New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans - We Are The Mighty
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New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Recent investigations show that the Department of Defense has issued thousands of other-than-honorable discharges to veterans with mental health and behavioral health diagnoses.


U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and seven other senators introduced legislation to change that.

On April 3, Murphy, veterans, and advocates for veterans held a press conference in Connecticut and called upon Congress to take action.

“I can’t stand the idea of a veteran risking her or his life for this country, suffering the wounds of battle, and then being kicked to the curb as a result of those wounds,” Murphy said. “But that is exactly what has happened to tens of thousands of men and women who have fought and bled for our country.”

“This is common sense,” Murphy added. “We are breaking our promise to those who served.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
In 2014, 6 of the 20 veterans per day committing suicide were users of VA services.

Murphy said there is also a stigma that comes with an other-than-honorable discharge that is a heavy burden for veterans to live with. “A lot of these so-called offenses are very minor,” Murphy said.

The legislation Murphy helped introduce would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health and behavioral health services to diagnosed former combat veterans who have been other-than-honorably discharged. The bill would also ensure that veterans receive a decision in a timely manner and requires the VA to justify to Congress any denial of benefits that they issue to a veteran.

Up until recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Murphy said, denied it had the legal authority to provide any care to former combat veterans who received OTH or Bad Paper discharges.

The VA has reversed course on the matter, Murphy said, adding that now it’s time for Congress to act to ensure mental health and behavioral health services are provided to these veterans.

Since January 2009, the Army has “separated” at least 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Murphy.

“These soldiers who fought for our country suffered serious mental health problems or traumatic brain injury as a cost of their service. And we turned our back on them,” Murphy said, adding that they also return home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But instead of being directed to the care and treatment they need, they’re being given other-than-honorable discharges or so-called “bad paper discharges,” disqualifying them from VA care, especially the mental and behavioral health services many of them desperately need, said the senator.

Murphy’s strong support for the bill was echoed by Blumenthal, who is a sponsor but was not at Monday’s press conference.

“This bill will make crystal clear that all combat veterans should have access to the full array of mental and behavioral health care they need and deserve,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot wait for a crisis to provide essential mental health to veterans suffering from the terrible invisible wounds of war.”

He said 20 veterans per day are lost to suicide.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz/Released)

One of those in attendance at the press conference Monday was Conley Monk, a Vietnam veteran from New Haven who developed PTSD as a result of his military service.

In 2014, Monk and four other plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit because they were issued OTH discharges. They won the suit, which was brought on their behalf by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and the Pentagon agreed to upgrade their discharges to honorable.

Another veteran to speak Monday was was Tom Burke, president of the Yale Student Veterans Council and a U.S. Marine corps veteran.

In 2009, Burke was a Marine infantryman in Afghanistan.

It was when he was in the Helmand Province that he witnessed deaths of many young children who were killed by an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade. One of Burke’s responsibilities was to cart away the dismembered bodies.

“I began smoking hash,” Burke said, adding that in a matter of weeks he was charged for misconduct for his drug use and was told he would be kicked out of the Marines.

Burke said he “tried to commit suicide a few times.”

He said he was later locked in a psychiatric hospital and subsequently given an OTH discharge later in 2009.

In 2014, Burke said he applied for an honorable discharge, but was denied.

Burke tells his story often, these days, not to elicit empathy for his own case, but to try and draw attention to the bigger issue of the thousands like him who are being denied benefits.

“Veterans are dying,” Burke said. “These aren’t men and women who are trying to take advantage of the system.”

Margaret Middleton, executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, said veterans need relief.

Under the current system, a veteran trying to get an honorable discharge often “requires the expertise and cost of an attorney and lengthy research,” something that veterans returning from combat shouldn’t be forced to endure, she said.

Murphy concluded: “Our veterans made a commitment to our country when they signed up. I introduced this legislation to make sure that the VA keeps its commitment to help veterans with mental and behavioral health issues. I won’t stop fighting until they get the care and benefits they deserve.”

