For the majority of Americans, the coronavirus is scary. But for adults and children dealing with anxiety, “what if” questions and “catastrophizing” scenarios end somewhere between zombie apocalypse and death by starvation. Service members and their families, who already live life on edge, may be used to national panic, but they are not immune.
Panic can be felt, in raised shoulders, clenched fists, upset stomachs and extreme thoughts that can’t be dismissed no matter how many episodes you binge. For me, I could tell that my feelings about the coronavirus shifted from casual observer to concerned when I realized that I could not protect my children from panic.
I can keep them at home. I can isolate them. But I can’t guarantee that they are well-fed and have access to clean water, or something as simple as toilet paper. Through scrolling fingers, we judge the hoarders, but something inside us wishes we were as prepared. No one wants to be the family who is not prepared. The family who can’t protect their children.
That thought alone has put me on edge, not fear of death or illness or boredom or homeschooling.
Ultimately I can’t protect my children from everything. But I CAN protect them from me and what my anxiety does to them.
Just like in an airplane, parents first must conquer our fears before we can conquer our children’s. As adults, we want to present answers to a lot of these questions, but this becomes complicated when we are uncertain what the outcome will be.
“Children look to adults, parents, teachers and other caregivers to be the competent people in their lives, to have the answers,” said Dr. Martha Gleason, licensed clinical psychologist based out of Pacific Grove, California. “When the adults don’t even see their children, if they are more worried about where they can grab the next six-pack of toilet paper, they miss some of the symptoms or problems that their children are having that they could have helped them with pretty easily.”
Our children take their cues on how to react to this isolation from us. They see the empty shelves at the grocery stores and wonder why they can’t play with their friends or go to school. If we panic, our panic trickles down to them. But there are steps we can take to combat anxiety in ourselves that will benefit our children, who are watching our every move:
Maintain a schedule – get dressed in real clothes every day, create a “new normal” pattern.
Limit media intake – watching an endless loop of uncertainty and negativity can make anxiety worse.
Get physically active, inside (find free apps, yoga, stretching) or outside (walks, bike riding, family “field day”).
Calming activities for kids (baths, coloring, writing and telling stories, building, creating) and adults (baths, meditation, reading).
Focus on what stabilizes you. What makes you who you are? Faith? Family? Friends? Stay connected to those things in whatever way you can, online church services, video chats with family or even host a Netflix party.
Find the fun whenever and wherever possible!
Gleason cautions, whenever dealing with anxiety one must be careful to look for underlying physical conditions. It may seem obvious, but if your child is dealing with asthma, don’t treat their shortness of breath by treating it as a panic attack. If you are unsure of the cause of these new symptoms contact a medical professional.
But for the majority who are dealing with situational anxiety triggered by the coronavirus there is a lot we can control. “Whenever your kids give you a fear you give them a reason why they don’t need to be afraid. Be honest. Be positive. But only answer what they ask,” said Gleason. “Because if you go on and on, it not only confuses them, and they still feel like they didn’t get the answer they needed.”
Kid: “Are we going to starve?” Parent: “Of course not, look at the refrigerator and the pantry.”
Kid: “What happens when we run out of toilet paper?” Parent: “We use all those socks that we can’t find the pairs for. They’ll finally have a home!”
Kid: “Will we die?” Parent: “One day a long time from now. But we are washing our hands, staying away from sick people and making safe, healthy choices.”
All their questions really boil down to, “Why don’t I have to worry about this?” Our answers should convince them that the adults in their lives have already thought about their questions. The world has experienced tragedies and epidemics for the history of time. We might not know how this will end, but we know that it will.
Covid-19 has left many families physically isolated in their homes. A lot of people have a lot of questions, and parents who are furloughed, laid off, or ordered to close their small businesses are facing the specter of financial insecurity. Unfortunately, anxious parents make for anxious kids. And, despite their best efforts, the massive social disruptions caused by the coronavirus are impossible to hide from children. (School being canceled for the rest of the year is a dead giveaway.) During this time, parents need to model effective stress and anxiety management for their kids. The tricky part is finding a language to help parents and children communicate about what emotions they’re feeling. That’s where a feelings chart can help.
A feelings chart is really any tool that helps a child expand their emotional vocabulary. It helps kids reflect on their feelings and describe them with more precision. “It can be a list of feeling words or a picture chart of words and expressions – whatever the child finds easier to use,” says Ellen O’Donnell, Ph.D, pediatric psychologist at MassGeneral for Children in Boston, instructor at Harvard Medical School, and co-author of the book Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World. “It’s a fairly intuitive idea, as anyone who has sent an emoji in a text, rather than a prolonged description of their emotions, can attest to.”
Feelings are nuanced, and a lot of times sad/mad/scared/happy doesn’t cut it. A feelings chart — or wheel or whatever you feel is best — presents kids with more options for reflection. It can also help them understand that they can experience more than one emotion at a time, even feelings that seem to contradict each other.
Understanding emotions is complex stuff and young children lack the cognitive reasoning skills to name theirs properly. Having a tool like a feelings chart helps parents and children communicate better. This is always a crucial skill for families, but even more so now that with everyone feeling trapped in the house.
“Having an accurate and specific label for a feeling helps kids (and helps parents help kids) feel their feelings, validate them and accurately empathize with them,” says O’Donnell. “And it helps parents find an effective solution if and when the kids are ready for one.”
