“If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”
Today I saw a story on the news about a man that is in the Guinness book of records as the oldest practicing barber. The gentleman is currently 107 years old. He said that he has been cutting hair since he was eleven years old. That is 96 years of cutting hair. This is proof that we can have longevity in this industry if we do things the right way. We must hone our skills. One of the definitions of honing is to make more acute or effective; improve; perfect.
I have often heard the saying that practice makes perfect. I tend to disagree with that statement. I believe that perfect practice makes perfect. We can get very good at doing things wrong. This is where honing comes in. We must become more effective. We must seek to improve on a daily basis. As we improve, then we will want to perfect whatever it is that we do. For a long time, this was my problem. I was looking for what it was that i needed to hone, but I was not sure what it was. I was good at a number of things, but I did not feel as if I was just exemplary in any particular portion of my craft. This is what many have called over the years, “ A Jack of all trades & a master of none. I was good at pretty much all of the components of my trade, and I could easily explain what it was that I had learned to someone else. So, even though others had seen this ability in me long before I did, I was unaware of the area in which it was that I excelled. I need to hone my instructional and facilitation skills. This is where I really stood out, but I went about it all the wrong way.
I spent a good portion of my career enhancing the institutions of others. Some early in my career were very instrumental in my development. I would take what they had to present, and add my flavor to their instructional methods. Then I found myself in the corporate grind that began to deteriorate my drive. It was more about the money than it was about the understanding. There was a lot of internal conflict with following procedure versus really teaching the intricate details of the industry that I love so much. This really caused a strain me. Especially when dealing with supervisors that had no true knowledge of the actual technical and soft skills needed to truly help the masses to excel. Not everyone learns and understands the same, and a production line form of disseminating information is not good for the overall benefit of those involved in implementing their learned skills into action. Then I realized that these facilitation skills can be used in a myriad of arenas. I had to get away from those other entities to get back to my real appreciation of the need for detailed instruction. Now I no longer have to compromise the real mission and values to achieve the desired results. This is where each of us need to find ourselves. We must define ourselves for ourself. If we do not, then we will find ourselves consumed with the expectations of others for us.
It was great seeing so many of my brothers and sisters from the Marine Corps on social media celebrating the historic birthdate of the most fierce, effecient, and effective fighting force that the world has ever know. The thing that always dampens my spirit a little is that not all Marines are really down for Marines. Our government is not, & historically has not been down for all of its veterans. That does also go for many of the current, or those that were mistreated during their enlistment. Racism is not extinct within the armed forces, as many might believe. There are still those that can overlook the uniform, and continue to harbor the bigoted mindsets that they brought along with them. Just because we trained together, many made it clear that we will not reign together.
I will never claim to have been an angel during my enlistment, but I did take full responsibility for all of my actions. This cannot be said to have been reciprocated. I was injured during my time on the Corps, but I was forced to train as if we were in war. My commanding officer for a deployment at that time said that there was no such thing as limited duty in war. As a Marine, I followed the orders of the officer, and continued to press on through all of the pain. The suffering I endured as a result of the decisions of this one individual still plague me to this day, and with it being twenty years later it is only getting worse. Before this occurrence, I had become a better man from the prior mistakes that I had made. I learned from them, and made a vow to do all the I could to live up to the Corps values that had been instilled within us all (or so I thought.) I was a first class Physical Fitness Training recipient & a rifle expert. I was back on track, and regaining the leadership qualities that I had once displayed.
