Introducing Pat Henry of The Prepper Journal
Pat Henry is the editor and creator of The Prepper Journal, a website he created in 2013. Since 2013, The Prepper Journal has become a go-to resource for anyone interested in prepping and survival. Pat has been prepping since 2007, long before prepping hit the mainstream. He’s an Army veteran and all around survival expert. I was ecstatic when Pat agreed to this interview. Below is the transcript of our conversation about all things preparedness:
The Early Days of Prepping
Bob: I won’t ask you how you got into prepping, since you stated in an article you published on The Prepper Journal that you’re inevitably asked that question during interviews. Let me instead ask to what extent your experience in the Army informed how you prep today. Do you think the Army has helped you develop better situational awareness and other useful survival skills beneficial to prepping?
Pat: That’s a really good question. Of course, I learned basic soldiering skills in the Army but my time in the Army was pretty different than the men and women serving now. When I was in, we were a training Army. A shiny floor and pressed uniform were of utmost importance and my days were focused on training for my job, not necessarily “doing” my job. I was in Field Artillery for a now decommissioned nuclear-capable missile system. There just weren’t many places we could actually shoot one of those off.
At the time there was no conflict (that our missile system was allowed in) so we constantly trained. There were two exceptions, and we were able to once a year go to a site and actually shoot one of our missiles, provided we were the ones who won the qualification competition that was held yearly. It was a different time.
Knowing what I know now, I probably would have chosen a different MOS because the Army does have tons of jobs that can give someone amazing skills to survive or prepare them for life in austere conditions. I have often thought that I missed out on some opportunities but that is hindsight.
The Army did teach me a lot of good things though. First and foremost, if you have even basic intelligence you can be taught amazing skills that can change your life. All you need is the willingness to learn and the dedication to put in the hard work. Knowing that gives you a lot of confidence to be able to handle stressful situations. Prepping has some parallels in that respect. Much of what we preppers discuss isn’t really complicated but you do need focus and a little discipline to succeed. There is a huge “you need to buy this” mentality in prepping (stuff) and that is important in many respects, but skills go with you wherever you are. They can’t be stolen; TSA won’t take them from you, and they don’t go bad.
Secondly, with traveling around the world I was able to appreciate different people’s perspectives and cultures. I wish everyone could travel outside of their own country to experience more of the world. You will come away with a better understanding that we are all humans who need the same things and, in some cases, just how lucky we are to live in our country. Additionally, with that, the freedoms we preppers talk about so many times are not the same in other countries. It gives you a greater appreciation of what we have and more motivation to defend it.
Bob: You mentioned that you started prepping back in 2007. Since then, prepping websites have proliferated, mainstream media outlets are writing about prepping, and the rich are investing in doomsday bunkers. What are your thoughts on prepping today, relative to 2007?
Pat: It is amazing to see how far prepping has come since I started. Back in 2007, I don’t know that there were many self-described “preppers” at all. Most of what I found at that time was focused on survival or bushcraft skills. There was a lot of militia type of information too and a good bit of conspiracy theory. Lastly, you had the concepts of living more self-reliantly and some holdovers of the back to the land movement. I tried to devour everything I could, and I think prepping is the best of all of those varied schools of thought.
Fast forward to 2013 and there was a growing awareness of prepping, but it was almost universally panned as fringe behavior. National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers did a great job of bringing the awareness of preppers to the mainstream, but I still think they portrayed many of the preppers on their show as a little off – maybe rightfully so. Even though they did, I think a lot of the motivation and common-sense practicality of prepping resonated with people. All you had to do was look at any one of dozens of natural disasters that happened during that time, look at what Preppers had been saying and realize that we weren’t that crazy at all.
COVID has practically given preppers a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval. So much of what we had been preaching was suddenly realized in just a few weeks. A global pandemic, food and supply shortages, forced shelter in place orders, travel restrictions, ammo and firearms shortages, job losses, economic problems, and on and on. I think the world just finally caught up to what we’ve been saying all along. With the riots and protests this year, it isn’t a stretch of one’s imagination to see worldwide chaos potentially, so people are getting prepared.
Navigating the Chaos
Bob: You’ve written extensively on The Prepper Journal about preparing for a collapse. I have to say, a collapse almost looked inevitable these past few months. What advice do you have for those watching the news about societal unrest? What preps would you suggest people prioritize?
Pat: That’s the million-dollar question isn’t it because most of what we prepare for is short-term disruptions. We can usually get back to our normal lives fairly quickly after most any disaster that is “natural” or normal. A unrest is when it truly gets ugly. Your normal preps of food storage, water, and water filtration, shelter, and security are easily acquired by almost everyone without breaking the bank. The problem comes when you can’t purchase any more, there are no police, no hospitals, and no rule of law – Mad Max time. I think that case though is the least likely of any we will see. It is the one I am most concerned about though due to its dire consequences.
