Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer - We Are The Mighty
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Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Lt. Cmdr. Maria G. Mannix is a Navy surface warfare officer who is competing in the 2016 Warrior Games. The cancer fighter has had to juggle her time between doctor appointments, her duties as a deputy director of the Training Support Center in San Diego, and training for the Warrior Games where she’s a competitor in shot put, discus, rifle shooting, and sitting volleyball.


The Warrior Games are an annual competition held by the Department of Defense where wounded and sick service members compete in an Olympic-style competition.

Mannix says that – despite the challenge of being an athlete and Navy officer while fighting cancer – participating in the Warrior Games and other sports competitions with the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program has been an important part of her recovery.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Maria Gomez-Mannix competes in the Pacific Trials for the 2015 Warrior Games. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal

“Safe Harbor has really been a positive part of my recovery process because you meet other teammates that have serious illnesses and serious injuries and you see how they’re dealing with whatever they have, and it’s inspirational. It gives you a different outlook on things,” she said.

It’s not just Mannix’s teammates who help push her forward. The competition from wounded warriors on other teams helps as well.

“I had met a lot of the other athletes from different branches, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force,” she said, “and the more I got to make friends in other branches the more I realized that I needed to step up my game. It’s wonderful to make new friends but you also get to see the competitive edge from everybody else that’s going to be at the games as well. It helped me to focus on improving my athletic skills and trying to get my upper body strength to the best fitness I could have to be here for the games.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
US Navy Lt. Cmdr Maria Gomez-Mannix receives a medal for her performance in a field event of the 2015 Warrior Games. Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Terry W. Miller Jr.

That upper body strength is very important for Mannix. She’s fighting breast cancer and her surgeries have made training a challenge, but a strong upper body is vital to her performance.

“I’ve had multiple upper body surgeries which, anatomically, have changed my upper thoracic cavity. It’s more than just getting ready for the games. It’s PT and rehabilitation as well. But when you’re on the volleyball court, you’re literally using your hands as your legs and you have to be quick so you can react to the ball. There’s a lot of muscle strength that you need to have there. Same with my field events, I’m doing shotput and discus throwing. Again, it’s more of an upper body requirement.”

Mannix says that this training and competition helps patients connect in a way they can’t with their care providers or loved ones.

“We’re having a fantastic time playing and competing, but we’re also recovering and helping each other in a way you’re not going to get talking to a counselor or your doctor or your nurse or even your family and friends. It’s a different type of bond and it’s a different kind of camaraderie.”

“You expand the support network you already have,” she said. “Everybody wants to come home with the gold medal and be the winner, in the end, when the games are done, you hug and you say, ‘The games are over. Let’s go have some fun now.'”

The Navy sitting volleyball team was eliminated early in the tournament, but the field events are taking place Jun. 16 when Mannix will compete in discus and shot put. She will also compete in shooting on Jun. 19.

Viewers can find the games schedule, live streaming schedules, and event results at DoDlive.mil. Updates are also available at the Warrior Games Twitter account.

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The top 6 reasons civilians back out of military service

Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”


Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
…But the MRE bread is too good? A U.S. Marine recruit with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, takes part in a Meal, Ready-to-Eat during the Crucible at Parris Island, South Carolina, Dec. 3, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.

6. They’re physically disqualified

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
The Marine Corps Bulletin 1020, released June 2, 2016, explains the new Marine Corps tattoo policy.

A recruit who wants to join but is physically disqualified is disappointing for both the recruit and the recruiter. Applicants can be physically disqualified because of asthma, bad eyesight, scoliosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other causes. Sometimes people disqualify themselves with tattoos, ear gauges or other kinds of body art.

5. Friends and family talk them out of it

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Some occupations in the military are the most dangerous jobs in the world, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily lead to death. The type of job and location of a recruit’s duty station will determine the risk that military personnel encounter. Approximately 80 percent of career fields in the military are non-combat related.

Still, some potential recruits are convinced their service will kill them.

4. They don’t want to leave a significant other

Being in a relationship while going through the process of enlisting is challenging. Getting married or having a child as a single parent may affect the process of enlistment and eligibility to serve. Some refuse to leave their partner behind and instead give up on a potential military career for love.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
They’ve apparently never heard of Army Wives. (Promotional photo/Lifetime)

3. They enlist and sign a contract but don’t get their dream job

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Everyone wants to be gangster, until there’s gangster poop to be burned. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kowshon Ye)

Open positions are based on the needs and manning of the particular service. In the Navy, (my expertise) most jobs do not have to be permanent. Changing jobs can be easy if there’s a new job open and you can meet the qualifications. The Army has a program where a service member can re-enlist and change his MOS. But for some people, not having the ideal job is non-negotiable, so they never enlist.