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SEAL Team 6 vet agrees to pay feds profit from bin Laden raid book

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans


After a four-year legal battle, Matthew Bissonnette, a former member of the elite SEAL Team 6 who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has agreed to forfeit to the Justice Department all of the proceeds from “No Easy Day,” his first-person account of the raid written under the pen name “Mark Owen.”

“I acted on the advice of my former attorney, but I now fully recognize that his advice was wrong,” Bissonnette wrote in a formal apology, as reported by NPR. “It was a serious error that I urge others not to repeat.”

“No Easy Day,” co-written by military journalist Kevin Maurer, was the first public account from someone who actually participated in the high-profile raid to kill the al Qaeda leader. That impact was enhanced by the fact that not only did it deal with the killing of the terrorist mastermind, but it was written by a member of SEAL Team 6, the one of the nation’s top special operations units whose methods and techniques are highly classified and seldom written about.

The book was a bestseller, and that as much as anything is what got the author in trouble with the Pentagon. Officials claimed that Bissonnette had violated a non-disclosure agreement he’d signed as a Navy commando and also failed to have the book’s manuscript reviewed by proper authorities before it was published.

“Ironically, Matt didn’t want the book to be about him,” co-author Maurer said in an exclusive interview with WATM. “He always intended for it to be a tribute to his teammates and one that would allow readers to truly understand what SEALs do. It was also supposed to be a nod to the CIA, helicopter pilots, and Rangers — all the elements of these sorts of missions.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Maurer, who sat down with Bissonnette in Virginia Beach five days a week for a month recording the story before writing it out, said the former SEAL was focused on security.

“He was never cavalier about the details,” Maurer said. “We talked a lot about things we weren’t going to include. It was a conscious decision.”

After experiencing firsthand the hew and cry from veterans — as well as members of the special operations community displeased that one of their own had broken ranks by socializing their tactical world on a grand scale — Maurer said he understood the Justice Department ruling. But he added that “the real travesty is that the money [estimated at more that $6 million according to court documents, as reported by NPR] is now going to the government instead of veteran charities as Matt had always intended.”

Bissonnette’s current lawyer, Robert Luskin, hinted that his client had been made a scapegoat by government officials embarrassed by the information that has come out about the bin Laden raid and other operations in the wake of “No Easy Day” landing on shelves.

“The government has a right to keep its secrets and to enforce procedures that are designed to protect them from inadvertent disclosure,” Luskin said in a statement. “But it is shameful that — of all the people who leaked, talked, whispered and backgrounded about the mission — Matt Bissonnette, who risked his life to make it a success, is the only one to pay a price.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The hilarious reason Winnie the Pooh is banned in China

Many Chinese citizens responded in a peculiar way to Feb. 25, 2018’s announcement that the Chinese Communist Party may get rid of presidential term limits — by posting images of Winnie the Pooh on social media.


The pictures target Xi Jinping, who could now stay in power for decades and potentially paves the way to one-man rule that China has not seen since the days of Mao Zedong.

Also read: China’s president is kind of a big deal

The joke is that Winnie the Pooh, the fictional, living teddy bear made by English author A. A. Milne, looks strikingly similar to Xi, supposedly because both of them look somewhat chubby. Critics of the Chinese leader often use the cartoon character in a derogatory way.

 

The meme has been circulating around Chinese and Western social media since Xi became president in 2013, and has been out in full force since the CCP’s announcement.

One image showed Pooh Bear hugging a large pot of honey, with the words “Wisdom of little bear Winnie the Pooh” in Chinese and “Find the thing you love and stick with it” in English. Another image showed a screenshot from an episode that shows the bear wearing a crown and other royal regalia.

China censors Winnie the Pooh

The memes have provoked Chinese censors to clamp down on the circulation of the cartoon bear on social media apps like WeChat and Sina Weibo.

It appears the censors are going beyond just taking down pictures of Winnie the Pooh. Entire messages relating to the topic of Xi as a dictator or negative talk about him serving for life are being deleted minutes after being sent to friends or posted online.

