I Heart Fake Combat Vets

justin gourley
January 21, 2016  
Categories: Op-Eds


I’ve always been extremely proud of my military service, especially my combat service. I used to think serving in combat made me stronger. I thought facing death for my country earned me a spot at the feet of men who fought their way to independence in the American Revolution, braved massed cannons at Gettysburg, bayonetted Germans at Bealleau Wood, incinerated Japanese bunkers on Iwo Jima, held the perimeter at Khe Sanh, cleared jihadists from Fallujah, and came home to become model citizens.

But that was the old me. The old me would never dream of using my veteran status to beg for pity. The old me was proud and felt a responsibility to the citizens he had sworn to defend.

The new me has been converted.

The new me understands that serving in combat basically ruined me. The new me needs other vets to give me yard signs and business cards so I can advertise my combat-related sensitivities to the world. I hadn’t realized this, but now I know that hearing fireworks or seeing an American with a gun will make me scream “They’re in the wire!” while having a flashback (even though I never saw the enemy in the wire).

I have two proud, brave, “combat vets” to thank for showing me this truth. I’ve written about one of them before: Justin Gourley served in the Navy, never heard a shot at fired in anger, but caught the PTSD from going to an anti-terrorism class and (maybe) seeing a nonfatal shipboard accident. Since Gourley is so horribly disabled by PTSD, he thought it would be a good idea to tell the entire world we veterans can’t handle 4th of July fireworks.


Here’s Gourley proudly displaying his own sign, which for some reason says he’s a veteran of combat he never actually experienced. Must be a misprint. I’m sure he’d never claim to be a combat veteran if he really isn’t.


And a couple weeks ago another brave, traumatized war veteran decided to “help” by telling America that some veterans will have a PTSD attack if they see an openly-carried pistol. His name is Art Leal, and he’s a community activist in Odessa, Texas. Art is so concerned about veterans breaking down at the sight of a pistol, he handed out cards warning business owners and spoke to a local reporter about how sensitive some veterans are.



But make no mistake: ART LEAL IS A BY-GOD COMBAT VETERAN. He was a hardcore, trigger-pulling M1 Abrams tank mechanic in Desert Storm, and was almost in a battle once!


For some odd reason, a lot of veterans were upset at Leal’s attempt to portray them as terrified victims. Some vets even questioned Leal’s claim of being a combat veteran. I’ve tried to get clarification from Leal, but he is very bravely deleting negative comments (or even honest questions) from his public Facebook page, while courageously leaving all positive comments.

Of course, Leal insisted he “did see death and destruction”, although he didn’t say when, what, or how.

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Whatever he saw, it was bad enough to 30% disable him. He’s really proud of being disabled. In fact, he’s so proud of being disabled he even lists his disability rating on his social activist resume.

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He supports the “I’m scared of fireworks” signs championed by combat…I mean, “accident/terrorism class veteran” Justin Gourley. What’s really cool about the 4th of July fireworks signs is that they inspired other signs: now we veterans aren’t just scared of fireworks, we’re basically no different than a terrified Chihuahua.


Some kind-hearted people are so worried about poor, pitiful, traumatized veterans, they even made a sign telling the public to watch out for us on Halloween.


The new me, in the spirit of Justin Gourley and Art Leal, has decided to jump on the “stop living normal lives because it might bother a veteran” bandwagon. Here are my contributions to the noble effort to convince America that combat veterans are weak, hypersensitive, and expect the country to stop doing anything that might somehow bother us in any way.

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 11.25.38 AM



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Now that I’ve proven I’m appropriately traumatized, victimized, and triggered, please send my monthly check to:

Chris Hernandez, professionally traumatized veteran

c/o Breach Bang Clear

Thank you, Justin Gourley, Art Leal and all other “combat vets” who never actually served in combat. You’ve saved me. You’ve shown me the error of my ways. You’ve convinced me to give up pride and dignity, and instead, embrace a desperate quest for pity. I’m so converted, I’m not just going to post a PTSD sign in my yard and hand out PTSD cards, I’m going to staple PTSD cards to PTSD signs and give poor, traumatized vets a double dose of PTSD pity!

