Ep 12.5 – Military intelligence indeed! – the intelligence community

America has many three letter agencies that perform a variety of tasks.  Law enforcement, tax collection, firearms investigations, customs and border security, and so forth.  Today, Danny and I discuss our intelligence community, and when we say ‘intelligence community, we mean the SEVENTEEN intelligence agencies that perform intelligence missions of all sorts.  Somehow, we have seventeen of them.  But what does the public know about their ongoing mission?  How does their presence on college campuses and film sets impact the views of the military for the average American?  What role has torture played in the intelligence community and how does it affect the intelligence we receive, seventeen years after 9/11?  With this is mind, Danny and I present our breakdown of the intelligence community.  Enjoy!!!

00:40 – The intelligence community

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

SPY UNIVERSITY: HOW INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES RECRUIT THEIR NEXT GENERATION – Radio WhoWhatWhy – Interview with Daniel Golden

The most militarized universities in America – Vice News

ClandesTime 032 – Iron Man and The Rocketeer

Covert operations: How the CIA works with Hollywood – The Listening Post – Al-Jazeera

As “Black Hawk Down” Director Ridley Scott Is Nominated for An Oscar, An Actor in the Film speaks Out Against Its Pro-War Message – Democracy Now

The Killing of Osama bin Laden – Seymour M. Hersh – London Review of Books


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!!!

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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.

New episode on blast pressure caused by crew served weapons! Upcoming – Tom Engelhardt 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 Engelhardt, 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!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

Twitter – Fortress On A Hill

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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

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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 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

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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 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

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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 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.

What A Hell Of A Way To Die and toxic veterans

One of my favorite military podcasts is What A Hell Of A Way To Die.  Its hosts, Nate and Francis, are both Army combat veterans and they take their views to the news with a both an intellectual and social mind set.  Recently, they did a episode on toxic veterans, and it intrigued me as I had an idea of the demographic they described. However, they brought out a lot of interesting points on the subject I didn’t expect and really got my wheels spinning on this.

For simplicity’s sake in this discussion, toxic veterans are veterans who bring the worst elements of the military lifestyle back to civilian life with them.  They are usually overly aggressive in a lot of ways, maybe attempt to drink and smoke like they did in service, and have a general dislike and distaste for anything too far from what they asserted was normal life as a servicemember.  Now, there may other factors in describing a veteran as ‘toxic,’ but for my purposes, this definition will do.

Does the veteran talk down to almost anyone who isn’t a veteran?  Does the veteran cover themselves in the mounds of veteran themed clothing, textually indicating their status as said veteran and mention it to anyone who has ears?  Does the veteran regard men who aren’t veterans as cowards or pussies? Does the veteran verbally downgrade the veteran status of those who have opinions they don’t agree with?  And most importantly, does the veteran diminish the self worth of others who didn’t serve as they did or talk down to them because military service becomes a criteria for personal self worth?

‘What makes the green grass grow?  BLOOD, BLOOD, BRIGHT RED BLOOD DRILL SERGEANT!!’  I used to say this in basic training. Get the idea?  So, it’s fairly simple to point out one of these guys and their slanted viewpoint on military service, as their favorite hobby is using their opinions as a cudgel to browbeat anyone who might listen.  And I’m not saying that servicemembers don’t learn great things or have amazing experiences, but with a huge centralized amount of male testosterone and activities which live off of that same testosterone (throwing a live grenade was fun), it pushes male servicemembers to embrace and hang onto the most aggressive parts of themselves.  But, when servicemembers return to society, did the military teach them to revert a bit, dial back those aggressive actions or thoughts when they got home? Or even to understand the process and the massive changes they went through as people? The military requires hard violent work, done quickly and concisely, so in a sense they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they attempted to help servicemembers work on being less aggressive.  

The military is a place where bigotry, sexism, and toxic masculinity can be rampant in different ways.  The Marines United investigation and those like it paint a terrifying picture for some women in the Marine Corps, and that idea stands true across all the branches, obviously to different degrees.  The election of our new president brought forth a whole host of bigoted people, empowered by their slight perceived elevation in social status (remember the Navy Seals with the Trump/Pence flag?!) And those are just the recent additions to the complexity that is military service.  The point is that for people of color, LBGTQ people, and really anyone who doesn’t agree with the mass of alpha males around, your life in the military could be really horrifying. I say could, because everyone’s experience is different. A person could experience none of these circumstances, some of them, or all of them.  

Now, let’s back up just a second in talking about this group of males.  People generally come into the Army at a very young age. I spent my 19th birthday getting my security pass at the Pentagon and my 20th birthday in Kuwait, preparing to drive north into Iraq.  I had to learn and adapt to so many different leaders and missions in such a short time; I say absolutely without reservation that my time in the Army had a huge impact on the person I became, and I think most veterans who joined at a young age have had a similar experience.  That being said, when formative years of your youth have been spent doing a particular activity, how do you separate yourself and your identity from those elements? And when those elements, whether veterans want to admit it or not include death and destruction, how do veterans react when those elements inconveniently show up at home?

Now, I don’t want to fall into the easy trap of saying all men in the military fit this description.  People are too quick to add stereotypes, especially when it comes to military service. Remember, only around 1% of Americans will ever serve in the military, so the pool of common knowledge on what it’s really like to serve is already quite small.  But I do think male veterans need to honestly examine their service and the environment it happened in when bringing forth habits and patterns from that time. Do the Mat Best’s of the US see themselves as part of the whole in terms of US veterans’ visibility and reputation or do they simply care about making videos filled with guns and tits?  And this is where toxic masculinity comes into play.

