4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Bring it on, virus! Not physically, of course, but as a figure of speech, we’re ready for your worst! That’s because, as milspos, we know a thing or two about dealing with things that are beyond our control. In a time of crisis, we are perfectly prepared to deal with whatever comes along.

Don’t believe us? Just take a look at your milspo resume and see how many resources you have to call upon in the current global situation.


We’re used to plans that change

Moving next month? PCS on hold? School dates changing and a delayed redeployment? That’s cake. Sure, we might stress about the details, but it’s not like this is our first go-round with order hitting the fan. Just sit back, take on each obstacle as you can and downplay the stress of those around you with you with your, “Been here before, rocked it!” attitude.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Crazy has lost its shock value

You’ve got to try really hard to shock military spouses with wild news. Sure, the pandemic might be getting close, but the most experienced of the spousal ranks are lowkey, asking, “So?” Think just how helpful it is to have gotten all your wows out in early military life so you can take the pandemic in stride.

Distance is our game

Living far from family is part of a military family’s definition. That means isolating ourselves from others is no big deal. Sure you might miss faces, but it’s not like you haven’t done this over and over again. Hunker down, take advantage of video calls and remember it could be worse. At least you don’t have to memorize a new address.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Entertainment on the go

With every move, with every adjusted plan, you’ve had to make a schedule on the fly. That means keeping kids busy, family meals that incorporate whatever’s left in the cabinet and more. Better yet, you can do it all with ease! Put your years of home service to good work through the pandemic with a family that’s fed and entertained, even through less than ideal circumstances.

What’s your best go-with-the-flow tip for milspouses?

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Coronavirus aid coming ‘from Russia with love’ — or an agenda?

MOSCOW — The 15 Russian military planes that delivered much-needed medical equipment to Italy last week to deal with the coronavirus outbreak were branded with the slogan “From Russia With Love.”

And that sentiment was reciprocated.

Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini offered official thanks to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu. Italian singer Pupo posted a video of himself performing a popular Soviet song, and signed off saying: “I love you Russia. Thank you.”


And fellow crooner Al Bano was quoted by a Russian news agency saying Italy would never forget Russia’s help.

In Russia, video of the country’s anthem playing in a quiet Italian neighborhood was quickly picked up by state TV.

“Italians are turning to us with words of thanks,” said one presenter.

“A sign of gratitude from local residents,” quipped another. “The U.S. and Europe could learn a lesson,” an anchor concluded.

While reports have emerged that some of the “grateful residents of Italy” were, in fact, from Russia, cheerleaders at home are seizing the opportunity to promote Russian diplomacy and international outreach.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

That chorus grew louder following news that Russia sent masks and medical equipment to the hard-hit United States on April 1.

Russia is not alone in sending aid abroad. The United States, Germany, and France have also sent supplies despite dealing with their own domestic outbreaks. And China — where the outbreak originated — has sought to reverse the negative fallout by providing expertise and equipment to other countries, although the delivery of faulty equipment and questionable data has been criticized.

But for Russia, such missions prove a belabored point. Since its relations with the West soured amid the Ukraine crisis in 2014, and Moscow was placed under economic sanctions by much of the world, President Vladimir Putin’s government has lobbied for the world to see it as a force for good, with a crucial role to play in the international arena.

It has not been an easy sell.

Aid … But With Strings?

While a convoy of whitewashed military vehicles containing clothes and medicine that the Kremlin sent to eastern Ukraine in 2014 was shown on loop on state TV, others saw the purported humanitarian effort as a way of secretly supplying weapons to the Moscow-backed separatists fighting Kyiv’s forces.

And Russia’s military operation in Syria, launched in 2015 with the declared aim of driving out the Islamic State extremist group from the region, was presented by federal channels as a peace mission to liberate the war-ravaged Middle Eastern state. But while Russian soldiers were shown handing out food packages to Syrian children, critics accused Russia of bombing hospitals and targeting rebel forces fighting against Syria’s Kremlin-backed President Bashar al-Assad.

As the current coronavirus outbreak took root, murals in Moscow and beyond depicted Russia as an amiable bear surrounded by doves, and one Putin likeness was depicted carrying the globe on his shoulders.

In recent weeks, China — another country exporting medical aid — has also pushed positive propaganda about its contributions to that global campaign. In Italy, one newspaper found that several videos shared by Chinese officials and appearing to show Italians applauding and thanking the Chinese were doctored or staged.

For some, Russia’s latest missions have also led to questions.