2. The recruiting experience went south

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua

Recruiters have a duty and job to fill the needs of the military, but they are also responsible for building a connection with applicants. The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate is often seen as a reflection of what the service will be like, but that shouldn’t not be the only thing to consider. Still, a negative recruiting experience can discourage people from joining.

1. Some people just back out

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
That look tho. (photo by U.S. Army Recruiting)

The service is not for everyone and though the idea of joining seems attractive because of the honor, the uniform and the respect — it is a sacrifice. Some people may at some point feel they can make it but don’t. After weighing the pros and cons, people just change their mind.

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These were America’s colorful plans for war with the rest of the world

At of the turn of the 20th Century, America was coming into its own as a world power. In preparation for its new place in the world, the Joint Planning Committee, predecessor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drew up plans for war with likely opponents of the United States. Those plans went through numerous iterations and eventually became known as the Rainbow War plans because all the countries in question were assigned a specific color. The U.S. was then, as now, colored blue. What was started as a way to organize conops in the early 1900s became the basis for many of the decisions made during World War II.


The color plans ranged from small and unlikely to global and insightful. War plans such as Purple, Violet, and Grey covered American operations in Central and South America. War Plan Tan involved an intervention in Cuba. War Plan Brown was a plan for suppressing insurrection in the Philippines. There were also war plans Green and Yellow which dealt with Mexico and China respectively. They planned for domestic uprisings overseas that would have to be quelled by the U.S, like a repeat of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

America’s World War I allies, Britain and France, were also covered. War Plan Gold was America’s contingency for dealing with a belligerent France or her Caribbean colonies. The threat from French Caribbean colonies even led to the U.S. Army creating two special units, the 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion and the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. These were tasked with taking the island of Martinique in the event that the island became hostile. War Plan Red and its sub-plans Crimson (Canada), Scarlet (Australia), Ruby (India), and Garnet (New Zealand), were the American plans for war with the British Empire.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
War Plan Red, explained in a later film.

The U.S. also had plans for domestic conflicts, called War Plans Blue and White. War Plan Blue was the preparation the United States needed to take during peace time in order to defend itself in war. A sub-plan of this was War Plan Indigo which called for the occupation of Iceland in order to defend the Eastern seaboard. Parts of this plan were put into effect early in World War II as part of the Battle of the Atlantic. War Plan White was drafted to quell domestic uprisings in the United States itself. The planners feared an attempt by communists to overthrow the government. Portions of War Plan White were put into action in 1932 against the Bonus Army – World War I veterans who had marched on Washington.

There were also a number of other plans that would be folded into the Rainbow plans, which guided U.S. military in World War II. The most famous of these is War Plan Orange – the U.S. contingency for fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. According to the U.S. Army’s official history, Orange had the longest history as planners anticipated a possible confrontation with Japanese imperialism in the Pacific since the early 1900’s. This proved to be prophetic.

Orange established the concept of ‘island-hopping’ that would be seen in action in later in the war. It also recognized forces in the Philippines would have “the basic mission ‘to hold the entrance to MANILA BAY, in order to deny MANILA BAY to ORANGE [Japanese] naval forces,’ with little hope of reinforcement.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

As war approached, U.S. military planners abandoned the plans for unilateral American action and decided the U.S. “should support or be supported by one or more of the democratic powers” of Europe. This decision led to the development of the aforementioned Rainbow War plans.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

The Rainbow Plans had two components. First, it planned for the U.S. to have allies. Second, the U.S. would “prevent the violation of the letter or spirit of the Monroe Doctrine by protecting that territory of the Western Hemisphere.” Based on these premises five Rainbow plans were developed.  Plans 1, 3, and 4 were designed to protect the Western Hemisphere without the commitment of American forces to offensive operations and varied only in their scope of the projection of forces for the defense. Plan 2 called for supporting Great Britain and France against Germany with minimal American forces while the bulk of American forces carried out what was essentially War Plan Orange in the Pacific against the Japanese. Plan 5, the plan ultimately adopted with the addition of War Plan Orange, was a contingency for rapidly deploying American forces to Africa and Europe to defeat the Axis in concert with the Allied powers of Europe.

After Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces were deployed to both theatres as a reassurance to America’s allies despite a ‘Europe First’ strategy developed in 1940. It was not until the buildup of forces for the invasion of Normandy that the majority of U.S. forces were in Europe. Eventually, over 75 percent of the American military was deployed to Europe, with only one quarter deployed to the Pacific.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRiIrVRCb8s

Despite extensive planning, there were many developments that changed the course of the war in the Allies’ favor. Germany’s loss in the Battle of Britain caused the cancellation of Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of the British Isles. The dissolution of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact gave the Allies an advantage in Europe. Japan’s insistence on destroying the U.S. Navy in a decisive battle led to decisions that allowed the U.S. to destroy more Japanese ships and be safer in their own movements. Planners did not foresee just how effective aircraft carriers would be in modern naval warfare, though they had correctly anticipated the prominence of submarines.

