was a serious storage closet and none of the stuff had locks on it because the door to the room was supposed to be locked.

Okay well it’s already been a busy day, but I promised to tell this story today so here we go. To quickly sum up the story, I filled a bathroom trash can full of blood, went to the emergency room, was shoved into a storage closet, then discharged. Welcome to the VA and fuck you for your service.

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A rocky recovery

Hi, it me.

It occurs to me that tomorrow will mark the one week point since I had surgery. I didn’t realize it had been that long because frankly I expected to be doing better than I am at the moment. Let’s talk about where I’m at now and tomorrow to mark my one week exactly, I’ll tell you all a VA horror story I keep mentioning, but never really told.

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Recovery: Day 3

Somehow things keep moving forward. I had an experiment yesterday, I have a meeting today to go over my grant proposal, and there is so much data to analyze. It feels weird not getting a break after such a rough surgery, but here we are. Things keep moving forward and if I don’t keep up I’ll get left behind.

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The recovery

A lovely stock photo showing some spine surgery. I really didn’t feel like posting a picture of my incision sites.

We’re post-op day 2 so far and the word of the day is ouch. I don’t know that I went into detail about the surgery I was having, I mean I’ve been out of it these past couple of days since the surgery. It was a spinal cord surgery, there was some scar tissue that was giving me some trouble and they went in bilaterally (both sides of the spine) to remove it. That was… fun.

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The aftermath

My anti-nausea gift, apparently it’s slow, but works.

Well I had a surgery yesterday and it didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. I’m home now thankfully, but there were some… complications and it could be for a lot of reasons, but I’ll cover the most likely issue and then go and rest some more.

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Surgery time

Well today is the day. I just checked in and ready for surgery. For those of you who follow along, this isn’t the first surgery I’ve had. I’ve had two surgeries a year for the past four years. It’s a lot, but each one offers the promise of a slightly better life.

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Surgery in a pandemic

A seemingly endless hallway in a hospital. The floors have a shine to them and the yellow tint to the lighting makes it feel older than it probably is.
I took this photo today. It’s my favorite hallway in the VA because it just seems so endless. It goes the full length of the hospital (I think) and today it was empty. They are limiting the number of people who can come into the VA, which was a nice surprise, although it was still far too many people for my comfort.

I was planning on having surgery over the summer. I put it off because I didn’t want to go to go to the VA hospital. It’s a depressing place in the best of times, a not so friendly reminder that as a veteran we’re better off dead and the living are an afterthought. When the pandemic hit it was, and is, the last place I want to be. Yet, I can’t put it off anymore, so I’m having surgery.

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War and (hunger) games

The first time someone asked me if I killed anyone I was taken by surprise. It’s a deeply intimate question, but a question that some people seem to ask so flippantly. It’s a taboo, even in my small military circle of friends. One that I don’t talk about and one that we will certainly not be talking about today. I’m reading, or rather rereading, the Hunger Games trilogy and it made me think about the first time I read it.

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Health in a pandemic

I don’t want to be another link in the chain. I’m selfish, I don’t want to get COVID, I don’t want to deal with the after effects (if I live to tell the story), and I certainly don’t want to get others sick. My travel is limited to places I absolutely need to go. Unfortunately, that means I’m stuck doing research in a hospital setting, but I mask, wash my hands, and do everything I can to keep safe.

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Day 288: The things we do in the dark Part – 2

blackout

As with most mornings I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about, but my topic found me. He who controls the flow of information controls the narrative. Wars are won and lost by the control of public information. The government knows this, it is a tactic the government has used for decades and they are at it again.

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Day 287: Racism and our pale blue dot

pale blue dot

If I were to show you a map of the known universe the size of a large building, the spot marking earth and where this photo was taking would be overlapping. Feel small yet?

We don’t learn from our mistakes, the 1918 flu for example. We learned nothing from it and were doomed to repeat history when COVID-19 came around. Look at the news right now, any of this look vaguely familiar? It should, even in my lifetime we’ve seen this happen several times over, but nothing has changed. We refuse to learn.

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Day 286: On the militarization of police

Police violence

Photo from Slate

The US is under attack, not by some foreign power, but by the people tasked to protect us. The police have increasingly become more militarized and as such their power to incite violence has increased exponentially alongside its budget. Notice I said incite violence, not end violence.

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Day 280: A somber remembrance

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

“I swear I didn’t kill anyone” by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

Memorial day brings mixed feelings for me. It’s the inevitable culmination of militarism and hero worship. It’s a yearly reminder of my failures and losses. It’s a memorial for the civilians that are blind to the abuses of the military. It’s for those who greedily accept the most we can do is have mindless celebrations and for those who enjoy the egregious use of platitudes that punctuate the day. Well now, it’s time for some cold hard truth that you don’t want to hear.

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Day 238: Well spoke too soon…

USS Roosevelt Outbreak Navy Guam

USS Roosevelt Outbreak Navy Guam

Yesterday I gave an update on the USS Roosevelt situation. It was basically an update to the predictions I made about how the military was going to handle it and it turns out I was on point. Today is going to be a short post, but I guess there is more to add to the story so let’s just go ahead and get started.

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Day 237: Coronavirus and the military response – Part 3

USS Theodore Roosevelt

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Well it’s been ten days since I made my predictions about what would happen with the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and it looks like we have some updates so let’s see how close I was to guessing what was going to happen. Let me just start by saying, I hate it when I’m right about this stuff. Some of the things I predicted were longer term, but some of the shorter things we can compare.