Now, I don’t know Mat Best personally and haven’t watched any of his videos in some time, but I continue to pass them on my way to other videos, so I know he’s still active.  He run a company called Black Rifle Coffee Company and is involved with a lot of other veteran enterprises. His profile on Black Rock’s website says that he makes ‘satirical videos.’  And I’d agree that his videos are definitely satire; I never saw them as anything else. But his satire requires a commitment to the idea of being a ‘professional veteran,’ that veterans stereotypically own big arsenals, are committed to violence and supportive of military interventions overseas; essentially, Mat must ‘own’ parts of the toxic veteran climate for his videos to have an honest satirical view.  If the violence, sexism, and desire to stomp on liberals’ feelings had no connection to truth, why would we find it funny? While they are satire, they definitely target liberals, people who don’t or won’t own guns, and other groups who fit their chosen targeting. It’s that idea that Mat sublets of the ‘pussy liberal.’ I mean, can it really be ‘satire’ if the guy making the videos sells coffee called Black Rifle Coffee?  Where does Mat’s connections to those stereotypes start and where do they end? Mat is a former Army Ranger who did contracting work with the CIA following his enlistment, so making satirical videos that espouse the worst stereotypes of veterans and people on the left who criticize them isn’t an exercise in satire for Mat; it’s a documentary of reality, only slightly funnier.

And here is my point.  People look for social clues in becoming acclimated to belonging to one group or another and veterans are no different.  The word ‘Hajj’ is a good example. Its definition is a practicing Muslim who has taken the pilgrimage to Mecca. Now, during my time in service, guys I served with used ‘Hajj’, ‘Haji’, and a whole host of variations in referring to ordinary people we met in Iraq, and at times, I was one of those guys.  ‘Man, that Haji was an asshole!’ And the truth is, using that word in this context is a slur against Arab and Persian people, no different than someone referring to a person they believe to Christian as a ‘Bible thumper.’ And given the nature of the word’s real definition, it’s a pretty fucked up slur when you really think about it.  So, I used it in service and never gave it another thought until years later.

It’s that right there; that continuation without consideration.  This is the kind of apathy that brings bad ideas into social groups as people continue doing what they’ve always done until they have a good enough reason to stop, and given the fast paced nature of military service, why wouldn’t something like that breed like wildfire?   Mat Best didn’t create these stereotypes; he simply makes videos about them. But is there any consideration?

So, is Mat Best a ‘toxic veteran,’ at least in my definition of it?  Hardly. Mat seems to be an intelligent and perceptive individual and his videos are genuinely entertaining; and the one thing we definitely agree on is the overreaction to certain things by different groups.  If an entire conversation can be derailed because someone used the wrong word or phrase to describe something (illegal immigrant vs undocumented comes to mind,), why do you continue to have conversations with those persons if you feel that’s the price of admission?  I’m sure Ben Shapiro makes a pretty penny on selling ‘Liberal Tears.’ My only real question is if someone like Mat Best does give consideration to the stereotypes he supports. I did notice one article from Adam Linehan at Task and Purpose titled “10 questions only a veteran would ask Mat Best.”  And there was this gem: 4. Finish this sentence: you shouldn’t join the military if…You’re a pussy. We need some more red-blooded Americans who aren’t pussies to join the military.”

Needless to say, I didn’t see any questions that were quite revealing, and granted, this wasn’t an in-depth breakdown of all things Mat Best; however, I didn’t expect to find a question quite so on the nose for my blog, but hey, shit happens.  But this is the exact kind of mindless rant some people expect from veterans. I’d like people to see veterans in a more diversified light and I’d like veterans to attempt a bit of consideration when they deal with civilians. Whether that ever happens isn’t the question here; it’s whether or not people even try.


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

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
The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson

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

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 9.0 – Interview with Iona Craig at the Intercept – Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of our in-depth interview with Iona Craig of The Intercept on all things Yemen.  Thanks to Iona for taking so much time to talk with us and sitting in on some of our headlines.

We also dig into the recent news involving denied claims for veterans and family members who were poisoned by drinking contaminated water at Camp Lejuene.  This is a far reaching issue, as anyone who lived or worked on or near Camp Lejuene could possibly get diseases, including a variety of cancers.  If you happen to have served or lived in that area, please click the link below for the VA’s website dedicated to this issue.  There’s also the matter of current servicemembers being forced to use and drink contaminated water (looking at you, Quantico!!)

00:41 – Danny attend West Point panel with Col (ret.) Andrew Basevich on the Global War on Terror

14:38 – Former marine fighting for coverage from Camp Lejuene exposures

29:16 – Current status with our ‘frenemy’ Turkey / how Turkish citizens see Americans

39:24 – Interview with Iona Craig of the Intercept – Part 2

1:15:10 – Five min rant – military parade on Veteran’s Day

IONA CRAIG WON A POLK AWARD FOR HER INVESTIGATION OF A SEAL TEAM RAID THAT KILLED WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN YEMEN. HERE’S HOW SHE DID IT. – The Intercept – Peter Maass

Death in al Ghayil (Women and Children in Yemeni village recall horror of Trump’s “highly successful” SEAL raid)- Iona Craig – The Intercept

VA whistleblower: Veterans poisoned at Camp Lejeune need Trump’s help getting care – Washington Examiner – Scott Davis

Former Marine from West Penn Twp. in a battle for justice in cancer fight – The Standard Speaker – Jill Whalen

Benefits available to people who served at Camp Lejuene – Veterans and family members – Department of Veterans Affairs


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

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
The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson

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

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.