Happy Veterans Day, fellow Veterans!!

_GERII, PVT_USMC on 17OCT2014 (age 18)-1Happy Veterans Day – first to my wonderful son Gerald II, who recently graduated from U.S. Marine Corps basic training in San Diego last month (October) and who, after having spent some time home, is now en route back to California for infantry training where he’ll be for the next two months or so.  Currently, he plans to shift over to a USMC Reserve unit shortly after training so that he can attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. There he’ll study medicine (cardiology) before going on to Marine officer training. Am I a proud dad or what? I already miss my boy! Anyway, I’m working on a blog article that discusses my visit to San Diego last month to witness his graduation ceremony from USMC recruit training.Today is my son’s first Veterans Day!
Semper fidelis to you, my wonderful son – and to all other new Marines!
AND…semper fi and a belated Happy 239th Birthday to the United States Marine Corps (November 10th)! I’ll always fondly recall the wonderful times I had serving  – and having some great off-duty fun – with the Marines who were assigned to my ship and naval fleet units during the Persian Gulf War era under Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. What an awesome bunch of guys – and women too!

Happy Veterans Day – finally to all veterans who honorably served before, with and along side me and to most especially to those who are serving in various locations in America and throughout the globe right now! I am blessed, honored and privileged to be a member of the most unique fraternity on this earth: the United States Armed Forces!
It is the VeteranKeepin’ It…REAL!

LGBT Pride Month: What It Means to Me As A Veteran

Almost two weeks ago, on May 31, 2013, an important event took place in ourPresident Barack Obama, soldiers, LGBTQ flag nation’s capital. Unfortunately, certain news media outlets either didn’t cover the story or it was quickly glossed over.  So I’ll mention it here. President Barack Obama, in a Presidential Proclamation, named June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. You can read the president’s proclamation here.

In that same week, fellow blogger, nudist and friend Roger Poladopoulos, knowing I’d served a full career in the Navy and am a supporter of many LGBT issues and causes, asked me to write an article for his then-blog, A Guy Without Boxers (now ReNude Pride), sharing my thoughts on what LGBT Pride Month means to me as a veteran. I was more than happy and honored to do that for it gives me an opportunity to give a retired veteran’s view since the lifting of the ban against LGBT/GLBT people serving in America’s armed forces.
Here’s the article.

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The death of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT)Since President Barack Obama did away with the highly ineffective policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) almost two years ago, LGBT Pride Month has had – and it continues to have, more of a significant meaning to me as a veteran. I served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, joining at the tail-end of heavy U.S. NCIS (United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (formerly NIS)) witch-hunts and screenings designed to detect and eradicate any Sailor or Marine thought or suspected to be gay or bisexual. Such actions were not only being conducted in the Navy and Marine Corps but in all of America’s armed forces!

United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (seal)Over the span of my career, up to the point after the DADT policy was established (under President Clinton in late 1993), and training implemented at the naval command bases and ships where I was stationed, I have witnessed several loyal, honest and dedicated men and women get discharged or forced out of the Navy and Marines for being gay or suspected of being gay or bisexual. Many other gay and bisexual men and women who were still serving decided not to reenlist due to the stresses of having to live undercover or “on the low” because of their sexuality. I was a telecommunications specialist in the Navy. Often my job meant being privy to the knowledge of some of those Sailors or Marines being discharged from military service due to homosexuality. It always broke my heart to see the names of people I knew, some who wereus-military-seals1 friends or acquaintances, being kicked out and being made to start their lives over simply because of found or suspected homosexuality. I always counted myself as being one of the fortunate ones whom some of those fine men and women – my brothers and sisters in uniform, considered to be a trusted friend and confidant.

There is an adage that says, “If one is chained, then all are chained; if one isn’t free, then no one is free.(or words to that effect). I’d like to think that whenever one of the world’s greatest armed forces allows for bigotry and hatred to function within its leadership and ranks, that military entity DoD_Pride_Month_2013_postercannot be an effective defender of a nation or its people, let alone the world. President Harry S Truman must have realized this when he ordered the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in July 1948.

With gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women now free to serve openly in America’s military, the chains that once bound its potential for growth have been severed. This means that except for those few dissenters who protest about having to serve alongside known gays and bisexuals, overall EVERY man and woman, regardless of their sexual orientation, can now serve their country with much fuller distinction, individual potential, honor and pride; pride not just in the respective branch of service in which that person serves but pride as in being recognized, respected and accepted for being a complete individual who wears the military uniform!

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Keep Your Free Meal, Applebee’s!

Happy Veterans Day to all my fellow veterans in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard …AND to those in the Reserves and National Guard units. Thank you for your service!