Ultimately, the version labeled ‘Rainbow Plan 5’ proved the right choice for an Allied victory in World War II.

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Borne the Battle Episode #225: Jack Carr, Navy Veteran, Former SEAL/Sniper, New York Times Bestselling Author

This week’s Borne the Battle episode features Navy Veteran and New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr. He discusses his dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL and author. Through his enthusiasm for reading and on military-science novels, Carr’s dreams became a reality.

Carr’s two career goals were inspired by two people. The first person was his grandfather, a Marine who fought and died during World War II. The second person was his mother, a librarian who instilled in him a love of reading. It was this love that helped him on his path to reading about and eventually joining Navy SEAL teams.

During his Navy SEAL career, Carr led special operations teams as a team leader, platoon commander, troop commander, task unit commander, operations officer and executive officer. In the interview, he shares how his military experience and travels allowed him to develop and share realistic stories for his novels.

Additionally, he shares his mindset about his military transition, tips for entering the publishing world and how combining all his previous experiences led him to publish three political thrillers. His fourth novel is scheduled to be released in April.

In addition, he supports Veterans through his own unique merchandise, where 100% of the profits go to Veteran-related charities. He is also an ambassador for the Rescue 22 Foundation. A SEAL teammate who trained a service dog for Jack’s special needs child introduced him to the foundation.

Finally, he shared the story and business behind Chris Pratt optioning his book for an upcoming series on Amazon Prime.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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5 things you need to know about veteran and US Senator Gary Peters

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Senator Peters presented Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to Detroit Metro area veterans in October, 2016. Gary Peters


Politicians — we love to hate them. But occasionally we come across one that we want to know more about. Michigan Democrat Sen. Gary Peters is one of those politicians.

We Are the Mighty caught up with the senator last week to chat about his work for and with veterans, and we came away with five things we think everyone should know about him:

1. Peters is working on veteran issues

Peters served in the Navy from 1993 to 2005. He left the Navy Reserve in 2000, only to return to duty just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Not only has Peters had a heavy hand in incredibly pro-veteran legislation in the two years since he took office, he is actively looking for more ways he can contribute to the veteran community. Case in point: education.

The senator said that he was bothered that service members can spend entire careers in the military doing a specific job, and then find themselves in the civilian world and having to start completely over — either in college or in some sort of training for the very jobs they’ve just spent years doing.

“There should be some sort of translation,” Peters told WATM.

One of the career fields he specifically mentioned was that of EMTs and other first responders. After extensive military training in medical fields, service members find that, upon their return to the civilian world, they are required to do all of that training again in civilian schools.

His idea is to find a way to make sure that those veterans are getting legitimate credit for their experience, rather than as as electives credits.

Bottom line: Peters wants to look at the issues facing veterans and put into action actual solutions to solve them.

2. He knows his stuff

The Michigan Democrat holds four degrees, including two masters, and a law degree.

At 22 and fresh out of college, Peters was named the assistant vice-president of Merrill Lynch — a position he held for nine years. That was followed by a four year stint as the vice-president of Paine Webber (a stock broker firm acquired by Swiss Bank UBS in 2000) before he joined the Navy.

During his time in the Navy, Peters served as an assistant supply manager and achieved the rank of lieutenant commander. His deployments include the Persian Gulf and various locations immediately after 9/11.

Peters served as a Michigan representative to the U.S. Congress from 2009 to 2015.

Bottom line: Peters has spent time both as a veteran and a politician learning the ins and outs of veteran issues.

3. Peters is working on keeping jobs in America

We asked Peters about the Outsourcing Accountability Act, which serves to gather accurate information from American companies on whether they outsource work to other countries, where exactly that work is going, and how many American jobs are being lost to outsourcing.

The bill has wide bi-partisan support.

The question was, did the Peters believe that his bill as introduced to the House would help or hinder veterans who were trying to get jobs?

“The idea is to create more jobs stateside,” Peters told WATM. “This will, in turn, create more jobs for veterans stateside.”

Bottom line: Peters is working to make sure that veterans have better access to American jobs.

4. He’s working on PTSD and other mental and physical health issues veterans face

Peters authored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act called Fairness for Veterans.

Veterans who receive less-than-honorable discharges lose all of their benefits, and Peters says he strongly believes that those who received those discharges as a result of subsequently diagnosed PTSD should get an opportunity to have them reviewed.