Related: 11 classic banned books written by veterans

“I’ve posted this before but it was censored within 13 minutes so I will post it again,” one micro-blogger wrote according to What’s on Weibo, an independent news site that reports on Chinese digital and social media. “I oppose to the amendment of the ‘no more than two consecutive terms of office’ as addressed in the third section of Article 79 of the Constitution.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin)

China Digital Times and Free Weibo have reported that some of the phrases that Chinese censors are scrutinizing include “I don’t agree,” “election term,” “constitution rules,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and “proclaiming oneself an emperor.”

“Migration” and “emigration” are also subject to heavy censorship.

More: The 25 most ruthless leaders of all time

State censorship is not new in China and censors have gone after Winnie the Pooh images in the past. The country has also notably gone to great lengths to make sure the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, in which hundreds of unarmed Chinese citizens were gunned down by the Peoples Liberation Army, are not discussed — either in person or on the internet.

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The Air Force is using drones as terminal air controllers to fight ISIS

A senior Air Force commander revealed that airmen flying drones over ISIS-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq are directing close air support strikes supporting allied troops on the ground using unmanned aircraft.


Flying primarily out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, the pilots use pairs of MQ-9 Reaper drones where one designates the targets and the other drops ordnance on it, said Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command — a mission he calls “urban CAS.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
An MQ- 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)

“What we’re finding is some of what we can do multi-ship with the MQ-9 is really paying dividends just because of the attributes of those airplanes with the sensor suite combined with the weapons load and the ability to buddy and do things together,” Carlisle said during a Feb. 24 breakfast meeting with reporters in Washington D.C. “We’re finding that as we’re able to practice this more sometimes we can bring them together and pair them off.”

Usually, Air Force Joint Tactical Air Controllers, Combat Controllers or Tactical Control Party airmen paint targets and walk aircraft into a strike, including Reapers. But in terror battlefields like ISIS-held Syrian cities or hotbeds in Iraq, the risk to American boots on the ground is too great to deploy terminal controllers, officials say.

Carlisle added that American unmanned planes are closely linked with ground forces fighting ISIS militants in the battle for Mosul, “doing great work with that persistent attack and reconnaissance.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Tech. Sgt. William, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing sensor operator, flies a simulated mission June 10, 2016, at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The 432nd WG trains and deploys MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircrews in support of global operations 24/7/365. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christian Clausen/Released)

“And their interaction with the land component is increasing in the Mosul fight,” he added, hinting that even attack helicopters are now able to link into feeds from Reaper drones.

And there’s more Carlisle wants to do with his MQ-9 fleet.

With recent bonuses of up to $175,000 paid to Air Force unmanned aerial vehicle pilots, the service now has the breathing room to do more with its Reaper fleet than just surveillance or precision strikes with one drone, Carlisle said.

“Some of that [growth] is bearing fruit in that we’re getting a little bit of an opportunity to do some training and get to some other missions,” Carlisle said. “So we’re learning a lot about the MQ-9 and what it can do for us.”

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New Jersey’s fatty National Guard leader may finally have to pass a PT test

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans


The Air Force general in command of New Jersey’s National Guard has been ordered to shape up or ship out, NJ.com reports.

On Tuesday, the office of Gov. Chris Christie (who serves as commander-in-chief of the state guard) released a statement saying that Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff has 90 days to meet military height and weight requirements. This comes a day after the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock dropped his story on a guard unit that had become “increasingly dysfunctional,” while also revealing a secret reprimand from the Pentagon chiding Cunniff for skirting weight regulations and physical fitness tests for at least three years.

“The Governor has expressed directly to the General that his failure to meet that standard or to provide notification of his formal reprimand is both unacceptable and disappointing,” Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts told the Post in an emailed statement.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Brig. Gen. Michael L. Cunniff, left, the adjutant general of New Jersey, presents Master Sgt. Michael F. Sears, 177th Fighter Wing, the Silver Star, the third highest military award, June 28, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen/Released)

It’s not entirely clear how much weight Cunniff has to lose, though it is clear he should probably stay away from McDonald’s all-day breakfast menu.

