PTSD unemployable

Vet With dreams

Active Member
Hi,
I've been diagnosed with PTSD at the 70% level, deemed unemployable by the VA, receive disability from both SSD and VA.

I'm not suicidal, homicidal or any other "Cidal". I suffer from extreme nightmares and have anger issues towards people who willing put someones life at risk for the sake their own career, not their life mind you, just their career.
I take Buproprion every morning and for the last few years has helped me.

I would like to learn to fly, not commercially, but recreational. Before I even go down this long road of getting waiver after waiver, I want to know if there is any light at the end of the tunnel for me.

I have two letters from the VA psychs (I seen both of them about every three months) that say clearly being a pilot would be good for me and poses no danger. I asked about this and discussed it with them because I knew there might be issues.

So, is there any chance of getting my class III and I'm not talking about "There's always a chance" scenario, I'm talking real chance.

Forgot to mention, part of my disability is hip related from being blown up in Iraq. That's the SSD part. Trouble walking, but not trouble using my legs.

Thanks,
 
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A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
First of all I want to thank you for your service and sacrifice. I am very sorry that you are suffering from PTSD. I hope you will continue to seek ongoing professional help be it at the VA or with a private doctor/therapist who specializes in this awful disorder. I would also suggest that you try and contact some of the larger Vet groups and find which ones have a branch near you. The reason I am suggesting this, is that they are often a a real wealth of resources, help, advice, have a variety of activities that you may find you would like to participate in and you will surely find understanding and comradery. I also don't ever want to see you give up. Never. There is always hope and things can get better. Be strong.

Now as far as flying, I am not an AME nor an expert, but I am assuming you would have to apply for a Light Sport cert. Here is a link for you to read:

http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Regula.../Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sport-Pilot

You can also contact AOPA and speak to them as they will have more and better answers than I do:

You can join them for as little as $35.00 for a year. They also most likely, depending on where you live, will have a group near you that you can attend the meetings of and speak to members one on one. They also have their own flying clubs all over the country that meet. In fact, many cities also have private flying clubs. This would be good for you because you could start to meet other pilots, explain your situation and you will find that plenty of private pilots would be willing to take you flying for example. There are often some flight Instructors that belong to flying clubs as well that you could meet and speak to.

You can contact this Vet group:
http://xsports4vets.org/

They have a flying group for Vets and may be a good source of info for you. Jesse Scollin, an Army combat medic who was involved in the first push in Iraq when the war was starting in 2003, and suffers from PTSD, co-founded XSports4Vets. You can try and speak to him and at least email him.

Take a look at this article which is a few year old, but excellent:

http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/te...cle_7da03412-149e-11e2-89cd-0019bb2963f4.html

PO Box 2152 Missoula MT 59806 US
406-396-8390
http://www.xsports4vets.org

There is an AOPA flying club for Vets here in California and there may be more around the country, but you can contact them and get some good answers, info and advice:

Flying Veterans Club
San Carlos Airport (KSQL)
Belmont, CA 94002
Phone: 650-593-5949
Email: balcala55@gmail.com

There are certainly many Vets flying clubs around the country. Look in your area to see if you can find one. Since you are looking to only fly recreationally, I am hopeful that this is doable for you.

Don't be a stranger here. There are a lot of current and former Military members who belong to this forum and who you can speak with. You can ask all the questions you would like to about flying or learning to fly. There are a lot of Flight Instructors on this forum as well. Feel free to post or ask questions and get to know a few folks, some may live near you as well and would have no problem in taking you flying.

Again, I want to thank you for your service and please, keep strong, don't give up. Keep those dreams alive.

----Gerry
 
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Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
Go to an AME and see what they say. That would be the easiest way to answer this. Anything else is just speculation.

Best of luck to you and sorry to hear about your circumstances. Where are you located? I'm sure there are people here who would take you up flying if you wanted. I know drinks are on me if we ever meet up.

