A Veteran’s Story on Veterans Day

I’m a fairly private person, I don’t tell
you much about my personal life and I like it that way. This is an education channel, not a vlogging
channel. But if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve
occasionally let slip that I am a veteran. When I was in Iraq- Well, I’m a veteran. I’m a service-connected disabled combat
veteran. Many of my fellow veterans- Issues related
to my being a veteran, for example. You probably know that I’m a veteran. Aside from having ferrets, it’s probably
the only part of my real life that I’ve incorporated into my channel persona. And boy do you guys ask about it a lot. It takes up half of every Q&A I do, and while
this isn’t a Q&A, stick around. This year happens to be a personally significant
anniversary – this is me, ten years ago, today… In Iraq. You might have to squint, those ACUs were
really effective… in the motorpool. I also recently hit 500,000 subscribers, so
I thought it might be interesting to mark this dual occasion by telling you A Veteran’s
Story on a Personally Significant Veterans Day. This video was brought to you by Skillshare. I need to get a few disclaimers out of the
way first, hooah? That’s the first and last time I will ever
say that word. Most of my videos are a fact-based story with
the occasional personal anecdote thrown in… This video is the exact opposite. A personal story, with the occasional fact. This is my story about my time in the military
and while your story may be different, that said… I’m not particularly special. Most of these ribbons are just for showing
up. I’m not exceptional, I’m not the only
person to take the path I did… and the military is huge. Each one of us only experiences a small slice
of it. Also keep in mind, I’ve been out for almost
a decade… I mean they don’t even use this uniform
anymore. So a few small things may have changed since
then. And lastly, while I don’t show or talk about
anything that I think may be potentially triggering… We all have different experiences. I can’t predict what seemingly benign photos
or topics might bring up painful memories for you. Only you can know that. So while I’m pretty sure this video is safe,
if you’re worried, maybe don’t watch it alone or have someone else watch it first. With that out of the way… I was born into the military, my dad was a
P3 pilot in the Navy during the Cold War and Desert Shield/Desert Storm and my grandpa
was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy during World War 2. I was never pressured to join myself. But I was part of the Top Gun generation,
I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else… until I had one particularly good
high school history teacher anyway. I grew up in Hawaii, which is basically one
giant military base. This is a map of all the current and past
military bases on the island, I honestly don’t know how you could live here as a civilian. Though, the other islands have much less military
presence. Because of that, every high school on the
island has a JROTC – which is an elective military class, somewhat similar to band…
there’s even uniforms and marching. I would argue that it was more popular than
football. My high school had a Navy JROTC, like it was
fate, and I devoted all four years to it. What sort of stuff do you learn in JROTC? Most of it is pretty useless, a lot of memorization… The sixth general order is to receive, obey,
and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the commanding officer, command
duty officer, officer of the day, officer of the deck, and officers and petty officers
of the watch only, sir. …A lot of Uniform Code of Military Justice,
maritime law, and map reading. But in hindsight, it wasn’t the content
that mattered. JROTC is where I learned how to memorize things,
I learned attention to detail – this is exactly fifty pixels from the top of the screen. I learned if you do things right the first
time, so you don’t have to do them a second. You can learn these things anywhere, boy scouts,
a job, band… maybe even your parents. But JROTC is where I learned it. And I was all-in, I joined and eventually
led, every team I could. Drill teams, academic teams, marksmanship
teams, and even special operations team where we built rope bridges across streams and stuff. I spent every summer doing some sort of leadership
camp. I was very heavily involved, because like
many, my end goal was to get a military scholarship – there was no other way I was going to pay
for college. So what were my options? The US military is divided into several branches
or services that each have a different purpose. The Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force,
and the “sometimes Y” Coast Guard. The Army is the primary ground force, the
Navy the primary sea force and the second largest air force in the world, just behind
the actual Air Force. The Marines are technically part of the Navy…
and the Coast Guard… Look, if we’re honest, the Coast Guard is
more like a law enforcement agency than they are a military branch, they enforce our borders
and stop drug smugglers. They’re part of the Department of Homeland
Security, and before that, the Department of Transportation. But they can, and have, been folded into the
military on occasion. You know this famous picture of Normandy that
you’ve seen a thousand times? Coast Guard. So as far as I’m concerned, they count…
mostly. As you’ve probably picked up on, there is
some friendly inter-service rivalry… but we’re all united in making fun of the chair
force. Each one of these services has a reserve component. People who join the military part-time and
serve one weekend a month, and two weeks a year, usually in the summer. These are federal troops who can be called
to service by the President whenever necessary, like a war… or a manufactured border crisis… The Army and the Air Force also have National
Guard units – these are also reservists who serve one weekend a month, two weeks a
year, but serve both the federal and state governments. Most of the time, they fall under state control,
but they can be called to federal service. The United States military would not be able
to function without the reserves or National Guard. Before 9/11, they kind of had a negative reputation
as Weekend Warriors who weren’t as well-trained or committed, but that seems to have mostly
faded away because of Iraq and Afghanistan. But there are even more options, should you
want to join the military even less than part time. These are the civilian auxiliaries, each branch
has one, but the only two worth really mentioning are the Merchant Marines and the Civil Air
Patrol. These are civilians doing civilian jobs, that
during a time of war can be absorbed into the military to perform non-combat related
tasks like transportation. These were all of the options in front of
me. My senior year of high school, when I was
deciding all of this, was after we invaded Afghanistan, but before we invaded Iraq. I wanted to be an Intelligence Officer working
in cryptology. I was in honors and AP classes, and my test