While some have noted the irony of Christie ordering someone else to lose weight, the Air Force general is the only character in this story who is required to maintain a military weight standard. According to The New York Post:

Cunniff took a fitness test in November 2013, his first in more than three years. He flunked when his waist size was measured at 43.5 inches — 4.5 inches larger than what was allowed.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

As New Jersey’s Adjutant General, Cunniff is in charge of the 9000-strong Army and Air National Guard in the state. That may be a lot of responsibility for a brigadier general. But you know what they say: One star, two chins. (Boom, drop the mic.)

NOW: Comedian Rob Riggle told us the funniest story from his time in the military

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3 reasons why the A-10’s replacement won’t bring the same BRRRRRT! to the battle

So, the Air Force is going to test fly a replacement for the A-10 Thunderbolt II “BRRRRRT!” plane this summer — all on account of a Senate committee that just voted to provide $1.2 billion in funding for this program.


A number of planes are competing to see which will replace the legendary Warthog. Among the competitors are the OV-10X from Boeing, the Textron Scorpion, the A-29 Super Tucano, and the AT-6 Texan.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
OV-10G+ operated by SEAL Team 6. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

And while these new planes have their advantages for close air support, they lack some key attributes that makes the A-10 the beloved “Hog” that it is.

3. No armor for the pilot – or other stuff

Let’s be honest, one of the reasons we love the A-10 is that it can take a beating and bring the pilot home. The tale of Kim “Killer Chick” Campbell doesn’t happen with a Tucano or Texan. It just doesn’t. So don’t give us some small prop job and tell us you gave us an A-10 replacement, okay? Just. Freakin’. Don’t.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

2. Lack of payload

The A-10 can carry up to 16,000 pounds of bombs, missiles, and other ordnance — that’s eight tons. The Textron Scorpion carries up to 9,000 pounds. The OV-10X is a modernized version of the OV-10 Bronco, but that plane has a limited payload as well, with the heaviest weapon it carries being 500-pound bombs.

Not bad for a COIN mission, but weak at supporting boots on the ground in a heavy firefight.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
A-10 Thunderbolt IIs break over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex and one aircraft drops a flare during live-fire training April 24. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert Wieland)

1. No GAU-8

The A-10 was built around the GAU-8, a 30mm Gatling cannon. It could hold 1,174 rounds’ worth of BRRRRRT!

Now, the old OV-10 that served in Vietnam and Desert Storm had guns – four M60 machine guns. That’s right four 7.62mm machine guns. The OV-10X swaps them out for M3 .50-caliber machine guns. Not bad when you wanna take out Taliban, but a problem when facing tanks.

Now, there was a gun pod that had a version of the GAU-8 with four barrels as opposed to seven, and with 353 rounds. Not bad, but it’s not a GAU-8 mount.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder

Don’t get us wrong, the OV-10 makes for a nice COIN bird, and the Textron Scorpion could be a nice, cheap supplementary multi-role fighter.

But let’s get down to the ground truth: If you want to replace the A-10, do it right. And if you can’t replace the A-10 with a new plane, then just admit that the best A-10 replacement is another A-10 and just get them back in production. Is that too much to ask?

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This was the toughest fight in the bloodiest WW2 battle of the Pacific

When the 6th Marine Division stormed ashore at Okinawa on April 1, 1945 they knew they were in for a fight. Okinawa is a Japanese prefecture, therefore home turf, and would be ruthlessly defended.


But, their first month on the island was almost uneventful as the Marines swept across the northern part of the island.

All of that changed when they shifted to join the attack in the south.

The Japanese commander’s plan was to concentrate his forces in the hills of southern Okinawa and wage a war of attrition on the Americans that he hoped they could not withstand.

All along the front, American units took a beating from the Japanese. Slowly but surely though, they crept forward. This monumental effort broke the first defensive line, the Machinato line. This led the Americans to the next, and even more formidable defense, the Shuri line.