Additionally, Peters cosponsored legislation to improve the veteran’s crisis line, cowrote the No Heroes Left Untreated Act, and was a cosigner on a letter to President Trump about the VA hiring freeze and how it would negatively impact veteran access to care.

Bottom line: Peters shows a determination to get as much work done as possible while he serves his constituents.

5. Peters has a sense of humor

Peters was extremely limited in the amount of time he had to chat with We Are the Mighty, but when it was time for him to move into his next appointment, there was still one burning question that had been rolling around the office for days.

Given a choice, would the senator rather go into battle with one horse-sized duck or 1,000 duck-sized horses?

Peters’ answer?

“Absolutely, 1,000 duck sized horses. I like to overwhelm my enemies with sheer numbers.”

Bottom line: He’s familiar with the sense of humor here at We Are the Mighty, and he digs it.

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Merkava versus Abrams: Which tank wins?

The M1 Abrams was the best tank in the world for a long time – and its Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom combat record backed it up. But lately, Army officers are warning that other tanks are catching up, including Russia’s T-14 and T-90, the British Challenger 2, and the Israeli Merkava IV.


Yeah, the Israelis have designed their own tank. According to waronline.org, the Merkava came about after the Israelis were unable to buy the British Chieftain main battle tank due to concerns from diplomats. Lessons learned from the 1973 Yom Kippur War were also applied to the tank’s development. What emerged was something that protected its crew, had good firepower, and a lot of ammo storage. In fact, the crew protection aspect was heightened by a decision to put the engine at the front of the tank.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
A tank crew in an M1A2 Abrams belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division completes tank gunnery qualification at Presidential Range in Swietoszow, Poland, January 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke, 4th ID MCE Public Affairs/Released)

The latest version of the Merkava is the Merkava 4, with a 120m main gun and capacity for up to 48 rounds, according to Army-Technology.com. It also has a 60mm mortar – a unique weapon among tanks – as well as three 7.62mm machine guns. The tank, though, is slow, with a top speed of 29 miles per hour according to militaryfactory.com.

We’re familiar with the M1 Abrams. It has a 120mm main gun with 40 rounds, a .50-caliber machine gun, and two 7.62mm machine guns. It is very tough (recall that in Desert Storm, this tank deflected T-72 main guns rounds fired from 400 meters away), but it is also fast – with a top speed of 42 miles per hour.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Crew training in both of these tanks is really a wash. The American Abrams crews are probably among the best in the world. So are the Israelis (in fact, during the Yom Kippur War, vastly outnumbered Israeli tanks held the line against a much larger Syrian force in the Battle of the Valley of Tears).

So, which tank wins? Much will depend on which tank’s “game” is being played. If the Merkava is defending, it has the edge. This will be particularly true if the terrain forces a unit with Abrams tanks to come right at the Merkavas.

But if the fight is a mobile fight, then the Abrams’ speed will give it the edge.

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7 of the best ‘so-crazy-it-will-work’ plans that actually worked

Most anything can be overcome with a good, well thought out, reasonable plan.


But if you can’t think of anything good, just be like these guys and do something crazy. You’ll at least get a good story out of it.

1. The U.S. Coast Guard’s predecessor saved hundreds of sailors by herding reindeer to them

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

When eight whaling ships and 265 sailors were trapped by early Arctic ice in 1897, President William McKinley asked the Revenue Cutter Service if they had any way to get supplies to the ships.

The RCS, a predecessor to the Coast Guard, responded by forming a unit of volunteers who traveled 1,600 miles from Dec. 1897 to Mar. 1898, buying reindeer along the way and herding them to Alaska where the sailors were trapped. They arrived with 382 reindeer just in time for most of the survivors. Three people died of starvation, but the rest were rescued during the spring thaw.

2. Army PSYOPS troops pretended they were vampires

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class William Johnson

 

American psychological operations soldiers were sent to the Philippines in 1950 to help destroy a Communist rebellion in the country. When the commander learned that the local fighters were superstitious and believed in a shapeshifting vampire known as the “asuang,” he came up with a Scooby Doo-esque plan.

First, he had friendly locals spread a rumor that an asuang was living in the hills. Then, the Americans and their allies set up an ambush in the hills, waited for the last man in a patrol to pass them, and abducted him. They poked two holes in his neck, drained him of his blood, and put his body back on the trail. The rebels bought the ruse and fled the area, allowing government forces to reclaim it.

3. Four Royal Marines rode Apaches into a Taliban fort

Long story short, a British attack on the Taliban base of Jugroom Fort went bad quickly, and British forces quickly withdrew. But, they accidentally left wounded Royal Marine Lance Cpl. Mathew Ford behind. With the Taliban in the fort already on high alert, a daring plan was needed to recover him.

