Ending the Stolen Valor Nightmare in the Veterans’ Community

Ending the Stolen Valor Nightmare in the Veterans' Community

As an honorably discharged veteran who took an oath to the Constitution, I respect the right of everyone to have an opinion. After all, wasn’t that what the Constitution was written for? Sadly, too many veterans have forgotten their oath. They want to honor their oath when it’s convenient for them. Worse, they use laws like Stolen Valor to harm other veterans and shut down discussion. The worst part I believe is that this lack of support for veterans like me who have done nothing wrong is contributing to the suicides.

Let’s face it. We’ve all been the target of gossip at one time or another. Some people simply have too much time on their hands and think they have a right to do whatever they want. What so many don’t understand is that a right to destroy the reputation of another with lies isn’t a right at all. Legally a right must be moral in order for it to be a right. That’s why so many things so many consider to be rights today aren’t rights at all.

Gossip is just gossip. It’s an act of cowardice really because it’s about talking about another person behind that person’s back. It really doesn’t mean anything except that the person doing it doesn’t have the guts to say it to the person’s face. No harm no foul.

Plenty of friends have come to me and repeated things that were said behind my back. I got a good laugh. I also learned to steer clear of the person. He or she isn’t someone I want in my inner circle giving me bad advice to serve an agenda.

What’s being done in the veterans’ community isn’t gossip. It’s malicious. It’s meant to harm. It is done for reasons unknown to me, and it needs to stop, especially if we want to end the suicides.

Often those who complain about the way veterans are treated are the ones who are driving the malicious behavior. For reasons unknown to me, those behind it often believe they have a right to attack other veterans, particularly women veterans, and they’re brutal in their attacks.

My time in the veterans’ community has actually increased my depression, and although I have continued to heal, and the triggers are less and less, I still dread speaking up on any issue anymore because the accusations of Stolen Valor from those who can’t win an argument have become far too frequent.

It’s not just name calling either. For a long time I completely shut down because I was so overwhelmed by the pain and hurt caused by those who were doing it. Women veterans have it particularly hard because our service is often seen as less than that of everyone else because there are jobs we are not allowed to perform. We often get treated as less than the women who never served, and we are often invisible in the veterans’ community.

I have learned to live with it. I’ve learned to overcome as many of my limiting beliefs as possible for what’s possible in the veterans’ community, and I have learned that there are some issues that cannot be overcome.

Instead of being seen as a veteran who might be in trouble, as a woman veteran I am often seen as a distraught woman who refuses to suck it up and deal. What I have never understood is that I was an NCO too. I listened to my NCOs, and it never made any difference to me if they were male or female. What was always important was the message not the messenger.

Defamation of character and libel are serious charges. To make libelous statements against another is to subject that veteran to public ridicule and hate. In my case, it destroyed my ability to earn a living, and now I am skeptical of ever trying to do business with veterans because so many are so difficult, or worse, everything is a scam to them even though they have no evidence at all to prove that what they are saying is true. In fact, quite the contrary.

Maybe it’s because I came out of the business community before coming back into the veterans’ community that I have a different view of things. It’s not so narrow. I see a lesson from every person I meet, and often it is what not to be. I’ve also seen some great examples along the way, and those examples had a lot of credibility in my life.

Credibility is something many veterans often derive from what they did in the military, not because what they are saying is credible. Because of it, often the least credible people in the veterans’ community are those who are relying on their MOSs as proof they are credible. They are not. Credibility comes from telling the truth.

At the same time, it’s time to stop killing the messenger. If we really want to solve the problems in the veterans’ community and end the suicides, then it’s time we did that. Every veteran deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and it’s time we cleaned up the veterans’ community, especially online. No veteran should have to face persecution for having an opinion.

This is the latest Stolen Valor law I have: Stolen Valor Act

It’s important that veterans actually understand what Stolen Valor really is. Claiming to be a veteran when you are not is not Stolen Valor. It’s fraud. Period.

Beware of the pretenders. Here are four I’ve come in contact with in the veterans’ community who like to harass honorably discharged veterans.

Sue Schippert

Rick Anthony

Joe Kerney

Doc Blanchard

 

Little Things that Make Your Bug-Out Bag Perfect

Bug out bags… a favorite topic for preppers. Many spend dozens or even hundreds of hours over the years, adding and removing things, making them lighter, more compact and so on. And they have every reason to do so. In a bug out situation, you’re going to need to be flexible, to be able to walk or run with it on your back, to throw it over obstacles such as fences, downed trees or small rivers.