I'm in Jacksonville, FL, so if you're ever in the area, let me know!
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
Hey,
Disabled Vet here as well. 90%. I fly commercially but it took some doing. It is possible as long as you jump through the hoops the FAA will ask you to. So it could also get expensive. They will most likely ask you to get a bunch of psychological evals that basically say you don't have what you have. Most likely you will need to get this done outside the VA system which will be fairly expensive.

Another option is to just fly an ultralight. Flying an ultralight does not require a pilot certificate and there are no minimum age or training requirements. Medically all you need is a drivers license. Because they are often easier to operate, training normally takes just 10-20 hours. Aircraft costs are also low, with average new ultralights costing between $8,000-$15,000. Used ultralights can cost as little as $5000!

Ultralight is defined as
A maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,232 pounds or less.
A maximum stall speed of 44 mph in the landing configuration AND a maximum stall speed of 51 mph with flaps retracted, if so equipped.
A maximum speed in level flight of 132 mph.
A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller.
A fixed landing gear, with the exception that seaplanes may have landing gear that can be rotated for amphibious operation.
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
You wont find much luck with AOPA, I didn't. They can handle normal run of the mill stuff like diabetes and migraines but PTSD and related issues they will basically tell you to pack up your entire file and send it to the FAA. DO NOT DO THIS. This will most likely give you an automatic denial as the FAA is not prepared to understand your entire VA file.

You need to find a good AME who will work with you to carefully craft a response to the FAA that gives them what they need and not overload them with a bunch of extraneous info. DO NOT just go and get a flight physical with any AME. You need someone who specializes with difficult cases. A lot of people swear by Bruce Chin but I didn't have a good experience with him. I found someone else who worked well for me, i'll PM you his contact info. He worked well for me as he is active duty and was aware of the events that led to my disability. There are a number of other groups out there who can help you.

I have a friend who is a commercial helicopter pilot with CFI and CFII. He has PTSD and (as he describes it) tried to eat a grenade (Not suicide just had a grenade land close to him). Got his face all mangled up and eyesight screwed up. Is colorblind as well. If he can do it I bet you can too!
 

Vet With dreams

Active Member
Thanks to all of you for the answers.
I just got off the phone with the FAA. Here's the answer.

The meds I'm on are banned, but they gave me a list that are fine. So I have to talk to my Doc to see if switching is okay.
Once I switch, I need to be on the new meds for 6 months.
If I don't take any meds, then it's only 3 months of being off them.
If I don't take the meds for 3 months, the AME I see will issue the med cert with no other exams required, because nightmares are fine according to them.
If I replace the meds, then I have to see a Hims AME and will require more evals but I don't need a doc to say I'm fine, just not a danger to anyone.
The guy at the FAA said based on what I told him, either route should result in a med cert.

Now I have to talk to my Doc at the VA and see when he wants to do.
Most likely I'll do the 6 month thing but will definitely look into the light sport and ultralight options.
I just want to fly.

Again,
Thank you to all of you for the great information.
 

Vet With dreams

Active Member
You wont find much luck with AOPA, I didn't. They can handle normal run of the mill stuff like diabetes and migraines but PTSD and related issues they will basically tell you to pack up your entire file and send it to the FAA. DO NOT DO THIS. This will most likely give you an automatic denial as the FAA is not prepared to understand your entire VA file.

You need to find a good AME who will work with you to carefully craft a response to the FAA that gives them what they need and not overload them with a bunch of extraneous info. DO NOT just go and get a flight physical with any AME. You need someone who specializes with difficult cases. A lot of people swear by Bruce Chin but I didn't have a good experience with him. I found someone else who worked well for me, i'll PM you his contact info. He worked well for me as he is active duty and was aware of the events that led to my disability. There are a number of other groups out there who can help you.

I have a friend who is a commercial helicopter pilot with CFI and CFII. He has PTSD and (as he describes it) tried to eat a grenade (Not suicide just had a grenade land close to him). Got his face all mangled up and eyesight screwed up. Is colorblind as well. If he can do it I bet you can too!
Thanks. I'd like that.
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
Thanks to all of you for the answers.
I just got off the phone with the FAA. Here's the answer.