Many kids who initially felt happy to have time off from school, O’Donnell adds, are now feeling sad to miss their friends, bored without their usual activities, and maybe a bit more irritable and angry. “If we can help them accurately label these feelings we can help them come up with coping skills to practice, like FaceTiming a friend when they’re feeling sad, lonely, bored and irritated with siblings.”
Kids may not want to speak about their feelings right away, and that’s fine. Feelings charts don’t have to be printed sheets, or take place during a formal discussion. Making things too serious can sometimes be counterproductive. Parents simply being present with their children can draw out these feelings, and the feelings chart can grow out of that.
“I recently had a five-ear-old patient who independently started her own feelings chart by drawing a heart and writing some words with arrows pointing to the heart to describe how she has been feeling while home on quarantine with two medical provider parents,” says O’Donnell. “We added new feelings words to it in our session.”
Things are not normal now, and normal is probably not going to be the same as it was. In the meantime, while families are staying at home and cut off from their routines and their regular support network, they will need to be able to communicate and solve problems that they perhaps were able to avoid before, when work, school, or activities offered respite. But once normal returns – whatever that will look like – reflection and communication are skills kids and parents will use for the rest of their lives.
My great uncle deployed to Vietnam when he was around 21 years old. I didn’t know about his deployment until I found out I was deploying to Afghanistan in 2009. My uncle, unlike most of the friends and family I had, knew the reality of what was coming. He had already supported me as a military service member, but when the word deployment became a part of the conversation, everything changed.
It wasn’t until my first care package from my uncle arrived that I realized how deeply our paths were connected. The care packages he sent were different from all the other care packages I received. Each one told a story. It could have been the contents of the box or the letter it contained. But no care package was sent without thought and care of what he would have liked to have opened while serving overseas. It was different from all the other care packages because he had been on the receiving end before.
One care package he sent had the book, The Pearl by John Steinbeck. The book on its own would have been nice to have something to read, but there was a story that went with it. In one care package he received from a family in Coos Bay Oregon for Christmas in 1967, he received The Pearl and read it throughout his deployment. I read it too. And sitting on my bunk in my tent, I felt a connection. That book, unlike most of the books I received, made it home with me and sits on my shelf. And every time I see it, I think of my uncle and the bond we share.
Years later after coming home I wanted to do a series for my blog focused on deployment stories. I loved reading the stories in the letters from my uncle and it inspired me to search out more stories and create a series with stories from the past and present-day wars. Not surprisingly, I was excited to include my uncle in this series. So, I sent off my questions and waited for a response. To my surprise, the response was not full of distant stories and fond memories. Instead, I could feel the hurt and pain that deployment can sometimes bring when hidden inside for years. It was something I had struggled with at times as well. Dark memories are sometimes easier to keep hidden.
I was disappointed with his short answers, but I understood his pain. Even though I write and talk about my deployment, sometimes questions can hit me off guard and a wall can go up so fast. And so, I quickly expressed an apology for bringing up pain and thanked him for the answers I received while I also worked to change my questions to focus on the story and not the combat. I was not giving up hope that a story was there.
He responded with an apology and a chance to start again. He said he had reread his answers and realized he was blunt and grumpy. Instead of receiving one-word answers and angry responses I received pieces of history gifted to me through his words and photos. It was a treasured gift and opened my eyes to the history of the Vietnam War and the struggles and challenges he faced. You can read the full interview here.
And it may seem silly or trivial to say that one interview, one group of questions, could help someone who had been hurt so deeply from war and then by those who treated him with indifference on his way home, heal. But there is power in telling your story. There is power in bringing the darkness to light. He once told me, “Until you asked about it, it never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in my story because I made it home in one piece when so many of my buddies didn’t…”
But the story isn’t over. My uncle continues his healing journey and is signed up and waiting for his turn to attend an Honor Flight to Washington DC. He talked about the excitement, anticipation and so many other emotions of going to the Vietnam Memorial and what that trip means to him. He knows it is the next step in his journey and knows it will mean a lot to him.
I never thought my deployment experience would have such an impact on my uncle’s life. I did not realize that the path to my deployment would cause me to want to hear more stories and share more experiences with others. How many people are out there thinking no one wants to know about their experience because they came home alive? But it is through the stories of those who are still alive that we can honor the legacy of those we lost.
There is so much power in telling your story and it is part of the healing journey. It likely won’t be easy but it is so important to share.
Do you know someone who has deployed to Vietnam?
Be sensitive, open and sincere and ask them about their story. Know that they might not be ready to tell their story, but you will never know if you don’t ask. And even if you never hear their story the power of asking one question can help them realize they do have a story to share and that might just be the first step in their journey that they need.
The first batch of 4,000 experimental Ebola vaccines to combat an outbreak suspected of killing 23 people arrived in Congo’s capital Kinshasa on May 16, 2018.
The Health Ministry said vaccinations would start at the weekend, the first time the vaccine would come into use since it was developed two years ago.
The vaccine, developed by Merck and sent from Europe by the World Health Organization, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014-2016.
Health officials hope they can use it to contain the latest outbreak in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo.
8,000 doses needed
Peter Salama, WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.
“Our current estimate is we need to vaccinate around 8,000 people, so we are sending 8,000 doses in two lots,” he told Reuters in Geneva.
“Over the next few days we will be reassessing the projected numbers of cases that we might have and then if we need to bring in more vaccine we will do so in a very short notice.”