The Shuri line was the Japanese Main Line of Resistance. It ran from coast to coast across Okinawa roughly in line with Shuri castle.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Though barely 75 feet high and some 300 yards in length Sugar Loaf Hill was teeming with an entire Japanese regiment. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

All along the line, the Japanese defenders were chewing up entire American divisions. However, the worst of it would come for the 6th Marine Division at an unassuming little hill they called “Sugar Loaf.”

Though barely 75 feet high and some 300 yards in length the small hill was teeming with an entire Japanese regiment. The Japanese were dug into intricate tunnels with machine gun and mortar nests covering every approach with interlocking fire.

Artillery from Shuri heights behind Sugar Loaf added more devastation.

On May 12 Company G, 22nd Marines advanced on the hill. Confidence was high as they crossed the first 900 yards to Sugar Loaf’s slopes. Then all hell broke loose. The first two platoons were suddenly ripped apart and pinned down by heavy Japanese machine gun and artillery fire.

Capt. Owen Stebbins, and his XO, Lt. Dale Bair rushed forward leading the remaining platoon. Before they could even make the slopes, Stebbins and 28 other Marines were cut down.

Bair assumed command but was wounded instantly himself. Despite his wounds, he rallied his men and surged to the crest of Sugar Loaf. Blasting at the Japanese with only one good arm Bair inspired his men before Japanese fire repeatedly struck him. Continuing to fight through the pain Bair did everything in his power to suppress the Japanese. He was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

As the Japanese fire intensified, the few remaining Marines evacuated the summit. However, the fight was not over. G Company would assault Sugar Loaf and take the summit three more times that day before being forced to withdraw for the night.

Company G was down to 75 able-bodied men after only the first day. The next day other elements of the 22nd Marines captured the summit of Sugar Loaf only to be driven off.

On May 14, elements of the 29th Marines joined in on the attack and the combined effort managed to get two companies to the top of the hill. Withering fire from the Japanese forced them back down.

An attack in the afternoon by the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marines stalled and left Maj. Henry Courtney, the battalion XO, stranded on the slopes along with 44 other Marines. From his precarious position, Courtney surmised that their only hope was to assault.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Courtney was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the assault on Sugar Loaf Hill. (Photo from USMCU.edu)

Leading the way through ferocious Japanese fire Courtney led his men through fierce combat. After gaining a better position, Courtney sent for reinforcements and ammunition. He then pushed forward to the crest of the hill, demolishing Japanese positions with grenades as he went. Observing a large force assembling for a counterattack Courtney pushed on and routed the enemy from the top of Sugar Loaf.

Courtney order his men to dig in and hold for the night. Unfortunately, accurate Japanese mortar fire mortally wounded him and determined Japanese resistance reduced his small force to only 15 men. Unable to hold they once again yielded the summit.

Courtney was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

May 15 was no better for the Marines. Company D, 29th Marines battled to the top before fighting a bitter engagement with the Japanese. A single platoon exhausted some 350 grenades and were down to eleven men before they retreated.

Elsewhere the 22nd Marines fought off a Japanese counterattack with vicious hand-to-hand combat.

On the 16th, the Marines renewed their assault. The 22nd Marines once again went up Sugar Loaf while the 29th Marines attacked Half Moon hill, a small landmass interconnected with Sugar Loaf’s defenses, from which they could provide supporting fire.

Sugar Loaf changed hands four separate times before the Marines withdrew. The final attempt seemed to be holding when they ran out of ammunition and had no choice but to forfeit the hill once more.

The first good news of the battle came on May 17 when a battalion from the 29th Marines finally secured most of Half Moon hill.

The next day, the Marines launched diversionary attacks all along the line and then snuck a unit of tanks and infantry between Sugar Loaf and Half Moon. These Marines then attacked Sugar Loaf from the rear and finally drove out the remaining Japanese defenders. This was the twelfth times the Marines had made the summit and they were loath to relinquish it.