The La Stampa newspaper on March 25 cited unnamed officials in Rome saying that 80 percent of Russia’s aid package was “totally useless.” Moscow was in an uproar about the claims, which were shared widely. “The aid given to Italy is selfless,” Russia’s ambassador to Italy Sergei Razov told the RIA news agency. “Not subject to a trade-off, a settling of bills or anything of the kind.”

Then there was that video of the Russian anthem being played on an Italian street. The video originated as a post to the Telegram messenger app by a Russian journalist working for the Daily Storm outlet. “Who would have thought that our Russian hymn will play on the streets of Italy?” wrote Alyona Sivkova on March 25, in a caption to the video.

The following day, after the video had been featured in various Russian reports as evidence of ordinary Italians’ gratitude to Russia, Sivkova posted an angry Telegram post alleging that Russian state media had “stolen” the video — which was recorded by the Italy-based mother of a Russian colleague — for their own purposes.

Ilya Shepelin, who leads a program debunking fake news on independent Russian TV channel Dozhd, told the BBC that Italians who have publicly praised Russia’s aid to their country are mostly people with close business ties to Russia.

“We’re not dealing here with a pure fabrication, but manipulation,” he said of the Russian TV reports. “Hybrid lies, or hybrid truth.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Army vet rallies celebrities to create PSA to help frontline nurses in the fight against COVID-19

The stay-at-home orders didn’t stop some celebrities from collaborating on a viral video to thank medical workers, at the direction of Army veteran Ian Truitner. Rita Wilson, Constance Wu, Noah Wyle, Air Force veteran Jon Huertas, Kit Williamson, John Halbach, Kate Flannery, Chris Chalk, Angelica Maria, Simon Helberg, Parminder Nagra, Joan Lunden and others came together for a PSA supporting the American Nurses Association.

Self-shot in their homes under the collective vision of director Ian Truitner and producer Randall Scerbo Truitner, over 30 parts from both coasts combined for a fun, heartfelt project to raise money for nurses on the frontline who are treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The inspiration for the PSA came from Randall Scerbo Truitner, whose sister Tonya is a registered nurse in Georgia. Tonya had shared a video on social media of a doctor who was treating COVID-19 patients, describing the stress medical professionals were under as they were saving people’s lives. The video moved Randall to tears, and compelled her to want to do something to help the doctors, nurses and first responders on the front lines. Having produced documentaries to raise money for NGOs, she was accustomed to using her production skills for charitable causes.

Randall’s husband Ian Truitner had shown her some creative film work people were doing during the lockdown. It sparked a discussion about how they could make something compelling through their production company RANDIAN, but without the lights, cameras and crews required of normal production. The talent would film themselves remotely, with a through-line connecting everyone and a strong message at the end.

While Ian mapped out how all the parts and transitions would come together, Randall reached out to colleagues to get people involved. The response was immediate, with celebrities quickly offering their time to participate.

Thanks Nurses PSA

www.youtube.com

The American Nurses Association (ANA) had recently put together a funding arm, the American Nurses Foundation, specifically for nurses treating COVID-19 patients, which made them a perfect fit for the campaign. The foundation is designed for multiple support initiatives for nurses, including direct financial assistance, mental health services, critical information to help protect them and their families, and national advocacy for nurses and patients.

One of the first celebrities to come on board, who also reached out to fellow actors to get them involved, was Brianna Brown Keen. “I wanted to support this PSA to help shine a light on the real heroes during this crisis and help raise money to support them during this difficult time,” she said. Parminder Nagra, who played a doctor on NBC’s ER, said, “Being able to be a part of a PSA that sends a simple message of thanks in a fun way, was an honor. I hope it felt like a message of support and brought a smile to some faces.”

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. Founded in 1896, and with members in all 50 states and U.S. territories, ANA is the strongest voice for the profession. #thanksnurses

Founded by Randall Scerbo and Ian Truitner, RANDIAN is a media technology and production company based in Los Angeles, CA.


MIGHTY SURVIVAL

5 ways the military prepared you for a pandemic

Don’t panic, the military prepared you for this.


How many times in life can we actually say that? Today, today, we can say that. On the verge of uncertainty, nothing has prepared you better than military life, either as a service member or spouse. Here’s the list of skills more valuable than gold right now– cheers to not just surviving but thriving my friends.

No food no problems, I survived Ranger School.

This isn’t the first time you’ve had to skip a meal and it won’t be the last. Field chow, AKA rations, eaten in world record time, or the MRE that makes a bigger impact on exit than entrance (think about that one) has left you hungry before.

Walk down the apocalyptically empty aisles with pride that you have what it takes. Not only can you hack it, but it’ll feel like a downright vacation when all you must do today is hike it to the fridge versus up a mountain.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Weird a*$ food combinations? Bring it on.