scores were good, but I didn’t have the grades or connections to get into an academy. So an ROTC scholarship was my best option. Academies are prestigious military colleges,
like West Point or the Naval Academy, where upon graduation, you’re commissioned as
an officer in that service. ROTC or “rotsee” is the Reserve Officer’s
Training Corps – it’s just like Junior ROTC, but for college… and for real. After graduation, you’re commissioned as
an officer, but unlike the Academies, you also have the option of going into the Reserves
or National Guard as well. I applied for and got an Army ROTC scholarship. But it wasn’t a full ride, so in order to
cover room and board and other expenses, I simultaneously joined the National Guard. Which sounds weird, but in ROTC it’s actually
pretty common. It counts as time in service, so you get commissioned
with four years already under your belt, but I was more in it for the experience. In order to lead, first learn how to follow. So while I was a cadet, I never once wore
that rank, and thanks to my JROTC experience, I joined right away as a Private First Class. How do you feel today Mr. [REDACTED]? I’m feeling pretty good, pretty- ha ha ha. Sgt. [REDACTED] what’re you laughing about? He changed his diaper this morning he’s
good to go. I did well enough on my ASVAB that I could
basically pick any job I wanted. In hindsight, I wish I put more thought into
that decision. Since I was in ROTC and college, I didn’t
really care what my MOS was, since it wouldn’t matter after I graduated. So I chose the one with the shortest training
time. An MOS is a military occupational specialty,
shorthand for your job title – it’s different in every service, but in the Army, it’s
a combination of a number and letter. There are different “branches” in the
Army. Infantry, Artillery, Armor, Cavalry… they
each have a different color and number associated with it. Infantry is sky blue and 11, Artillery is
red and 13. When you see a rank with a color behind it,
that’s what that means. I joined artillery, the king of battle, infantry
is important too I guess. Why is the sky blue? Because God loves the Infantry. Yeah well, artillery runs in my veins. The letter indicates your job within that
branch, A is an officer, B is regular enlisted, M is mechanized, T is a technician, and so
on. 11B is a grunt and 11M is a grunt… but in
an APC. I chose to become a 13B Field Artillery Cannon
Crewmember, because that MOS only required me to take one semester off from school instead
of two. I was in Fort Sill, Oklahoma from the middle
of winter to the middle of summer – do not recommend. I did One Station Unit Training, which is
Basic and Advanced Individual Training back-to-back, I actually do recommend that, get it out of
the way. AIT is your job training, similar A School
or Tech School. Basic Training is not at all like this and
I doubt it ever was. Yes, there is a lot of yelling and it is very
stressful at times, but if you go into it expecting Full Metal Jacket, you are going
to be very disappointed. Every military member has a moment when they
realize “Oh wait, this is real. I’m not a kid anymore and this isn’t a
movie.” And it’s not the oath. In fact, they make you say it so many times,
I’m not sure which one was the actual legally binding one. For a lot people, it’s the uniform. But I had been wearing uniforms since I was
14, so that didn’t really do it for me – for me, it was the helmet, which is weird. It was a lot heavier than I expected. Another popular answer I’ve heard is the
M16 – while there are many like it, this one is yours. But I had also been shooting since high school,
so meh. The M16 is the nomenclature used for the military
version of the Colt Armalite AR15, with the addition of full auto or three-round burst. Everything in the military has a nomenclature. Most of them start with an M, the M16, the
M4, the M240B, but there are others – usually vehicles. The 13B MOS also makes you a crew-served weapons
specialist, I know how to take apart and put together everything from the M9 pistol to
the Mark19 automatic grenade launcher. I was also posted as the ammunitions specialist
for a while. But apparently, I don’t know anything about
guns, if my comments section is to be believed anyway. So, I finish my training, go back to college,
and I’m doing the ROTC and National Guard thing… and this is when things start to
change. I’ll admit, I had a bit of a chip on my
shoulder. I had been preparing for this my entire life,
for all intents and purposes, I had been in the military for several years at that point. Yet here I am, learning everything again,
for the third time. The first time was JROTC, it was just pretend,
the second time was the real deal, and I was the guy helping people shine their boots and
memorize their 9-line medivacs. I already knew this stuff, I was high speed. Yet here I was, marching in the freezing rain
before class because everyone else still has to learn how to do an about face. Or they still spell military with two Ls. It’s not their fault, ROTC is designed to
be your first exposure, not your third. So again, do not recommend, maybe only do
it twice. Most of my time in the National Guard was
fairly uneventful, one weekend a month, two weeks a year. I did keep up with competitive shooting though,
and was on the state team for a year or two. This is also when I bought my first video
camera, if you couldn’t tell – I’ve been doing video editing as a hobby since
high school… a hobby that finally paid off decades later. Make sure to like and subscribe. Fast forward a year or two and my National
Guard unit is activated to deploy to Iraq for the second time. I was in basic training during the first. They only took half the unit, which isn’t
uncommon, and I was in that half – right up until one week before deployment, when
ROTC intervened on my behalf. They did that for a few people and it was
actually a bit of drama. I didn’t ask them to get me out of it, I
was ready to go – mentally, emotionally, legally, I had it all set up. They thought they were doing me a favor. Suddenly, I had to reinstate everything and
somehow manage to get registered for classes for the next semester with only a few days
left. Suffice to say, I re-evaluated my life trajectory. I quit ROTC, I wasn’t contracted yet so
as long as I stayed in the National Guard I was good. Which was my plan at the time anyway. My original major was Russian, I picked that
before Arabic was suddenly in demand, the fake town we occupied in basic training still
had everything labelled in Cyrillic. But now, I wanted to be that cool history
teacher I mentioned from high school. I changed my major to Social Studies Education
and also decided to switch to a more civilian-applicable MOS – 25U, Radio Retrans Operator. Which was also a poor choice in hindsight. I know how to load a SINCGARS with my eyes
closed… if only anybody else used SINCGARS… I did get a Secret-level security clearance
out of it… Not that I ever used it. But before I could go to AIT to officially