So, some Royal Marines volunteered to strap themselves to the outside of two Apaches, ride into the fort, recover Ford, and ride back out. The daring plan worked, but Ford had unfortunately been rendered brain dead at the time of injury.

4. The Air Force used actual bears to test ejection seats

The Air Force struggled in the late 50s and early 60s with a simple but challenging problem. Crew who had to eject from supersonic planes were subjected to extreme and sometimes lethal strain. So the Air Force began testing experimental ejection devices — on bears.

To be fair, the Air Force didn’t start with bears. It started with unemployed humans. But the public thought it was messed up for the government to conduct dangerous experiments on unemployed Americans, so the Air Force strapped bears into experimental ejection devices on the B-58 Hustler.

The pod was proven safe and nearly all of the test animals returned to the ground safely. Unfortunately, the Air Force needed to check for potentially hidden injuries and ordered autopsies on all animal subjects.

5. Union soldiers stole a train and wreaked havoc across Georgia and Tennessee

 

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
The great locomotive chase of 1862. (Photo: Public Domain)

What’s the best way to cut off your enemy’s lines of communication? Apparently, in Apr. 1862 Georgia, the answer was to steal on train and go on a GTA: V-type crime spree with it. The operation was led by a civilian but was conducted with the help of 18 Union soldiers.

The party stole a train in Marietta, Georgia, and drove it towards Chattanooga, Tennessee, destroying track and telegraph lines as they went and evading a pursuing party of Confederate soldiers and the original train owner. The men didn’t quite make it to Chattanooga but did cause extensive damage to Confederate logistics and communication networks.

The men were eventually caught. Eight of them were executed and the rest lived out the war as POWs.

6. American troops used a payphone to call for air support in Grenada

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
82nd Airborne artillery personnel load and fire M102 105 mm howitzers during Operation Urgent Fury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. M.J. Creen)

During the invasion of Grenada in 1983, the American communication network was so bad that almost no one on the island could talk to any fighters from another branch. This led to the legend that U.S. troops called for fire support using a credit card and a payphone.

Vice President Dick Cheney heard the story while he was a Congressman and was told that an Army officer could see naval artillery out at sea but couldn’t get them on the radio. So he pulled out his credit card and used a payphone to call the Pentagon who relayed his request.

The Navy SEALs have their own version of the story that said the frogmen were holed up in the governor’s mansion and used a credit card to call the Pentagon and get help from an Air Force AC-130.

7. American and Nazi troops teamed up to defeat an SS attack during World War II

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Schloss Itter (Itter Castle) in July 1979. (Photo: S.J. Morgan. CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the closing days of World War II, a group of American and German troops teamed up and fought side-by-side against a murderous SS battalion. The Americans had accepted the surrender of the Germans just before both sides saw the slightly drunk and very fanatical group of SS soldiers climbing the hill towards them.

The two groups quickly set aside their difference and conducted a joint defense of Itter Castle with some of the prisoners helping them out. The 150 SS troops outnumbered the defenders and fought until the allies were about to run out of ammunition when American reinforcements showed up. Many of the SS were captured and the freed prisoners were able to testify against the Nazis.

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A Ranger’s warning on reacting to ‘click bait’ without all the facts

This article originally appeared in the Havok Journal.


Seen = killed. This was the objective of our entire marksmanship program when I served as a Special Operator in the 75th Ranger Regiment. “Seen” was the critical precursor to action; shoot the enemy combatants. Leave the non-combatants be.

Some of us out there have forgotten this critical point, today in America. Some of us are attacking the wrong people without “seeing” who we are targeting before we pull the trigger.

(2003. Konar Province, Afghanistan.)

The flash identified the origin of fire before the rocket motor etched a line across the night sky, burning a streak into my night optical device. Enemy contact. Only it was directed at the walls of our firebase, not our patrol.

We halted the convoy, a few kilometers from the safe house, identified the enemy position and marked it while air support was scrambled to the area. Bad situations turn worse quickly when you have multiple friendly elements in the battle space and you make enemy contact. Because of this, we knew how critical it was for our Joint Task Force to know where we were.

We confirmed our location with the JTF Command and then the men within the walls returned fire on the enemy. All of this happened within moments. Silently, invisible to all but our friendlies engaging the enemy position, we waited.

We felt helpless watching the fight. Our distance was too great to maneuver on the enemy, so our fires would do little more than give our position away. Masked by the night, we had the only dominant position in the fight. We did all we could: maintain discipline, calm our adrenaline and direct fires from the shadows. The engagement did not last long, but the feelings never left me. Helplessness. Guilt. Gratitude. Rage.