Stomachs of steel are made in the military. No one knows for sure what’s in an MRE, and I’m guessing we don’t want to know either. If you’re mid grocery haul and figuring out how to pair pickles, pears, and quinoa into a gourmet meal, fear not. Your stomach can handle it.

Beef stew, it’s what’s for breakfast. Yummm.

Keep calm, it’s only chaos.

Did you have to cancel plans for the 12th time today? Do you have absolutely no clue where you’re going to end up next month, what job you’ll have or when your kids will actually return to school? If so, you might be a military spouse.

Champions of chaos, military spouses can ride a tornado like a cool summer breeze. Need something fun to do? How about sitting back and watch your civilian friends freak out about experiencing a small fraction of what your life is like each year. We are the chaos, and the chaos is us.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Life skills for the win!

Ok, it’s not to this point yet, but just stick with us here… survival skills could possibly tip the scales to outweigh social media followings. Shocking but true. Who can find their way through the woods? You can. Who has seven duffel bags full of survival gear? You do.

You’ve been prepping for doomsday scenarios your entire career, or at least during the training portions of it. If necessary, you have everything you need to walk for miles with everything you need on your back.

Boredom? Hello old friend.

It’s about to get hella boring around here. Snipers, do you know anything about passing long amounts of time with nowhere to go? Remember that super fun game you played while in Afghanistan? Throwing rocks at other rocks, throwing rocks at…each other during downtime? Yet again, life in the military has superbly prepared you to endure the long bouts of boredom we are all experiencing right now.

What are we most looking forward to? Your Facebook posts full of the awesome ways you’re excelling at life right now.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

4 easy ways to safely support local businesses

We’re all distancing and keeping to ourselves as much as possible — at least we all should be social distancing through the pandemic. But for many business owners, this is a scary thought. Yeah there’s a virus out there … but foot traffic is their way of life. It’s their entire income. For small business owners, losses will hit harder than for big corporations.

That means, if you have the ability, it’s a great time to give back and support small businesses whenever possible.


4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Food to go

When you’ve got that craving for something good, pounce on the urge to eat out! Curbside pickups and drive-thrus help keep locally-owned restaurants afloat. Just be sure to stay as distant as possible and to pack on the hand sanitizer. Your contribution helps build their income … and it gets you some yummy food!

Stop on post to help out local entities who lend their services to on-base residents, or head into town for a meal at a local spot.

Products

Need new clothes? Shoes? Starter plants for the garden? Continue to shop as normal … but online. Utilize local websites or Facebook groups to see what local shops are offering and order your goods. Many stores are providing free delivery so you don’t have to worry about unnecessary contact.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

COVID-19 package deals

More businesses still have gotten creative with how they reach customers. For instance, artists are creating take-home kits, tutors or instructors are selling fun lesson kits and more. Everyone who normally works one-on-one or through a studio is likely hurting with their income. Consider keeping your family busy with their timely goods.

Sharing online

You don’t have to spend money to lend your support. Share social media posts, leave comments, like posts and give positive reviews. All of this interaction helps brands be seen easier online by others. Your feedback helps! Don’t overlook seemingly simple quips on social media — each one could potentially reach a new customer.

What are your favorite ways to give back to local businesses in a time of need?

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

U.S. watchdog warns of pending coronavirus disaster in Afghanistan

A watchdog report to the U.S. Congress has warned that Afghanistan is likely to face a health disaster in the coming months brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The April 30 report by the U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has heightened concerns that the pandemic could derail stalled peace efforts brokered by the United States.


The spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has significantly impacted Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan’s numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities — a weak health-care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict — make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months,” the report concludes.

The pandemic has forced the closure of border crossings, disrupting commercial and humanitarian deliveries.

SIGAR, which monitors billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan by the United States, warns that rising food prices are likely to worsen as the crisis continues.

Afghanistan has confirmed nearly 2,200 coronavirus cases and 64 deaths, according to local news reports quoting the Afghan Health Ministry.

Taliban militants fighting U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan signed a deal with Washington in February — raising hopes that formal peace talks between the militants and Afghanistan’s central government could start soon.

The Taliban committed to severing ties with terrorists and preventing terrorists from using territory under its control to launch attacks against the United States or its allies, including the Afghan government.

In exchange for those guarantees, the United States agreed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by July 2021.

Since signing the deal, Taliban militants have escalated attacks on Afghan security forces.

Last week, the Taliban rejected a proposal by the Afghan government for a cease-fire during the holy month of Ramadan.