reclass, I was folded back into my old artillery unit and deployed to Iraq. For real this time. Aight, this is [REDACTED] working, for the
first time. First time… Swear to god all this guy does over here is
sleep… and go to the gym… all the time. At this point, we had switched from the objectively
awesome BDUs to the crumpled mess that are ACUs and I had long since been promoted to
Specialist. Military ranks have several tiers to them,
we’re going to stay focused on the Army for the sake of time. You start as a Private, then Private, then
Private First Class – that one used to be second class, but nobody calls it that anymore. Then there’s Specialist, the most important
rank in the Army – E4 Mafia Represent. This is the rank most people achieve at the
end of their first enlistment, though hard chargers can make it further. It’s not uncommon to make Sergeant. I just hope you don’t get stuck in the horrible
purgatory that is Corporal – an E4 who went to NCO school but isn’t in a leadership
position. They’re basically a Sergeant that nobody
listens to. Once you have three or four people in your
downline, you become a Sergeant, the start of the next tier known as Non-Commissioned
Officers or NCOs. All the enlisted ranks from here on up are
some flavor of Sergeant, all the way up to Command Sergeant Major, the plural of which
is Command Sergeants Major – just like Attorneys General. Next you have the five Warrant officer ranks,
most of which are called Chief. These are officers by warrant, not commission,
and they only exist in a few select technical positions. They’re different from the next tier, Junior
Officers, because in order to get a commission, you need a bachelor’s degree. That’s probably one of the harder things
for civilians to understand since the ranks in videos games just flow into each other. You don’t go from Sergeant to Lieutenant
without first going through college or some equivalent – the one exception being battlefield
commissions, which are super rare. Then you have your field officers and flag
officers – your one-, two-, three-, and four-star democracy distributors. We haven’t had a five-star since 1981 and
Congress has since retired the rank. We also used to have a six-star during World
War 1. I would like to point out that while it’s
fairly common for people to say “I was an E4,” that doesn’t really make sense since
that’s a pay grade and not a rank. Though, we all know what you’re saying. I was at the end of my first enlistment and
still on-the-fence about re-upping, I’m not crazy. I’m not out of my mind. Your typical enlistment lasts six years with
a two-year inactive period, where you’re at home living your life, but the military
can call you back if they need to. So technically, you’re in for eight. Because of the deployment, I was put on Stop-Loss,
which means nobody gets to leave. As a result, I was in the Army for just over
seven years. When you’re put on stop loss or called back
from the Inactive Ready Reserve, you paid an extra 500 a month though, which helps takes
the edge off. From what I hear Stop Loss is pretty rare
these days. My unit was deployed to Southern Iraq and
Kuwait, running convoy security between the Kuwaiti border and Nasiriyah, Iraq. I was assigned as a gunner – I never once
did anything artillery or signal related in country. We’d spend one day going north, one day
going south, and then have one day off where they’d usually come up with some sort of
training or presentation to fill the time. Can’t have you relaxing or anything. Rinse and repeat that three-day cycle for
an entire year. Except for a rotation on QRF, which was mind-numbingly
boring. QRF is the Quick Reaction Force, you stay
geared up and ready to respond to any threats – which usually meant chasing away teenagers
and falconers who get too close to the wire and occasionally patrolling the vast emptiness. I only brought the camera out when route conditions
were Amber or below, so if you’re expecting any action shots, you’re going to be disappointed. Somewhere out there, the opposite of this
shot exists… I should look into finding that. However, I want you to pay attention to this,
we are driving on MSR Tampa, which is the main interstate highway running from Basra
to Baghdad. Pay attention to which direction I’m moving…
notice anything weird? How about now? Yes, they would routinely drive in the opposing
direction to go around us – just about every day there was an accident like this. This was 2009, at this point we were supposed
to share the road with locals, but traffic laws are basically non-existent in Iraq so
people did whatever they wanted. The first half of our deployment we were only
running convoys at night, but then we switched to daytime, which was far more interesting. But rather than just talk to you about what
I did, I thought it might be a little interesting to take a look inside this chest. This is my box of memories. Uniforms, awards, and souvenirs that I bought
from my many friends who assured me they were giving me a special deal. Alright, so we’re starting off kind of silly
with my ipod. I only kept it because I had it specially
engraved for the deployment. A Kuwaiti flag. An Iraqi flag… with gold fringe, I guess
that makes it part of the admiralty. Teddy bears from the two camps I used to travel
between all the time. The usual base people go to near Nasiriyah
is Tallil – I only went there once or twice. We spent most of our time at the forsaken
truck stop that was Cedar II. So one of the times I went to Tallil, I asked
the locals working at a restaurant if I could buy one of their shirts. They went in the back and gave me one for
free instead. My PT Jacket with the Physical Fitness Badge
– believe it or not, I used to score 300+ on my fitness tests. Doubt I could do that today. Soda in Iraq was made with actual sugar, not
corn syrup – so much better. Alright I guess this is my LA Beast tribute… Oh gross. Well I guess that’s a good sign isn’t
it? Still good. Iraqi soda. Okay I’m not that stupid. Okay I’m not that stupid either… This is a miniature T-Barrier – these were
twelve-foot high concrete walls that protected the camp. Camel. More camels. A whole bunch of camels – this is bone,
not ivory. I have so much camel stuff that it’s kind
of disgusting, but they were literally everywhere – aside from stray dogs and sheep, they
were the only animals we saw. Look! That’s a camel in the back of a Toyota! Okay, did I really need this many rank insignia,
we don’t even use these anymore… Some old unit patches I traded for… All this Velcro! Okay, this is a joke stop loss tab – a bunch
of us wore these in silent protest. So these coins used to be a big deal during
formal events like a dining-ins. You’d go to your table and put down your
best coin, then people at the table would try to one-up you. I see your basic training unit and raise you
a Chief of Staff of the Army. I have no idea if that’s still a tradition. This is a seatbelt cutter! Look at that, it worked! My high intensity flashlight. Which I don’t have the special batteries