We will have to see what the political environment is going to be under the new administration. From all appearances, policy changes and moves will be made that anger those in the “Patriot Movement”. But even the left is still burning and breaking things. The dialog and methods on both sides need to change though. Revolution isn’t going to make this country great again, it will only destroy it. The Constitution won’t hold this country together or build it back from the ashes of a revolution.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to change the direction things are headed. I think we just need to be smarter about that and start locally as opposed to believing a bunch of internet conspiracies that so far have no demonstrated truth. Regardless of what disaster people fear, we all need the same things to survive so those staples: Food, Water, Shelter and Security are my go-to preps. Once that is taken care of, keep your eyes open and be ready to act to keep yourself and your family safe.
Bob: I’ve been pretty worried about the increasing control technology companies and platforms have over our lives. Pretty recently, news came out about Russia infiltrating the US government’s federal systems. You recently wrote on The Prepper Journal about a “Cyber Pandemic,” which you describe as a huge threat to our society. Could you expand on a potential Cyber Pandemic and share how we could protect ourselves?
Pat: A cyber pandemic is a hypothetical scenario put forth by the World Economic Forum that suggests a horrible computer virus or malware being unleashed into the internet. This computer virus would be so destructive that “millions of devices would be taken offline in a matter of days.” Virtually everything we do now would stop. Just like with COVID. The answer to this problem would be to “fully disconnect all vulnerable devices from one another and the internet to avoid infection.” The resulting economic fallout would be horrific.
To solve this hypothetical problem in the future, the thinking is that a more controlled technology solution similar to the Great Firewall of China would be needed. This would essentially put all tech in control of the government and there would be few ways to get around the new control structure. It’s worth noting that the chairman of the World Economic Forum is also the architect of the “Great Reset” which deserves its own research.
It is still only a hypothetical scenario right now and there are many who say taking down the internet is impossible. I disagree. The internet is run through well-known servers, over wires that require electricity. Nothing about the internet is unknown or unbreakable. Yet others say, we got along just fine without the internet and while that is true, our world and how we do things was completely different then. It would take us time to get back to those manual systems or to figure out workarounds. No, you wouldn’t die if the internet was gone, but how would food or goods get to your stores? How would you get money? How would money even get to the banks?
I think the cat is out of the bag with regard to technology. Yes, you can live without it, but you can’t really participate in society at least in terms of commerce without technology in real tangible ways for most people. Yes, you could run a roadside vegetable stand that accepts cash-only, but how much do you think that would bring in? What if the banks go completely digital? A cyber pandemic would potentially be the grid down scenario people fear but it wouldn’t be forever. Still, I would have cash-on-hand, plenty of food stored, and spare gas. You will likely have to sit this one out too and wait for systems to get back online again, unfortunately.
Bob: We discussed a Cyber Pandemic, so let’s move to the inevitable mention about the coronavirus pandemic. What are your biggest takeaways from the pandemic? Specifically, were you surprised by how government officials responded? What are your thoughts on the average citizen’s response?
Pat: I scratch my head almost daily over this. Some days I think this pandemic could be the most brilliant piece of mass psychological experimentation we have ever seen. We have a global pandemic that is just not that bad in terms of recovery/survivability, yet we shut down the economy for everyone but select companies and impose arbitrary, regional rules on behavior. I am not surprised by the government’s response, but I think they are reacting mostly along political lines. The media has played a huge part in this as well. Both messages changed completely with the new administration which you’d expect in one sense.
This fear this virus has generated is perfect in its execution. You either have it or you don’t but you could give it to everyone and not know it. AND people can have it with no symptoms so the only way to be “safe” is to stay at home completely isolated from everyone. Unless you are protesting for something determined to be important to a segment of the population. Even if you have a test that says you are “safe” you really aren’t and still need to wear a mask and avoid everyone.
I know people who demand everyone should wear a mask but refuse the take the vaccine. It’s really just so puzzling to me the different views of everyone and how this is impacting our relationship as humans to one another.
I do believe there is a virus and I do believe people catch it and some die unfortunately, but I don’t believe that we should shut our world down. Consider we are talking about something with a high 99% survivability rate depending on age. I don’t think cowering in fear is the healthiest way to deal with this. We are harming more people with isolation than death and I think the never-ending drumbeat of death counts, hospital bed capacity and infection rates over this last year made the fear worse. Notice that they don’t talk about that as much now and transmission rates are going down… it’s magic!