And if you’re a civilian, please remember not to do anything normal, no matter how benign, if it might somehow bother a veteran in any way. Justin, Art and I didn’t join the military to serve you. We demand that you serve us.

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Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez

About the Author

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin' team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles - the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn't groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.


  1. Uncle Sam's Mistress

    This was a brilliant f***ing read! As an advocate, I have so many sad stories of which the Gourley’s have played a hand in. It’s disgusting and down right disturbing the lengths they will go to, to protect their lies. What bothers me is that no matter how much comes forth…they still manage to keep doing more! Is there no way to shut these fools down? I really had to laugh over this piece because when my husband read the fireworks signs he nearly had a fit! He was so enraged that this guy (he knew the story) made this sign and supposedly sent so many other veterans these signs. I have not seen one single other person proudly post about this sign in their yard. It’s a small military community we have where someone sees something somewhere about someone! How are they continuing this scam? But, I have had my shares of entitlement issues among other non-combat Veterans and now that my husband has passed away…I realized that he haaaaaated telling anyone he was a disabled veteran. The last place I would ever think of listing any disability like this would be on a business activist site or a business card to say the least. Makes you want to hunt them down, smack them around and put a boot up their a@@ while yelling “suck it up, Buttercup!”. What bothers me the most is that he is getting disability and so is this Leal character. When I see the daily struggles of those who really need it and earned it, only to be turned away. I hope Karma gets her bitch on and makes their life hell. Thank you for the chuckles this morning….I don’t think I have ever gotten so tickled about Valentine’s Day in my life!!! God Bless~ Uncle Sam’s Mistress

  2. MM1

    Piss on that shitbag Gourley. I appreciated Chris bringing this dude and his BS to light in his last article, and I’m glad to see it hasn’t faded into the shadows. That dude was in my division (Reactor Propulsion, aka “M-div”) on the George Washington and was a non-entity. He went TAD to the master-at-arms shack and I think he struck out to that rate (took the test to go from an undesignated E-3 to a MA third class). I don’t know anything about the anti-terrorism training or his being there when they pulled out the crispy fishermen from a civilian fishing boat that caught fire, but I will say again that the whole arresting gear failure was a complete crock of shit. Long story short, during flight ops, an arresting gear cable parted during a catch and the cable bullwhipped a handful of flight deck skittles. One chief was pretty badly messed up and had to be medevac’d (I never did hear his outcome) and a few others were torn up to a lesser degree. The jet went off the bow and was turned to flotsam, but the pilot ejected to safety. It was the only time during my three deployments on that boat that we ever heard a not-a-drill “mass casualty” announcement on the 1MC. They told all uninvolved personnel to remain at their stations or report to their berthings and more than anything, clear the hell out of the passageways, so that medical personnel could do their jobs. Gourley, if anything, was tasked with standing at the top of a ladder or at an intersection of passageways to bark “P-way is secured, report to your berthing” to any jackass wannabe gawker who decided to catch himself a peek. In other words, he was the equivalent of the fire police, directing traffic around a bad car accident. PTSD, my ass. This guy and his shitbag partner-in-slime wife have taken full advantage of this (the combined total twaaama in his career equating to a light weekend for even a suburban EMT) to write their meal tickets for life. If any of us could have guessed that he would have sunk to this kind of lowlife douchbaggery, there would have been a twagic “man overboard” somewhere off the coast of Portugal when the boat was utterly surrounded by jellyfish (aka. “The army of mister bubbles”).

    Very respectfully,

    MM1 (SW/AW)

  3. Murphy's Law

    Ex-girlfriend once had a roommate who was a helicopter mechanic in Kuwait during that 100-hour first Gulf War. Never heard a shot fired in anger, never even had any of her unit’s aircraft suffer battle damage, but she came back, claimed PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome and fought and fought the VA until they gave her 100% disability for life.

    Then she met some Scottish guy on the internet, went to Scotland to marry him, skipped out on three months’ rent, and her “disability” checks are now mailed to the UK every month.