for. Okay so we were supposed to keep this stuff
with us at all times – I had a special pocket set aside for it. Though nobody ever checked to see if we actually
had it. Some rules of engagement stuff, 9-line medivac
stuff… my military driver’s license… Well this is about to get morbid. This is a Blood Chit, if I was ever detained
or captured, I was supposed to give this to someone, it basically promises compensation
for my safe return. Though I have a feeling nobody would accept
this expired coupon anymore. It says unclassified on it, but I have a weird
feeling that I’m not supposed to have this anymore… I’ll get rid of this off camera. I have a ton of pictures and videos from my
deployment, most of this stuff I haven’t looked at in years. It brought back a lot of memories – some
good, some bad. But this picture in particular stood out to
me – I’m not going to say why, though it’s probably obvious. I feel very different about this picture today
than I did when it was taken ten years ago. The person in this photo was the coolest guy
in the battalion that day – people gave me high fives and told me they wished they
were me. When I look at this picture now… I’m kind of disgusted. Not because of what I did, I didn’t do anything
legally or morally wrong. But because of the change in attitude from
then to now. During my deployment my dad sent me a bunch
of books, I got a lot of reading out of the way in country. But this one in particular stuck with me. Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, is about
a naval battle in the Pacific during World War 2, I’m not big into battle history But
the thing that stuck with me was the attitude of the American sailors. In the heat of battle, with the enemy shooting
at them and explosions happening all around them, they just kept working. Not because of some extreme devotion to duty,
but because it didn’t matter what they did. They could keep doing their job or cower in
the corner, if a shell was headed their way, there was nothing they could do to stop it. When we were getting ready to deploy, they
had us train on American streets. You’d drive along and see a coke can or
garbage bag on the side of the road and you knew you were supposed to stop and call Explosive
Ordnance Disposal. If you were to do that in country, you would
never get anywhere. There is trash and dead animals literally
everywhere. If call EOD, you are announcing to your convoy
and every convoy behind you, that you want this mission to last an extra six hours. For probably no reason. Several times, we found out after the fact
that we drove by something that none of us saw. So eventually, you realize it doesn’t matter
what you do. You could be hyper vigilant or asleep, the
only reason it didn’t explode when you drove by was luck. That was the attitude of the guy in this picture
and most of the people in my unit at the time. That’s the only way you can make it through
a deployment without losing your mind – by making morbid jokes about which cars are going
to blow up. I kept that attitude for several years after
my deployment – I never expected to make it to 30. On a lighter note, you probably noticed that
my callsign was Cottonballs – no, I’m not going to explain it. But I do want to bring up that it doesn’t
work like it does in the movies. Nobody had a cool nickname. Cottonballs, Harry Potter, Wiggle. The harder you try to pick something like
Maverick or Iceman, the more likely you were going to end up with something like Puddles
or Moose. In fact, serving in the military has completely
ruined most movies for me. I was deployed when the Hurt Locker came out
– the worst military movie of all time, and yes, I’m including Windtalkers. I have no idea how this won an Oscar. Luckily another veteran already tore it apart
on the now-defunct Cracked channel, I’m not sure my blood pressure could handle that. But I can’t even watch shows like Designated
Survivor without some error completely breaking the immersion. This is a NAVY Seal, named Sergeant Sims,
aside from the super tactical US flag on his chest, there are no sergeants in the Navy. Even my beloved Battle Los Angeles isn’t
immune. Move, move to the back! Let’s go c’mon get in here, get in here. What’s your unit?! Fourtieth ID! What?! What? The 40th Infantry Division is real a National
Guard unit spread across a few western states, including California. But nobody would answer that question with
their division. This was my team in Iraq, there were three
of us, so there was always one empty seat in the truck in case something happened. Joker 3-2, aka Dragon Dog. Which sounds cool until I tell you it’s
because of the stuffed animals we had on our rhino – which is this thing sticking out
from the front of the truck. It was supposed to set off any IEDs in front
of the vehicle. I keep calling the Humvee a truck, because
that’s what everyone called it, nobody really said Humvee. Which is actually an acronym spelled like
this. Everything was a truck, this was a truck,
this was a truck, and all of these are trucks. Keep it simple stupid. A squad was made up of 3-4 teams, which included
one MRAP and occasionally a medic team. We ran convoys by squads. 3-4 Squads makes up a platoon and 3-4 platoons
make up a company. Though in artillery, we called them batteries. 3-4 Batteries made up a battalion, 3-4 battallions
makes up a brigade or regiment. Most of the army deploys by brigade or regimental
combat teams, which is about 3000-4000 soldiers. A division is made up of several brigades
or regiments and average around 20,000 people – there are larger units, like Corps and
Armies, but those are big picture, continental structures. Answering what unit you’re in with your
division is like being asked what state your from… And your answer is America. The best depiction of the modern military
I’ve ever seen is the HBO series Generation Kill. Watching this is like going back to Iraq myself. I made MRE cookies, and we used to get in
fights over jalapeno cheese. For years before my deployment, my unit was
also a mess of new and old uniforms. And the endless quest for batteries is a story
I know all too well. This flashlight doesn’t take AAs or anything
normal, it uses those special camera batteries that were mysteriously never in stock. If you want to know what it was like to deploy,
watch Generation Kill. Though I will say that the show cranks up
the racism way more than anything I’d ever experienced. I wasn’t in a particularly liberal unit
either. While American Sniper has its issues, the
depiction of his life at home, including this scene in traffic and the one with his dog
during the birthday party – were almost shot for shot recreations of what I experienced
when I got out. We got a month left and I’m eating my first
MRE. That’s your second you liar. Man, you’re right it is my second. Man, why you gotta ruin my tape? Because I was stop-lossed, I was out of the
military three months after landing in the US. Coming home was the hardest part of my deployment. The Army didn’t prepare me well enough for