The latest SIGAR report said the international coalition has declined to make data available for public release about the number of Taliban attacks launched during the first three months of 2020.

It was the first time publication of the data has been held back since 2018 when SIGAR began using the information to track levels and locations of violence, the report said.

SIGAR said the coalition justified holding back the information because it is now part of internal U.S. government deliberations on negotiations with the Taliban.

Peace talks are supposed to begin after the Afghan government releases some 5,000 Taliban prisoners from custody.

In return, the Taliban also is supposed to release about 1,000 Afghan troops and civilian government employees it is holding.

As of April 27, the Afghan government had freed nearly 500 Taliban prisoners, while the militant group had released about 60 of its captives.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

We must speak out against the flaws of America

Last week, I read an article on this site called, “America, Where Are You Going?” in which the author (anonymous) bemoaned recent social and political activism of his or her fellow military spouses.

I read all the way to the second page, where one line jumped out above all the rest: “However, that mutual understanding and respect that our spouses should never be publicly political seem to have fallen to the side for a few…” (emphasis added).

Dear Anonymous, I could not disagree with this sentiment more. Here is my rebuttal.


For over twenty years, I’ve served my country by making sure that my spouse’s home and family are taken care of. I make lunches and brush hair and comfort babies when they haven’t seen their daddy in too long. I make sure that if he is called to deploy, he can leave our family knowing that we are taken care of and focus on the job in front of him. I love my country. My work isn’t a sacrifice so much as it is an act of patriotism and pride.

At the same time, it is out of a deep and abiding love for my country that I recognize her flaws and errors. It is also my duty to speak up and call for change.

In 1830 the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, and my ancestors were robbed of their homeland in Mississippi. Choctaw Nation would start the trek west to Oklahoma where they would be confined to a reservation in a wholly new environment. My ancestors survived, though many others didn’t.

This story was told to me as a child. I could hear the pain in my grandmother’s voice as she retold the story her grandma told her. The early 1800s was one of many dark chapters in American history. But my Nation grew strong and built a future in Oklahoma.

Ever since then, I have been firmly grounded in the understanding that my country has deep flaws that we should all mourn. We also have the promise of freedom and the opportunity to grow that is lacking in so many places around the world. My American story goes back far beyond the first European settlers, then later was enriched by Italian and Welsh ancestors. I am rooted in this country in deep ways. This makes me both confident in the future that is possible and aware of the blemishes within.

Part of my duty as a patriot, as a military spouse, and as an American is to speak out against actions that harm our citizens and dishonor our history. Of course we can be publicly political! We’re stakeholders in this great American experiment, aren’t we? That means we get a say in how our country’s run. In fact, as military spouses who have lived in all different kinds of places, we have unique insights on how different systems work. Our perspective is tremendously valuable to the political process.

Those who suggest that spouses should never be political are likely the spouses who benefit most from the way things are now. I do not have that luxury. My Nation does not have that luxury. For us, our existence is political. If we do not speak up, we risk being erased entirely.

At the very end of the article, the author wrote: “The military is not just one entity, it is a family made up of individuals, all with different outlooks on life, political affiliations, religions, every race, and every culture imaginable.”

On this we can agree. Military spouses are no more of a monolith than any other demographic in America. I have military spouse friends who are Muslim, Jewish, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Gay, Transgender, socialists, and conservatives. All of us come into this military life with passions and beliefs, some that change and some that grow stronger. The shared experience of serving together bonds us across those differences with a strength that is rarely seen in civilian circles.

So of course: I no more speak for all military spouses than they speak for me. (I’ll add that in the original New York Times article I’m pretty sure this author referred to, that was made abundantly clear.) However, it does not mean that we do not speak at all. On the contrary, we cannot and must not remain quiet when we see injustices. We can and must stand up and say enough.

If you’re interested in political activism like me and what to know where to start, I recommend checking out the Secure Families Initiative. They host nonpartisan webinar trainings on how to be the best advocate you can be, whether that’s lobbying your elected officials or simply telling your story. It’s a super cool community of kickass military spouses!

My voice is important, my voice is unique, and my voice is mine. I am not speaking for my spouse or anyone else, but I am speaking for what I believe is best for my family, national security, and my country.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Mighty HEROES: Meet Louisiana ER Attending Physician Pat Sheehan

Pat Sheehan, a 32 year-old attending physician in New Orleans, Louisiana, is no stranger to the fast-paced environment of the emergency room.

“The ERs are always the frontlines,” he told We Are The Mighty. “We treat every patient that comes through the doors 24/7/365, whether it’s a gunshot wound or a stubbed toe, great insurance or no insurance, any race, religion, [or] creed.”

