Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt. 

Pull up a log, and have a seat, the bottle’s coming around.  This isn’t the post I expected to do this week, but an anthology I’m part of is getting attention again because it’s Christmas time, and that’s half of the tie-in for this particular collection. The second half is about people suffering from PTSD, and who, as the title suggests: Can’t Go Home Again.  You’ll find it here.

I have read many of the reviews of this book, (The real pros in the industry all tell us: “Never read the reviews. This is a great suggestion, and as the song says: It’s good advice, that you just can’t take. And isn’t it ironic?)  I will warn you; this is NOT light reading.  It gets dusty whenever I pick this book up, and I couldn’t read it all in one sitting.

This was the third short story I ever wrote and the easiest.  Cedar told me she was putting together an anthology (this one) and based on what she had read of my work, wondered if I would like to submit something. 

After reading the other works in this book, I felt humbled to even be considered in the same book as some of these folks.  I don’t have PTSD, but I have enough shipies, partners, and battle buddies that do, to understand it.  (of course, reflecting back as I write this, nearly everyone I know says they don’t have it, even those that do, so YMMV.)

What I do know is that PTSD is not a new thing.  It has existed for as long as there have been combat or near-death experiences.  It’s gone by different names through the years, it’s been called “Seeing the Elephant,” Cafard, Shell-shock, Battle-fatigue, and many other names.  No civilization I’ve ever heard of has completely evaded it.  Some reduced it greatly, and those that did, all did it in the same way.  They kept the unit together, and transitioned them slowly from the front lines to civilian street, with guys that have been there and done that helping them to transition.

What they haven’t done is take them from the front lines, send them “back to the world”, given them a one-week class on getting a job, and showed them the gate with a few pieces of paper in their hand, and the “thanks of a grateful nation.” (That usually isn’t, and doesn’t.)  

It’s even harder for the First Responders, they’re “in the world” already, and you’re expected to go from pulling some guy’s head and helmet out of the dually on a big-rig, (his body and his bike were 30 yards back) or getting shot at by a KID, or maybe pulling someone’s body out of a fire and having them die in your arms on the way out (The smell is the worst) to going home and playing with the kids, and shopping for Christmas, like flipping a switch. 

None of those things happen often, but I’ve experienced two of the three, and I know guys that have experienced all of these, some several times.  

One thing that does help is talking about it.  The trouble is that there’s a level of required trust, to do so.  No one that has been through the bad is going to talk about it to someone that they don’t trust completely.  Not the “I’m a therapist, you can trust me, everything said in this room is confidential” level of trust, but the “I’m good with him with a gun at my back, going through the door” level of trust.

This is one of the strengths of fraternal organizations.  They are a place where trust bonds are built to the point where people who have “been and done” feel safe enough to talk about it.

The internet and the computer age (among other things) are killing those organizations, as people just can’t be bothered to create a “tribe” in their town, because they can create an “internet tribe” that is even closer to their values and beliefs. 

It’s not the same.

Typing on a keyboard does not replace sitting around a campfire or in the corner of the lodge, with a whiskey in your hand, and talking about it.  

There are a few organizations that get it, and are helping…

To name just a few… Hey, I’m sure I missed most of them, feel free to post an organization you know of that does this sort of thing in the comments.  

And of course, there’s Amvets, American Legion, VFW, FOP, NAVETS, etc, but those are among the places that are really suffering from the loss of membership I was speaking of.  And as I mentioned, there’s even less coverage for the guys in uniform that aren’t military, many of whom suffer from just as much of the sorts of stress that gives some people PTSD as most vets do.  

Another truth is that folks (guys OR gals) that were in these lines of work often don’t seek help.  Why? Because while we claimed to have “destigmatized” mental health issues, we have state and federal agencies using a wonderful little form called the “NICS Indices Self-Submission Form” which states that “I have a mental-health condition that may cause me to be a danger to myself or others, or I lack the mental capacity adequately to contract or manage the details of my life.”  It waves your protection for privacy under the privacy act of 1974, it authorizes the disclosure of mental health records, it waves HIPPAA, and it forever waves your right to the second amendment according to the Washington Examiner.