the transition to civilian life. To their credit, they did try… you can lead
a horse to water. But when you’re sitting in a classroom just
a few miles from home after a year of being in the desert, you just want to go home. You aren’t listening to the talk about resources
available to you. And I went right back to college life, I had
a semester left to graduate with my first degree and a fast food job. Do not recommend. The sudden, dramatic shift from homecoming
parades and being called a hero to people looking down on me and complaining about not
getting enough olives was enough to drive me insane. I also hated all of my coworkers. Oh man, that sucks that you have to work a
nine hour shift today, what happens after that? Oh you get to go home? I slowly pulled back from all of my friends
and family, it felt like I had aged ten years, while they didn’t at all. Things got very dark and very, very lonely. There were several times I considered going
back – not because I’m a war or adrenaline junkie or anything. But because life was so much simpler over
there. I didn’t have to worry about paying bills,
or what I wore, or not texting back fast enough. I obviously didn’t go back, but sometimes
I wanted to. Eventually, I found my way to those resources
and people bent over backwards to make sure I was okay. I owe my life to the people at the VA. It took me a long time to get over that cavalier
attitude towards my own safety and actually start to care about living again. And I’m one of the lucky ones. But there are plenty of positives to talk
about as well, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention those. I have no student debt. Thanks to the National Guard and the GI Bill,
I earned two bachelor’s degrees for free. Well, financially free anyway. A lot of states also give veterans free hunting
and fishing licenses or car registration – there’s a lot of those little things out there that
they don’t tell you about and you have to figure out on your own. A good place to start is the VA, they usually
know about that stuff. When I got out, OIF and OEF veterans were
eligible for five years of VA healthcare, just in case anything develops. Which… A service-connected disability is the US government
acknowledging that whatever issue you’re having wouldn’t have happened if not for
the military. PTSD and missing limbs count, diabetes not
usually. If they determine that they messed you up
enough, you get a monthly disability check, and at certain level, healthcare for life. Literally everything I just said has asterisks
though. Because I’m a veteran, I automatically have
secret friends wherever I go. Doesn’t matter what service you were in
or when. If we’re in a class together and I find
out you’re a veteran, odds are, we’re instant friends. We have a shared experience despite never
meeting. We could be different religions or on complete
opposite ends of the political spectrum… And we’d still look out for each other. There were numerous times in this script where
I said something that probably went right over your head. If there was ever one of those “spot the
fake vegan” videos, but for veterans, it would be over in 30 seconds. So… who’s the blue falcon? Just the look on your face when I asked that
question tells me everything I need to know. You’re the blue falcon. Thanks to the military policy of hurry up
and wait, my patience is next level. 15 minute wait at the DMV? Please… Let me know when you’ve spent all day waiting
at the gun range because your battalion commander thought it would be more efficient to just
send all 500 people at the same time. Even though there are only 6 working lanes. Let me know when you’ve been sitting in
your truck in full battle rattle for hours, waiting for… I don’t know and nobody else does either. But you can’t leave. I’m also much better at handling acute stressful
situations. For obvious reasons. Stuff that would normally make people freeze
or panic, I seem to deal with alright. Though it was tough going there for a while. My “do it right the first time” attitude
and attention to detail have helped me in the job market. Which is more than I can say for my MOS. The military sells itself as an easy way of
getting job training, and that is true for many positions, if you want to be a pilot,
there’s no better way. Not so much the case for me. Field artillery doesn’t really translate
well and even the things I did have weren’t applicable. For example, my military driver’s license,
from earlier. I was certified on just about every wheeled
vehicle the Army had up to a five-ton, with double-trailer and hazmat endorsements. Didn’t help me in the civilian world. I could haul several tons of high explosives
and chemical weapons down the interstate, but not deliver oxygen tanks to the elderly
because I needed a CDL. I was also a certified combat lifesaver. I spent weeks learning how to administer an
IV and treat sucking chest wounds with floating ribs. But you can’t work here with a Red Cross
CPR certification. If you ask me, the military needs to get better
at giving you the civilian-equivalent qualification alongside your military training. You do learn things – but it doesn’t count
without that piece of paper. But if you’re a veteran or even active duty
service member looking for more job-training, the VA and local workforce centers have several
programs available. Or you could go to skl.sh/knowingbetter13
BOOM, Artillery! Didn’t expect that transition did you – that’s
called situational awareness. Skillshare is an online learning community
with thousands of courses taught by civilian experts in their field. I’ve been doing video editing as a hobby
for decades, but switching Adobe would have been a complete Charlie foxtrot if not for
this course in Premiere Pro. You might have noticed I’ve been working
on my lighting and color correction recently, and thankfully, he has a course on that too. You can learn this and much more with an annual
subscription costing less than $10 a month. And if you head over to skl.sh/knowingbetter13,
you can get two months of unlimited access to all of Skillshare’s courses for free. You’ll also be supporting the channel when
you do. As you might imagine, things got emotionally
heavy during the making of this video. But I want you to know I’m okay. I viewed this anniversary as a chance to reflect
and put a bow on it after so many years of bottling it up. This is a form of closure for me. Looking back, I don’t regret my service
and I’m not bitter about it, there were good times and bad times, just like any job. But it did make me who I am today. This channel wouldn’t exist without every
step and misstep which has led me to this point. And the military was a big part of that. Even though this was a more personal story,
I hope you learned a few things and maybe think about the way you interact with veterans
a differently, because now you know better. You never know man. I have a feeling, tonight is the day. Tonight is the day? Yeah. That’s why we put these in the trunk right?