In other words, you need the smallest and lightest bag possible that has as much food, water, tools and gear as possible. Sounds impossible, right? Maybe so, but what you can do is move in that direction by making small adjustments to it.

How? It’s all in the details…

In what follows I’m going to let you in on some “advanced” tips that will bring your survival backpack closer to perfection.

#1. Make your BOB modular

By modules I mean pouches and bags that hold items pertaining to a task or set of tasks, such as starting a fire or first aid. You could have a fire starting kit, a first aid kit, a hygiene kit, an electronics kit and so on. The benefit is that you always know where to find a particular item.

The downside to this is that the pouches will make your BOB a little heavier and bulkier… so it’s up to you. I think it’s a great idea, though, because you’ll have everything organized and easy to get to.

One alternative is to simply keep them in zipper bags, which you in turn place inside airtight plastic containers but, if you have the money, you can find waterproof MOLLE bags on Amazon that you can carry on your back (you will need extra straps for them) or attach to other backpacks that have MOLLE webbing.

#2. Creative Ways to Make Your Bag Lighter

If you’re not that strong and can’t carry a lot of weight, imagine what a problem that’ll be in a bug out situation.  There are many ways to shed ounces or even pounds off your bag, including:

  • replacing your sleeping bag with a lighter, bivvy bag
  • crippling your toothbrush (you don’t need the handle)
  • getting smaller multi-tools, smaller water filters, smaller batteries… smaller everything!

Before you make any of these decisions, keep in mind the possible duration of your bug out. How much time are you planning to spend outdoors? If it’s more than a few days, consider a larger yet better equipped INCH bag (INCH is just a fancy name for a bug out bag that is designed to help you survive for weeks and even months – we wrote a pretty extensive article on the topic).

#3. Lining Your Bag With Trash Bags

This will make all your items waterproof, particularly if you have them scattered across the BOB. Many of the items you pack require that they stay waterproof, including your electronics, your fire-starting devices, your medical supplies, your knives, multi-tools and even your nail clippers.

Simply get a plastic trash bag as large as the main compartment of your backpack and put everything inside it. For your pockets, use smaller trash bags or even larger zipper bags.

#4. Carry Some of the BOB Items on Your Person

In other words, consider keeping as many as possible inside your pants’ or jacket pockets. This will take a considerable weight off your back, making it a lot easier for you to move.

Now, you may already have an EDC but if you have time to put on your cargo pants just before you flee, you might also have time to take out some of the items inside your bag and stuff them in your pockets or attach them to your tactical belt.

The only question is… which items should you choose? Will you have time to look for them inside your bag one by one? If you plan this in advance, you’ll know to keep some of these items easily accessible, perhaps in the exterior pockets.

Some of the things to consider removing from the bag and putting into your pockets:

  • your survival knife
  • the compass (only if you think you’ll use it)
  • your multi-tool (can be used as a self-defense weapon if need be)
  • a bandanna (lots of survival uses for it)
  • your flashlight
  • your walkie-talkie
  • sunscreen
  • …and so on.

Try not to select the items based on how small and light they are but, instead, choose the ones you’re also more likely to use. For example, you could keep your space blanket inside your pocket but chances are you won’t need it until you set camp. On the other hand, if you’ll be bugging out during the winter, the odds of you using it increase. It’s up to you to assess your unique situation.

#5. Leave Some Extra Room

There are two reasons to NOT fill your bug out bag to the brim. One, you may want to carry other items you acquire along the way. Things like wild edibles, an extra bottle of water, your wife’s water bottle and so on.

Two, keep in mind that the same items will take up a larger volume after you use them and try to put them back. This always happens to me when I’m travelling (though I admit I’m no expert when it comes to optimizing how I pack).

Speaking of which…

#6. Pack Smart

There’s a trick to making your backpack feel lighter on your back: to put the heavier things at the bottom and as close to the back of the bag as possible. This way, when you put the thing on, the heavy items will be as close to your lower back and spine as possible, making them easier to bear.

So, you’ll want to pack your tent, tarp and bivvy bag at the very bottom. On top of those you’ll want to keep your food and water. Then come your clothes and your gear.

#7. Keep Important Items Within Reach

Things like your first aid kit, flashlights, your multi-tool and your knife should be kept either at the top of the bag or in the side pockets. If you get injured, you won’t have time to look for your bandages; you’ll need them right there and then. If you get attacked and you don’t have a gun, you won’t have time to look for your pepper spray or stun gun.

Final Word

The tips I’ve given you in this article are just some of the things you can do to improve your BOB. You can find more yourself by taking your bug out bag hiking and camping and noticing things that bother you. Do this before any disaster strikes so you have time to make adjustments.