The meds I'm on are banned, but they gave me a list that are fine. So I have to talk to my Doc to see if switching is okay.
Once I switch, I need to be on the new meds for 6 months.
If I don't take any meds, then it's only 3 months of being off them.
If I don't take the meds for 3 months, the AME I see will issue the med cert with no other exams required, because nightmares are fine according to them.
If I replace the meds, then I have to see a Hims AME and will require more evals but I don't need a doc to say I'm fine, just not a danger to anyone.
The guy at the FAA said based on what I told him, either route should result in a med cert.

Now I have to talk to my Doc at the VA and see when he wants to do.
Most likely I'll do the 6 month thing but will definitely look into the light sport and ultralight options.
I just want to fly.

Again,
Thank you to all of you for the great information.
WOW! That is about as good a result as I have ever heard out of a direct contact with the FAA. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
@av8tr1

I have a question, since I don't know how this works, but in trying to convince the FAA that you are symptom free and still under treatment and taking meds and the disability aspect does have to be reported, that is one hurdle to overcome. But does this in any way jeopardize your Military disability benefits if you are claiming you are "fine"? It seems like a catch 22 to me. That's why I had suggested Light Sport. And if you are denied another class of medical cert, you will not be able to even fly Light Sport.
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
@av8tr1

I have a question, since I don't know how this works, but in trying to convince the FAA that you are symptom free and still under treatment and taking meds and the disability aspect does have to be reported, that is one hurdle to overcome. But does this in any way jeopardize your Military disability benefits if you are claiming you are "fine"? It seems like a catch 22 to me. That's why I had suggested Light Sport. And if you are denied another class of medical cert, you will not be able to even fly Light Sport.
"Fine" is probably not the right word to use. You are not telling the FAA that you are symptom free, you are telling them your symptoms do not impact your ability to safely operate an aircraft. The FAA doesn't need you to be symptom free, they just need you to not have something that would impact your ability to safely operate an aircraft. Its a grey area not black an white. You don't need to be 100% healthy you just need to be 100% safe.

There are lots of disabled vets with commercial ratings out there. For example I have a buddy who had both legs blown off below the knee and he was able to obtain a class 2. He has prosthetic legs and gets around "fine" on them. When he wears long pants you would have no idea he was legless below the knee. He isn't "Fine" by what you and I would use the word for, but as far as the FAA is concerned he can fly a plane just fine. Hell at one point I was teaching him to fly helicopters.

Now if on is lying to either one they will eventually find out. By law the FAA has complete access to any veterans medical records as well as any social security recipient. They will regularly do a comparison to the pilot database and the VA databases to see if any unreported matches come up. I have heard of pilots loosing their license and facing jail time as a result of not reporting.

I agree lightsport is probably the best way to go for Vet with Dreams if there is no interest in commercial flying. But it sounds like there is a possibility for him (or her?) to get a regular old run of the mill class 3. If he/she can get a class 3, then a class 2 is likely as well. But the lightsport is a near guarantee if he/she doesn't fail a medical test.

@Vet With dreams I would do a dry run with a regular doctor and get the passing criteria for a class 3 medical. Go here http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/navaids/

And review the specific items you have medical issues with and then review the requirements for a class 3 with a regular doctor (not and AME as they are required to report) and see if they would pass you on the medical criteria. If all good go make an official appointment with a AME.

But keep in mind @A Life Aloft is right, if you fail any medical test you will not be able to fly anything including light sport. That isn't to say one failure is the end of the world. You can fail, and resolve the issue to the FAA's satisfaction and reapply for the medical and will likely pass at that point.

If you don't want to roll the dice on the off chance you fail (and I don't think you will fail eventually) then stick with light sport. You wont be able to fly professionally for a commercial operation but you could still fly small aircraft and take a friend up with you in light sport air frames. If you have no interest in flying professionally you can start training today with your drivers license and avoid all this mess to begin with.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the reply/explanation. I was only concerned about the possibility of him losing or risking his Military disability benefits in some way as I have no idea how this works. You did a great job with the info that you have posted. I hope it works out for him and he is able to fly under some capacity. :)
 
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av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
Thanks for the reply/explanation. I was only concerned about the possibility of him losing or risking his Military disability benefits in some way as I have no idea how this works. You did a great job with the info that you have posted. I hope it works out for him and he is able to fly under some capacity. :)
No worries man. Having been through the wringer for years with trying to get back into the cockpit I will happily help anyone going through a similar issue. I actually cried the day my AME handed me my medical it was such a long fight back into the cockpit.