  4. Mark

    I work with one of these assholes. He was an Army MP for three years, stationed in Alaska of all places, claims PTSD loudly AND gets a disability check from the government. He even brags about it. This guy is the definiton of window licker. I’ve asked him point blank on several occasions about the source of his PTSD. Was he scared by a bear? A drunken native. As a crusty vet myself with a few world tours, I’m really tempted to punch this guys ticket. I refrain, as doing so would cost my job and knowing him, earn me some jail time as well.

  5. Jack

    As Veterans, we came home with experiences that made us wiser and a worldly education that very few people have acquired. We came home to produce, to provide and to lead. I refuse to be considered a victim. I am here to help others, not to have others help me. The Veterans I know feel the same and we refuse to buy into the media BS.

  6. 2hotel9

    Right the fuck on. I don’t want a fucking thing from the government, other than to be left the fuck alone.

    I know and have known far too many veterans, many of them severely wounded and then abused and lied to by the VA, to have any sympathy for lie spewing c*nts like Leal and Gourley. And don’t forget, gang, the courts say anyone can wear any medals they want, it is protected speech under 1st Amendment.

  7. CombatMissionary

    All I can say is:


  8. John

    Back in OIF II my marine buddies joked about this happening! How after coming back into the wire after a shitty day, we still had to get the humvees ready. Just like a bartender listening to those complaining about their problems, the “Bulk Field Specialist” we’re there to pump our fuel… They probably had the best stories about their combat experiences!

  9. Wilson

    Mr. Gourley and Mr. Leal might want to get to a hospital.

    They’re going to need some serious care after the burns Mr. Hernandez just laid on them.


    • Riana

      Thank you for speaking up and wriitng your story. I am currently looking to start or to join a support group for spouses living with a spouse with PTSD. Thank you for mentioning the secondary PTSD. You dont know these things unless others speak out and there is such a huge need for help for all of us spouses dealing with our own form of WAR.

  10. MK262 MOD1

    As much as I relish the works of Mr. Hernandez, this one (despite the absolute mastery of condescending sarcasm), really hurts. The point is spot-on as usual but the topic just sickens me. The veterans community should (and in general, does) stand as a living reflection of the values that built and sustained our great political experiment for so long. It is a place where words like duty, honor, sacrifice, tenacity, and resilience transcend the figurative and become real. It disheartens me terribly that there are individuals out there who would seek to parlay their service into such an insipid thing as pity. Never should our nation pity its warriors.

    It should respect and admire them for their commitment and service.

    Those veterans who have paid the heaviest of tolls for their service deserve undying devotion and help from the government and the people of America. But not pity. To pity a warrior belittles everything he(or she) stands for and fought for. For a “veteran” to wallow in such a horrid soup is a sad, sad thing indeed.

    A really large part of me wants to say that such people are deserving of any amount of scorn and derision that can be levied in their direction. But I know that such a tactic would only further fuel their pursuit of the “poor little me” lifestyle. I’m not sure what the best recourse is, but from now on I will just do my best to ignore those who lack the pride and dignity to man-the-fuck-up and stand as dignified, resilient, honorable ambassadors of the community.

  11. Sian

    Sick Star Wars reference.

  12. Tony

    Mmmmm. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru Burgers.

  13. Ordnance Marine

    I served from ’82 to ’86 and am severely traumatized because I didn’t get the chance to be traumatized by trauma. I believe (self identify?) that I am suffering from PTSD and want my fucking check!!!





  14. Mark

    Awesome. Truly awesome.

    I know a lot of combat veterans. We deployed together to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In my experience, those who crow the loudest usually have the least to crow about. These two douchebags, and those like them, need to STFU before someone comes along and explains to them how things really are.

    • Michelle

      I’ve always thought the same thing, soooo glad to know I’m not an asshole! Hahaha, I personally love the 4th of July and the awesome firework shows. I enjoy target practice also. It’s fun! I don’t do large crowds with out medicating, but that’s okay! Learn to live, not hand out stupid f&@$ing cards and posters.

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