When cases of the novel coronavirus began popping up around the country, Sheehan admits that his response was likely similar to many other medical professionals.


“I think I responded how most ER docs did, thinking that this is probably like all of the previous viruses that we were told could become a public health crisis – SARS, MERS, ebola, etc. – and never came to be,” Sheehan said. “I’ll be the first to admit that as an ER doc, I am not a public health expert. We are great at treating the critically ill and/or dying patients within our own emergency department, but we certainly defer to public health officials regarding crises like this. When we started to see things unfold in Seattle [and] NYC, we immediately buckled down and tried to prepare.”

Sheehan works at the second busiest emergency department in the entire state of Louisiana.

“[We see] about 85,000 patients per year, so luckily we have significant resources at our disposal,” he shared. “Our hospital was one of the first to implement an action plan and we actually built an entirely separate triage/waiting room area to siphon off all potential COVID patients from others presenting to the ER. We created several dedicated ‘COVID Shifts’ so that certain doctors and staff members would be treating all of the COVID patients rather than exposing everyone. I’ve certainly been lucky to work at a hospital where administration took the threat seriously and gave us all of the resources we needed.”

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

While Sheehan takes a ‘head down and treat the patients as they come in’ approach, the weight of the situation is omnipresent.

“Seeing patients dying, not being able to have their family with them at the end, because of a sad, but necessary, no visitor policy,” Sheehan said when asked about a low point of the pandemic.

Even outside the emergency room, he admits coronavirus remains top-of-mind.

“The hardest part is probably worrying about bringing it home to my family,” he shared. “We have a newborn at home, so obviously that’s constantly on my mind. We’re being as careful as we can be, I strip off my scrubs on the front porch and go straight to the shower when I get home. I take my temperature twice a day. Washing my hands constantly. Wearing PPE all the time at work. It’s impossible to be perfect though, so there is always a chance of me getting my loved ones sick.”

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Through the crisis, Sheehan has documented his experience on Instagram, creating posts and videos with easy to understand information, terminology simplification and even explanations of how equipment, like ventilators, work.

“More than anything I would just want people to understand how hard ERs work across the country work to treat the sick and dying every day, not just during COVID-19,” Sheehan said. “If you have to wait a few hours or somebody forgets to get you that blanket you asked for, just remember that it might be because in the room next to you staff is trying to revive an unresponsive infant, performing CPR on an overdose, or comforting family of a patient that didn’t make it. We’ll do our best to help you and make you comfortable, but sometimes we just need a little understanding.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

5 tips to teach your military kid about money

Teaching kids about money can be a daunting task. Here are five ways to teach your military kid about money and give your child a good financial foundation.


Start with financial literacy 

From understanding coin values to the finer points of investing, ensuring your kids are financially literate is a good starting point. Make discussions about money part of your routine, even with small children, and add children’s books about money into your bedtime reading to teach five concepts: earning, spending, saving, investing and generosity.

Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey offers practical tips to teach kids of every age, from putting young kids’ savings in a glass jar so they can watch it grow, to helping teens set a budget and open a bank account. For older children, the Council for Economic Education’s offers lesson plans that can be done at home. Generation Wealthy breaks down more complex topics for teenagers with videos and free resources for budgeting, bill paying and tracking spending.

Making choices with money 

Ramsey advocates teaching ‘opportunity cost’ starting in elementary school – the idea that you have a finite amount of money, and you must make choices about how to spend it.

With our young kids, we frame choices in ways they’ll understand. If we buy candy at the store now, it takes money away from a toy they’re hoping for later.

Having the discussion each time a choice comes up lets kids be part of money decisions, sometimes in unexpected ways. Our six-year-old son reminded us we had groceries at home one night my husband and I were exhausted and planned to order takeout, and we ended up making a pizza we had in our freezer instead of ordering a delivery.

Set family savings goals 

Once kids understand opportunity cost, set goals as a family for what you’d like to save toward, and include your kids in the planning and payoff. Each PCS is an opportunity for a fresh start to teach your military kid about money.

During our time stationed in Japan, many families with older kids worked together to save toward trips through Asia. Their kids handled budgeting, comparing prices on plane tickets and hotels to find deals, and came up with creative ways to earn and save to meet their goal. For our family’s next move to coastal Norfolk, Va., we’re saving as a team toward a paddleboard.

Make sure spending aligns with your values 

After your kids understand the basics of how money works, teach them to make wise choices with it.

If you donate to charity, make donation decisions as a family. As you change duty stations, find local ways to give so they can visit personally and see the difference their time and money can make.

