Episodes and blog posts

New episode on blast pressure caused by crew served weapons! Upcoming – Tom Englehardt and our second live stream!!

Our new episode covers a new report which connects use of crew served weapons (50 Cal’s, mortars, and the like) to blast pressure damage to troops’ brains, much in the same way NFL players do from routine hits.  For a generation at perpetual war and already to the gills with traumatic brain injuries, how do we deal with everyday damage caused by our own equipment?!

Brand new from Danny at Anti-war.com“Unwarranted Hysteria: The Iranian Threat Is Inflated and Regional War Would Be a Disaster”  I think the title speaks for itself.

Next Friday, I jump head first into recent turmoil at the VA, still without a secretary after seven weeks while Danny discusses recent developments in North Korea and Iraq, where Muqtada Al Sadr has returned with a political vengeance.

I will probably make a live video in the next 48 on Robert Wilkie’s choice to sign a new $10b contract with Cerner for VA’s new computer system.  More contractors get taxpayer money and veterans get the short end of the deal again!!

Tom Englehardt, founder and editor of TomDispatch will be joining us to discuss his new book, “A Nation Unmade By War.”


And last, but certainly not least, we’re hosting our second live stream on Facebook!!  Here is a link to the event.  Please join us, ask questions, call in and chat with us, and share your thoughts about the podcast and our nation’s addiction to war.

For $5+ Patreon contributors, both new episodes will be available in the next 24 hours!  No waiting!! $5+ Patreon contributors get all this and more for helping us keep podcasting.  Please consider becoming a contributor and help us keep making the content you love!!! FOH on Patreon

Oh, and the quote ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’ wasn’t Plato, as I was told.  It was George Santayana. Not so flashy now.

Have a great week guys!!

Henri


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Ep 12.0 – Veterans ‘under pressure’ – Blast pressure, water contamination, and Afghanistan

I’ve fired around a half dozen belt fed weapons systems during my time in service; some bigger and louder than others, and all of them a kick ass way to spend an afternoon.  Well, that is until you realize the effects of firing them over a longer period of time. It’s not just loud noise or dangerous, hot metal. I remember spending an entire day working as a lane safety for a .50 cal machine gun range.  I stood less than three feet from a firing heavy machine gun all day, burning my hands as I changed the barrels when they became too hot despite using a specially designed heat mitten. At a certain point of temperature, it doesn’t matter anymore.  Glove or not, you’re getting burned. I remember I set a hot barrel a bit too close to the side of my foot while it was cooling and the damn barrel burned my foot through my boot.

This is part and parcel the Army’s (and I’m assuming the Marine Corps as well) main area of training.  We’d spent hundred of hours a year on a variety of ranges and not just when we were the ones firing.  It takes dozens of people to run most ranges, so in the lovely mist that is Fort Lewis in the winter and spring, your entire platoon would be spend whole days at the range, near these loud and dangerous devices.  But what if that was enough to hurt you? I was already told as long as we had proper eye and ear protection, we were golden. The truth is much darker.

00:45 – Blast pressure report on heavy use of crew served weapons

11:40 – Afghanistan update from recent SIGAR report

22:32 – Water contamination at 126 DOD sites

In Vets, Even Mild Case of TBI Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia – Karen Kaplan – Los Angeles Times

Gunners Using Shoulder-Borne Heavy Weapons at Risk for Brain Damage – Stars and Stripes – Wyatt Olson

Update to last week’s post on suicide and combat guilt – Matthew Hoh

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) quarterly report to Congress – 4-30-18

DoD: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects – Military Times – Tara Copp

Ranks of Notorious Hate Group Include Active-Duty Military – Propublica


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Ep 11.5 – Africa on fire and too many military brats

As a prolific news junkie, there are some stories that I’m tired of reading about and the Niger investigation has become one of those stories.  Not because the news about Niger is especially horrible or specifically newsworthy, or because we’re seeing more and more expansion by AFRICOM into new corners of Africa; obviously, both those things are true.  My frustration with this is because of the fallout people connected to this news must live through.

The families of these soldiers deserve to fully understand how their loved ones died and what reason the US government says is the prevailing rationality for these soldiers to be in Africa at all.  But the lies and subterfuge continue, most recently in attempting to largely lay the blame of the ambush on the soldiers who died. And I expect more from our military leadership; I shouldn’t, but I do.  These men died being told they were serving their country, but all I see here is lies and propaganda.

Here, Danny and I break down recent headlines out of Africa and discusses the immense number of military members who have family that served.  You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, but for diversity of thought and experience, it’s really important.