As I was continuing to be forced to train, against the recommendations of the corpsmen and other medical staff, the pain began to become unbearable. The medical staff said that they were not allowed to give any stronger medications without their being some actual surgery or other major medical emergency. So, I was dealing with all of the ever-increasing pain with no more than 800 milligram Motrin. I was at my wits end. I had to find some form of relief, but I was & still find myself totally against the inputting of the dangerous illegal narcotics which many that I knew turned to. I for that reason turned to alcohol as an anesthetic for the excruciating pain that I was enduring. I began to drink at any and every opportunity that presented itself. Early in the morning or late at night. During lunch breaks as well as on the job if I could. I just wanted some relief. This behavior did not take long to start causing issues., but even before these issues, I found myself at odds with the new First Sergeant that had joined the company. By this time, the injuries had become so bad that I had been forced into limited duty. As car inspections were being performed before a 96 (a four day holiday weekend), the First Sergeant call the Company Commander over to my car. The First Seargent asked the Company Commander how an E-3 could afford a car like mine. Then he began to insinuate that I must have more money coming in than just my military pay. This was the beginning of the end. Due to my harassment, I began to live off of the base, but this did not bode well for and individual that was drinking incessantly in an attempt to function without crippling pain. I soon after received my first DWI. During that encounter I was informed that some marijuana was found. I did not smoke weed, so I made it clear that did not belong to me. After some brief investigations and drug tests, the city dropped the possession charge. This enraged the aforementioned first sergeant. I believe that he now felt that he had his proof that I was accumulating money by selling drugs. So, not only were things deteriorating at work, but my body was getting worse as well.With that being said, the drinking habit was getting heavier and more potent. I had progressed from just drinking beer, to mixing that with strong liquor. Subsequently, I did acquire another DWI. I was sent to a treatment facility on base during the work week to deal with the problem. I could not drink, but I chose to take obscene amounts of over-the counter medicine.i would mix those with the prescription medication that I had. The treatment offered plenty of suggestions to avoid drinking, but they did not in any way help me to learn hope to manage the pain. So, as I returned to work the downward spiral again progressed without any further medical assistance to deal with the root of the problem.
I was eventually sent to Bethesda, Maryland for the military to get me an MRI on my back. I was still being forced to train when the results came back of multiple herniated disc in my lumbar region. That is when I was referred for a medical board for separation due to physical limitations. This fact came at the disdain of the First Sergeant, and he was hell bent not to let that happen. I had received another DWI as I tried to deal with the excruciating pain of service. Even though I had received multiple awards of appreciation for my service, and my proficiency and conduct numbers remained average other than the infractions, the racist staff nco did everything within his power to ruin me. I was still forced to train, and he went even further with the battalion commander deployed at the time. I had just been acquitted at a Court Martial for possession of marijuana. The first sergeant’s testimony was thrown out of the case for his repeated false accusations toward me. The Captain That was standing in for the Lieutenant Colonel was a good aquatint of the first Sergeant, since he was the commander of our sister company. He had no knowledge of my situation, and was going strictly off of the word of the first Sergeant. So, even though I had requested a change of command after the malicious statements given by the first Sergeant, he still decided not to let my medical separation proceed. He used his relationship to get a pattern of misconduct brought against me. Then he moved my command, instead of just letting the process continue before he had pushed for that fraudulent court martial. So, the pattern of misconduct was accepted.
I have had no assistance from the VA due to my Other Than Honorable discharge. All of the pain persists, but no help along the way. Even though I had put money into the Montgomery G.I. Bill. I was not given anything since I had to wait more than 10 years to really start a school where I needed to utilize it. I have been fighting for almost two decades to get my discharge upgraded. So, I get tired of all of the rhetoric of how this nation takes care of its veterans. Our history has proven that is not usually the case with veterans of color. The aforementioned GI bill was not even offered to black veterans during its inception, and that was one of the greatest catalyst to the White middle and upper class. This nation always uses it’s veterans as a rallying point, but they do not rally around them. We see the rough conditions of the VA system itself, and that system is not helping all of the veterans. As I continue a good deal of community service and volunteer work, and I see how many of the ho else’s and destitute are veterans. This is absurd, and it is sickening in a nation that boasts so much patriotism. So, the next time that you hear people claiming how much they support our troops and veterans, ask them what have they done to support them? Then you will see that many have not, do not and will not really do anything. DON’T TALK ABOUT IT, BE ABOUT IT!