100 thoughts on “A Veteran’s Story on Veterans Day”

  1. 26:44, "Jah-lah-peno"…
    I just can't ignore it…this is the worst butchering of "jalapeño". Sir, you should know better 🙂

  2. Just letting you know the CW5 rank you used isn't the current one anymore. It's a solid black line in the middle now. ALso, I was in Tallil in 2009! How cool is that. I shared space with one of my favorite youtubers and didn't even know it.

  3. "Manufactured border crisis"

    I presume you do not reside in TX, NM, AZ, or CA*?

    *while CA does geographically share a border with Mexico, it has already been all but lost… the lunatics are in complete control of that asylum.

  4. This is definitely my favorite video from you. Awesome job with explaining the hardships and bonuses of a life like yours.

  5. I feel you on the job training. I served 5 years active duty as a hospital Corpsman. Yet I cannot get a job entering medical data into a computer, or take vital signs at a clinic because I am not certified or have a degree. Yet I can be in a room with no medical equipment at all and find ways of keeping multiple mass trauma patients alive long enough to get to the nearest hospital.

    I also know the GI bill can get me said degree for next to nothing out of me, but something about going to school to learn something I already know alongside the average collage student would just drive me insane. That is due to a whole other issue i have tho… anyways there is a few members of congress working toward ensuring members are certified while they are in to prevent these issues. it may be worth a video to highlight them? Anyways good to hear your stories man.

  6. This video was certainly something different, probably one of my favourites of yours. I found your sharing your personal experience very interesting and enlightening. I can't really thank you for your service because I'm not American, but respect from across the pond.

  7. I disagree with your assessment on Young Living essential oils and MLM's as a business model, but I stand with you you as a proud patriot of the USA. Your sacrifice and service along with all of our nation's great veterans and active/reserve duty are what keeps this country free and great. Many thanks to you, and all the armed forces!

  8. I know a lot about firearms…I just don't buy into the NRA/firearm manufacturer/gun culture bullsh!t.

    "You don't know nuthin' 'bout guns!!"

  9. Thank you for sharing this. Very glad your doing okay. And as a spouce of the red-haired-step-child of the US military I would just like to say thanks. Your take on the Coast Guard is pretty on point. Most people don't seem to realize we regularly get stationed all over the US and it's territories, and the cost that dislocation can have. Their jobs are generally far safer, and often not as stressful, but not without cost and sacrifice.

  10. As someone who knows & has known several veterans, this was really interesting and I learned a lot from hearing about your experiences. Thanks for sharing and opening up!

  11. I have a degree from the CCAF, an associates in aircraft maintenance technology. If I went to Delta and asked for a job, they wouldn't even let me in the door. The training I have from the AF is nothing compared to something that someone with an A&P gets. Even in the AF the only real job that gives good training to careers in civilian life is pilot.

  12. I'm with you about coming back. I did 24 years as an 11B and later as a 96B (The number has changed at least twice since I went through the Intel school, though). It's tough coming home. That's the part they never tell you about. I also recall having my uniform spat on in the airport as I came home for Christmas my first year in service. God Bless you and thank you for your sacrifice. There's an old Steve Earle song called Johnny Come Lately that is about a veteran coming home that sums it up beautifully. The lyric is "I'm standing on a runway in San Diego/Got a couple Purple Heartrs/And I move a little slow/Ain't nobody here and nobody knows…" The war doesn't matter. The sentiment is the same. Thank you, brother, for sharing.