Health workers have recorded confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in three health zones of Congo’s Equateur province, and have identified 432 people who may have had contact with the disease.
(Photo by Martine Perret)
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the supplies sent to Congo included more than 300 body bags for safe burials in affected communities. The vaccine will be reserved for people suspected of coming into contact with the disease, as well as health workers.
“In our experience, for each confirmed case of Ebola there are about 100-150 contacts and contacts of contacts eligible for vaccination,” Jasarevic said. “So it means this first shipment would be probably enough for around 25-26 rings — each around one confirmed case.”
The vaccine is complicated to use, requiring storage at a temperature between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius.
“It is extremely difficult to do that as you can imagine in a country with very poor infrastructures,” Salama said.
“The other issue is, we are now tracing more than 4,000 contacts of patients and they have spread out all over the region of northwest Congo, so they have to be followed up and the only way to reach them is motorcycles.”
The outbreak was first spotted in the Bikoro zone, which has 31 of the cases and 274 contacts. There have also been eight cases and 115 contacts in Iboko health zone.
The WHO is worried about the disease reaching the city of Mbandaka with a population of about 1 million people, which would make the outbreak far harder to tackle. Two brothers in Mbandaka who recently stayed in Bikoro for funerals are probable cases, with samples awaiting laboratory confirmation.
The WHO report said 1,500 sets of personal protective equipment and an emergency sanitary kit sufficient for 10,000 people for three months were being put in place.
No big Friday night plans? Look no further than your own family room, but be sure to sit on the couch because “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” That’s right, Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies is having a special viewing this evening of Dirty Dancing with an excellent line up for the next few weeks.
What is Lionsgate Live! you ask? The four week program, which launched last week with The Hunger Games, allows viewers to enjoy a classic Lionsgate film every Friday evening through May 8th for free on Fandango Movieclips and Lionsgate’s YouTube page. May 1 will feature La La Land and May 8 will feature John Wick (age restriction required).
Tonight’s livestream will feature special appearances by Dirty Dancing‘s own Jennifer Grey and choreographer Kenny Ortega, along with an exclusive look at some of the film’s prized memorabilia as well as time-jumping behind-the-scenes footage!
Each livestream will directly benefit the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, dedicated to helping people who work in the motion picture industry and currently providing financial assistance to theater employees furloughed by the COVID-19 crisis.
So come dance the night away tonight at 6:00pm PT / 9:00pm ET for some Dirty Dancing – all in honor of good cause. Instead of previews, enjoy Fandango’s Movieclips, offering a special playlist featuring some of the best scenes from the film – enjoy!
Our family made the downsize of a lifetime – from a 2,667 square foot home to 39 feet. That is, a 39-foot travel trailer AKA camper. My husband, our two boys, ages three and one, dog, and cat – we packed up the essentials, stored what was sentimental and sold/donated the rest.
Now, we are full-time campers. Mobile living where we can pick up and go as needed, living in minimal space and with maximum experiences.
It was a life I never though I’d have, and now, one I can’t imagine not doing.
We have more time outdoors, more time together, fewer things to worry about.
The day we moved into our long-term slot we were full of peppy energy. We were starting this new adventure that was outside the norm, but so incredibly exciting. After settling down around the campfire, I felt the beginning stages of an eventual miscarriage. Here we were, making this epic family move, book-ended with thrills and sadness. There are surprises we can control and those that we cannot, and we were taking in both at full force.
In the camper, everything is so simple. Those three bathrooms I had to clean before? I can deep clean the entire camper in less time. Yard work? Now we do it for fun. Because we get to be outside and the to-do list is miniscule.
The absolute icing on the experience: we have time for our kids. So. Much Time. We go on bike rides, walks, down to the park, to the pool – all the outdoor activities that we never seemed to have time for before. I’m not longer tied to things like housework that kept me from being a good Mom. (At least, that’s how it felt at the time.)
This is, of course, why we did it. We were tired of the grind. Drill hours are exhausting as a rule. (Where are you other drill wives at? You are my people!) But with two littles, my self-employment and a too-big yard and house … it was just work – work at home, work at work, work at raising kids. Work at trying to find time for fun and plan for said fun.
Sure it was hard to sell our house; good memories are always hard to leave behind.
But as military life goes, you can’t keep it all. You hold onto what matters, and then you make the decisions you have to make. In this case, it was moving your family into a camper.
Originally it was to help us through a PCS … until we thought, “Why not just do this indefinitely?!”
We had some help in that decision, of course, thanks to the military norm of dramatic and rapid plan changes.
But now, we’re steadily living that camper life. We have wonderful neighbors, and the boys have plenty of friends at the ready at all times. When a tree fell on a neighbor’s camper, we turned it into a block party, cutting firewood and eating pizza.
Because, as it turns out, this lifestyle is a thing. Families of all sizes pile into their campers for PCSs, TDY, and for entire duty station stints. It’s an entire world that I’m fascinatingly taking in as we go.
There are tanks to be emptied. Rules about what can go down the sink. I have minimal fridge space. Neighbors can likely hear me yelling at the kids – blah, blah, blah. But it’s an exciting process, one that fuels me every day.
As for the downsides – no, it didn’t solve every problem. My husband is still OCD about the way the bikes are parked or worried about there being to many things outside the camper. I’m still my normal amount of hot mess.