If this were a psychological test, look at what they are learning. How do people react to fear? How can the media be used to spread information and disinformation? What emotional effects are seen in people when they are afraid of a disease? How can we alter public behavior by edict, without laws? How can we control travel both domestically and internationally? What effects on the economy do we see if we tell everyone to stay home? How does our infrastructure hold up if we transition most people to at home work? How do our shipping carriers handle the extra load? And how is our JIT infrastructure impacted with a scaled-up demand? What happens when we take most vehicles off the roads for a greater majority of time?
If that were really what they were doing, it’s brilliant and scary.
I am more concerned about the next thing we will face that upends society and changes our lives forever in the name of safety. I am worried about the next Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
Self-Reliance and Financial Preparedness
Bob: If the coronavirus pandemic has underscored anything, it’s the importance of self-reliance. Government gridlock, store closures, and outright panic have reinforced my belief that self-reliance is the key to being prepared for what life throws at you. What would you tell someone who is looking to become more self-reliant? Where would you have them start?
Pat: I would have them start with the prepping basics. As humans we all need the same things for survival and if you can provide those items for yourself, you are already more self-reliant. Instead of depending on the local store in a crisis, make sure you have 30 days of food stored up and a means to prepare it that doesn’t rely on electricity. Make sure you have water stored, or a reliable source and a means of water filtration. If the power goes out, do you have a method to recharge small electronics or replace large appliance power? Do you have shelter in case it’s the middle of winter and your gas gets shut off or the electric is out due to a storm?
We have a lot of articles on the prepping basics on the The Prepper Journal that keep you alive. It gives you what you need to survive.
The next level would be replacing things more difficult to plan for like lack of medical attention, job loss or societal unrest. It’s a layered approach to prepping. Start with the most common, logical problems you face and work out towards the less common problems. You will quickly achieve a level of preparedness and can build from there.
Bob: You wrote an article on The Prepper Journal describing how people can get out of debt. I think living a debt-free lifestyle is so important, especially given how much debt governments around the world are assuming. You’ve also mentioned that prepping doesn’t need to be expensive. Do you have any tips for our readers about how you can prep on a budget? Can you lend some advice about remaining debt free?
Pat: Yes, and I also wrote an article posing the question should you buy all your prepping supplies or paying off the credit card. Credit is one of the worst things our society has brought on people and I say that as someone who has seen both sides of the credit spectrum. I have run my credit cards up before and I have paid them all off before. Being debt free is liberating and puts you in the best position you can financially be. It’s also very difficult without a lot of discipline and sacrifice.
The average person starting out is not going to be able to pay for everything in cash unless they have no bills in the first place and live with Mom and Dad till they are in their 20’s. Some debt is not easily avoided such as medical bills, mortgage, maybe a car payment unless you sacrifice. Who wants to skip the pain medication for that tooth extraction? The problem for anyone is when we get overexposed. When you owe more than you can easily pay off and start making only the minimum payment, that is a vicious cycle. To start, limit credit purchases primarily to only what you can pay off every month. Don’t carry a balance.
Prepping does not have to be something that you spend an inordinate amount of money on. For starters, shelf stable food that can last your family an extra 30 days doesn’t have to be expensive at all. A 50lb bag of rice and a few bags of beans, some seasonings are pretty cheap. Will everyone like eating rice and beans for a month? Probably not, but they will live. Augment that with oatmeal, canned vegetables and canned meats like chicken or tuna. Water is really inexpensive if you buy plastic food-safe containers and just fill them from the tap. Just having food and water will make your odds of surviving any short-term crisis without bad effects so much better and it shouldn’t break the bank.
Pat’s Collaborators and Staying Current
Bob: I haven’t yet met a prepper who hasn’t collaborated with or learned from others over the years. Having begun prepping back in 2007 and having create The Prepper Journal, did you meet anyone who remains a big influence on you today? Do you continue to collaborate with others in the prepping community today?
Pat: Prepper bloggers are a funny bunch as we are all in a form of competition with one another, so I don’t have any collaborations that have lasted except for Todd over at Prepper Website who has been a great supporter from the beginning. I have several people who are major influences. James Rawles’s book Patriots was probably the catalyst for me taking prepping seriously. I really like the instruction of guys like Cody Lundin. Bloggers like Todd at Survival Sherpa are favorites, and I am in awe of their skills.
Bob: I have no doubt that our readers want to keep informed about The Prepper Journal. How can people follow you?
Pat: The best place is at the website, www.theprepperjournal.com. I am also active on:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/
Bob: Pat, it was so great speaking with you. I’ve learned so much from The Prepper Journal over the years and I appreciate all the knowledge you’ve contributed. Thank you and stay safe.
Pat: Thank you very much, it was an honor to be invited share some of these thoughts with your readers and I wish everyone a safe 2021.
Have questions for Pat? Go to his website The Prepper Journal, leave a comment below, or contact me directly.