Stolen Valor… You decide!

A few weeks ago a fellow Veteran and co-worker called to tell me someone was running for a local office and was alleged to be falsifying his military history.  As I looked a little closer into the story, I noticed that the story was already circulating in the Navy community and was spreading like wild fire.  I made a few Facebook posts about the whole deal and got a large response.  The Cleveland Daily Banner broke the story and has done an outstanding job with the whole thing too.

Below is a copy and paste of my Facebook messages to Mr. Laughter after he accepted my friend request.  I was hoping to be able to talk him in to coming clean and being honest about all of this.  After my last message, he apparently blocked me, so I can no longer see his page and can’t contact him.

Mr. Laughter is currently a democratic candidate for 6th District County Commissioner in Bradley County.

You can read the Banner articles by going to


  • Conversation started April 7
  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    Hello Rusty. I assume you read the crap article from the banner? It’s all a bunch of lies. Thanks for the request so you can hear from me and not everyone except me.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    I’ll attempt to maintain an open mind however, for the sake of full disclosure I want you to know a couple of things. 1. I’m a Republican, 2. I’m a police officer, 3. I’m in the Navy Reserves and am a Chief Petty Officer, 4. My BS filter is pretty good.

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    Also full disclosure, for some reason most Republicans think I want their guns. I don’t I have several. But unlike most of my counterparts I support the whole Constitution and not just a few amendments… well, except for the 18th Amendment. But since you’ve been around a while and seen a lot then I’m sure you know how things like this start. A news company can say pretty much whatever they want and people will repeat it over and over with no verification just like high school.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    Well, how about you show them your original DD214. That might clear it all up. But i’ll tell you, if you’re lying about this stuff you’re claiming it will not be good. You’ve already made several Master Chiefs upset and they are determined to not let this just go away.

    Who is Bill Smith? (

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    Just a pseudonym some friends from the Navy and I came up with. And I’m surprised at how many people have enough time to continue to try to pursue this. The paper already posted something on the front page and really tore into me. They lied and everything. I don’t really know what more anyone could want… libel is very unethical and illegal but it’s pretty impossible to sue a news company for libel.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    We take potential stolen valor seriously so that’s why people are putting so much time into this. If you thought that sleepy little Cleveland wouldn’t notice inconsistencies in someones military stories then you’re sadly mistaken.. Now, what your being accused of may not be considered stolen valor under the legal terms of the law, but morally and ethically it would fit. Especially coming from someone who has put themselves into the political lime light.

    I assure you, the truth will come out.

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    I hope it does one day… but it won’t be any time soon. Until then it will all be speculation and assumptions. I’m sorry you think I lied… if you ever want to talk politics then I welcome it.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    I doubt our political ideas line up enough to have a conversation about.

    When did you get out of the Navy and what was your last command?

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that…

    Try me.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    When did you get out of the Navy and what was your last Command?

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    Let’s discuss things that we can do something about.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    You’re avoiding the question and the topic all together. I’d like to know when you got out of the Navy and what you last command was?

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    You’re avoiding anything that matters. What I did in the Navy is not something I can discuss anymore and it’s not something that is even relevant to my political ideals, which is all that matters.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    You can’t discuss it or you won’t discuss it? Let me guess, it’s classified? Right?

    Young man, you are running for a political office. Every aspect of your life is now open to scrutiny, especially to people who live in the District for which you are running. I am one of those people.

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    Then ask me about my politics. That’s all that matters anyway. That’s all that is involved in the position I am running for.

    What I did in the Navy, whether good, bad, or ugly doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is what I’d like to do should I be elected.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    You’re missing the point. If there’s question about the validity of your Naval career then it will certainly impact whether or not you would be able to fill an elected position.

    It’s an Honor, Courage, and Commitment issue.

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    I disagree. I think it’s an issue of dirty politics. Let’s not discuss where the county should be in 2 or 3 years, which is a much bigger deal by the way, instead let’s try and publicly humiliate someone who we think disagrees with us politically. That is what I see going on here.

  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    If I can’t trust you to tell the truth about your past then I certainly can’t trust you to represent me as a Commissioner. People need to trust you. If you lied, then own it and make things right and move on. If you didn’t lie then prove it and move on. To try and deflect and change the subject only makes people distrust you.

    I’m not playing dirty politics. I dislike dirty politics with a passion. So that’s not my angle. I’d be having this discussion with you even if you weren’t running for office and your party affiliation certainly doesn’t matter to me either. Not as it pertains to your naval career.

  • E.j. Laughter
    E.j. Laughter

    I cannot comment on my service anymore. No it’s not that I will not. It’s that I cannot. I got into trouble from people that I used to work with and with people who don’t know me and think that I am a liar… but yes you can trust me as commissioner. If I say I’m going to vote to decrease property tax then I’m going to vote to decrease property tax.

  • Tuesday
  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    Do you have a cell number so your constituents can call you?