Give kids a chance to learn 

From tried-and-true businesses like lemonade stands and summer lawn-care services, running a small business gives kids first-hand experience in the value of dollars and the hard work it takes to earn them.

Deployments are a great opportunity for teenagers to step up with babysitting and ‘parent helper’ services that keep younger kids occupied during the dreaded witching hours. If you live on base, check the rules about private businesses, and let your kids follow their interests – crafty kids might find great satisfaction in selling their handiwork on Etsy and talented bakers might earn extra cash from a birthday cake business.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Trump signs two new laws to combat veteran suicide; 988 to become National Crisis Line

Thanks to new legislation signed into law Saturday, anyone distressed with thoughts of suicide will be able by next fall to dial 988 to reach a national crisis line similar to 911 for mental health emergencies.

President Donald Trump on Saturday signed two bills into law to help prevent veterans suicide — the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act and the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act.


The latter establishes a new Department of Veterans Affairs grant program to promote collaboration with outside entities and enhance suicide prevention services for veterans and their families. It establishes new data requirements to better track potential causes of suicide and new hiring rules to bolster the VA’s mental health workforce.

The VA estimates that more than 20 veterans die by suicide every day, and of those 20, 14 have received no treatment or care from the VA, according to a statement by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Moran and ranking member Jon Tester, D-Mont., sponsored the Improvement Act, which they say will improve outreach to veterans and their mental health care options in six major ways:

  • Bolstering VA’s mental health workforce to serve more veterans by offering scholarships to mental health professionals to work at Vet Centers and placing at least one suicide prevention coordinator in every VA hospital.
  • Improving rural veterans’ access to mental health care by increasing the number of locations at which veterans can access VA telehealth services.
  • Implementing a pilot program to provide veterans access to complementary and integrative health programs through animal therapy, agritherapy, sports and recreation therapy, art therapy, and post-traumatic growth.
  • Establishing a grant program that requires VA to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This collaboration will result in earlier identification of veterans who are at risk of suicide and will provide the ability to intervene with preventative services.
  • Studying the impact of living at high altitude on veterans’ suicide risk and diagnostic biomarker research to identify depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions.
  • Holding the VA accountable for its mental health care and suicide prevention efforts by examining how the department manages its suicide prevention resources.
4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Introduction ceremony for the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. Photo from US Sen. Jon Tester’s official website.

“People in distress and in need of timely care should face the fewest obstacles possible to get help,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said after the bill was signed. “The bill President Trump signed today will soon make it easier for those at risk to be quickly connected to a trained responder and will help save lives.”

The legislation is named for Navy SEAL Commander John Scott Hannon, who retired to Montana after 23 years of service and worked to help veterans find their own paths to recovery before he died by suicide Feb. 25, 2018.

“This is a very proud moment for my brother and our entire family,” said Kim Parrott, Hannon’s sister, on behalf of the Hannon family. “This law will provide veterans greater and earlier access to the mental health care they need by requiring the DOD and VA to work together to bridge the transition between military service and civilian life and conduct research in evidence-based treatments.”

Tester said the new law “combines the best ideas from veterans, veterans service organizations, the VA, and mental health care advocates to deliver innovative solutions that’ll help heal invisible wounds of war through increased access to care, alternate therapies and local treatment options.”

Senators also agreed to try and fast-track a package of nine House bills also related to veterans suicide. That package — dubbed the COMPACT Act — features a measure by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif., to make VA mental health care services available to all veterans, regardless of their discharge status, according to Military Times. It also seeks to bolster support networks for at-risk veterans and requires VA officials to reach out to veterans every few years to ensure they are aware of benefits and health care options.

“It’s been a remarkable journey to get to this point, and I look forward to seeing the critical efforts laid out in this legislation to help our nation’s heroes get the right care at the right time for their mental health conditions,” said Matt Kuntz, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montana, in a statement.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

10 memes perfect for the military spouse

Canceled plans? Been there, done that. Holidays alone? Nothing new. Making friends as an adult? A daily norm. Learning to live with everything in your house broken? It’s a non-issue. These and so many others are daily norms for military spouses — AKA milspos. And what better way than to celebrate in these most loved (or most hated) moments than with a good collection of memes? 

Take a look at some of these all-too-real memes that describe perfectly the life of a military spouse. 

  1. The stages of deployment in terms of personal hygiene 
4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Don’t act like you’re shaving your legs while they’re gone. 

  1. When you see your Facebook friends complaining about solo parenting for a day

Cry. Me. A. River.