I posted the following letter on Funnybook a few hours ago today (Sunday, November 11, 2012). When you read it, you’ll see what happened. Some on Funnybook supported me and said this was indeed petty of Applebee’s. So far, only one person failed to see things through my eyes. This person made judgmental and harshly critical comments and said that my letter was “too long” and was “causing a stink” all before he said that he thought that I was the one who was being petty. Then the person added that he hopes I “don’t get mad“. Well, I certainly wasn’t happy with his comment but like the mature person, I said that his opinion was noted. (sigh)

Regardless of whether you readers agree or disagree, I’m not asking for negative opinions here on my blog about a situation which happened in MY life and happened to be a personal experience.  Yes, I got judged harshly but I made a final comment in response to that one person because I don’t believe in conducting an argument with anyone who has no clue or all the facts to things happening in my life, especially on Funnybook. Anyway, without further ado, here is my letter to Applebee’s, posted to their Funnybook page and shared here simply to be real of what happened to ME and how I felt.
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“Dear Applebee’s,

I visited your establishment this evening (Sunday, November 11, 2012) on Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw, Michigan. It was 5:30pm and I’d just gotten off a long day of work. I figured that since you were giving a free meal to active duty and retired veterans on Veterans Day, that I, as a retired U.S. Navy veteran, would stop by to get mine. Due to other obligations, I knew I would not be able to stay to eat the meal at Applebee’s so I decided I’d get it to go. When I made that request of your door greeter, I was told “no”; that it was not Applebee’s policy to allow meal-to-go under the “Free Meal to Veterans” promotion. I asked to see the manager to confirm this. After waiting for about ten minutes, the manager finally arrived to greet me. I identified myself as a veteran and made the same “meal-to-go” request. I asked him why couldn’t people, in particular veterans, who could not stay or who had no desire to stay at Applebee’s for whatever reason, get their meal to go. The manager said something to the effect that “it was not Applebee’s policy to allow meals to-go under the “free meal to veterans” promotion due to the goal of wanting to have veterans dine together at Applebee’s” (or words to that effect).

Mind you Applebee’s, your establishment on Tittabawassee Road was already crowded (as is normally the case on Sundays), both in the general seating area, at the bar, and by or in the foyer where customers wait to be seated. I asked the manager if Applebee’s still had a meal-to-go policy for customers in general. He said “yes”. I asked, “Other than my being a veteran, and the meal you’re offering being free, what is the difference between me and another customer requesting a meal to go?” The manager seemed stumped by this logical question and retorted with some comment to the effect that “If they [Applebee’s] gave me a meal to go they would have to do for everybody [meaning every veteran].” I explained that I was not “everybody” but even if another veteran had come in and wanted his/her meal to go, that would in no way hurt Applebee’s. At this point, the manager stated that he would go confirm the policy with the General Manager. I waited five more minutes before this first manager returned, only to repeat to me that “no veteran will be allowed to have a free meal to go under the Veterans Day promotion.”

Applebee’s, while I can appreciate your offering to give a free meal to veterans, you have, at the same time, taken upon yourself to be selfish, petty and even hypocritical with your “promotion of appreciation” to the veterans of the United States of America. Clearly, you have demonstrated as one does when they say they will do one thing but at the same time, maintain some hidden string attachment to such an offer. Rather than be friendly and make harmless allowances to those who may need or require it, you, Applebee’s, would rather be trivial with the details and play childish games with your “free meal to veterans” promotion offer; I’m talking about me and other men and women who have taken and followed orders which have often threaten our safety and our lives. How dare you!

Applebee’s, you acted with little to no understanding that not everyone has the luxury of convenience to sit in one of your establishments to eat a meal just because you say it has to be. There are customers who need their meal to go for various reasons. Your manager confirmed to me that you have still have “meal to go/carry out” program. I already know that you do because on non-VETERANS DAYS, I’ve ordered such from one of your establishments in this area. But now, because you have a promotion giving away something that is FREE… to a VETERAN, no less, your program does not apply. This makes no damn sense. I have to wonder that if Applebee’s is willing to be this petty, what else is Applebee’s willing to do or not do with regards to its customers, especially a Veteran?

Well Applebee’s congratulations. You have lost THIS Veteran as a customer! I will tell others of your restrictive pettiness and hypocrisy regarding this incident. Please understand: I did not need your “free” meal but since you seemed so kind and gracious for my military service, like any soldier, I decided to take you up on your offer. However, I see that you have some hidden, baseless exceptions that are applicable to one group but not another – for the same thing, with the other difference being MONEY. To me, this falls dangerously close and along the lines of bias against the military and against the veterans who have made more costly sacrifices than the pounds of food you throw away in the garbage each night. I cannot and will not support ANY establishment that shows itself discriminate or unfriendly to veterans. Consider Applebee’s Grill & Bar added to my list of such places of questionable character with regard to the fair treatment of America’s veterans.

– G E “RobFather” Robinson, Sr., USN, (Ret)”
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People comment about things that affect them negatively all the time. I only want people to respect the fact that I shall be no different.

Keepin’ It…REAL!