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  • Writer's pictureTodd McKinley

Updated: Feb 29

Title: Education isn't Boring

Speaking of education, did you know that our planet, the beautiful planet Earth, can fit inside a few of the planets in our solar system many times over?

“Pale Blue Dot,” taken by Voyager-1 on February 14th, 1990, at 3.7 billion miles from Earth, or 40.5 astronomical units (AU).

Earth can fit inside Neptune 57.7 times, Uranus 63 times, Saturn 760 times, Jupiter 1,300 times, and our Sun 1.3 million times. But wait, our sun can fit inside Betelgeuse 700 times, but don’t say that name 3 times in a row. Now for the wow moment. The largest known star in the universe is UY Scuti, which can fit 5 billion suns, or 6 quadrillion, 489 trillion Earths.

What am I saying!? I’m saying that education isn’t boring, there’s a lot to learn, ponder, and discover.

“Earth Rise” taken on December 24th, 1968, by NASA/USAF Astronaut William Anders, during Apollo 8’s mission around the moon.

As I always say, an educated public is an employable public. With more jobs and professions requiring more education, from high school diplomas, an array of degrees, technical certifications, and verifiable skills, on top of continuing education credits, and employer-funded training and certifications, coupled with growing international competition, as a nation we must get education right.

Without an educated public, life on our “blue marble” becomes more difficult for everyone, as those without a proper education become more dependent on others and governments, which must take more from the public to fund it all. I’m not saying that we don’t need reasonable social safety nets, but a person needing to seek government assistance shouldn’t be based solely on a lack of education.

To decrease the number of people who are needlessly dependent on others and governments, in society, due primarily or solely to a lack of education, we need to make education make sense, by allowing teachers to experiment in the classroom versus having to teach to a test or administer some form of mandatory indoctrination.

We need to allow teachers to find ways to reach the children in our communities, and we can only do that by shielding them from bureaucracies and the undue influence of special interests. To do this, we need to be able to recruit and retain the best by providing great pay and benefits. This goes for teacher assistants and everyone who plays a role in educating the future of our country.

I believe that quality education starts by having effective and common-sense policies that guide not dictate. The saying “the government nearest the people governs best” rings true when it comes to education, which is why we need to bring authority back to states and our local boards of education by fighting back against the Federal Department of Education and pushing for its elimination. We also need to empower parents as every child has the right to have a good education and a safe learning environment that’s free from politics and indoctrination.


1. The photos used are “Earth Rise” which was taken on December 24th, 1968, by NASA/USAF Astronaut William Anders, during Apollo 8’s mission around the moon. The second photo is known as the “Pale Blue Dot,” (Carl Sagan), who advocated for the photo to be taken. It was taken by Voyager-1 on February 14th, 1990, at 3.7 billion miles from Earth, or 40.5 astronomical units (AU).

2. Just in Note 1 above, there are so many things to look at, to read about, to study, to educate oneself on. After all, those who made those two images possible didn’t take education lightly, and neither should anyone.

Todd A. McKinley, BA, MSL


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  • Writer's pictureTodd McKinley

Updated: Feb 29

Title: An Honor to Serve

It was my honor to serve our nation for a little more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, where I served in a variety of duty positions around the world, including 6 ½ years at the White House Military Office, and combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Upon my retirement from the Army, I turned down an opportunity to stay in Hawaii and work for the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center, which I played a small part in helping establish, especially the communications and technical infrastructure, which was a multi-million dollar project spread across several nations throughout the Pacific Rim. I also turned down several lucrative offers to serve as a military contractor overseas. Money would have to take a backseat, because I wanted to move back home to spend time with family and friends, and I'm glad I did, especially since many close family members passed away in recent years, including my mother Elizabeth Ann McKinley, my grandmother Sarah Conkin, my aunt Peggy Conkin, my uncle Ronny Conkin, several close family friends, and my best friend Brad Bush, who is one of the 22 Veterans a day who commit suicide. If I had taken any of those job offers, I would have missed out on spending time with them, especially the time I helped take care of my mom, grandmother, and aunt.

To continue to serve my community, state, and nation, I became active with Veterans Service Organizations, where I’ve served and continue to serve as an officer at various levels, and on local, state, and national boards, councils, commissions, and committees, which includes being serving as President of the Battle of Blountvill Civil War Military Park Association. I also host a monthly Veterans Coffee Roundtable in Kingsport, I sponsor a scholarship at West Ridge, and I'm working on a few books, one is about Veterans' suicide.

In my post-military life, in addition to Veterans Service, I'm active in politics, where I’ve had the honor to serve as a Young Republicans National Convention delegate, I’ve published articles, I co-host a weekly radio show called the Commonsense Conservatives, and I've done political commentary on a variety of shows, and on NEWSMAX a few times. I was also fortunate to serve with President Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee, and an Advance Representative as a White House Staff Associate during the Trump-Pence Administration, as well as a Staff Lead for President Trump’s re-election campaign.

At present, I serve on the Sullivan County (Tennessee) Republican Party Executive Committee as a Member at Large, and I'm currently a candidate for Sullivan County School Board in District 5. Before asking you to vote for me, I must first ask you for your prayers, it's your support and vote that I must earn.

To learn more about me, feel free to look around my website.

Todd A. McKinley, BA, MSL


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Updated: Nov 6, 2023

On November 18th, 2022, I began writing a book, with the working title “Veterans Suicide and My Late Best Friend Bradley J. Bush.” I hoped to have finished and published it by now, but with my schedule, I put it to the side, so as not to rush it.

That said, I should reiterate that I'm dedicating the book to the memory of my late best friend, fellow Army Veteran and Paratrooper Bradley J. Bush (March 11th, 1975-December 24th, 2017), who committed suicide on Christmas Eve 2017. I'm dedicating it to every Veteran who’s committed suicide, and their families.

My plan is to introduce you (the reader) to my late best friend through a series of short stories, and dozens of sayings Brad used regularly. But this will not be a biography, instead, it’ll serve as a reminder that life is precious and that a Veteran or anyone who commits suicide is more than just a number or statistic, they are fellow human beings.

It's important to remember that those who take their own lives not only end their earthly existence permanently, but they affect the lives of those who loved and cared for them for the rest of their lives. Or, as I’ve heard it said, “suicide is a permanent solution, to a temporary problem(s),” but in reality, it only creates more problems for those they leave behind. Now I get it, people who take their own lives do so for many reasons, such as suffering from life-altering illnesses, and/or injuries that they’ve suffered through for years and will have done so for the rest of their natural lives. While others commit suicide due to mental illness, post-traumatic stress, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, or similar reasons.

Regardless, you’re not going to find any judgment, nor will you find me justifying a person’s choice(s). However, after I discuss Brad, I plan to shift the focus by pointing out ways every one of us can identify signs of someone who may be suicidal. I’ll also discuss ways all of us can intervene by providing resources that can help those who may be feeling suicidal, as well as those who care.

I hope people will support me in this endeavor, given I plan to donate the proceeds from the sale of this book to support combatting Veteran suicide and the American Legion’s “Be the One” campaign.

Todd A. McKinley, BA, MSL


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