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Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

When calamity strikes, leaders emerge. Just not anymore.

Left: Governor Gavin Newsom; Wikipedia | Center: Ted Cruz Meme; Bighurtrocks | Right: Pastor Carl Lentz with Oprah; Instagram

I was confused when the soldier pointed toward the front of the line. Men in fatigues stood conversing, waiting for their turn to eat among an endless sea of people. Sheepishly, I moved past the soldiers who continued to joke, and though I was cutting in line, they paid me no mind. Scanning each rank, I continued to make my way forward until I reached my posse — the lowest of the low — Privates. Having recently graduated basic training, I carried the second lowest rank one could have in the United States Armed Forces. I was used to Drill…


A former soldier explains the emotional vacancy of “the fatherless generation”

Photo by Oliver Ragfelt | Unsplash

“Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
that we devise their misery. But they
themselves — in their depravity — design
grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”

―Homer, The Odyssey

I don’t have the group picture from the day my dad visited my fraternity house at Oklahoma State University. It was awkward compared to the “Mom’s Day” photo we would snap a few months later. …


A veteran’s musings on leaving Afghanistan and the killing fields

Photo by author

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”
— William Tecumseh Sherman

“Do you still think about war?”

I let my finger hover over the keyboard after I fire off the text message. I expect the responses might be slow or non-existent, but a green bubble appears.

“I swore I would never be this person, and yet, I think about it every day,” my old…


I’ll write you a personalized article based on any advice/questions you ask

Photo of author | Credit: Imani Givertz

Famed author C. S. Lewis used to spend an average of two hours each morning writing handwritten letters to curious fans. Children would ask him questions about Narnia and the great lion Aslan. Aspiring writers would pick his mind about the finer points of storytelling. And skeptics would engage with him in Christianity.

Of the many writers who’ve influenced my career, writing style, and faith, Lewis remains in my Top Five. In fact, Lewis’s practice of inspiring others got me into writing. So when people have asked who’s inspired me and what my goal is as a writer, I’ve always…


I want you to grow strong.

Me, destroyed after hours at the keyboard

A little after midnight this morning, I reluctantly fired off a series of emails. Attached to the emails was a draft of my upcoming war and faith memoir: Where Cowards Go to Die. After reading and re-reading the chapters, tweaking, editing, tinkering, and stressing, I knew I needed feedback. But after hitting send, I went back through several chapters and hated every. single. thing. I wrote.

The craft that I’ve worked so hard to perfect—and book I’d been so proud of—felt like a turd dropping in a piss infested toilet. …


67% of conflicts are left unresolved or are unresolvable, so what to do?

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Three years ago I posed a question: Is dating hard?

The response was a nuclear holocaust of littered bodies on the field of dating. It left little hope for the future and reminded me of a dystopian novel where everything is desert and ash. If you were lucky enough to find a relationship oasis, then you gloated on social media.

In three years, not much has changed except that a pandemic has made it harder for people to be in any sort of relationship. It would appear the quality of friendships, dating, or a committed relationship continue to sink like…


Follow these five simple steps and you’ll be a better source than most professionals

Photo by Gold Chain Collective on Unsplash

I’ll spare you a lengthy introduction because if you clicked this, you want the skills to help (or the help). But before we begin, let me explain something vital.

Studies have found less than half of behavioral health professionals receive formal training in suicide risk management, and the average total duration of formal suicide management training is under two hours

That’s a major gap and problem. More often than not, those struggling with suicidal ideation get passed off or are hospitalized. People wrongly assume hospitalizing a suicidal friend or family member treats the suicidal symptoms. In most cases? It doesn’t…


Often we want our environment to change instead of changing ourselves

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Austin, Texas is a city full of broken hearts and singles.

People love to talk about the job opportunities, weird culture, live music, and tech industry that dominates the city, but rarely bring up the people who move there for a fresh start.

I would know, because I was one of them.

As I found my footing in the city after a traumatic break-up, most people I met had also moved to the city for a new beginning. They’d either gone through a scarring relationship or had moved there with a significant other, only to get dumped. …


If we’re not careful, loneliness can become something far more insidious

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

The body had fused to the carpet. Because the remains were untouched for over two years, it was mostly a skeleton. The television was still on and around the body, unwrapped Christmas presents littered the floor.

In January 2006, the London Housing authority tried to repossess an apartment rented by Joyce Vincent due to months of delinquent payments. Instead, they found a decomposed skeleton and a fridge with food carrying expiration dates from 2003.

Joyce’s story quickly caught the attention of the national media, who asked how a young, beautiful woman in her 30s lay dead for so many years…


Instead, you’re ending up exhausted and apathetic.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Success comes to the lowly and to the poorly talented, but the special characteristic of a great person is to triumph over the disasters and panics of human life.
— Seneca

On March 1st, 2021, I joked with fellow co-workers that it was actually March 366th, 2020. An entire year had passed since the first inklings of COVID-19 emerged and began shutting down the world. Having just sold my home in early March and unable to move, my wife and I had to shelter in place with my parents by April.

Most of April 2020 I look back on with…

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