The beleaguered and angry Marines mowed down the retreating Japanese.

The fight for Sugar Loaf Hill had cost the Marines over 2,600 causalities with nearly 1,300 more evacuated for exhaustion or illness. But, the Marines hard-won victory finally cracked the Shuri line and spelled the end for the Japanese defenders on Okinawa.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Heroic Fort Leavenworth Soldier stops active shooter with his car

On Wednesday, an active duty U.S. Army soldier brought an active shooter situation in Kansas to an abrupt end by ramming the suspect with a vehicle after another soldier was wounded.

Police were first called to Centennial Bridge over the Missouri River, which spans across the border between Kansas and Missouri, after reports of a road rage incident at approximately 11 a.m. local time on Wednesday. By the time they arrived, the shooter had already been neutralized by a Soldier that had been waiting in traffic. According to Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens, responding officers arrived to find one Soldier nursing a gunshot wound and the suspect “trapped under the car” of another Soldier. Neither of the Soldier’s names have been released thus far.


Both the soldier who was wounded and the shooter were transported to a nearby hospital where both are now listed in “serious, but in stable condition.”

Fort Leavenworth soldier stops active shooter on bridge

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According to reports, the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol, and responding officers found bullet holes in a number of surrounding vehicles. According to witnesses on the scene, the shooter wasn’t seeming to target anyone specifically.

The Soldier, who is stationed in Ft. Leavenworth, was reportedly waiting in traffic when the shooting first began. Once he had assessed that it was an active shooter situation, he took quick action to pull his vehicle out of the line of traffic and sped directly toward the shooter. As the shooter was already firing rounds at surrounding vehicles, the decision to ram him was a risky one, and police are crediting his quick and decisive action for potentially saving a number of lives.

“What was a very, very dangerous situation, fortunately, was ended quite quickly,” Kitchens said in a press conference.

“The soldier intervened by striking the shooter with his vehicle, causing him to be critically injured, but ending the encounter with the active shooter and likely saving countless lives,” Kitchens continued.

You can watch Chief Kitchen’s full statement about the incident in the video below:

Fort Leavenworth soldier saves ‘countless lives’ by ending active shooter situation on bridge

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Thus far, the U.S. Army has not revealed the identity of the Soldier who stopped the shooting, nor have they made any official statements regarding the incident.

“It’s one thing to react under fire in a war zone — you’re in that mental state, even when you’re relaxing your mind is still kind of on edge all the time. It’s another thing to have the quick thinking and courage to do something like this stateside — shootings back home are extremely surreal,” former Army Ranger and author Luke Ryan told Sandboxx news. Ryan speaks from experience–having served in combat as a Ranger after surviving a school shooting as a student.

“They don’t feel real, and it takes your mind longer to sort out exactly what’s happening. Of course, in a violent situation like that, every second is precious and can mean another life lost. The soldier who stopped this shooter is commendable, not only for their courageous actions, but also their ability to think fast and act decisively. I don’t know what this soldier’s background is, whether they relied on years of combat experience or whether they were just a regular person reacting the best way they knew how — either way, hats off.”

An investigation into the incident, including what the motive for the shooting may have been, remains ongoing.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Unit Cartoonist’s account of the ‘Spooge Banger’

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

(The featured cartoon courtesy of the author. A flash-bang is a concussion grenade that does not produce primary fragmentation, only extreme sound and blinding flash that serves to stun an enemy momentarily upon a room entry.

Depicted is a team preparing to enter a room of unknown threat posture, substituting the flash-bang preparation drill with a can of “explosive” spray adhesive. “Lid’s off!” replaces the usual “Pin’s out!” referring to the flash-bang’s safety pin whose removal is the last step before throwing the grenade.

In the final scene, the threat is neutralized by the exploding can of “spooge” rendering the threat stuck to walls, floors, and other incapacitating postures.)


New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

(A typical Flash-Bang grenade used by Law Enforcement; no fragmentation, just loud extreme loud noise and flash. Flash-Bangs are categorized as non-lethal riot control devices.)

