Monday, July 21, 2014


Jim Garner, my hero, just died. When I was in the Army, the only way my daughter could stay up late if she was watching The Rockford Files with me. He was my hero. I was Jim Rockford. He lived with his dad in a trailer and had a great car. It was one of those sporty Pontiac's. He loved that car. 

After the military, I can remember writing a piece about him for a now defunct newspaper. I was maxed out upset to see the show end and went through a period of grief. How could Jim leave us? Looking back now, "The Rockford Files" was a much simpler time. His cases were pretty straight forward. Rarely was there gun play. I think he had a girl friend but there was little snuggle time if you get my drift. Rocky, the Dad lived with him but we don't much family drama: no Twitter/Facebook. I still miss Jim Rockford. God bless him on his journey. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Drugs are a scourge. Let's get that out of the way. I often debate friends, other professionals, whoever they might be, whether "pot" is a gateway drug. Recently, I have confirmed it again in my own mind and it is bullshit to say it isn't. Here's an example. 

In a set of circumstances, I tried to assist a family member in getting into a drug rehab program. Here are a string of emails, disguised of course. The issue at hand is getting a "heroin addict" in a program. 

I think I have a plan of action.  I will pass my ideas along to the Grandparents who will
possibly fund treatment if neccesary. 

Here is my plan: As a test of resolve and intent, I asked the immediate family members (mother/father) to set up a meeting with the "addict," the two of them and me. I would discuss what would be needed for me to recommend to the grandparents that they get financially involved, i. e., paying for rehab. 

This is a test for the parents, obviously.  The parents wrote the book on dysfunction. If the parents cannot make this happen, rehab would be a waste of time and money. For someone to go to rehab, get clean and return to the same environment is simply stupid. The addict/daughter has to want this, not simply be willing, the parents must understand the commitment they are signing up for.  

Of all the drugs, heroin is the most difficult to come off and stay off.  To me, with my years of experience with soldiers and drugs, this is step #1.

This is the Grandmother's email to the addict granddaughter: 

  1. The only thing that matters between you and me is how very much I have always loved you, and always will; how much you love me.
  2. I know you are a heroin addict. (Just learned.)

Any shame or disappointment or anger you imagine I might feel would be meaningless even if it were real. Any disappointment or anger or betrayal you might feel – because I did not figure out what was going on with you, because I failed in my role as the source of strength and wisdom you believed you could count on, your invincible protector – all of that is now meaningless, even if it were real.

 The world boils down to two incontrovertible truths:

  1. You are in a fight for your life. And the only person in the world who can fight that fight … is you.
  2. Games and denial will kill you. If you choose not to fight, you will die. If you choose to die, it is my greatest wish that, as you take your last breath, you will hold in your heart all the love I feel for you. You have always been the light of my life. Nothing you have ever done, or ever will do, can ever change that.

 Just like everything else in life, this is a choice. This is the most difficult choice you will ever face, because you are engaged with a demon that will never wave a fond farewell. Every day of your life, you will wake up and look in the mirror and see that demon standing beside you. Your only hope of survival is to surround yourself with people who know how to fight this demon. People who will help you remember how very important you are to the world. Not just to my world; but to your own world. The talents you bring to the world. Your capacity to love and be loved by so many of us. All of that is worth living for.

 Be very clear, no matter how much we all wish it were not so – no matter how desperately I wish I could wrap you in my arms and save you from this ravenous disease that can, without doubt, steal you away from me … there is no one currently in your world, who can give you the help you need. You must choose to seek that help, those people, on your own.

 Please, Please choose to fight. Please choose to seek the people who can help you. You do not have to walk this horror alone.

One of the great advantages of being a soldier all these years, you get hardened to the BS factor. All we are interested in is the "Addict." This is only about her. I don't hold out much hope, the term, the demon, pretty appropriate. . 

All of her family appear to be pretty sad characters. Based on past experience I have to say, to be even more candid, I have to say that I am not so much hopeful as realistic. The addict is not going to follow through and when they do, she is 26 -- so no minor/legal issues; plus I can't imagine two more toxic people to have around someone who might be trying to find the courage to heal. And certainly, they aren't exactly role models for the process! Admit to regularly smoking pot and abusing other drugs and alcohol. 

Is pot a gateway drug?

Me: what are you taking?
Addict: I have been clean for a week. 
Before then?
Were you shooting up
How did you start with drugs? 
I started with marihuana. 
Then what happened?
After awhile, I wanted something stronger. 
Do you think all drug users begin with pot
I do. It does with everybody I know. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Rational Emotive Therapy

"Don't believe everything you think" (saw this on a bumper sticker). This is the theme of RET (Rational Emotive Therapy) called by many names and basically says, "it is not what happens to you that is the problem but how you look at it." In other words, what you think about it. 