There are moments where we are tripping over one another, frustrated with the lack of space. We are regularly woken in the middle of the night to a propane detector that’s set off by the dog’s gas. (Not making this up; it happens to other people too.) We have to haul up the laundry to use coin machines. But laundry is always my least favorite chore; I’ll never enjoy it unless its’ done for me. And a lack of walking space also means a lack of things I have to clean.
Like everything, there are the ups and downs in life and you decide what’s important. For us, this is the life we get to be a better family, a more engaged, less-stressed version of our former selves. I encourage more people to give it a chance.
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but life is pretty damn stressful right now. The economy is on life support. Schools and camps are closed. We’re working from home and balancing child care. We’re concerned about our friends and relatives. We can’t casually scroll social media without stumbling into something overwhelmingly hateful. And, oh yeah, COVID-19 is still an enormous threat. So it’s understandable for all marriages to be under a lot of pressure right now.
Stress eats into relationships. It puts us all on edge, leading to less understanding and more arguments. Flare ups are bound to happen. While inoculations aren’t available, there is some relationships advice that can help people cope. Like giving one another the benefit of the doubt more often. Or being specific about the language you use when having an argument. Or making sure to vocally appreciate a partner half more often. Here’s some relationship advice all stressed out parents should keep in mind.
1. Set Boundaries
We’re all more or less jammed into the same space right now. This is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean we have to be on top of each other all the time. Sit down and discuss lines of demarcation. Designate a work space for one another. Give yourselves the spaces you need to be productive and active without crowding them. If this means sitting in the car to make calls, so be it. We’re all making due.
Importantly, however, these boundaries must also apply to when you’re giving your attention to your work and when it’s time for family. Let your spouse know that he or she is still a priority by putting the phone down and closing the laptop when work is through.
“When you work from home, it’s easy to answer emails first thing in the morning and late into the evening,” says therapist Eliza Kingsford. “For some, this is fine as it creates flexibility throughout the day at other times. But be aware that it doesn’t start to consume your days.” Frustrations will certainly occur. Take note and make changes as necessary.
2. Get Intentional
According to Dr. Susan Mecca, author of The Gift of Crisis, one of the most important steps we can all take during any crisis is to stop and say to yourself: Who do I want to be during this and how do I want to act? Creating this intention, she says, helps keep yourself in check. Are there going to be times when blow up when you want to be calm and measured? Absolutely. We’re all human. But if we make this intention and share it with a spouse or someone else it can be help you get back on track. “Planes don’t fly in a straight line. They’re always changing course,” says Dr. Mecca. “So as a parent you’re always going to be readjusting. But if you don’t know your course, you don’t know what you’re readjusting to.”
3. Schedule Alone Time
We all need time to ourselves to destress or just zone out for 20 minutes. The need is even more so now. This means we must all schedule time to go outside, be alone for a minute, or do whatever is needed to mentally recalibrate. Without doing this, we’re much more likely to snap at our partners or put more emotional stress on them.
In busy households, this need can only be made clear through proper communication. Couples need to sit down and discuss this. What time do you need? When can we set that time in the schedule? It’s also important to be understanding of your partner’s need for the same. Therapist Ben Hoogland, MS, LFT says it’s crucial for couples to not be passive or resentful towards someone asking for alone time. So schedule that alone time. And if your partner is being reluctant, offer to take the kids or set up something for them that forces them to take some moments alone. Everyone needs it.
4. And Schedule Time as a Couple
Right now, it’s can be easy to feel like roommates or co-workers instead of romantic partners. Couples must be sure to take measures to recognize this side. Order in from that place you like. Take a long walk together while the kid is asleep in the stroller. Watch an old movie you both love. Schedule a Zoom class together.
5. Give One Another the Benefit of the Doubt
When stress is high, it’s very easy to misinterpret someone else’s completely normal actions. A good rule of thumb: When you’re communicating with your partner, give them the benefit of the doubt. “You’re both dealing with increased stress and unpredictability, so it’s likely that your partner isn’t actually trying to annoy you or act selfishly — they’re probably genuinely overwhelmed and not thinking as clearly as usual,” says Jessie Bohnenkamp, a licensed professional counselor in Virginia. “If you need to bring up an issue, focus on the specific behavior that’s bothering you rather than criticizing your partner’s character or personality.”
6. Set Aside Time to Vent
In stressful times, it’s easy to forget to touch base with one another. Not a good look. So be mindful and set aside a specific time at the end of every day to talk about what’s happening. Bohnenkamp says that during this scheduled time each partner gets ten or 15 minutes to talk about whatever’s on their mind — work stress, worry about their parents’ health, money concerns, whatever. The other person simply listens, validates, and supports (“No problem solving unless specifically asked for!,” reminds Bohnenkamp.) Then, it’s the other person’s turn and roles are reversed. “This time to come together and support each other is a wonderful way to stay on the same page, reduce each other’s stress, and stay connected and strong during this stressful time,” she says.
7. Practice Gratitude
Is this a bit cheesy? Sure. But sometimes that’s what we all need. Take some time together to share things for which you’re thankful. They can be as large or small as you want. Think: I’m thankful our baby loves belly rubs. I’m thankful they still make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Or I’m thankful our friends are there for us. Write them down together or share them over text throughout the day. They’ll do wonders for your state of mind. Why? “The more you practice gratitude, the less you practice fear,” says Kingsford. Her larger recommendation: Each day write down at least 10 things for which you are grateful. Pretty soon, it’ll become second nature.
