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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. …


On living with posttraumatic stress and overcoming it

Photo courtesy of author

In the waning daylight, when pictures are best known for their golden hour hue, I discovered a beautiful sunset was synonymous with shrapnel, explosions, and death.

It was my first day on a small forward operating base in the mountains of Afghanistan, early in the Afghan War. During the early evening dusk, Taliban and al Qaeda operatives would launch rockets and mortars at our outpost nestled in a mountain valley. It was a demoralization tactic learned from Vietnam, in which the enemy knew we were less likely to pursue them into the mountains with the onset of night. …


The con is on, but we can’t stop clicking

Photo by Jonas Svidras on Unsplash

Kitboga is a popular Twitch streamer who’s made a living by scamming scammers. The ruse began when his grandmother became a victim of a scam targeted toward the elderly. Taking personal offense, he started streaming in front of an audience while running a hilarious reverse scam. Using a voice changer, Kitboga takes on personas like a sweet old grandmother named Edna or a valley girl, Nevaeh (“Heaven” spelled backwards). Watching his stream is wildly entertaining, hilarious, and gratifying. Some of my teammates at HeartSupport have also appeared as guest scammers alongside Kit, posing as bratty children. …


From saviors to wolves, our view of police, military, and first responders is becoming skewed

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

“It’s not the cartels,” the voice on the other end of the phone states. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re ruthless and will do a drive-by at your house, but the Chinese mafia puts them to shame.”

I nod, though my friend cannot see me. Years earlier, I worked in geopolitical intelligence and tracked Mexican cartels. I’d create maps of the flow of drugs into the U.S. along with the cartel’s ever-changing areas of influence. One day El Chapo would have the largest territory, only to be usurped by the Sinaloa cartel.

Despite an iron stomach from my time in combat…


Far too often we believe it’s a reflection of weakness.

A little louder for the people in the back | Photo created by HeartSupport

Taylor couldn’t stop crying. Despite a loving family and friends, something was wrong. She felt ashamed that she couldn’t figure it out, and each day sunk deeper into depression which caused her anxiety levels to skyrocket.

The breaking point came when her mom told her she could go to counseling, or take her to the hospital.

Taylor chose counseling, but sensed she’d failed. She should have been able to figure this out. Nothing made sense, either. She hadn’t suffered trauma and her parents were still together. …


LIVED THROUGH THIS

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

Photo courtesy of the 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 nonexistent, 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…

Benjamin Sledge

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