The FBI, the Secret Service, ICE, and quite possibly the FUCKING VA are using this little form, and getting people who are in crisis to sign it. (they’re also using it as a “sign this and we will go away and not charge you with anything. Otherwise, this could become a federal case.) In addition, the “mandatory questions” for doctors, especially mental health doctors include “are there any firearms in your home?” Along with “Do you feel safe in your home?” and “Do you consider harming yourself?”  Now look, I fully understand that suicide by firearm is one of the leading ways for old white men (usually vets) to go out.  And that’s a damn shame.  

On the other hand, I also believe, as R.A. Heinlein said, “death is every man’s last right.” And that when you have decided, as a sane rational adult, that it’s time to go, you get that choice.

Sane and rational, well, that’s where we have a rubbing point. On the one hand, we have officers who are ‘swamp creatures’ (as in “drain the swamp”) that would like to declare anyone who owns a firearm as insane and irrational.  In fact, according to the CDC (you remember them, Fauci’s outfit?) over half of Americans have some sort of mental illness or disorder at one point in their lifetime, and over a quarter of US Adults Suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. (pardon me for saying this, but the idea that half of your population is mentally ill, is itself a sign that something is wrong with YOU, or with your definition of mental health, pick one.)

So you’re going to love this: This data comes from an investment rag I get called “The Daily Upside” which believe it or not, is pushing for folks to invest in “psychedelic therapy” yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.  LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms.  “Timmy Leary, Acid Green Courtesy Telephone please, Tim Leary, Green Telephone, please.”  This treatment is supposed to cure anything from major psychosis to halitosis, most specifically listing PTSD. 

It seems there is a large group of medical “professionals” that think half our nation should be prescribed “The Electric Koolaid Acid Test.” Now, let’s see, hmm, ATF form 4473 (the yellow card form for buying a firearm) Question 11, E, and F: 
Are you a user of or addicted to Marijuana, any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? 
Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective (which includes a determination by a court board, commission, or other lawful authority that you are a danger to yourself or to others, or are incompetent to manage your own affairs, or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?  (Do these questions sound familiar?) 

If you wonder why people who were in my line of work at one time, shy away from “medical health professionals” wonder no more!

While I’m on a roll discussing the military and first responders, I need to get something off my chest about this Griner person, and their being incarcerated for knowingly breaking Russian law, then being traded for the biggest Arms Merchant to the Fanatical and Anti-Western Community.  

First, let’s look at who we traded away, Alex: Viktor Bout, the “Lord of War” now well aware (it came out in court) of how we caught up to him last time: Arms dealer of choice to various African “people’s liberation fronts” including: Abdallah Azzam Brigades, Abu Sayyaf Group, through al-Qa`ida (and all its subsidiaries), through Boko Haram, all the way to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and every one of the alphabet in between.  During the sting operation in Thailand, Bout told the informants “That he had been fighting the U.S. for about 15 years and that the U.S. is an enemy,” Maltz (the Senior officer in charge of the bust) recalled. “He was very eager and anxious to carry out this arms deal to kill Americans.”  Note, this arms deal included 800 surface-to-air missiles and millions of dollars in other things that go bang in the night.  This guy is a major threat.  He’s also one of Putin’s great friends, and this sends (for Russian internal consumption) the message that “I, Vladimir, take care of my friends, and I can own that stupid old fuck in the White House any day of the week.  No matter what happens to you, I got your back, be patient, I’ll get you out!”   Not a message we want to send.

Here’s my problem with who we got back in exchange:

According to Forbes, there are 40,000 motherfukas currently doing time for marijuana offenses in the USA(or were when it was written).