I want to say it takes a lot for a Vet to loose benefits (it takes a lot to get them to begin with), but I have seen some utterly stupid stuff with the VA as of late. So I agree with treading carefully here with both the VA and the FAA.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
The entire system for Vets to get the benefits and help that they so deserve seems to be getting more screwed up by the moment. The delays alone are horrendous and unacceptable. It pains me that our President who promised to make sweeping changes within the VA has in truth done very little, and not much has changed or improved. It's a national disgrace that these warriors, our men and women who gave their all, should have to endure this b.s. And knowing just how screwed up the VA is, I am always leery. They have made horrible errors/mistakes in the past and I haven't heard of anything much being any different for our Vets. Years after the wait times scandal, little has improved. You read articles such as these: http://www.washingtontimes.com/topics/department-of-veterans-affairs/ and it just makes me so angry, so frustrated and so ashamed that this b.s. still endures.

7 fricking times (and he made the first promise when he was running for election of his initial first term) Obama promised to reform the VA. Last Summer through some leaked documents were made public, it was discovered that more than 238,000 of the 847,000 Veterans with pending applications for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died. Holy hell.

Anyways, I am so happy that you were able to weave your way through the system and succeed.
 

av8tr1

"Never tell me the odds!"
The entire system for Vets to get the benefits and help that they so deserve seems to be getting more screwed up by the moment. The delays alone are horrendous and unacceptable. It pains me that our President who promised to make sweeping changes within the VA has in truth done very little, and not much has changed or improved. It's a national disgrace that these warriors, our men and women who gave their all, should have to endure this b.s. And knowing just how screwed up the VA is, I am always leery. They have made horrible errors/mistakes in the past and I haven't heard of anything much being any different for our Vets. Years after the wait times scandal, little has improved. You read articles such as these: http://www.washingtontimes.com/topics/department-of-veterans-affairs/ and it just makes me so angry, so frustrated and so ashamed that this b.s. still endures.

7 fricking times (and he made the first promise when he was running for election of his initial first term) Obama promised to reform the VA. Last Summer through some leaked documents were made public, it was discovered that more than 238,000 of the 847,000 Veterans with pending applications for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died. Holy hell.

Anyways, I am so happy that you were able to weave your way through the system and succeed.
Not sure where you lie on the political spectrum so please don't take this as insulting in anyway but I always refer people who think the government can do a better job with healthcare then private sector to the VA. The VA is socialized medicine and it is a F'en disaster. Don't get me wrong I am very thankful to have it when it works. But man let me tell you its very rare when things go smoothly.

For me to see my primary care provider (what the VA refers to as a doctor who isn't always a doctor) it is usually a 2-3 month wait at a minimum. If I have an issue they tell me to go to the emergency room, even for things as mundane as a head cold. Then you wait hours at the VA hospital unless you go in the middle of the night. And usually you see a different doctor every time so there is no continuity of care. I've had a reoccurring sinus issue the last 4 months (partially thanks to the crap hole that is Bethel AK), went to the ER 3 times in two months (once in Bethel) and every doctor made a different diagnoses. Still don't know what the heck it is and I have been trying to cough up a lung for a few months.

This is what you can expect if we go to a socialized medical program. Not saying private healthcare is perfect either but it is better than the VA is currently. Often the stuff you deal with is just Homer Simpson stupid.

Late last year when I kept having a reoccurring cold (mainly due to the sick passengers I flew daily) my doctor thought I might have TB and suggested I stay home away from anyone else (carefully avoiding the word quarantine). Knowing full well I didn't have TB, I explained to her I am a commercial pilot and would need a note for my employer, it became an act of congress for her to write it. Had to go up 3 levels of management just to get a note saying "Av8tr1, should stay home until we get test results back". The VA isn't apparently allowed to write notes like that at the doctor level due to liability issues so a senior level bureaucrat has to do it for "liability purposes".

