Veteran’s Day 2013

I am enjoying this Veteran’s Day by spending my time with my wife, son, and friends. Those who I fight for. We don’t fight because we hate what’s in front of us. We fight because we love what’s behind us. Please support us and stand by us. If that’s not your thing, by all means, try to stand in front of us. Woe betide the wolf when I stand guard at the door.

I am not yet a veteran. As I am still active duty, I am more like a veteran in training. I chose to forego any of the free stuff, so that a vet in need might be able to take my spot.

Mrs. Snipe can testify that I usually get very emotional on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. Many of the vets that shaped my life have passed on. Some relatives, some teachers, all men of honor. Just last week, my Naval Science Instructor from high school passed away. Yet another name to add to my personal honor roll. A Vietnam vet and true renaissance man. He was one of the many reasons I chose to join the Navy.

Today, we chose to enjoy the freedoms that previous generations of vets have earned for us. We went to the park. We passed a football. We hiked. We had a discussion about veterans with Pocket Monkey’s favorite accomplice, whose parents are both vets.

Always remember. Someone’s son or daughter earned the freedoms that you enjoy today. As previously stated, a large chunk of my family tree and blog roll are veterans. Some left parts and pieces behind. Some still have night terrors. Some came out OK. We owe them all an immeasurable debt.

I encourage you to find a vet and buy them a sandwich or a coffee. It is a small gesture, but still appreciated. I never know what to say when someone thanks me for my service when I am wearing a military hat. I imagine most vets find themselves in a similar boat.

Please don’t let their sacrifice be for naught. Use and cherish your freedoms. Never be too busy to remember.

That is all. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day.

Strong Men and Strong Legacies

A couple years back, two veterans that are very near to my heart passed on. One was my paternal grandfather. The other was one of his good friends. These are men that would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. They would be at your house in a hot minute if you suddenly needed a friend. During the course of a Facebook conversation bemoaning their loss, my brother made an excellent point. It is our job to be those men for the next generation. My Dad is now Grandpa Snipe. I am now Uncle Snipe. It is our job to give the same care to the next generation that our forbearers gave to us. Take the lessons we learned, and pass them down. Such is life. If ever you look back and think about the good old days, bring those days forward. Teach the young ones how to ride well, shoot straight, and speak the truth.

I realized one day that I am a rare creature. I have been in the US Navy since before 9/11. There are very few of us left in today’s US Navy. One day, God willing, I will be the old guy that kids look up to with awe. I want to be worthy of the legacy of Grandpa and his buddy. I want to eventually be the worn out old man at the parade doing his level best to stand up in the presence of the National Ensign. I want to be known for helping others and supporting other vets. I want my legacy to be such that my future grandson and his friends view me with the same awe and respect that I viewed my Grandpa and his friends with.

Every man has a season on this earth. I want my season to be worthy of comment. If no one is mourning when I pass, then I have failed. I want to touch lives, even if it is in the smallest way. I want to live my life in such a way that even my exes show up at my funeral. My Dad’s ex wife showed up at Grandpa’s funeral. That must be the surest testament to a man’s character ever. In short, I want to be like my Grandpa. I want the whole town to know when I pass.

That is all. Fall out, and carry out the plan of the day.

Pocket Monkey Weighs In

Pocket Monkey will be my ghost writer for a part of this post. Today was an awesome day. My class had a concert for the veteran’s. Dad wore his Navy Service Uniform because Mom said so. He has a lot of ribbons. He had wanted to wear his dress blues but Mom said no. My concert had four classes of second/third graders. First, we paraded the colors, using a few Cub Scouts from a different pack than mine. Then, we started singing various patriotic songs. During the Armed Forces Medley, all vets and active service members were encouraged to stand during their respective song. The Navy Commander sitting next to Dad didn’t stand up until Dad did during “Anchors Aweigh”. When I was practicing, I got the Army Song stuck in Dad’s head, ha-ha. He was not amused. Snipe comments: My retired Coastie buddy admitted to me after the concert that he didn’t recognize his service’s song. Seeing a bunch of elementary school kids singing patriotic songs was beautiful. The songs included such hits as: 50 Nifty United States, Lights of Freedom, Grand Old Flag, and the Armed Forces Medley. PM is right, the CDR sitting next to me didn’t seem like he wanted to stand up at first. There were a ton of sailors, a couple of Air Force Vets, and a couple of Marine vets. I didn’t personally notice any Army vets. It seems like I was the only active duty E-6 and junior there. I counted several officers and a couple of Chief Petty Officers. A couple of guys wore their cammies. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that for an event like that, the Navy Service Uniform should be the bare minimum. Cammies are for work and brief stops.

That is all. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day.

Veteran’s Affairs

No sailor stands watch alone. Whether you are a snipe or a top rider, you have support while you are on watch. A top watch to guide you and answer the random WTFs you are bound to encounter on watch. When you retire, or just plain leave, it may seem that you no longer have that support system. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I am here. It is my duty to support you. Whether you served for 10 minutes or 10 years, you are my brother in arms. You are my battle buddy. I have learned from your mistakes and triumphs. The least I can do is give you a shoulder to cry on, or a good old bitch session.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) is big news these days. Some former sailors/soldiers feel that it is weakness to seek help. I call bull. General Order Number 9 instructs us to call the Officer of the Deck in any case not covered by instructions. Calling for help is not weakness. It shows maturity and good judgment.

If you feel that the darkness is closing in, call me. Call one of the many like me. We are here for you. I have the utmost respect for any veteran, from any service. Any help I can give to you is yours to have. You have taught me many lessons. Some good and some ridiculous. A problem is 10 times worse if it is hidden.

This post is meant to bring awareness to PTSD. You don’t have to be military to help. Ask the hard questions. Provide the needed support. Know a resource or two. Don’t be afraid to get a vet the help they need. If all else fails, remember ACT. Ask, Care, Treat. It works for suicidal intentions and PTSD.

I have seen it in the war vets in my family. From WW2 to Vietnam, the problem was just under the surface. Nobody asked. It was understood that certain subjects were taboo. Would talking about it help? No one can really know. At my brother’s wedding, we had several generations of combat vets. From Vietnam to present. We all had our own nightmares. We also had our own funny stories. Whether it was grown men fighting over cans of beans and weenies, or almost using an M-16 in lieu of a pellet gun for birds on the flight deck, we had stories. Let me tell you, a Grandpa and his grandsons laughing over some ridiculous war time situations is awesome. Some things haven’t changed in 50 years.

Even if you aren’t kin to a veteran, you can still get some awesome sea stories. Just ask. Support the American Legion, FRA, and VFW. By supporting them, you support veterans of all stripes. Remember what these men did for you and yours. There but for he grace of God go you.

That is all. Fall out and carry out the plan of the day.