Recently everything for me has started with a quick look at a Facebook post. I joined Warrior Pointe by looking at a Facebook post. I got involved in the warfighter community through a Facebook post, and tonight as I glanced at my phone for 40 seconds to see what was going on in Facebook world, I saw Mr. Boone Culter had posted he was in Los Angeles for a few days. I sent him a message asking if he wanted to meet and have a beer or a cup of coffee, and sure enough, he responded back with “sure, why not.” A few hours later I was driving my car into the El Pollo Loco restaurant in Burbank, CA and parked in front of an SUV with Nevada plates and a hat on the dashboard with 82nd Airborne Division on it. I knew I parked right in front of Boone’s car. I took a deep breath, grabbed the few Warrior Pointe rubber bracelets, and walked in. It felt like I was about to meet a celebrity.
I walked in and looked around the empty restaurant; I saw a few people that no way resembled any one that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Boone. In the corner, I saw him sitting listening to something on his phone and eating dinner. Very nervously, and sheepishly I approached him to say hello. He spotted me with my WP shirt, stood up and shook my hand and asked me to join him. First thing that went through my head was, “Holy crap I am sitting with Boone Cutler!!”
We began to talk, what more could we do in that restaurant? We spoke about a lot of things. We spoke about family, friends, the past, the veteran community, and how we got started in life, the military, and everything else. The problem with getting two veterans together to talk is neither one ever shuts up! We swapped stories, and reminisced about our glory days! I would like to share with all of you a few of the things Boone and I discussed and talked about.
We shared some personal things that neither one of us want to get too detailed about. We talked about our families, our lives, our jobs, and what we do for a living. We spoke like two battle buddies that were catching up on old times. Granted, this was the first time him and I met, but we carried the conversation as if we had known each other for ages. This comes from one reason only - a bond that we share - an uncommon bond for the common few. The warfighter community knows of one thing when it comes to each other: one team, one fight, ONE FAMILY.
The conversation bounced all over the place: how we first enlisted, why we enlisted in the branch, and some cool stories about deployments. This lead to a discussion of why someone would stretch the truth in his or her stories. Could it be we feel inadequate in what we did? Or could it be some of the drugs we take that skews our respective worlds? Boone shared a story where he and his buddies were talking about the HBO TV series Band of Brothers and the Battle of the Bulge. One of the patients there began to speak in the firt person perspective as if he was at the battle of the bulge. Boone believes it to be the medicine he may have been taking. My mind leads me to a different reason— it was to socially fit in amongst peers. An example I gave him was myself. Keep in mind, I am damn proud of my service in the United States Air Force. I even have my last rank tattooed on my right arm; but sitting across the table from Boone Cutler I could already feel the pressure of not meeting his expectations. I would understand why someone might lie about his or service to fit in and not feel inadequate. I explained that to Boone and he reminded me of something, “We all signed on the dotted line, it makes no difference”. Be proud of who you are, be proud of your service to your branch, and to your country and above all be proud of the men and women that served alongside you.
We discussed a black spot in Warrior Pointe history, and how many feared it would have crushed the organization to an end and smear the veteran community with a black eye. At that time I had decided to take the reigns and go with it and see what I could accomplish. I had expected a close end to the organization with a loss of all members, but because of the strong veteran community Warrior Pointe actually did the opposite. Instead of its near miss with destruction it propelled forward and away from the black eye. Boone explained to me that it was the entire community that got together and would not allow such a thing to happen. And for that, I and the veteran community are grateful to such organizations and people like Boone Cutler, Dysfunctional Veterans, Soldier Hard and Redcon1 Music, Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said, Guardians of Valor, and Battle in Distress. As part of this intricate family I am humbled to know that I can count on such great men and women to stand shoulder to shoulder with.
We discussed a topic that I heavily talk about and support: how we, as a veteran society, have become dependent on social media and Facebook (myself included). We spoke about the numbers game that I always bring up. 22 million veterans in this country, and we assume and both agree a fair number of 1.5 million veterans are on Facebook. We aren’t even scratching the surface of the stigmas that affect us by only being on Facebook. Boone reiterated the notion that we need to get away from the virtual world and get back into reality. And to accomplish that Warrior Pointe has to succeed in its mission. Our mission is the chapters - to create chapters and meet face to face. We must have conversations just like Boone and I did. I can honestly sit here and say Mr. Boone Cutler is an avid supporter of the Warrior Pointe’s mission.
We laughed about some of the things we did in the military and how the Air Force operates versus how the Army operates. I shared a few stories of Air Force weapons training and how some of us that did convoy security were beside ourselves when we actually got real Army training with weapons. We discussed how the grass is not really green on the other side. We both separated from the military for reasons that we somewhat regret. If we had the option, we both would have made different decisions.
As the hour passed we both became more comfortable and began to talk like old friends. The other restaurant patrons no longer were visible, and the employees there were just shadows in the background. We became two crusty old vets shooting the shit about the good old times. The time passed and we bounced back and forth sharing ideas. I confessed to Boone that I was star struck sitting across from a man of his stature - someone who has done so much for the veteran community and that the man can have an entire veteran community move mountains with just his words. I am sure he very well knows that with great power comes great responsibility. A leader among men leads, and the men follow, and some just need to get out of the way.
I am sharing with you all a very small portion of our conversation, some things I do not feel comfortable sharing, and some I have already forgotten. But for someone like Mr. Boone Cutler who has paved the way for veterans to fight for our rights, and to educate the community, for someone like him to give me his time and presence has sincerely humbled me. If it wasn’t for the sheer fact that I am writing this right after talking to him, I may have forgotten some details. To some that are already thinking about the question, before you ask -- yes, his beard is as more epic in real life than what you see in photos. Also, he is a pure gentleman and a warrior to be reckoned with.
Mr. Boone Cutler, thank you from the bottom of my heart for spending two some hours with me and talking. Time is something we cannot give back, and the time you gave me was very valuable and I thank you for it. I also want to thank you for your support in Warrior Pointe’s mission and what it stands for. If it weren’t for men like you we wouldn’t be where we are now. I pray this was not the only time we meet and we sit down for dinner or coffee in the future again.
As Boone always says:
All the way
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