Former National Guard Chris Buckley left the Army with a sense of anger. He felt that the rest of the world did not understand the gravity of what he had been through–the constant pain of a back injury after a training incident in Kentucky & the grief and rage directed at people on the other side of the world who took the life of his best friend Daniel, who served with him in Afghanistan. These all were pent up in a bottle without anywhere to go at one point.

After he retired from service, Buckley faced problems with his family. He had opioid addiction that started from his injury and struggled to find purpose in his civilian life. 

“If you can name it, I was fighting the demon,” Buckley says.

That is why he was hooked when Buckley connected with a Navy veteran who appeared to understand his struggles. He met the other veteran from a Facebook page about America, Christianity, and patriotism–things that Buckley related to.

During his sabbatical, he noticed the group was filled with other veterans. Soon enough, his Navy friend revealed that the group was part of a larger community, the Ku Klux Klan and that his friend was a Klansman.

Despite the revelation, Buckley was unfazed. He shared how he related to most of his newly found community and their ideals. He added that he liked the “pro-America, pro-Constitution” vibe of it all and the rage perpetuating from the group. After meeting some members in person, Buckley realized that his military background would serve him well in his newly found circle.

“I’d been to combat. I knew how to shoot, move, and communicate, lead a team through combat exercises and scenarios, train them to use their rifles, train them to use their pistols, live-fire exercises. And that’s what we were doing.”

Exploiting Veterans

When Buckley joined the Klan in 2014, the group was already transitioning to become an organized armed force.