  13. That was awesome, thanks. 🙂 TSG, USAF, Retired, Ammo, (Ordnance, for you guys.) OIF 04, 06-07, 07-08, OEF 09 < —- slow learner

  14. 12B with 2 Iraq (OIF I & III) and 1 Kuwait deployments here, my term of enlistment between active and reserves covered about the same time span as yours – my callsign was "Old Man" because I enlisted at 28. Thanks for making this video, it brought back a lot of great memories (and a few not so great – c'est la vie). Love the channel, keep up the great work (and I dare say as sarcastically as I can) Hoo Ah

  15. When I was in high-school, I used to fear you guys will invade my country too.
    And I was therefore trying to get better with sniper rifles.
    (After seeing videos of such things from Iraq)

    To put bullets in a head like yours.

    Now I guess I like your head 🙂

  16. Heheh! “All united in making fun of the Chair Force!”
    I used to say “We in the Army thank the Air Force for giving us rides, and wives.”

    …but you know, in my latter years, I gotta give those zoomies props whenever I see them on RAGBRAI. They’ve made a discipline out of cross country cycling

  17. Dude! SINCGARS? I thought they quit using those in ‘98. I was on the crew testing out the ASIP radios meant to replace it

  18. Welcome to the life of every abused child lol!! Although I could see it being difficult being normal and changing instead of that being your everyday life from earliest memory lol!!! And that explains why people love to drink lol

  19. Damn, your ranks are confusing!
    I used to work fir the UK MoD, as a civilian Admin Officer (second lowest) but whenever we went to training at Military colleges, or anything else where lodgings were based on rank, , we got to stay in Warrant Officers (a higher NCO rank ) messes / accommodation, which was rather a sweet deal!

    I worked with loads of (naval) Captains and Commanders, but we always used to call them by their first names or nicknames, and for the most part, they used to politely ask us to do things, which was also nice…

    Due to some bad life choices, I jumped before I was pushed, but still have 8 years of the best pension when I hit 67. Or 70. Or 75, or whenever they let people retire over here now… :p

    Fascinating insights, though. I would say, Thanks for your service', but we don't really do that over here… even from a military family, too…
    But, cheers, man.

  20. Every person I know who has joined the military described it in two words: "It sucked" What was Iraq like? It sucked. Afghanistan? It sucked. Basic? It sucked. Basically it sucked Oh and they all have PTSD.

  21. Is anyone who works on a container ship in the merchant marines? There are a bunch of videos on youtube about working on these ships, but nothing about this. If they are brought into military service are they still paid by the merchant? What if the merchant is not a US company?

  22. I'm not a vet.
    I always (since subscribing anyway) look forward to your uploads. You really set the bar for what quality personal perspective content can look like with this one, though.
    Thank you for your service, and thank you for making this video explaining your experience in the service.
    This was simultaneously surprising and touching. Thanks again for taking the time to make it. I honestly can't say that enough.
    Not ashamed to admit I teared up a couple of times watching it.

  23. I wonder how you look at soldiers of allied nations that had served along you in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans or other places. Would you call us Veterans as well?

  24. Hey. I wanted to be an intelligence officer too. Or a judges advocate, but my mental health wasnt up to snuff (yeah. Too crazy for the military. Yikes)

  25. "I owe my life…" I've never served in the military, nor been through what you have, but damn, I know those words a little too well.
    Also, hats off for making a girl who had a panic attack over a non-functional bb gun feel interested in the military.

  26. Great video! It was nice hearing about your personal experiences more. I'm a bit curious though since you're from Hawaii and joined the National Gaurd, do you know of or have an opinion on Tulsi Gabbard?

  27. The navy being the 2nd largest airforce is a common myth. The 2nd largest airforce in the world is the army; mostly due to troop transport aircraft and helicopters. The navy is in fact the fourth largest in the world.

  28. About that top secret clearance. If he ever told us he used it, or what for, he'd end up in jail with Jeffrey Epstein's cell mate. Regarding serving in the millitary and movies 24:21 It is a law of physics that doing a thing in real life will ruin movies and fiction about it forever. I am a scientist and I cannot enjoy Sci Fi the way ordinary people do. Parents worked in medicine, could not enjoy anything medical themed … That's just the way it is.

  29. This video was a flood of memories for me, just watching you go through your box (my foot locker is very similar) was intense. I was also a 25u national guard e-4 mafia dude deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 2009. I'm glad you did this video.

  30. One thing that would be cool to see: if you could do, as a ex military man yourself, a video about pre ww1 militarism, and overall what effect it had on society at the time. I feel like most European historians overemphasize the effects it had, in special with view on stuff that happened after ww1, but maybe I'm wrong with that view.

  31. Thanks for sharing your experience, and patiently explaining so many aspects of the US military to people like me, who have little to no understanding of it.

  32. Chair Force….oh I have never heard that one before…Maybe it is because I had ten years of a bike test for my fitness test. Which was standard for all normal Air Force members……My deployment nickname was Cheeks…not gonna tell that story.

  33. Six-year Chair Force here, you stinkin' jarhead. Lost my artillery pal to suicide two years ago. I enjoy your content and am glad you didn't end up like so many others have. There's a military suicide ever 90-minutes people!

  34. The civilian world is full of Blue Falcons and he's 100% on point when he says he hates everyone he works with. I've been out for 13 years and they're a bunch of whiny bitches who freak out over the smallest things. Damn I miss the Marines…

  35. Thanks for sharing all of this, it was really enlightening. And honestly it's a real privilege for us, your viewers, that you're willing to be so candid, unapologetic, and honest. Glad you're doing well.

