Derek Weida, founder of Straight Legless Clothing, doesn’t speak for all veterans, but he does speak for a certain type. His audience is largely shared by a growing number of military-oriented companies, organizations, and blogs that celebrate, rather than lament, the experience of being a veteran in post-9/11 America. It’s an audience that could be described, bluntly and without risk of causing offense, as a bunch of unapologetic grunts.
And Weida, a former 82nd Airborne paratrooper whose right leg was amputated after being struck by an insurgent bullet in Baghdad in 2007, is the most unapologetic of grunts.
Over the past several years, Weida has garnered a massive following among service members, veterans, and civilians who’ve found inspiration in his ascent from suicidal wounded warrior to successful entrepreneur and fitness personality — a journey that’s been thoroughly documented in a series of online videos, and which has lent Weida tremendous credibility within the veteran space.
Weida’s latest video, posted on April 29 on his Facebook page, is accompanied by this tagline: “Stop with all the 22. Change the message. Go be great. Show the world.” Sporting a Black Rifle Coffee Company baseball cap and armed with a spit bottle, the heavily bearded Weida rails against what he views as a problematic approach to dealing with veteran suicide — namely, viral awareness-raising campaigns like the 22 Push Up Challenge.
“As a community, we’re too obsessed with this number 22,” he says. “We’re too obsessed with PTSD. We’re too obsessed with veteran suicide.” He then adds, “It’s just not helpful. It’s not helpful.”
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
A combat patrol advanced three miles north of Lucca (furthermost point occupied by American troops) to contact an enemy machine gun nest in September 1944 as part of the Italian Campaign (DoD/National Archives and Records Administration)
World War II Army veteran Milton Miller says he has never forgotten an act of cowardice by his platoon leader.
It happened in the Alban Hills south of Rome following the Allied Forces' amphibious invasion on the Italian beaches of Anzio in January 1944.
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima sails past the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor, November 10, 2016. (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 2nd Class Carla Giglio)
In the six months since its activation, the Navy's 2nd Fleet has bulked up and is embracing its mission in the North Atlantic and the Arctic, where the U.S. and its partners are focused on countering a sophisticated and wily Russian navy.