“Spooge” somehow became the nickname for the cans of spray adhesive we used to stick paper targets, bull’s eyes, and the like to a target stake downrange. It simply was the quickest and most convenient way to stick paper to cardboard and get on to the business of sending maximum rounds down range on a near-daily basis.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

(In all its glory, the 3M Super 77CA Multipurpose spray adhesive can)

Spray adhesive was for paper on cardboard. For attaching cardboard to a wooden target, slat roofing tacks were used. Roofing tacks are a short nail with a very wide and flat head. It happened that when our Delta brother, Cuz, was hurriedly attaching a fresh target paper he noted his target backing was pulling apart from the wooden target slat.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Not wanting to lose the time to run the 150 meters back to the target shed to retrieve a proper hammer, Cuz decided that the spooge can already in his hand possessed sufficient merit to serve to pound in the tack. Within a few smacks on the roof tack with the bottom edge of the can it burst, completely engulfing his head and face.

Cuz’s ballistic eye protection was glued to his face, and his hair was covered. He staggered around blindly and calling out:

“Little help… a little help over here — we have a situation!”

We quickly engage in the attempt to pull his eye protection away from his face so he could see again, a ponderous and painful process.

“Well guys… that’s why we wear this safety equipment, you know?” he recited flatly, mimicking a certain redundant preaching that was certain to result from the incident.

“Cuz, I think you better just head on straight home from here and see about getting that spooge out of your hair; there’s not much else you can accomplish here… unless you want to finish hammering that nail with a fresh can…” our Troop Sergeant joked.

As fortune would have it, Cuz’s Mrs. was a hairdresser and knew just how to work the glue from out of Cuz’s hair and off his face. She did a remarkable job; when Cuz returned to work the next day, there was not so much of a hint of the adhesive in his hair, a vision that I found truly extraordinary.

For sure I endured the nagging and pining need for a cartoon to portray the event. As bizarre as it was, it was sure to be a cinch to find the humor…the humor in a can of target spooge that blew up in Cuz’s face like a… a flash-bang grenade. There it was; the vision in my head of spooge cans replacing bangers in a tactical building entry, the bad guys glued to the walls, floors, and fixtures. I stuck a fork in it *cuz* it was done.

Soon enough, I felt Cuz’s eye on me for a time, then he finally approached me when I was alone; I felt I already knew what was coming and was right:

“Yo Geo… this isn’t going to find its way into the cartoon book, is it?”

Oh, the shame! Yet again a man was missing the glory of being immortalized in the Unit cartoon book. I had to remind him; I had to remind them all that they WANTED to be in the cartoon book for the balance of time, though it might not be a thing they recognized immediately. I had to explain to Cuz the same way I had to explain it to every candidate:

Just because you got hurt or injured or humiliated due to an unfortunate blunder committed while on the job… do NOT think you should get a pass for that from the unit Cartoonist. That will not happen — if you dance you’re going to have to pay the band, and if you have to pay the band you might as well make sure it plays your favorite tune!

“Recall if you will that the cartoonist has a measure of reputation to maintain with his public. The fact that you make the cartoon book is purely a business decision, one entirely devoid of any emotion or sympathy… a cold, impersonal, heartless business decision. I am the cartoonist; I AM THE BAND!

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The Navy just developed invisible armor that is easy to fix

When most people think armor, they think of thick steel, ceramic or Kevlar. It stops (or mitigates) the harm that incoming rounds can do, but there’s one big problem: You can’t see a friggin’ thing if you’re behind it.


This is no a small problem. Put it this way, in “Clausewitzian Friction and Future War,” Erich Hartmann, who scored 352 kills in World War II, was reported to have believed that 80 percent of his victims never knew he was there. Project Red Baron, also known as the Ault Report, backed that assessment up based on engagements in the Vietnam War.

Bulletproof glass exists, but it can be heavy. When it is hit, though, the impact looks a lot like your windshield after it catches a rock kicked up by an 18-wheeler on the interstate.

