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What Exactly Are the Rules For Military Members Making Political Social Media Posts? No One Knows!

Brian “BK” Kimber

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I’m terribly excited because it’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite time-waster and clout-chasing platform… social media! You kids out there won’t believe this, but there was actually an age long ago, rapidly fading into the mists of time, when this cultural juggernaut didn’t even exist. We have an entire generation growing up in a time where they have not known a life without social media, and even us Old Folk have come to rely on it for everything from watching people get absolutely REKT to awesome footage of gunships turning terrorists into hot pink goo.

But as social media has matured, the questions have grown. Although as the popular saying goes, “Social media isn’t real life,” that has become less and less true. It’s how we sell ourselves, run a business, earn a living. It has given popularity to the verb “Cancelled;” which is easier than ever thanks to internet Karens contacting employers to demand the ill-worded tweeter be fired immediately. TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may just be various ones and zeroes floating in the ether of some nerd’s hard drive, but the real-life consequences seem to be expnetianlly growing.

Which brings me to my point: What, exactly are the social media rules for military members, particularly when it comes to politics? As I’ve seen recently… no one seems to know; which, in the by-the-numbers United States military, is… unusual. Two cases of social media use in the last week beautifully illustrated the different ways in which the military handles both veterans and active duty members giving some political views. There will be many caveats throughout this article, so let me start with this one: Neither case was exactly “political” in the sense that someone was opining on a political party. But, if we accept the notion that culture, politics, and political figures are intractably intertwined, than these cases were indeed political.

Let me clarify when I say “political” posts. You know, the ones that the Woke Twitter Vets freak out about if 1.) The member is in uniform and 2.) they are expressing the “wrong” sort of opinion. Wrong, in this case, being anything that the Woke Vets disagree with. I would normally say, “who cares what they think?” but unfortunately, that particular strain of internet busybody loves to snitch on people, tag commands, and try and ruin your career if you’re caught, say, playing the circle game on national television. It’s best to steer clear of them entirely.

So, this is NOT about all of our beloved military IG influencers or Cringe TikTokers. Let me give you some examples of what I am NOT talking about. (This is just an excuse for me to put up some of my favorite accounts, so bear with me.) Let’s start with some cringe. If you aren’t following @TikTokBoots, you’re missing out on uniformed military offering up some of the absolute cutting edge cringe you have ever ween. Like this:

The bros absolutely KILLED whatever the hell that was. At risk of sounding like an old fogey, my generation went out to the bars after work, got drunk, and picked up hot chicks; you guys are filming yourselves lip syncing to horrible music… we are not the same. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of cringe even for military guys who have been out for like 80 years:

Grandpa, please. Have just a shred of dignity, my brother. All of those Vietcong you butt-stroked into Valhalla are now pointing down at you saying, “THIS is the guy that got us????” But an important thing to remember with social media cringe is that it can always get worse. Much, much worse:

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Brutal. My man, you are in Air Force Security Forces; you aren’t laying hate to a sea of indigenous tribesman in a far-off land. You are either standing at the gate letting cars in or wagging your finger at me because I didn’t follow correct flight line procedures as I go off to do actual cool shit. An important job, to be sure, but throttle back on the “warrior” chanting.

It’s not all cringe. Some of my favorite military creator accounts consistently make laugh out loud. For example, this active duty warrant officer who absolutely does not miss, whether he’s mimicking a warrant officer 5 who absolutely does not care, or the fatherly chaplain who previously stacked bodies, or the angst-ridden Major, or, my favorite, the Comannd Sergeant Major who will absolutely give you this speech before every four-day weekend:

The ACCURACY. And bonus points for copious use of “doggone” and “stinkin’.”  And the great military content providers aren’t just confined to active duty.  Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, dragging ass, or just don’t feel like life is giving me much to enjoy, I head over to this retired Marine’s IG page to GET MOTIVATED!!!!!:

We must protect that man at all costs. But our military content providers aren’t just limited to hilarious skits, cringe lip syncing, and chugging Tennessee whiskey. I often talk about the military meme pages on my podcast, because if you want to know the actual truth of how military members think, that’s where you should go. When they attempt to engage with the troops, the military loves to conduct surveys and have lame-ass town hall meetings where they really believe some E-3 is going to stand up in front of his command and voice his sincere opinion while his senior NCOs are staring daggers at him; instead, they should be following the meme pages. That’s where you really get the truth, and a few laughs. There is literally a meme page for just about every MOS; here’s some of my favorites… I’ll start with everyone’s favorite PJ dog:

Can 100 percent confirm this is how Alaskan PJs act. Living in a frozen wasteland and being cold for a few decades will do that to you. This next account, despite being banished from Instagram approximately 47 times, is hugely popular with our Army Ranger and Special Forces brothers:

Just fantastic stuff here, folks. I would also be remiss if I didn’t include my buddies from Another SF Meme Page and the 18 Alpha Chronicles:

Hilarious. But now, sadly, we have to address my actual topic and turn to the political post that got everyone talking last week. This video was made by an enlisted US Army medic in reaction to the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade; you may have vaguely heard about that in the last few weeks. Anyway, the young woman was rather displeased with the court’s actions, so she decided to make a TikTok showing her in her uniform and asking how she can be expected to defend the United States of America and the US Constitution when she feels like she has no rights. One quote is, “How am I supposed to wake up every day and put on a frickin’ uniform that says ‘United States Army,’ when the United States doesn’t even give a rat’s ass about me? It gives more of a rat’s ass about the guns they’re allowed to buy the kill the children that I’m forced to give birth to.”