In all of this, I was angry. My strong sense of justice had been assaulted by these people who attacked us. We are here to help.

Our patrol had just escorted Civil Affairs soldiers into the valley to conduct meet and greets with the local mullahs. A rare mission for our JTF. They had gathered intelligence and offered assistance to the village. They provided generators and school supplies and promised to return with a MEDCAP (medical civil action program). Weeks prior, our medics had treated a boy with a near leg amputation from a construction accident in town.

Read More: Veterans clap back at those demanding Starbucks hire 10,000 vets

Why are they attacking us!? We’re the “Good Guys!”

Things move fast overseas. Often times the lives of your teammates depended on your ability to react to contact with speed and accuracy. Two things stood out most from my experience that night: the discipline of the American Soldier and the feelings of betrayal by a people we were trying to help.

Both themes — discipline and betrayal — stand out today as I observe the way the veteran community reacts before understanding the facts.

I work with and for veterans every day and it is one of the greatest honors of my life. I humbly submit that veterans are the leaders America is reaching for right now, but sometimes I fear we do our community a disservice when we fail to seek the facts before we fire away with our voices. Once silent servants of the Republic, we did our jobs, regardless of whether we agreed or disagreed with the policy.

Today, as veterans, we have the opportunity to speak our minds. To opt in or out on a topic. Our countrymen are starving to hear from us and in some respects, we have a responsibility to them still, to serve and to lead.

In most cases I see veterans seizing that opportunity to make a big difference in their communities. They are leading within the home, the corporate sector, small business, government and nonprofits. Sadly, I also see entitlement, outrage and misplaced attacks from those of us who fail to do the work and lazily fall for the title of the hottest “click bait” article in the news cycle. I see outrage and indignation with little to no understanding of the facts. And I see made up controversies.

Two timely examples are with Walmart and Starbucks.

Read More: Starbucks is hiring 10,000 refugees – starting with interpreters for US troops

On Veterans Day 2015, Walmart rolled out their Green Light a Vet campaign. Many veterans were outraged at the fact that Walmart was selling green light bulbs in their name, and claimed it was all for profit. As if the sales of $.96 light bulbs would move the financial needle for Walmart!

Fact is that Walmart donated all the profits of the sales of green light bulbs to worthy Veteran Serving Non Profits. It was a statement: Veterans, we see you and we are here for you. We support you.

Why were we attacking them?  They were the “Good Guys.”  As a community, we should have just said, “Thank you.”

Fast forward to today.  Recently, Howard Schultz announced that Starbucks will hire 10,000 refugees worldwide and the response from some in the community, again, is outrage. Many in our community are indignant that Starbucks would hire refugees over veterans or military. Fact is, Starbucks made a declarative to hire 10,000 veterans and family members back in 2013, and have since hired 8,800 veterans and military spouses. Meanwhile, Howard and Sheri Schultz’s Family Foundation has poured millions of their own dollars into supporting the veteran community.

Neither Walmart nor Starbucks (nor the Schultz Family) were even given a chance by the raw and reactive. The facts were never even examined. Some of us failed to “see” before going for the “kill”.

We know better.

We know to gather the facts of the situation prior to formulating our plan of attack. It has been beaten into us since day one of our time in service. We are no longer in service and the intel is no longer fed to us, which means we must be more responsible, more discerning in where we seek out the facts. It also means we must take our time and seek to understand prior to the “ready, fire, aim” attitude that is counterproductive to our unity as citizens. Counter-productive to our ability to coexist as Americans: different, yet united.

I fear that at some point, America is going to get tired of trying to support us if even the smallest “we” criticize the attempts to assist with little (to no) context and with such vitriol in our responses. That would be a shame, especially since we risked all to protect those who are now reaching out to us. Especially since many of the folks who work at these establishments and lead these programs are also veterans themselves. And especially since many of us know exactly how it feels to be attacked by the very people we are there to help.

If you’re looking for the next fight on social media, it has nothing to do with what’s on your news feed. It has nothing to do with a company’s policies, who’s the President or what the hottest controversy of the day is. It has everything to do with what’s going on inside of you.

I hope we are willing to investigate the next story before we react. I hope we stop falling for the title of the next “click bait” article.

I hope we can we stop sharpening our swords just to fall on them and use them to attack the real issues. I hope we will fight for, not against, one another.

Brandon Young served 11 years in the U.S. Army, primarily with the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the 75th Ranger Regiment and conducted four combat rotations to Afghanistan. A Mighty 25: Veterans to watch in 2017, Brandon currently serves as the Director of Development for Team RWB, whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans. 

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The Army’s top leadership is pretty worried about how quickly the North Korean threat is growing

US General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, says North Korean missile technology may be advancing faster than expected.