According to the ACLU (whose numbers I would take with a grain of salt, but this was a 5-second surface dive) there were 8,200,000 arrests between 2001 and 2010 for Pot, 88% were simple possession. so that comes out to 7,216,000 people fined, or incarcerated for pot.

Now the argument has been made that most of these folks are incarcerated by state government charges, so it’s not on Biden… Irrelevant, in this case, government is government.  If the Federal government would remove the criminal charges for marijuana, the states would have nothing to do with charging on it.  

They charge because it’s a federal narcotic, and they (most state governments) haven’t yet gotten up the cajones to legalize something the feds say is illegal (most state laws read something to the effect of: Possession of a federally recognized Schedule 1 Narcotic. Make it not a federal narcotic, crime go bye-bye.)   Beyond that, most of you know my employment history.  My former employers are still firing and arresting/incarcerating civilian employees and uniformed members for failing Pee Pee tests, then sending them out of service with either a “fired from the federal government” or OTH discharge.  Both of these make getting another gig a brass-clad bitch.

Did they (the sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, and civil servants) know they were breaking federal law? YES.  BUT did Griner realize she was breaking Russian law? also YES.

I do not now, nor did I ever, support double standards from government, or management.

There is no reason to mollycoddle some person because they happen to have a couple of victim tag tickets punched, are a celebrity with all the “right-thinking people”(which is to say far left thinking) supporting them, while putting others in military prison, or any other type of prison.  

Either pot’s fine, and we need to quit locking people up, taking away their career, and giving them criminal records for it, or pot is still bad, and trading Putin’s best buddy for some lesbian black girl because she’s a basketball star was the worst trade since we got Manhattan for a bunch of beads and some knives.  

Meanwhile, a retired US Marine, Paul Whelan, who was in Russia for business got thrown in Lubyanka for espionage four years ago.  That’s about the time I went over to Russia as a tourist.  I don’t know what he did that gave them a chance to arrest him, but I do know that my wife and I were briefed thoroughly that something as simple as buying something from a street vendor with American Dollars would get us thrown in prison for espionage.  It was made quite clear that we were not even to have US dollars in our possession, on the streets of Russia, just to ensure that we didn’t come afoul of this little trap.  Guess what, at least 20 people insisted on selling only for American Dollars.  One guy, a street artist, drew me without asking and then wanted US Dollars for the work.  When I told him I had no US dollars, after several insistence that I did, he gave me the picture for free, rather than take Russian rubles. 

Whelan is still rotting in prison.  Griner is getting special medical attention, psychological help, therapy, etc. all on the taxpayer’s dime.  This is the same person that said “I’m going to protest regardless; I’m not going to be out there for the National Anthem. If the league continues to want to play it, that’s fine. It will be all season long; I’ll not be out there. I feel like more are going to probably do the same thing. I can only speak for myself.”

Take care, watch your six, 
Until next time I remain,
Yours in service.
William Lehman.


  1. So, about Mr Whelan. Looking I to his bio, he got the Big Chicken Dinner after being court-martialed for “attempted larceny, three specifications of dereliction of duty, making a false official statement, wrongfully using another’s social security number, and ten specifications of making and uttering[a] checks without having sufficient funds in his account for payment.” Also busted from E6 to E4, and 60 days restriction. So he’s most definitely not a “retired Marine”, and I think most Marines would take offense if you called him one of them.

    From what I can tell, he tried to freestyle an intelligence op, got played, and was scooped up to be a bargaining chip. Given who the Russians want to trade for him, well…it doesn’t look realistic. I keep thinking we need to return the favor. Maybe an ambassador’s daughter…

  2. OK, this is on me for not doing a deep enough dive into my sources. I had missed the whole manner of discharge until after I posted when another reader called me on it. As to Marines taking offense at claiming him, to the best of my knowledge the only three Marines the corps will not admit to are Lee Oswald, Clayton Lonetree, and John Murtha, but I’ll check with my son-in-law to make sure of that. Having experienced Russian hospitality firsthand, I don’t think he had actually tried an intel op, but I might be wrong.

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