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Day 227: Coronavirus and the military response – Part 2

USS Theodore Roosevelt

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Sometimes I hate it when I’m right. The military is as consistent as ever and we have some unfortunate updates today regarding the crew of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. It is about what I expected, even with the public looking in and I think we can break down the response and I’ll go ahead and make my prediction for what’s going to happen next, spoiler, it won’t be pretty.

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Day 226: Coronavirus and the military response

U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt

U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt

Well I got word yesterday that the coronavirus found its way onto an aircraft carrier. For anyone who’s never seen one in person, because the pictures don’t do it justice, these things are huge. Think floating cities with the crew size to match. Inside an aircraft carrier, there are roughly 3,000+ people who work, live, and maintain the ship. The one in question, the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has over 4,000 crew members and those are just the ones that need to be quarantined. This is bad for a lot of reasons. For those of you who haven’t served in the military, I’ll explain.

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The VA wants me dead, do you?

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I swear I didn't kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I swear I didn’t kill anyone by the incredibly talented Lora Zombie.

I hate writing about the VA, I really do. Unfortunately because I live here in the US where we think it’s our right to die from disease and have ludicrous amounts of medical debt for a sprained ankle, it’s a conversation we should have. Hello America, I served my country and now my country wants me dead. I sincerely wish I was exaggerating. Please hold your, “thank you for your service” for the end that way I can tell you to go fuck yourself. Let me explain…

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Day 151: Surgery at the VA, a runthrough

VA hospital

Nice and foggy today, look at that nasty roof! Got to love the VA (even though it looks more like a prison, which I guess it sort of is.

Now that I’m somewhat out of my anesthesia sickness (seriously not fun), I figured I would give a rundown on what having surgery through the VA looks like and some of the things you have to do pre-surgery to get ready. Since I’ve never had a surgery outside of the VA, it would be interesting to see how much of this applies to other hospitals, but I suspect that the answer would be not much.

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Day 144: Another day spent at the VA

VA hallway

An endless VA hallway, it feels like a metaphor for something… can’t quite put my finger on it.

It’s been an interesting few days, I’ve had several meetings with my PI and my Co-PI, I’ve got classes starting again, and I have a surprise experiment. However, I have something else coming up that I failed to mention, I’m also having surgery! Which means the inevitable jumping through hoops to get ready. Each VA seems to do things differently, so this will be a fun attempt at explaining how it works.

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Day 137: The reality of war

IwoJima

Fun fact, this is a staged photo. For an even more “fun” fact, you should learn about what happened to these people after the photo was taken and made popular.

Well, 2020 is off to an … interesting start. We have all of Australia burning, Indonesia flooding, and trump starting a war without congressional approval (that last one is a rather large crime fyi). So in typical american fashion, people are starting to fetishize war again. Of course these are the people who have never been to war, so as someone who has some experience on this, let’s talk war. It’s going to get messy so let’s just throw in a CW for combat talk.

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Day 133: The truth of VA healthcare

VA Hospital

I’m a disabled Marine veteran. From a TBI to my mental health, I’ve got some serious issues. Furthermore, with the rate of suicide among veterans ever increasing it may be odd to an outsider why this is happening. After all, the government provides us with free healthcare, why are so many of us dying, why are so many of us killing ourselves? The answer is sadly straightforward, although grim, so let’s talk healthcare as a veterans.

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Suicidal thinking and US veterans

Military sucide

Military sucide

Nearly 14 percent of Veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year VA study.
Image credit goes to: Michael Escalante

Something very personal about me, the thought of suicide is never too far behind. It is to the point that I need to qualify it to my counselor when I am asked if I have thoughts of suicide, I always do. A new study shows that I am far from alone Nearly 14 percent of military veterans reported suicidal thinking at one or both phases of a two-year Veterans Affairs (VA) study.

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The impact of military deployment on children

US Army's Third Infantry Divison deploys to Afghanistan for the final time

Being a military family is hard, it’s hard for the person serving (obviously) and if divorce rates are any indication, it is also hard on the spouse. While the added stress of deployment on a family cannot adequately be explained, even as someone who has seen it first hand, those stresses affect even the littlest members of the family. A new study reports that following military parents’ return from combat deployment, their children show increased visits for mental healthcare, physical injury, and child maltreatment consults, compared to children whose parents have not been deployed.

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The hidden neurological impact of explosions on military members

ied blast

More bad news for war Veterans, the brains of some Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and died later of other causes show a distinctive honeycomb pattern of broken and swollen nerve fibers throughout critical brain regions, including those that control executive function. The pattern is different from brain damage caused by car crashes, drug overdoses or collision sports, and may be the never-before-reported signature of blast injuries suffered by soldiers as far back as World War I.

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Soldiers and Suicide: A familiar tale

marine suicide

I know, Marine not soldier, but I really like the image. Photo credit goes to: USMC
Semper fi

As a Marine, there is a special place in my heart for all things military. While most protesters are busy arguing about the people who are dying overseas, there is an even more disheartening statistic — the suicide statistics of service members here at home. Suicide is an ugly word, so it’s no surprise that there is not a large movement fighting for better care and a new study done on soldiers doesn’t help.

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Alcohol Abuse and Combat in the Military

army

It’s no secret, I’m a proud Marine and combat veteran. So while searching for the latest and greatest science to write about I was surprised to come across a study on combat and alcohol abuse. Thinking I already knew the answer I almost didn’t bother to read it — when I did, the results were a little surprising and I wanted to share them.

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