Milley spoke July 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, as North Koreans concluded a day of remembrance to mark the anniversary of the end of the Korean War.

Milley told his audience, “North Korea is extremely dangerous, and more dangerous as the weeks go by.”

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
General Mark Milley. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marisol Walker.

‘Never seen before’

Earlier this month, Pyongyang announced it had completed its first successful test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, one expert said could travel far enough to reach the westernmost US states of Alaska or Hawaii.

The launch took US defense experts by surprise. Pentagon officials said it was something they had “never seen before.”

There was speculation that North Korea might use the July 27 anniversary to test-launch a new missile, but late in the day, those fears appeared to have been unfounded.

Earlier July 27, North Koreans gathered at the mausoleum of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to commemorate the day in 1953 when China, North Korea, and the US-backed United Nations signed an agreement to end the struggle over the Korean peninsula.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
Statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Wikimedia Commons photo by José Fernandes Jr.

Peace treaty never signed

The conflict began in 1950 when the Soviet-ruled North invaded the democratically ruled South.

In the North Korean version of the story, the conflict is known as the Fatherland Liberation War. North Korea blames the United States for starting the war that devastated the Korean peninsula and saw the South Korean capital, Seoul, change hands four times.

Because a peace treaty was never signed, the two nations are technically still at war. Pyongyang uses that fact to justify its concentration on military readiness.

Hong Yong-Dok brought his granddaughters to the Kim mausoleum to pay their respects July 27. He told a French news agency, “Our country is ever-victorious because we have the greatest leaders in the world.”

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Russia to unleash ‘Satan 2’ mega-nuke

Russia has unveiled images of a new super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile that media reports claim could wipe out France, Britain or the entire state of Texas.


Dubbed the “RS-28 Sarmat” but carrying the NATO codename SS-X-30 “Satan 2,” Russia is the only country to really deploy any type of super-heavy ICBM. The intention behind those missiles was to take out American ICBMs before the National Command Authority could order a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

 

The first such missile Moscow had of this type was the R-36, known to NATO as the “SS-9 Scarp.” The Scarp had a range of up to 9,600 miles on land targets, and could also be used as the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, with a range of up to 24,850 miles. It carried a single nuclear warhead, but that warhead had a yield of 18 or 25 megatons, based on the version of the missile.

The next super-heavy Russian ICBM was the R-36M, known as the SS-18 “Satan.” Some versions of this missile carried the single 25 megaton warhead. Others carried up to 10 multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs. With a range of almost 10,000 miles, this missile was bad news for whoever it targeted.

The RS-28/SS-X-30 reportedly has a shorter range (about 6,200 miles), but it has the ability to carry as many as 15 MIRVs. It can swap out the MIRVs for a single 40-megaton warhead.

That would make it the most powerful warhead on an in-service missile. The Soviet Union did detonate a 50-megaton warhead, the Tsar Bomba, in 1961 on Novaya Zemlya. The Tsar Bomba was delivered by a modified Tu-95 “Bear” bomber, but was only an experimental system.

The closest an American missile came to the punch that these Soviet or Russian super-heavy ICBMs had was with the LGM-118 Peacekeeper missile. The Reagan-era Peacekeeper (also known as the MX) had a range of 8,700 miles, and could carry up to 10 MIRVs — usually equipped with W87 warheads capable of delivering a 475-kiloton yield. The Peacekeeper was deactivated in 2005 in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

The SS-X-30 is slated to enter service in 2020, replacing the SS-18.

Makes the NATO codename of “Satan 2” seem pretty appropriate, doesn’t it?

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British Reaper drone halts ISIS execution

A Royal Air Force Reaper MQ9A remote piloted aircraft interrupted a planned public execution that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attempted to carry out earlier this month, giving the would-be victims of the terrorist group a chance to escape.


Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 25, 2015. The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory D. Payne/Not Reviewed)

According to a May 19, 2017 British Ministry of Defence release, the Reaper was over the Syrian village of Abu Kamal on May 9 when it noticed ISIS fighters gathering civilians in the village. When the crew saw that the ISIS fighters were removing two prisoners from a van, they chose to act.

Unable to directly target the would-be executioners due to the British rules of engagement that require the minimization of civilian casualties, the Reaper crew instead fired a single AGM-114 Hellfire missile at the roof of a building where two other ISIS terrorists were acting as sentries. The missile killed one of the tangos outright, and sent both the crowd of civilians and ISIS scrambling for cover.

The ultimate fate of the would-be victims is not known.

Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer
A line of ISIS soldiers.