8. Get Back to Communication Basics
Although parents’ pandemic to-do list is extra-long right now, it’s well worth penciling in a refresher course on communication while in social distancing jail together. “It’s always helpful to practice essential communication skills, which are to reduce criticism and give and receive compliments and positive attention,” says Menije Boduryan-Turner, Psy.D., a psychologist in Woodland Hills, California.
One trick to improve communication is to ask each other, “What did you hear me say when I said, ‘take out the trash’?” for example, says Thomas McDonagh, Psy.D., founder of Good Therapy SF. “Often we misinterpret or twist what our partners are saying, and in an overly negative way,” McDonagh says. This trick, he adds, helps to correct the issue if a partner hears instead, continuing the example, “You’re lazy and I have to do everything around here.”
9. Don’t Neglect Self-Care
Self care is discussed endlessly these days. But it doesn’t make it any less important. “You absolutely have to take care of the basics,” says Dr. Mecca. And by you doing it, you can make sure your kids are doing it.” Meditate for five minutes. Do some deep breathing exercises. Eat good food. Get proper sleep.
Everyone should be asking themselves: What actually does make me feel better? Keep track. If you hop on social media to chat with friends for a few minutes but then find yourself feeling worse because of all the social media mind-fuckery, then figure out an alternative. Set up Zoom Meetings or Google Hangouts with friends instead. Grab a beer with a buddy over FaceTime. “The goal is understanding what you need to do to be the best parent and person you can be right now,” she says.
10. Learn How to Move on From Arguments
Disagreement is unavoidable in any marriage. One of the defining aspects of a strong, happy relationship, however, is the ability to get past a fight. “It doesn’t matter if you argue, because all couples do, it’s about coming back to the table afterwards and talking about what happened and owning your part,” notes marriage and family therapist Melissa Davis Thompson. “It allows a couple to share deeply how they feel without being angry or frustrated during an argument.”
11. Be Open About Your Appreciation
Validation is one of the most important things couples can do for each other. Knowing that your partner hears what you’re saying, appreciatesyou, and understands you speaks to a basic need for connection. Did they nail that bedtime routine? Tell them. Did they expertly handle a tantrum or cry-fest? Tell them. Were they a remote learning all-star? Tell them. Parents often stroke kids and acknowledge their terrific poem or great game they played, but we don’t acknowledge what we appreciate about our partners. Doing it is a show of support and love for their hard work at a time when it’s definitely needed — and, in the long run, shows an example to children as to what a loving, supportive relationship looks like.
12. Pay Attention to the Little Things
Small gestures carry a lot of weight, and for couples who have mutual respect, those small gestures are second-nature. A simple love note or a slightly longer hug can make your partner feel validated and appreciated. “One short and sweet text or email per day can make your lover’s heart pitter-patter — without causing his or her head to spin from electronic overload,” offers family psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish “Be sure to include an intimate and heartfelt detail in your notes as a key way to boost your bond.”
13. Understand What Respect Truly Requires
Partners who respect one another work better. This is both simple and not. Because when it comes to building respect equity in their relationship, couples need to focus on being responsible for how their actions affect the other. “Some of it is common sense and usually centers around being personally responsible,” Aricia E. Shaffer, MSE, a therapist and coach specializing in parenting, told us. “Don’t put the empty milk carton back in the fridge, clean up after yourself, let your spouse know if you’re running late. In other words, basic human consideration. But it also means taking responsibility for your own triggers or needs and having a talk with your partner as needed.” In other words: Without constant communication, true respect will never be achieved.
Memorial Day is often a conflicting moment for those of us with friends or loved ones who were killed during military service. Traditionally, the three-day weekend has been celebrated in America as the unofficial summer kick-off — a time for sales events and parties.
For those of us who remember the fallen, however, the weekend is bittersweet. Some honor it with service while some prefer solitude. Others gather with friends to celebrate the lives of lost companions.
With COVID-19 numbers remaining dangerously high (at the time of publishing, the CDC reports 1,551,095 total U.S. cases — 22,860 new cases compared to the day before — and 93,061 total deaths — 1,397 new dates compared to the day before), it still isn’t safe to pay tribute the way we might prefer.
Here are some ways to honor the holiday during the quarantine:
(Let this double as your weekend safety brief; while states are slowly reopening and we can go out, it isn’t necessarily safe to do so — and while we all feel invincible, let’s remember the military core value of putting others before ourselves, lest we risk becoming an asymptomatic carrier who exposes someone at risk to a fatal infection.)
Salute Across America will be a first-of-its-kind live stream honoring fallen service members. Prominent veteran companies such as Kill Cliff, Combat Flip Flops, Nine Line Apparel, Grunt Style and many more are joining forces to send a message of gratitude for those who have defended our freedoms while promoting togetherness during this time of isolation.
During the live stream, New York Times Best Selling Author John Brenkus will be joined by influencers and celebrities including NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, MMA Legend Randy Couture, actors Donnie Whalberg and Jenny McCarthy, Bruce Arians, Dan Quinn, Nate Boyer, Jay Glazer, Rich Salgado and musicians Ryan Weaver, Tim Montana, Joey McIntyre, Ted Nugent and Jesse Hughes.
Viewers will have the opportunity to simply click a link and make a donation. Likewise, the Salute Across America webpage will have links to the military charities supported by the companies behind this initiative in an effort to drive awareness and donations for some incredible non-profits doing great work to support our troops, including the Navy SEAL Foundation.