  1. When friends and family asks how you are and this is your response

Milspo’s best friend.

  1. When someone says you “knew what you got yourself into” but it’s not how you remember your vows.
4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Not that we’d change it, but can’t we still be surprised about the craziness?! 

  1. When most of your milspo friends joined an MLM at some point or another. 

Hey, it’s a job that travels! 

  1. When the universe aligns and you meet a new bestie.
military spouse meme
(Via Military Wives Connect / Facebook)

The stars don’t always work in your favor, but when they do, it’s magical. 

  1. Life just moves quicker in the military

Whether or not this was you, it’s funny. 

  1. When everyone is freaking about COVID and you’re just like ???
military spouse meme

Different day, same lack of control. 

  1. When moves never get easier, you just lower your expectations
(Via Military Spouse Chronicles / Facebook)

What was said on moving day (week, month) doesn’t count. 

  1. Civilians, new military girlfriends, still full of logic and hope
4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

It’s always so sad before their expectations are crushed. 

No doubt that 2020 has brought on some of these memes and brought them to life for real — not just as a once funny joke. Luckily the military has given us the tools to deal with quickly changing plans … even if we aren’t happy about it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 unexpected downsides to deploying to a combat zone

Deploying is just one of those things every troop knows will happen eventually. There are two ways troops look at this: Either they’re gung-ho about getting into what they’ve been training to do for years or they’re scared that they’ll have to do what they’ve been training years to do for years. No judgement either way, but it’s bound to happen.

The truth is, combat only makes up a fraction of a fraction of what troops do while deployed. There are some troops who take on an unequal share of that burden when compared to the next, but everyone shares some of the same downsides of deployment.

Today’s troops have it nicer than those that came before them and some units may inherently have an easier time of things. Still, everyone has to deal with the same smell of the “open air sanitation pits” that are lovingly called “sh*t ponds.”


4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Yep. And the VA is still debating whether this is unhealthy or not.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka)

Sanitation

Speaking of open pits of disposed human filth that are totally not going to cause health problems down the road, the rest of your deployment won’t be much cleaner.

Sand will get everywhere no matter how many times you sweep. Black mold will always creep into your living areas and cause everyone to go to sick call. That’s normal.

What’s not normal is the amount of lazy, disgusting Blue Falcons that decide that using Gatorade bottles as piss pots is more convenient than walking their ass to a proper latrine but get embarrassed by their disgusting lifestyle so they horde that sh*t under their bunk in some sick, twisted collection. True story.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

That is, if you can get to an uncrowded USO tent to actually talk to your folks back home.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael)

OPSEC

Everyone knows they’re going to have to be away from their family, but no one really prepares you for the moments when you’re going to have to tell them you can’t talk a few days because something happened — “Comms Blackouts.” They’re totally normal and it freaks out everyone back home. it’s up to the troops to explain the situation without providing any info that would incur the wrath of the chain of command.

We’ve all heard the constant, nebulous threats. “The enemy is always listening!” “All it takes is one puzzle piece to lose the war!” Such concerns aren’t unfounded — and it leaves troops clammed up, essentially without anything interesting to talk about while deployed.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

I’m just saying, we’re doing you a favor by not saluting you where there could be snipers…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

Other units’ officers

Every unit falls under the same overarching rules as set forth by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So, if someone’s doing something that breaks said code, any troop can (and should) step in to defuse the situation. That being said, every unit functions on their own SOPs while downrange and there’s always going to be a smart-ass butterbar who raises hell about not being saluted in a combat zone.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Don’t worry, though. This guy will probably have a a “totally legitimate” copy of all the seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ on DVD.

(Official Marine Corps Photo by Eric S. Wilterdink)

Everything you’re going to miss out on

Being deployed is kind of like being put in a time capsule when it comes to pop culture. Any movie or television show that you would normally be catching the night of the release is going to end up on a long checklist of things to catch up on later.

To make matters worse, troops today still have an internet connection — just not a very good one. So, if some big thing happened on that show you watch, it’s going to get spoiled eventually because people assume that, after a few weeks, it’s all fair game to discuss. Meanwhile, you’re still 36 weeks away from seeing it yourself.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

You’d think this isn’t comfy. But it is.

(U.S. Army)

Sleep (or lack thereof)

Some doctors say that seven to nine hours of sleep are required for the human body to function. You will soon laugh in the face of said doctors. You’ll be at your physical peak and do just fine on five hours of constantly interrupted sleep.