Think about that, the doctor can strongly encourage me to stay home because she believes I have a highly contagious disease and regularly interact with the public in the course of my job but for me to get a letter to keep me from losing my job I need someone from legal to write it.

I, of course, didn't have TB and lost over a week worth of work waiting for test results to come back because the lab boys don't work on Friday's or the weekend and I have to come back on Monday because my blood samples won't survive the weekend......F'en stupid doesn't even cover it.

It's not a popular opinion but I think we need to abolish the VA as it is today and give Vets an allowance for private healthcare. Then offer smaller programs for combat related medical issues. For example the psychiatric industry is completely unprepared for the number of Vets and dealing with things like PTSD. So here would be a good example of where a smaller VA could help. But for someone to go see a PCP for a cold or a sprained ankle is not the best use of resources.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
I really believe that the Feds do pretty much a terrible job at everything they try to run, so you aren't insulting me at all. They are costly, inefficient, full of needless red tape, bloat, waste.......you name it. I don't see anything better at the State level either. The stories that I hear directly from Vets that have to deal with the VA are pretty damn shocking and beyond disappointing. The only thing they seem to be good at is giving themselves raises. I truly don't know what the answer is, but the current system is obviously broken, very broken and I am sick/fed up of politicians making phony promises. When I see the President laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, all I can think of is what the hell are you doing for the living Vets? You know.......the ones you keep sending out to the various sand pits. We just lost a Navy SEAL, Charles Keating IV in Iraq.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/03/politics/us-service-member-killed-iraq-mosul/
 
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Vet With dreams

Active Member
av8tr1 is right.
I don't have to be "Fine", nor do I need to off meds. Because PTSD is not curable, you just learn to handle the issues in a more positive way, you only have to be deemed not a threat to anyone or your symptoms don't interfere with the safe operation of a plane. IF you had flashbacks, moments of loss of reality or something that happens while you're awake, then there is an entirely new set of rules and hurdles to over come.

Because mine are while I'm sleeping, it becomes a simple med issue and not a disability issue. Because PTSD is not a disqualifier in and of itself, my disability won't be affected. Unless like I said, your PTSD causes you to be a danger to yourself or others, the simply having is okay and then falls back to the meds used to treat it.

So get this, Prozac is fine to take but Wellbutrin is not. That one made no sense to me when the FAA guy told me that. He evvn suggested I talk to my doc about switching to Prozac and then there would be no issues.
 

Vet With dreams

Active Member
First of all I want to thank you for your service and sacrifice. I am very sorry that you are suffering from PTSD. I hope you will continue to seek ongoing professional help be it at the VA or with a private doctor/therapist who specializes in this awful disorder. I would also suggest that you try and contact some of the larger Vet groups and find which ones have a branch near you. The reason I am suggesting this, is that they are often a a real wealth of resources, help, advice, have a variety of activities that you may find you would like to participate in and you will surely find understanding and comradery. I also don't ever want to see you give up. Never. There is always hope and things can get better. Be strong.

Now as far as flying, I am not an AME nor an expert, but I am assuming you would have to apply for a Light Sport cert. Here is a link for you to read:

http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Regula.../Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Sport-Pilot

You can also contact AOPA and speak to them as they will have more and better answers than I do:

You can join them for as little as $35.00 for a year. They also most likely, depending on where you live, will have a group near you that you can attend the meetings of and speak to members one on one. They also have their own flying clubs all over the country that meet. In fact, many cities also have private flying clubs. This would be good for you because you could start to meet other pilots, explain your situation and you will find that plenty of private pilots would be willing to take you flying for example. There are often some flight Instructors that belong to flying clubs as well that you could meet and speak to.

You can contact this Vet group:
http://xsports4vets.org/

They have a flying group for Vets and may be a good source of info for you. Jesse Scollin, an Army combat medic who was involved in the first push in Iraq when the war was starting in 2003, and suffers from PTSD, co-founded XSports4Vets. You can try and speak to him and at least email him.