  36. As someone who works for Coca Cola, I would not have recommended drinking that soda if it was 10 years old, real sugar or not.

  37. This was an excellent video and I actually didn't realize that we have some things in common. I wasn't "born" into the military but had a lot of family in it. My mother remarried when I was 6 and my step-dad was in the Air Force so I grew up in the military. I also did AFJROTC which is like you said, "a lot of memorization." When I got old enough I joined the military myself. I too was a "TOP GUN" generation and like everybody else wanted to be a pilot, but I wanted to fly the F-16 (my favorite airplane of all time next to the A-10). Well of course I would never do that, my grades were never good enough, no prospects for any sort of college scholarships, so the best thing to do was enlist. First I thought of though was Army or Marines because I also liked tanks (side note: Marines had the best service dress in my opinion). However, my step-dad talked me out of it and into the Air Force. I was supposed to leave a month after my high school graduation, this was in '98. But I screwed up and on my graduation night smoked a little weed with some of my friends. I feared this would show up on a drug test at MEPS and backed out of my obligation since I hadn't officially signed anything yet. My step-dad thought this was due to me having watched "Full Metal Jacket" but no it wasn't that, it was the weed smoking thing. About six months later while still working my job at freaking Burger King (at 19 yrs old) my boss, having a bad day himself, called me a "moron" because I forgot to take off the onions and pickles off of someone's fucking whopper during lunch hour rush. That pissed me off but I stayed the rest of my shift and at the end told him I wouldn't be coming back. I drove to the recruiters office the very next morning and talked to the Air Force recruiter and he gave me a bunch of crap for backing out the first time and demanded to know what guarantees I could give him that I wouldn't do it again. I didn't know what would be good enough so eventually I just looked him in his eye's and as serious as I could be told him if he didn't sign me I would go to the Army guys. He went to a file cabinet and came back with my full file. He had told me that at the request of my step-dad not to get rid of it. I signed and left for basic less than two months later in Feb '99. I qualified for the job I wanted (Fire Fighter) but didn't take it because I would have had to wait several months for an opening into the tech school (Air Forces version of AIT). Instead I took Security Forces with an $4000 dollar sign on bonus, automatic promotion to E3 upon graduation from tech school for a 6 year sign on bonus. I would end up doing a little over 12 years total time with 6 deployments, two of them being in Iraq. Thanks for the "chair force" comment cause yea it sucks getting fun of when you do a job like that (along with many other jobs). But I ain't butt-hurt about it, in the Air Force everything we used was Army proof so you would have to be trying to screw it up. That clip you showed on that over-pass of MSR Tampa brought back some memories since I had been on that route a few times myself. My second deployment to Iraq in '04-'05 was at Camp Bucca and we would take that route to go to Abu Ghraib and back to transport and pick up detainees. This was one of my more unfavorable deployments. I definitely felt you when you talked about returning, getting out and transitioning back to civilian life. It wasn't easy for me either. While waiting on my paperwork to process through the system which was only supposed to take six months but took more than a year I began getting myself in trouble with the law, all of it due to alcohol related issues. I never did anything felonious but I wont be able to apply for any law enforcement positions any time soon. So now I'm having to completely retrain for new job opportunities. If you've read all of this I wanted to say thanks for this video because it did help me. A lot of things happened to me while I was in and after I got out and to some of my friends as well, some of them chose more of a permanent path for there problems though. I don't want to be like that no matter how bad it might get.

  38. Dude, 10 years in and 12 out now, this is the first time I've seen anything that speaks to me on a level I relate to. I've been in a really dark place for a very long time and maybe this is the kick in the ass I need to do something about it. Thank you for this.

  39. We have very similar stories and I deployed the same time and jumped straight into college. Kudos for keeping it real and not being a "thank me for my service" kind of guy.

  40. I salute you, brother. As an ICBM technician, I am intimately familiar with the dark humor.
    Yes, always some kinship with former active-duty personnel.

  41. Welcome home. I am classified as a veteran but never served in a combat zone, so there is veterans and then there are veterans. I here you when you say that the military needs to get closer to the civilian side of the job market. As a supply tech I could not get a job on the civilian side, even if it is mostly the same. Do not have to worry about work any more. Thank you for sharing.

  42. I've been out 3 decades. 😉 Seems like yesterday. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm a fat old software developer not a young combat infantry grunt. Can't do the same things I used to. 😉 Heavy furniture seems… heavier. 😉

  43. Great video. Thank you for serving. My dad was a Marine. Service matters, no matter which branch you're in. Blessings to you, CT

  44. "manufactured border crisis"
    Oh… you mean the one that the Democrats had to admit was a REAL crisis? THAT one? 😉 The very crisis they made worse by not approving funding? That one? 😉 Just want to be sure I have it straight. 😉 You have to admit that they sure wouldn't have approved funding otherwise and they did. ..after lots and lots of human suffering and death, of course. 😉

  45. You had me at P3 (Orion) pilot. When I first moved to CA, P3s would constantly come in over my apt or house for landing at Moffett. Now Moffett's basically closed. Hey, great video. Your videos rock. It's nice to hear some of the back story.

  46. Manufactured border crisis? The fact that you would think that explains so much about you man. Every Nation needs a border. In fact the military services primary job is to provide security to its citizens by enforcing the Border.

  47. What unit you’re in you’d usually go with Batt name like 1st Army or 110th or ID as a running call out like 9th ID or 28th like yelling “Blue!”

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