  • Sunday
  • Rusty Bryant
    Rusty Bryant

    Have you read today’s banner article? If not, you should. It’s time to come clean and admit your faults. Because you’ll be asked about this stuff at every event you plan to speak at if you decide to continue this race.

You cannot reply to this conversation.

Chief Petty Officer Birthday


Chief Petty Officer insignia.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to wish all my fellow Chief Petty Officers a happy 121st birthday.

For more information about the history of the Chief Petty Officer, visit or


Suicide Prevention

I’ve been a proud member of the U.S. Navy for almost 14 years.  One of the many things I love about the Navy is the forward-thinking ethos when it comes to training.  We constantly train, on everything from Sexual Assault prevention and reporting to Financial Health, but one of the topics that hit home with me is Suicide Prevention.

Every year we discuss suicide awareness and prevention, especially around this time of year with the holidays rapidly approaching.  While the majority of people look forward to the holidays and spending time with family and friends, some people see it as a depressing time and the suicide rate tends to increase.  That’s why it’s imperative to be able to recognize the warning signs.

In my civilian job I am a law enforcement officer.  In that capacity I often times must respond to scenes where someone has taken their own life.  I recently went to a home where a person had done so and in speaking to the neighbors, they each gave me tail tail signs of an impending disaster.  They each thought that the person may be thinking of committing suicide yet no one said or did anything to help.  Now, are they criminally liable for not helping intervene? No, but personally, I would feel horrible if I were them.

So, as we approach the holidays, please be mindful of your neighbors and those who are near and dear to you.  Look for the warning signs and don’t be scared to ask the hard questions.  When it comes to life and death, it’s no time to sugar coat things or pass warning signs off as being silly.  Get help for the person.

I’m going to add some links here to help you learn more about the warning signs and what to do but remember, if someone makes comments about a loss of hope or ending it all, call 911 and get them some help.


Navy Suicide Prevention

Warning Signs

Life is Worth Living

Navy Stress Control


Several years ago my parents bought me an iPod. Thus began my love for iTunes and the iPod/iPhone revolution. One of the very first things I found on iTunes was this section called Podcast. I remember listening to a few of them and thinking they were pretty neat.

Fast forward a few years to just a couple of years ago (it’s currently 2013) when I happened upon a little show called This Week In Google (TWiG).  I was sitting in my car and was killing time by browsing through the list of podcasts on my iPhone and for whatever reason I clicked on the TWiG podcast.  I loved it.  Since then I’ve been listening to and watching a lot of the content on the TWiT network and it’s made me want to start producing my own content.  Leo often talks about the fact that we should be producing and not just consuming content.  I want my voice to be heard.

There’s just one problem, the two areas that I know well, the Navy and law enforcement, are places I work and anything I produce could be interpreted as me making official statements for those two agencies.

The one area that I would really like to focus on is my time in the Navy Reserves.  I’ve written (here) in another post about some of my Navy adventures so it’s no secret that I’m in the Navy.  I really want to focus on making transition into the reserves as easy as possible.  The one thing I have found is that the Navy Reserves has a ton of opportunities and twice as many challenges and I want to identify each of those to make life a little easier.  I would also like to teach to an active audience.  Evaluations, orders, drills, authorized verses unauthorized absences from drill, uniforms, rate conversion and annual training are just a few areas I want to hone in on.

So with all that said, I think I am going to launch a podcast about my experiences in the Navy Reserves.  I don’t have much equipment, but I think I have just enough to get started.

I do need some suggestions on a name for my podcast though.  So, feel free to comment with your suggestion. 🙂

Stay tuned for Episode 1.

Veteran’s Day

ImageTomorrow we will celebrate Veteran’s Day.  This will be my 14th Veteran’s Day being a Military Veteran.  That said, being a military veteran may mean different things to different people.

Wikipedia says that a military veteran is someone who has served or is serving in the military, but there’s more to it than that.

Being a veteran means making the hard decision to leave what is comfortable for something that is unknown.

It means saying goodbye to those you love the most.

It means looking at your mom as she breaks down in tears as you pull away from that last hug before you board the bus heading to places unknown.

It means being given instructions and having to follow them to get you on a plane that will take you to a distant city.

It means having the will power, motivation and intestinal fortitude to stay the course and not come home.

It means being able to be yelled at and accept it.

It means adjusting to “planned failure”.

It means overcoming differences, both personal and societal.

It means accepting different cultures and learning that there is only one true color in the world, Navy Blue.

It means busting your butt to succeed and learning that the phrase “failure is not an option” doesn’t mean you just pass because they don’t want to hurt your feelings but that if you fail, you will get sent back home with your tail between your legs.

It means smelling a submarine for the very first time.

It means building friendships that will stand the test of time.

It means knowing that when you’re in need, your buddy will be there, even at 0200 in the morning, on a weekend.

It means instantly having a new found respect for your grandparents who also served.

It means looking our for your people.