War is very loud and missions occur at all hours of the day. What this means is just as soon as you get tucked in for the night, you’re going to hear a chopper buzz your tent while a barely-working generator keeps turning over which is then drowned out by the sounds of artillery going off. Needless to say, when the eventual IDF siren goes off, you’ll legitimately debate whether you should get out of bed or sleep through it.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

Ever wonder why so many troops make stupid films while in the sandbox? Because we’re bored out of our freakin’ minds!

Boredom

The fact that you’re actually working 12-hour days won’t bother you. The fact that you’re going to get an average of five hours of sleep won’t bother you. Those remaining seven hours of your day are what will drive you insane.

You could go to the gym and get to looking good for your eventual return stateside. You could pick up a hobby, like learning to play the guitar, but you’d only be kidding yourself. 75 percent of your time will be spent in the smoke pit (regardless if you smoke or not) and the other trying to watch whatever show is on at the DFAC.

4 reasons military spouses are better prepared for a pandemic

“Oh, look! It seems like everyone came back from deployment!”

(U.S. Army)

All that money (and nothing to spend it on)

Think of that episode of The Twilight Zone where the world’s end comes and that one dude just wants to read his books. He finally finds a library but — plot twist — he breaks his glasses and learns that life is unfair. That’s basically how it feels when troops finally get deployment money. It’ll be a lot more than usual, since combat pay and all those other incentives are awesome, but it’s not like you can really spend any of it while in Afghanistan.

If you’re married, that money you’re be making is going to be used to take care of your family. Single troops will just keep seeing their bank accounts rise until they blow it all in one weekend upon returning.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Ready for a new tattoo? The Air Force now has its own tattoo shop

No matter if you’ve been in for two months, two years or you are two generations removed from the military, everyone knows that tattoos and the service go hand in hand. Ever since the first tattoo shop opened its doors in America in 1846, ink has had a well-deserved place in the hearts and on the skin of service members.

Of course, tattooing didn’t get its start in America. Warriors from Maori tribes in New Zealand, to ancient Greeks, marked themselves to show strength, courage and confidence. Viking raiders tapped magical symbols into their skin using the ink made from sacrificial animals.


Even service members in the Revolutionary War were getting new ink to reflect their units and identities (not to mention to prevent being illegally conscripted by the British).

During the Civil War, pioneer tattooist Martin Hildebrant traveled to battlefields and inked various patriotic designs into service members’ skin. Records show that by 1925, as much as 90 percent of all US service members were tattooed; the Navy made up the bulk of those decorated. Apparently, sailors used new tattoos to showcase where they’d been, as a sort of secondary service record, and to showcase their achievements.

For example, a shellback turtle meant they’d crossed the equator, a golden dragon meant they crossed the International Date Line, and a golden shellback turtle meant they’d crossed both at the same spot.

But for as much as there’s always been ink in the military, there have also been regulations. It seems like every few years, some leadership gets it in mind that a new tattoo policy is in order. For years, there was a limit to the number of tattoos soldiers could have on their arms, but that’s no longer the case. However, the Army still doesn’t allow face, neck or hand tattoos, though a small ring tattoo can exist on each hand. As with all branches, there are always a few waivers that are granted by recruiters each year if it seems like a tattoo isn’t too distracting.

Just like the Army, the Air Force is revisiting some of its strict tattoo policies and lessening the regulations a bit. Before 2017, Airmen weren’t allowed to have tattoos on the chest, back, arms and legs that were larger than 25 percent of the exposed body part. Now, they’re allowed to have full sleeves or large back pieces, which is a big deal for anyone who’s been stuck halfway through getting a tattoo only to have to stop because of regulations.

So it goes without saying that getting a tattoo is as much a rite of passage in the military as is getting that first haircut in basic training. Of course, barbershops have been embedded at installations worldwide for decades, but for new ink, service members have always had to go off base. That’s led plenty of people to wonder why there isn’t a place to get new ink and a fresh fade all at the same place. Now, that’s no longer the case.

Nellis Air Force Base, located just outside Las Vegas, now has its own tattoo shop, making it that much easier to get a new tattoo. Senior leadership at Nellis said in a press release that they’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for Airmen and to lead from the front. So naturally, an on-base tattoo shop makes sense.

This is the first tattoo shop to be inside any Air Force or Army installation, making it incredibly unique. Now, we can’t speak to the quality of work you might receive there, but it’s still pretty cool that leadership is finally recognizing that there’s a very real, inky culture within the military and are taking steps to provide that service.

Maybe the decision to open the tattoo shop on base is a signal that leadership hopes artists and the Airmen can better handle the Air Force guidance on tattoo size and placement. Of course, that’s not to say whether or not the tattoos will be any good, but at least they’ll be within regs.

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