00:50 – Danger pay for areas in AFRICOM, new base in Somalia and updates on the Niger ambush

18:06 – Vice chief comments on the US military becoming a caste onto itself through multi generation service

DoD approves danger pay for Niger, Mali, Cameroon – Tara Copp – Military Times

EXCLUSIVE: MASSIVE MILITARY BASE BUILDUP SUGGESTS THE U.S. SHADOW WAR IN SOMALIA IS ONLY GETTING BIGGER – Christina Goldbaum – Vice News

Military Leaders Sent Them On A Hasty, Ill-Planned Mission — And Are Now Blaming Them – Paul Szoldra – Task and Purpose


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, Gage Counts, and Bashir!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Ep 11.0 – ‘Bad paper’ discharges with Tyson Manker

Being honorably discharged from the military is the reality most veterans face.  They receive all benefits from their time in service and help from the VA with healthcare and other significant issues.  To me, it’s always been a given.  I served my country and for that, I receive these services. But what if you had to leave the military and receive NONE of those benefits?  This would make sense if someone was court martialed or committed a high offense in some way during their service, but how about someone who doesn’t? Would it make sense to give a lifetime of punishment to a person who commits a minor offense and yet loses all access to assistance from the VA and otherwise?

Here is my interview with Tyson Manker, Marine Corps combat veteran who participated in the invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and following his deployment, he smoked weed in an attempt to deal with PTSD symptoms that he didn’t even recognize yet.  In return, he was chaptered from the USMC and received a less than honorable discharge. Here is his story.

Underserved – Swords to Plowshares

Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016

Hagel Memo

Advocates: Fairness for Veterans Act is only 1 step in fight against ‘bad paper’ discharges – Nikki Wentling – Stars and Stripes


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, Gage Counts, and Bashir!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Ep 10.5 – Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers are a divided and dense topic.  Bringing up Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning generally invites conflict, especially for those who work in national security.  However, our government has worked hard to keep secrets while its citizens are kept in the dark.  So, often times, whistleblowers are the only remedy to bring these facts into the light.

Barack Obama was supposed to be the most transparent president in our history, but instead became the exact opposite: a president who set the record for most people charged under the Espionage Act.  With these ideas in mind, Danny and I present our breakdown on whistleblowers.

00:40 – Whistleblowers


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Ep 10.0 – John Bolton and deported veterans

Wow, these last few weeks have had so much news for Danny and I to comb through.  The gas attack in Douma and our government’s response, John Bolton becoming national security adviser, the killing of Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip, and a whole host of other major stories.  Here’s the Fortress breakdown of recent events.  Our whistleblower episode aires a week from today on the 20th, so keep an eye out for that.

00:40 – Danny’s quick takes on tons of shit – John Bolton, Trump says leave Syria, killing protestors in Gaza

10:15 – Hector Barajas and the Deported veterans support house

18:35 – Pentagon raises budget more than the entire military budget of Russia

24:36 – Imprisoned veterans in Kuwait

Ep 5.0 – Gold Star Families be damned (has story on the return of Marco Chavez from Mexico following his pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown)

Ep 8.0 – Africa under the microscope (has story on the closing of USCIS offices near Army basic training locations, making it much more difficult for military recruits to become naturalized.)

ACLU Report details how the US failed deported veterans

Twice-Deployed Afghan War Vet Denied Citizenship Due To Felony Drug Conviction – MANYA BRACHEAR PASHMAN – CHICAGO TRIBUNE

11,800 active military members have a relative in fear of deportation – Lara Copp – Military Times

The Army Is Testing A Mechanical ‘Third Arm’ Right Out Of ‘Aliens’ – Jared Keller – Task and Purpose

She fought in Desert Storm, now the Kuwaitis are torturing her son and the US won’t intervene – Adam Linehan – Task and Purpose

Killeen woman fights to free fiance from Kuwait prison sentence – Josh Sullivan – Killeen Daily Journal

The Pentagon’s spending increase is more than Russia’s entire military budget – Vice News – David Gilbert


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Four generations of service

This post previously appeared on Patreon, but given the subject, I wanted to share it with everyone.  Enjoy!!


When I was a kindergartener, my Grandpa Ray came with me to school to talk about his service in the Marine Corps.  I remember beaming as I held the case for his Purple Heart and showed the contents to my classmates. This happened to occur during Operation Desert Storm and in continuing with the military kick my class was running, we sent letters and care packages to a soldier who was deployed to Kuwait.  

It didn’t occur to me until much later in my life how big an impact these early exposures to the military had in my life.  But then again, military service was never far from my life. Let’s begin with four generations. Four generations of military service.  My great grandfather Plum served in WWI. I don’t know much about him, aside from a single photograph I’ve seen taken in his uniform. Then, came my Grandpa Ray.  Ever still the Marine staff sergeant. He survived Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Tennessee, deployed later to the Marshall Islands, and then after moving to the reserves, Grandpa did a tour in Korea.  To say that he was an example of the toughness embedded into the military would be a gross understatement. Grandpa gave me hair cuts for as long as I can remember, including taking me to get my first hair cut at his favorite barber shop.  If I visited his house with my hair too long, down to the basement ‘barber shop’ we went. He also walked me to school on my first day of kindergarten and taught me to fish.