It means being able to accept getting all choked up when talking about the immense sacrifices that those before us have sacrificed.

It means that I’m a Sailor and a Submariner and will be until the day I die!

“I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.”

Where Were You on September 11th, 2001?

Where were you?

I was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on board the USS Louisiana, SSBN-743 Gold.  The USS Louisiana is a fleet ballistic missile submarine.

I can’t even begin to tell you what it was like to be at sea when something like this happens.  It was nearly two months before I was actually able to see images of what had happened.

Our world really did change on that day.

So, where were you?  What is your story?

The Chief’s Board

In a few months, this blog post will either be updated or deleted depending on the outcome.

To advance (make more money) in the U.S. Navy we are given advancement exams. These exams test our job knowledge and our general military knowledge. The test scores are coupled with yearly evaluation scores and a magic number (final multiple) is derived. If your final multiple score is above the score that the Navy determines it needs to meet advancement needs then the individual will be advanced to the next higher pay grade. This method is true when a person is trying to advance to E4, E5, and E6, but differs slightly when trying to achieve the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E7).

To become a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) a sailor must still pass the exam and that is where the similarities end. Once the exam is passed the Navy will issue a list of those who are Selection Board Eligible (SBE), just passing the exam doesn’t automatically make a sailor board eligible. The “Board” is made up of several senior enlisted personnel who pour over service records to find the best of the best to be selected to wear the coveted gold fouled anchor with the silver superimposed U.S.N.

So, making board means a lot because if you don’t make board, then you have to wait another year before you can take the test and try again.

I made board. This is my second year taking the Chief’s exam and the second year I have made board. I am hopeful, but I am not holding my breath. At present, twelve other First Class Sonar Technicians took the Chief’s test. Only eight of us made board. Last year only one person out of eight was selected to become a Chief Sonar Technician.

Personally, I think I have what it takes, but the decision is not up to me.

So, if I become a Chief Select I plan on using this blog to document the process. If I do not, then I will delete this and try again next year.


The Jetton Family

A message to my fellow law enforcement and sailor friends:

Sheila Jetton is a friend and co-worker of mine.  She is a police officer with the Chattanooga Police Department and she is also a Second Class Petty Officer in the Navy Reserves.  The below email was written by our Navy Ombudsman and gives more details then I ever could.

“Sheila Jetton is a member of NOSC Chattanooga.  She is also a proud mother to a beautiful baby girl named Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was born  on Dec 30th, 2009.   She has been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary interstitial glycogenosis, abnornal lung growth, failure to thrive, global developmental delays, inominiate artery syndrome, and a neuronal migration disorder.  While Elizabeth lives with her mom and dad in Chattanooga, they are currently in Tx at a children’s hospital waiting and hoping for a lung transplant.   Elizabeth is about the happiest baby you could ever hope to meet, and she doesn’t let her fierce battle against these life threatening conditions break her smile at all.  She just  celebrated her first birthday, and with our help, and God’s help, she can celebrate many more!
As you can imagine, this family is facing tremendous odds right now.  On top of medical expenses, there are the travel expenses to and from hospitals, some hospitals being hundreds of miles away from where the family lives.  There are also the normal day to day living expenses that we all incur.
There are several ways you can help this family, the most important being to lift them up in prayer.  Other ways you can help them are: donate to any SunTrust Bank, under the Elizabeth Jetton Trust.  There are also several fundraisers for Elizabeth coming up.  The one this week will be held Thurs, Jan 6th, at 6pm at Middle Valley Church Of God.  It’s 5 dollars per person, and that will include a spaghetti dinner, along with dessert.  There will also be a silent auction held at the dinner.  As I get more information on future fundraisers for Elizabeth I will pass them along.  Below are links to Elizabeth’s Caringbridge website, and a link to an interview on Channel 3 WRCB, which featured a story on little Elizabeth and her brave battle.”

Dixie Stampede

For 19 years my extended family has been coming to Dixie Stampede.  This weekend was our anual visit.  DS has been open in Pigeon Forge, TN for 23 years and I’ve been able to go to make it for the show almost every year.  There were a few years that I miss due to being out to sea.

Most years the show is the same.  The Master of Ceremony comes out on a horse and sings the same songs and says the same things.  The bulk of the show is made up of a contest between the North and the South seating areas in which cast members ride horses and compete against each other representing their perspective sides.

This year they added a lumber jack competition.  Two lumber jack teams competed in a relay style race.  They started out with a climbing race, followed by two men sawing a log and finally they chopped wood.  Then the two teams competed in a log roll competition.  This was the highlight of the show and was a much welcomed change and addition to our anual event.

Just when you think the show is going to be the exact same thing as it was last year they throw something new in there.  All in all I really enjoy our yearly vacation to the Smokies and I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful area.

As a side note, if you are in the military and want to visit the smokies then pull out that ID card and use it to get some amazing military discounts.  Most places will give anywhere from 25 to 50% off ticket prices.