Albert Ellis, who has departed this life and I am not sure where he is in the next as he was an avowed atheist. But, he was so objective about issues that this is what he would say: "Nobody has ever proven there is a God but nobody has ever proven, there isn't." See what I mean. Your thoughts will often get you in a personal abyss, if you are not on top of them. We already do it but work to always have positive conversations in your head. Simple example, You think something. "Someone doesn't like you." Why is that
"They snubbed me." 
"They didn't speak to me." 
Maybe they didn't see me. Their life is out of control, they are just trying to make it through the day. Loads of things. (Self talk in your head). You control your thinking and "don't believe everything you think."


Monday, June 30, 2014

The New VA Chief Nomination.

The Prez's new appointment to be VA Chief sounds good on paper. I am a midget so not a big deal what I think. The big news is that he is a West Point Graduate and business type. His education at West Point costs us a cool mil, minimum. For a great education he had to pay back five years. What I have noticed with West Point, "ring knockers," as we call them: They have loyalty to West Point, not necessarily to the military that serves the country. So, is he a good choice and does touting his West Point connection make him the best. Maybe, he is a paratrooper and this gives him points. VA has some problems and I do think they overall get a bad wrap. Thinking one man is magic, what the f..k are we smoking!!! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Sometimes in life, things happen to you that defy explanation. Not that it is all that unorthodox but still there are times in your life that are "gee whiz" events. I just had one. Sharon, a really good friend, fought breast cancer for two or three years. To say that she was pretty remarkable before the breast cancer diagnosis would be an understatement. After the diagnosis, she ramped it up several notches. 

Cancer is such an insidious disease and it never affects any two just alike. Sharon did everything right. She fought it: a double mastectomy, clinical trials, you name it. None of it worked. All of us who knew her had no doubt she would beat it. She didn't. 

Sharon's life had never been easy. Fighting for things, the child who had to be the parent to a mother with mental illness. Always she was charging. My goodness. A marriage that died because of a narcissistic physician husband who believed what people told him about physicians' place in the Trinity. Finally, divorced, relieved of this burden, she went to school; working, making contributions in her community, her church. In a word, she was fantastic. Her loss to the universe--the collective holes in our hearts; we thought the universe might possibly sink under the weight of our grief. 

Now gone a couple of years, her husband, Nick, calls me. "Want to go to a ballgame." Did I mention that Sharon's sport passion in life was baseball. She didnot just love it, she breathed it, her overwhelming interest; the SF Giants. Equally she loved the Oakland Athletics. Let's face it, she loved baseball. She knew the players, stats--she believed in the strategy. Want to get in a discussion? Start talking about the game being slow. "You have to understand the strategy," she would emphatically say. She could have easily been an announcer or better still, a manager. 

(To Nick, on a game) "Sure." 
"Well, there are a couple of day games." To be honest I was not all that excited (I love to watch baseball but mainly from the comfort of my living room where my ADD could multitask). She mildly chastised me a couple of times for getting restless at games. She only put up with me because I was always up for going mostly to anything, but, for her, my company at baseball was just fine. 

Nick mentioned, "I feel compelled, haven't been to a game lately and Sharon would want to go." I didn't take much convincing as a flood of memories swamped me. So, here we are going to the game. We don't even have tickets. We did make it: went to the ballgame. Saw a "no hitter," We were stunned. I am convinced that Sharon made it happen. She loved baseball and the two people she loved most in the whole world were at the game and she needed to make it special and what better way than a "no hitter." A miracle. ⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾

Monday, June 23, 2014


Watching these columns of ISSI trucks in the desert snaking their way toward Baghdad maybe. A half dozen F15s could have laid waste to this group. If we are going to do something, let's do it and get the hell out. Why would we wait on the Iraqis, we have been doing that for years and they haven't done s..t. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

VIETNAM Confession

I heard today a really interesting statistic: 75% of Vietvets are dead. Wow. It is true of my old unit. It reminded me of something confessing at this late date of my life. I am not sure if I told you but when I first got to Germany this Lieutentamt came to see me as he had orders for Vietnam and I had just returned. We had a talk and he left out of my office, got in his MG and defected to Sweden. It got to be a big joke: don't be letting people talk to the chaplain, they'll go AWOL (absent without leave).  Although most took it as a joke, the commander didn't. He became convinced that I talked the Lieutenant into deserting. The commander and I were already at odds, however.  It was a missile unit and he thought I was gone from the headquarters. I disagreed and felt my job was visiting the troops. The commander reported his suspicions to our higher headquarters. Some Major came out to question me. I denied saying anything to the Lieutenant that would cause him to go AWOL. The Major was gung HO, pretty arrogant and I eventually told him to kiss my behind. It was a very tough time in Germany in general. Many of the soldiers had just come from Vietnam. They had been at war and here the Army wanted them to soldier, spit shine boots, etc. They weren't having any of it. Lots got involved in drugs. Many, simply crashed and burned. I blame the Generals and higher ups. They didn't do anything to help. The racial climate was awful. As for my situation, it blew over. 

Did I suggest to the Lieutenant that he should consider another course of action. Yes. I told him what Vietnam was like. That he had a good chance of getting killed, that I had become disillusioned with the war and that I would probably go back to Vietnam because I had an obligation to the troops. Yes, I confess, I probably encouraged him to defect. 40 years later, how do I feel about it. I wish I had talked more into it.