Following my Grandpa Ray came my Pop, which was what I called my maternal grandfather.  He served in the 50’s in the Army; did a tour in Ethiopia. He told me many stories about taking a Thompson machine gun and a 1911 to go hunting there in country.  I don’t recall the animals he brought back, but I do remember him having a gay ‘ol time shooting a 1911 at seagulls on the beach. Like me visiting Iraq, I saw in my Pop a man who observed how much better ordinary life was back in the US compared to Ethiopia, and this is a man who had nine sisters and two brothers; he knew what it meant to share space.

My Grandpa William (Grandpa Bill to us) also served in the Army, but I don’t know much about his service.  More to come on that.

Next came my Uncle Dan, who did stints in the Active Air Force and the Air Guard in the late 70’s through the early 80’s.  I really don’t know a whole lot about his time in service, other than a nasty knee injury he received.  Like me, he’s spent time submitting claims for his injuries and hoping the VA would get on the ball a bit.  I sense in him a lot of me: hard working and decent, someone who’s not afraid to call out things as he sees them.

 And coming in last but not least is the asshat writing this, having served two tours in Iraq and my brother Andrew, who recently finished six years as a nuclear machinist mate in the Navy.    

But back to Grandpa.  The medals he received in WWII and Korea were hung in a special place down in his basement,  I remember feeling the raised head of General Washington between my fingers as I held his Purple Heart (he actually received two; one came much later.)  It wasn’t until almost a full twenty years later that I understood the particulars of getting a Purple Heart and how significant it was that my Grandpa earned one and lived to tell the tale.  

This brings me to yesterday.  I don’t call my grandparents nearly often enough, but I did yesterday.  I do my best to keep Grandma apprised of my health. I chatted with Grandma like usual: how’s everyone doing on both sides of the phone, share with her how her great grandsons are refusing to cease growing like weeds, and so forth.  I then got on the phone with Grandpa. Grandpa is a pretty brief talker, so usually a solid two to three minutes and we’re all caught up. But last night, he asked me something about my service that had really upset him. Something I’d considered many times, but never discussed outloud with him.

Grandpa asked me if a rumor he heard was true.  He asked if servicemembers were receiving medals for no reason.  And well…it’s absolutely true. Awards like the Bronze Star were not given lightly back in Grandpa’s day, mostly going to men who had already been killed in action; not exactly an award seeking demographic.  Now, in today’s Army (and to a certain extent the other branches) awards are given for all manner of things, but most awards received are not for bravery or valor. You get a medal for so many years of service.  You get a medal for every deployment, generally regardless of what you did there. I’m not trying to be glib about it; they really give them out sometimes for nothing. The senior leadership of my MP company (E7 and above) all received Bronze Stars for their deployment to Iraq.  E6 and below received Army Commendation medals. Now, those senior leaders may have worked incredibly hard on that deployment, but does that mean that their rubber stamp award for 15 months in Iraq should equal what my grandfather received for valor in WWII?

I’ve seen a few videos and articles about how award hungry today’s military has become, being more focused on good evaluations and not necessarily doing the job well or even correctly.  Part of this debate is lost in the semanics of award giving, but I think for a group of institutions which supposedly value history and honor, a honest look at how they dole out awards needs to be considered.  I don’t think all military awards are bad and certainly there are many deeds committed by servicemembers worthy of praise and admiration. But when the admiration goes to the shiny trickets that you wear on your chest rather than the actions that gave you said trinket in the first place, it’s time to write a new rule book.


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

Soundcloud – Fortress On A Hill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Dorkfest Reprise: Danny’s Weekly Reading

Hey FoH listeners,

This week I tore thru two awesome books:

Destroying Yemen: What Chaos in Arabia Tells us About the World

This excellent, slim volume describes the concerted effort by foreign powers and regional players (like the Saudis) to destroy Yemen, control its resources, and force its citizens to become pawns of the global capitalist order.  This book demonstrates how this process is an old one, dating back to at least 1962 and Yemen’s first civil war.  In that sense, the current U.S.-backed, Saudi terror bombing of Yemen is but one chapter in a sad, continuous tale.

And, The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End

This work shows how peace didn’t actually take hold on 11 November 1918 (the original Armistice or Memorial Day), at least not beyond France and the Western Front.  Rather, ethno-sectarian conflict broke out across the Middle East, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe.  Furthermore, this book shows how the artificial decisions and boundaries drawn by the Great Powers set up many of the world’s worst conflicts today.  As the author demonstrates, much of the world’s tumult stems from WWI or the decisions made in its aftermath.

Check them out!

Danny

Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

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Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.