The Murph Challenge is an annual fundraiser that raises funds for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation in honor of Mike Murphy, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action on June 28, 2005.
This Memorial Day tradition will continue on May 25, 2020, where participants are invited to complete the Crossfit Hero WOD (workout of the day) ‘MURPH’ then return to TheMurphChallenge.com to submit their ‘MURPH’ time and compare their achievements with those of others around the world. All times will be displayed on a worldwide leaderboard and the top five men and top five women will be recognized for their efforts.
Since 2014, the foundation has raised over id=”listicle-2646068043″,000,000 in addition to bringing the community together to push each other and pay tribute to LT. Michael P. Murphy.
Team Rubicon has been actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by launching initiatives to help local communities. Called #NeighborsHelpingNeighbors, Team Rubicon volunteers have activated to meet the needs of their communities through safe individual acts of service.
“During this time of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are unable to access and afford their most basic needs, including food. Team Rubicon and Patient Advocate Foundation have partnered to provide emergency food assistance to those who have cancer, Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been affected by COVID-19.
Most military veterans took their oath to serve because they felt the call to take action and help others. Finding “service after service” is healing and therapeutic for vets — and Memorial Day is a perfect time to answer the call once more.
The greatest beer run in the history of beer | Drink Like a Sailor
Stoke the fire, grill or cook up your favorite summer foods, and jump on a Zoom or Google Hangout with your friends. Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen and raising a glass in their honor. The act of cooking or grilling is a great way to pass the time — and talking with friends is a cathartic experience for anyone grieving a loss.
Talk about the people you lost. Share their stories online. Acknowledge how it feels to miss them. Take comfort in the virtual company of your friends.
You’ve been eating enough microwave food — give yourself the gift of a home-cooked meal and enjoy.
5. Go to a Drive-In Movie
Parks, trails and beaches sound great after you’ve been cooped up inside, but face masks and the aerosol range of potentially contagious partiers really puts a damper on the experience. Still, if you’re craving an experience out of the house to boost your mood, find a local outdoor movie theater and catch a flick.
Drive-In Movie Theaters are making a comeback with safety restrictions in place to help protect people. Viewers remain in their vehicles, which are parked further apart. Anyone entering restroom facilities must wear masks and most locations are limiting the number of people allowed in the restroom at any given time.
This makes a great date to enjoy with anyone you’ve been sheltering in place with. It’s also an opportunity to park near your buddies and either live-text or zoom together from car-to-car. The shared experience and change of pace can give you just the kind of morale boost you’ve been craving.
6. Donate to your favorite veteran non-profit organization
Many nonprofits are working hard to stay afloat and continue their initiatives. If you have money to spare, consider making a contribution to causes you believe in. If you’re also hurting financially, share their content online and show your support.
We’re going to be separated for a while longer — but that doesn’t mean we’re alone. Whatever you do this Memorial Day weekend, reach out to your friends, take care of each other and stay safe.
When it comes to capabilities, no two states are alike — we ranked the top six, measuring everything from sheer size of force to whether the state has special forces, strike, and a brigade combat team. Overall, we found Texas has the most capable National Guard.
Texas Army National Guard soldiers from the 143rd Infantry Regiment conduct a live fire exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in October 2018.
(Texas National Guard photo by Sgt. Kyle Burns)
Don’t mess with Texas’ National Guard.
Texas has a number of capabilities that elevate the Lone Star State to the #1 position.
Its sheer size is a significant factor — the Texas National Guard is host to nearly 21,000 troops, including its army and air components.
Texas is also home to two companies of the 19th Special Forces Group and Air Guard fighter and attack wings that provide strike and drone capabilities.
A California National Guard soldier from the 19th Special Forces Group descends for a landing during a high altitude, high opening training near Los Alamitos, California in February 2018.
(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)
California’s National Guard forces nearly equal those found in Texas, including Green Berets in the 19th Special Forces Group.
But because the nation’s most populous state only yields roughly 18,000 troops, they fall in at #2.
A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier looks out the side of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Nichols, South Carolina, in September 2018.
(Pennsylvania National Guard photo by Capt. Travis Mueller)
Pennsylvania hosts more guardsmen than California, with a force almost 18,500 members strong.
But because the state does not have Special Forces troops — the most elite forces in the Army, who are called upon for the most dangerous missions — it slid back to take the #3 spot.
F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, sit on the flight line at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, where they fly to conduct training and maintain readiness during winter months.
(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Hope Geiger)
Though small in geographical size, census data shows Ohio to be the 7th most populated state in the US, so it’s no surprise that it has a highly capable National Guard.
Its 16,500 guard members include Green Berets, jet pilots, and an infantry brigade combat team that has deployed to Afghanistan.
Soldiers assigned to the 101st Cavalry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard off load from a CH-47 Chinook during cold weather training in January 2019.
(Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)
5. New York
Although New York does not have Special Forces, its force is sizable at 15,500 strong.
It hosts not one but two air attack wings — who fly MQ-9 Reaper drones — and an infantry brigade combat team.
Georgia Army National Guard helicopters fly over the Georgia State Capitol during the inauguration of Governor Brian Kemp on Jan. 14, 2019.