Take a look at this article which is a few year old, but excellent:

http://missoulian.com/lifestyles/te...cle_7da03412-149e-11e2-89cd-0019bb2963f4.html

PO Box 2152 Missoula MT 59806 US
406-396-8390
http://www.xsports4vets.org

There is an AOPA flying club for Vets here in California and there may be more around the country, but you can contact them and get some good answers, info and advice:

Flying Veterans Club
San Carlos Airport (KSQL)
Belmont, CA 94002
Phone: 650-593-5949
Email: balcala55@gmail.com

There are certainly many Vets flying clubs around the country. Look in your area to see if you can find one. Since you are looking to only fly recreationally, I am hopeful that this is doable for you.

Don't be a stranger here. There are a lot of current and former Military members who belong to this forum and who you can speak with. You can ask all the questions you would like to about flying or learning to fly. There are a lot of Flight Instructors on this forum as well. Feel free to post or ask questions and get to know a few folks, some may live near you as well and would have no problem in taking you flying.

Again, I want to thank you for your service and please, keep strong, don't give up. Keep those dreams alive.

----Gerry
Thanks.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
You are more than welcome. I am sorry if using the word "fine" came off as cavalier or inappropriate as that was not my intention at all. I simply have a lot of trepidations where the VA is involved as I have seen so many Vets with so many issues, conflicts and struggles with them. I understand PTSD quite a bit and get that there is no real cure but there are good management and coping skills possible and that one can lead a better life. I volunteer at/for several Vets charities and also have a small service that I provide where I match up homeless dogs with Vets. I am a bit out of sorts because I am trying to quit smoking (which is not going well lol) and I have some other medical issues I am currently dealing with and feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out. So I just wanted you to know that I didn't mean to misspeak and that I do understand, I am just sometimes typing and using the first thing that pops into what is left of my brain.:D Sometimes it's just more difficult to communicate what you really mean when typing as opposed to speaking too.
 
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Vet With dreams

Active Member
You are more than welcome. I am sorry if using the word "fine" came off as cavalier or inappropriate as that was not my intention at all. I simply have a lot of trepidations where the VA is involved as I have seen so many Vets with so many issues, conflicts and struggles with them. I understand PTSD quite a bit and get that there is no real cure but there are good management and coping skills possible and that one can lead a better life. I volunteer at/for several Vets charities and also have a small service that I provide where I match up homeless dogs with Vets. I am a bit out of sorts because I am trying to quit smoking (which is not going well lol) and I have some other medical issues I am currently dealing with and feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out. So I just wanted you to know that I didn't mean to misspeak and that I do understand, I am just sometimes typing and using the first thing that pops into what is left of my brain.:D Sometimes it's just more difficult to communicate what you really mean when typing as opposed to speaking too.
No worries. I have learned the term "Fine" only means today you're able to go out in public without making someones day a nightmare. Tomorrow could be a different "Fine" type of day. LOL.....
 

Vet With dreams

Active Member
Okay, so here's an update from yesterday.
The FAA guy I spoke with (called him to get answers about the light sport thing) suggested I do light sport while I'm working through the hurdles of my class III med issue. This guy was very remarkable. I think he is a Vet himself. Only way I can figure he was so helpful. Wish I could remember his name. Not sure if it was the same person I spoke with yesterday or not.

He said find a school, get trained, get some flight time in and then when and/or/if I get the med cert, I'll be ahead of it all. Also the flight time will show the AME a proven flight record with or without the meds which will also be reflected in the FAA paperwork.

I started looking this morning.
I'm in the Olympia Washington area and have not been able to find an instructor. If anyone knows of one in a 50 mile radius of Olympia or Lacey Washington area, please PM me or post it here.

Thanks and I'll keep those interested in my med progress with the FAA updated as it occurs. I'm sure the process will be slower than trying to type a manifesto with a pencil holding it your mouth and chewing gum at the same time. Fortunately, I can at least walk and chew gum, the typing part is another story.....little humor to start your day.

Thanks,
 
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