AmericanMilitaryNews.com reports that such executions are becoming more common as ISIS loses ground to Iraqi and Kurdish forces. ISIS was known for a series of beheading videos released since 2014, including one earlier this month of an alleged spy for Russia. A British subject, Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John” was one of the more notorious executioners until he was killed by a strike carried out by American and British UAVs.

According to the RAF’s web site, the British Reaper MQ9A, which is assigned to XIII Squadron, 39 Squadron, and 54 Squadron, is usually armed with four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and two GBU-12 laser-guided bombs. The MQ-9 is also used by the United States Air Force, the Italian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, French Air Force, and United States Customs and Border Protection.

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Why this Navy officer is threatening a lawsuit over playing taps

Lawyers for a naval officer who broadcasts taps nightly from speakers outside his home in tribute to the military told a Pennsylvania borough council president to expect legal action if officials don’t stop trying to restrict the practice.


The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said in a letter on July 5 that a cease-and-desist order against Lt. Cmdr. Josh Corney is unconstitutional.

Corney is complying with a demand from the borough last month that he play taps on Sundays and certain holidays only, but he wants that rule overturned.

“When the borough singles out Lt. Cmdr. Corney’s ‘Taps’ performances on private property for censorship as a ‘nuisance,’ while allowing other similarly loud or louder, longer-lasting religious or commercial musical performances on private property to continue, it is engaging in content-based discrimination,” his lawyers wrote.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The lawyers said they will seek a federal injunction if the borough doesn’t reverse itself by July 7. Messages seeking comment weren’t returned by the council president, Doug Young, or by the borough’s solicitor.

Corney, 38, on active duty and stationed in Maryland, has been deployed overseas eight times, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said it was seeing Americans killed while serving their country that inspired his musical gesture.

“I thought to myself and prayed to God that if he brought me home, I would do something to remember the sacrifices that our men and women made for myself, my family, and my country,” he said.

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DoD Photo by US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

After moving into a home on 5 acres in Glen Rock, a town of about 2,000 residents where he lived as a boy, he made the taps broadcast his first priority in April 2015, setting up three amplified speakers in the front of the house. He picked a slower, hymn-like 57-second version of the tune, which is traditionally played at the end of the day.

At first, he had to put on a CD every night, but eventually established a fully automated system that was timed for 7:57 p.m., coinciding with bedtime for his six young children and ending just before a nearby church’s bells chimed.

He says it’s sometimes possible to hear the recording in the middle of town, about a quarter-mile away, but not always.

“A nearby church is permitted to play amplified recordings of hymns twice a day, church bells are allowed to peal at regular intervals, and a local restaurant has been granted permission to amplify its live outdoor musical performances,” Corney’s lawyers wrote to Young.

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Lt. Cmdr. Josh Corney. Photo via NewsEdge.

They said other common noises louder than Corney’s taps include lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, and “the exuberant cries of children playing a raucous game.”

Early in 2016, Corney was told the borough had received a complaint, which he tried to work out with the neighbor who had lodged it.

Others rallied behind Corney’s efforts after a second complaint was made in November.

He said he made more adjustments by lowering the volume and redirecting the speakers, but that didn’t satisfy a neighboring family’s complaints.

Then, on June 23, the borough wrote him to say his broadcast of taps violated its nuisance ordinance, and told him to limit it to Sundays and a limited number of “flag” holidays.

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How Ukraine punked North Korea’s nuclear missile scientists

Ukraine has released footage of two North Korean spies exuberantly photographing fake missile designs in 2011, as part of a sting operation that eventually landed the pair in jail, as CNN reports.


Ukraine, once home to thousands of Soviet nuclear ICBMs, continues to produce missiles today as it faces a Russian-backed insurgency in the country’s east. Another Cold War remnant in Ukraine appears to be spycraft, which allowed the country to trick and capture two North Korean spies.

Authorities in Ukraine told CNN that the North Koreans sought “ballistic missiles, missile systems, missile construction, spacecraft engines, solar batteries, fast-emptying fuel tanks, mobile launch containers, powder accumulators, and military government standards,” to bring home to Pyongyang, according to CNN.

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North Korean spies photograph fake missile schematics. Screengrab from CNN video.

The specific plans the spies thought they were capturing showed schematics for the SS-24 Scalpel intercontinental ballistic missile, a Soviet-designed missile that can carry 10 independently targetable warheads across vast distances. Such a weapon would be a massive improvement over North Korea’s current fledgling ICBM fleet.

But the designs photographed by the North Koreans were fake, and moments after the cameras flashed, authorities broke into the room and detained them. The spies are now serving eight years in prison.

Ukraine may have released the footage to CNN after a report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies alleged that North Koreans had somehow obtained rocket engine designs from Ukraine. Ukraine has strongly pushed back on that accusation, and other missile experts have since disputed it.