(Army National Guard photo by Spc. Tori Miller)
Georgia may not have Special Forces, but it hosts the sixth-largest National Guard in the US, with roughly 14,000 troops including an infantry brigade combat team.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Imagine your spouse or family member is deployed on a carrier. Now, imagine it’s during a global pandemic, which has notoriously infiltrated cruise ships, rendering hundreds of passengers ill. Finally, imagine you learn that your loved one’s ship is impacted by scrolling through Facebook and reading a headline.
Unfortunately, this imagined scenario is one military spouse’s reality.
Elizabeth (whose last name we won’t use for personal security reasons) was looking at Facebook, taking a much-needed break from quarantine with her four kids, when she saw a friend (whose husband is deployed with hers) had posted an article by Business Insider that immediately stopped her scroll: “There has been a coronavirus outbreak aboard a deployed US Navy aircraft carrier.” The article states that there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the USS Theodore Roosevelt – Elizabeth’s husband’s ship.
Her heart sank. “We haven’t heard from them in awhile,” she said in an interview with WATM. “Anytime anything noteworthy happens, communication goes down whether on purpose or by coincidence,” she shared. She immediately got on the phone with other spouses to see if anyone had heard through official or personal channels what was going on.
Communication varied. One spouse got a voicemail from her sailor that he was fine. Another received a quick email saying there were only two cases on the ship, while one other had heard 15 sailors had it. This rumor mill is exactly why comms are shut down, to prevent misinformation for families desperate for an update.
When asked if she was upset she hadn’t heard from her husband, Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, I’m not surprised,” she said. “He’s a team player. I know he would make sure all of his people had a chance to use the phone or email if there was an opportunity to do so before he did. He’s been in for 14 years and he’s been deployed a lot — he’s had almost six years of sea time. Really, this is not even the worst communication he’s had on a deployment. I’ve gotten used to that — nobody has all of the information; you just hope for the best and wait for your family member to contact you.”
But in the meantime, Elizabeth feels the weight of the gravity of the situation.
“I’m trying not to go into panic mode yet,” she said. “It’s the military, you just don’t know, but I hope if my husband was sick, someone would tell me.” Elizabeth also wants to know what protective and preventive measures are being taken. “It sounds like from the article that the sick sailors were medevaced and now it’s just business as usual. But in my mind, the likelihood of it being isolated is very small. They’re on top of each other in close quarters and there are 5,000 of them. They use the same phones, touch the same doors, eat together, share work space. It’s a floating petri dish. I want to know what they’re doing to sanitize. How closely they’re monitoring things. Is someone asking them every day? Are they taking temperatures? Are they really doing everything they can to keep our sailors safe?”
While Elizabeth is worried about her husband, she also has a healthy dose of perspective and a great sense of humor. She’s thankful to be surrounded by family and a community that continues to support her. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said. Elizabeth and her husband have a five year old, three year old and twins who are just one and a half. “We had a lot of time on shore duty,” she laughed. “We got cocky thinking we would have one more and then boom: twins.”
When asked how she’s really coping with four kids in quarantine and a spouse deployed on a “floating petri dish,” Elizabeth took a long sigh but said, “Honestly, I feel like military spouses are better prepared for this than anyone. With military life, we spend a decent amount of time figuring it out on our own. I wouldn’t say this is even the most isolated I’ve ever been. The ‘not knowing what’s going to happen,’ not knowing what the schedule is going to be in a few weeks or months, it’s par for the course for us. I’ve been through the ringer enough times with the Navy, but for a lot of our friends, this is their first deployment. Mostly my heart has been with the ones who haven’t been through this before because I remember how it felt when all of this was new.”
Elizabeth shared the importance of reaching out. “Military community is so, so important. I love that the word encourage literally means to impart courage … that’s who the military spouse community is for me — it’s courage by proxy. The news is full of stories of women who are worrying they might be forced to give birth alone due to coronavirus restrictions, but military spouses have been giving birth to babies without family or husbands there, often overseas, for as long as time. They’ve moved alone, pursued careers alone, overcome all of these obstacles. One of the things you deal with is that feeling of isolation, which is so perfectly themed for where we are in the world right now. But you’re never really alone.”
Elizabeth continued, “It was so hard to hear the news of coronavirus on the ship, but it was so great to be surrounded by so many people who exactly know what we’re going through. There is strength in numbers. We’re not the only family going through this. We’ll be okay.”
Does anyone else look at deployment box ideas online and instantly run to the nearest bottle of wine for courage? Why bother when there’s likely a subscription box for that? How does one avoid the ‘tuna sandwich’ of care packages, and pridefully send items they really care about? What if I have zero creative skills but want to wow my service member?
We chatted with Rachel McQuiston, Navy spouse and self-proclaimed care package enthusiast for her expert advice on nailing deployment packages like the pros with minimal stress.
“You can overwhelm yourself with the theme and miss out of the whole part of what makes a great care package- intentionality,” says McQuiston, who became deeply attached to this tradition when her husband deployed four times in the first four years of their marriage.
“This is how we keep him in our daily lives, by adding an item to my shopping list, by looking for a good deal, it feels like we’re connected.”
Budgets present a significant barrier for some spouses, and can lead to insecurities, the last feeling any spouse should have while they are enduring a deployment. McQuiston encourages others to make this (the packages) that thing you take your family and friends up on the offer when they ask how they can help during deployment.
Tips like buying in bulk and spreading certain items over multiple packages or adding a few items to a weekly shopping list are other great suggestions on keeping costs in check.