Sadly, since it appears that after a few days of viral-ism, the soldier has since deleted their original TikTok, so I was forced to scour the internet looking for a copy. Thankfully, I found some Twitter rando who had saved a minute of the original 3-minute video so you can get the idea:

The video quickly went viral after several large Twitter accounts shared it, and the debate was on. She seemed pretty confident she wouldn’t get in any trouble; she even made another TikTok bragging about it. Which is kind of a hilarious self-own since she deleted the original video. So: Was it appropriate for a person in uniform to make these sort of statements? (Not in uniform the whole time, but it does start out with her in uniform with name tapes visible.) The Army seemed to have no problem with it; when reached for comment, a spokesperson told the New York Post, “With regard to the Supreme Court’s recent decision, [Department of Defense directives]… does not prohibit Army personnel, at any time, including when they are at work or on duty, from expressing their personal opinions about non-partisan issues, even if politically charged.”

There you have it. But this statement came shortly after a highly-decorated former general got into some hot water himself, and, in his case, there WERE consequences. Retired Lt. General Gary Volesky, who had been on an army contract mentoring soldiers, was quickly suspended from his job by the commander of the Combined Arms Center for not posting, mind you, but RESPONDING to a tweet from First Lady Jill Biden:

No profanity, no misogyny, no overt disrespect… Keep in mind, Jill Biden is NOT an elected official, and NOT in the military chain of command, but the snitches got Volesky suspended from his job almost immediately. Clearly, the two cases aren’t EXACTLY the same. Volesky is retired, not on active duty as is the Army medic. But in my opinion, if you’re working for the military, and then fired by the military, then this has to do with the military. Further, Volesky was commenting on a post, not posting himself. Volesky is a goddamn war hero, this chick is not. So yeah, they aren’t exactly the same.

I know what you’re thinking: “BK, he is a retired United States Army General; they are surely required to comport themselves with some dignity!!!” That probably would have been a good argument before 2016, because after The Orange Man got into office, a whole lot of retired generals completely lost their minds and decided to get on Twitter and do their best crazed leftist Berkeley professor imitations. And OF COURSE I saved some receipts for you. Using Twitter’s advanced search, I searched only for the word “Trump” and of the hundreds of hundreds of disparaging tweets about the former President, and picked out just a few that were sent while Trump was in office.

Let’s start with rapidly-becoming-more-unhinged-by-the-hour Paul Eaton:

Paul even started making videos; in this one, he discusses the infamous, alleged “suckers and losers” comment that Trump made. I should point out that the claims of these comments came from a single source, far-left Atlantic magazine editor Jefferey Goldberg, who promised that he would soon be going on TV/publishing all the names of other people who would corroborate those comments. He, to this day, never has done that, and no one else has ever come forward to verify any of it, but of course, the story is now Resist Lore.

He’s far from the only General publicly blasting a sitting US president. Everyone remember General Mark “Chicken Wing” Hertling? Yup, the guy who went to a gun range with Anderson Cooper to demonstrate how terrifying guns are and was promptly ridiculed for his horrific shooting posture? Mark (who blocked your humble author on twitter some time ago,) also decided to get in on the POTUS-bashing:

Very classy tie! Mark apparently spends his days commiserating with anonymous twitter accounts and ordering anti-Trump gear to impress his fellow retirees at the rest home. Then, finally, we have perhaps the craziest retired general of all, Michael Hayden (who has also blocked me on Twitter; SAD.) Here he is entirely believing that fake “Russian Bounties story,” which even the acting CENTCOM commander at the time said was at best inconclusive, at worst, entirely made up:

Then we have this tweet, which, if you can get past the numerous spelling and punctuation errors, is disparaging a sitting US President AND a US Congressman:

I’ll point out that these generals are STILL tweeting about Trump, even though he’s been out of office for a year and a half now. And for good measure, they’ve also all decided to adapt the personas of rabid left-wing Democratic party activists. Which makes sense; once you’ve become addicted to those sweet Likes and Retweets from all of the politically-obsessed crazies, it’s really tough to kick the habit. Like… get a life, man.

An argument may be made that these retired generals were making these comments in their capacity as private civilians. Which would be fine, but then again, so was Lt. General Volesky. And I’m just guessing, if one were to peruse the generals’ tax returns, I’m willing to bet that each and every one of them has had lots of military and government consulting jobs, similar to Volesky. The difference is that they have lost zero jobs or otherwise been called out for their partisan social media use; FAR more partisan than Volesky, as even a cursory scan of their twitter accounts will shot. So partisan that Eaton actually sits on the board of the far-left activist political action committee VoteVets! 

Everyone who has listened to my podcast throughout the years knows that I am a huge free speech guy. Plus, I am ALL ABOUT bashing politicians. That is the mark of a stable democracy; where you can ridicule political leaders and not get shipped off to the gulag for years. But obviously there is more fallout than ever for posting controversial things on social media. My stance has long been that I do not believe in punishing people for speech, and I have never once in my life tried to get someone fired for something they said on the internet. I mean, I’ve gotten death threats before; I don’t care. It’s called having some thick skin, folks.  rabidly-left wing political action committee VoteVets! 

The military has extensive guidance about social media use; maybe it’s time to clarify it a bit.

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Brian “BK” Kimber

Content Producer, VET Tv

BK is the host of the popular international news podcast, “World News with BK,” now with almost 300 weekly episodes. A military veteran, BK served in the elite United States Air Force Pararescue (PJ) teams. He is a graduate of some of the military’s toughest schools, among them the USAF Pararescue indoctrination course, US Army Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification course, the USAF Pararescue Medical course, and the US Army Military Freefall (HALO) school.

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