For those fortunate enough not to be financially burdened, taking on the needs of other service members within your significant other’s location is the way to keep everyone strong. “I’ll often send my husband extras of one item in his packages, and around the holidays I’ve even sent an entire box labeled ‘to share’ instead of his individual package,” says McQuiston, who realized that not everyone gets mail early on.
One misconception driving stress surrounding these packages is the thought that theme or even the contents are what makes a box exceptional.
“My husband tells me his favorite part of the boxes is always opening it up, because he can smell my perfume, a little reminder of home.”
Personal touches, like the service member’s own brand of toothpaste or the spritz of your perfume which creates an instantaneous connection to home from thousands of miles away. “You can send the sleekest or coolest looking box, but if it’s not what they want or what they actually need, it’s off the mark,” says McQuiston on why sending care packages is and will always be her first choice.
What are the top things a care package expert recommends? Her tested list is less glamourous and less themed than you might think.
Service member-specific toiletries or brands
Products with a high shelf life (granola bars or powdered drink mixes)
What service members can actually use on deployment may vary depending on their assignments. Command outposts and Forward Operating Bases are two completely different environments. Wool socks aren’t sexy, but they are warm. Beef jerky (again) may seem lame but is a highly coveted item where MRE’s are what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
What’s on her list of least recommended items? Things like chocolate, or any homemade food due to a high risk of spoiling in unpredictable climates or longer than anticipated shipping times. We can all rest easy not having to master the art of cupcakes in a jar.
Still feeling unsure or incapable? One piece of advice McQuiston feels vital to the overall experience is involving others in the process. “Throw a care package party where everyone pitches in on supplies, decorating, and feels comradery around what they’re doing,” she adds that beverages always make the party better.
McQuiston carries a foolproof guide to care packages on her website, Countdowns and Cupcakes, as well as inspirational pictures and ideas to help you feel confident.
Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the militant group’s chief negotiator, said that he will head the new department.
The Taliban has formed a new 20-member department responsible for holding intra-Afghan talks, as well as negotiations with the United States.
Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the militant group’s chief negotiator, told RFE/RL on August 26 that he will head the new department, which will be tasked with selecting the location and preparing the agenda for planned intra-Afghan peace talks.
The talks between the Taliban and the internationally backed government in Kabul are part of an earlier agreement reached between the militants and the United States in an effort to end nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan.
However, the talks have recently been thrown into uncertainty after the Afghan government said it would not release more Taliban prisoners until the militant group freed more of its soldiers.
Stanikzai said the newly formed department is separate from the Doha-based Taliban political office and will be in direct contact with the Taliban leadership. He also said the intra-Afghan talks will be held in different countries.
Awkward names for things that could save lives on the battlefield as well as on the streets of America. But these and other tools can be found in the search and rescue and personnel recovery arsenal of the elite Air Commandos.
Earlier in October, Pararescuemen and Combat Control operators from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron refreshed their extrication skills, showcasing along the way the importance of a little known but important skillset.
Utilizing old vehicles, the Air Commandos simulated the extrication of troops or civilians from wrecked vehicles with a variety of methods tools. However, it’s important to remember that the Air Commandos will often have to carry the tools on them, so the equipment must be effective yet portable.
An operator from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron uses a chainsaw during extrication training at Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., Oct. 8, 2020, to simulate removing trapped personnel from a vehicle or aircraft. The members may use these techniques in combat environments or humanitarian assistance and disaster response zones. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye)
“By using non-salvageable vehicles, we are able to develop a scenario in which all procedures and tools are utilized, enhancing proficiency in this specific Tactic, Technique, and Procedure,” said the 125th Special Tactics Squadron flight commander in a press release. “The non-salvageable vehicles provide the most realistic training possible.”
The advent of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has made extrication capabilities that much more important. If a vehicle, regardless if it’s armored or not, triggers an IED, chances are that it will suffer significant, if not catastrophic, damage. But if the explosive charge in the IED isn’t sufficient to destroy the vehicle altogether, the crew might survive, probably trapped inside the wreck. That’s why the extrication capability becomes important. But the skillset is also important in domestic or humanitarian scenarios, especially considering that this particular unit is part of the National Guard and might be called on to help civilians in distress as it has been doing in the past months.
“We also use this equipment during state emergency response operations or humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations to establish landing zones,” added the officer. “Or in the case of hurricanes, we’d possibly cut holes in the tops of houses to evacuate personnel by helicopter. These procedures were also utilized by Special Tactics Pararescuemen during the earthquake response in Haiti in 2010.”
Break it down, boys (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye).
Part of the Oregon Air National Guard, the 125th Special Tactics Squadron is based in Portland.
Pararescue is the only career field in the whole Department of Defense (DoD) that is specially trained and equipped to conduct combat search and rescue and personnel recovery.
Back in 1993 and the Battle of Mogadishu, the Air Commandos’ extrication training proved crucial. When the first MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed during the “Black Hawk Down” incident, several of the crew members were trapped inside the twisted metals of the battered machine.
The moment the two pilots are finally extricated in the very realistic movie Black Hawk Down (Sony Pictures).
Even though the two Night Stalkers pilots who had been killed, the rest of Task Force Dagger resolved to not leave them behind. But only specialized equipped and trained men could extricate them. So, the burden fell on the Pararescuemen of the elite 24th Special Tactics Squadron. In the end, and after another day and night of fighting, the rescue force managed to extricate the two pilots.