That also applies in firefights on the ground – and according to a FoxNews.com report, the Navy has made it a little easier to maintain situational awareness while still being able to stop a bullet. The report notes that the Navy’s new armor, based on thermoplastic elastomers, still maintains its transparency despite being hit by bullets.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Current bullet-resistant glass after ballistic tests during the IDET 2007 fair in Brno. The good news is the bullets were stopped. The bad news: You can’t see through the window. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In a Department of Defense release, Dr. Mike Roland said, “Because of the dissipative properties of the elastomer, the damage due to a projectile strike is limited to the impact locus. This means that the affect on visibility is almost inconsequential, and multi-hit protection is achieved.”

That is not the only benefit of this new armor. This new material can also be repaired in the field very quickly using nothing more than a hot plate like that used to cook Ramen noodles in a dorm room – or in the barracks.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

“Heating the material above the softening point, around 100 degrees Celsius, melts the small crystallites, enabling the fracture surfaces to meld together and reform via diffusion,” Dr. Roland explained.

Not only will this capability save money by avoid the need to have replacement armor available, this also helps reduce the logistical burden on the supply chain, particularly in remote operating locations that were very common in Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy expects there will probably be ‘hundreds’ of coronavirus cases aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt

The acting secretary of the Navy said Thursday that he suspects the number of coronavirus cases aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt will eventually be “in the hundreds.”

The first coronavirus cases aboard the flattop were reported Tuesday of last week. At that time, there were only three cases. The number had climbed to 114 by Thursday.


New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

“I can tell you with great certainty there’s going to be more. It will probably be in the hundreds,” Thomas Modly, the acting Navy secretary, told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday afternoon.

He said that none of the 114 that have tested positive had been hospitalized. “The ones that are sick are exhibiting mild or moderate flu symptoms. Some are exhibiting no symptoms. And, some have already recovered,” he said.

The ship is currently in Guam, where the Navy is in the process of removing thousands of sailors from the ship and testing the entire crew.

On Wednesday, Modly told reporters 1,273 sailors, roughly one-fourth of the crew, had been tested. At least 93 tests had come back positive.

The Navy is moving at least 2,700 sailors off the ship, and those who test negative will be put up in vacant hotels on Guam, where they will be quarantined for two weeks.

Before the outbreak, the massive flattop had been sailing the Pacific. In early March, the ship made a port call in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Modly’s prediction that the number of coronavirus cases aboard the carrier could eventually be in the hundreds came as he announced that he had relieved the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer of duty due to a loss of trust and confidence.

Capt. Brett Crozier, the ship’s CO, wrote a letter warning that “the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.” He called for the removal of the majority of the crew from the ship as soon as possible. “Sailors do not need to die,” he wrote.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

The letter leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle and then quickly made headlines everywhere.

The acting Navy secretary accused the CO of mishandling information by distributing the letter outside the chain of command in a way that made it susceptible to being leaked. He said that Crozier exercised “poor judgment” and that his letter caused unnecessary panic among sailors and military families.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Capt. Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest and well-being of his crew,” Modly said. “Unfortunately, it did the opposite.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Some vets with a tendency toward showmanship like to take their talents to YouTube or Hollywood when they hit the post-service world.


New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
These guys sang a couple songs that pissed their CO off (bravo!). (Photo: Amazon.com)

But the former F-16 fighter pilots behind Operation Encore took the old-school approach and are working to shatter some of the caricatures of veterans through music. The result is a blend of music genres from a variety of military-affiliated artists that range from folksy bluegrass to present-day pop rock — all of it relating to experiences of war that poke fun at life in the service and lament the tragedy of war.

Chris Kurek is the co-founder and partner with Viper Driver Productions. He’s better known as “Snooze,” one of the two founding members of the band Dos Gringos, a pair of F-16 pilots who released four satirical albums full of songs with titles like “I Wish I Had a Gun Just Like the A-10” to the NSFW drinking song “Jeremiah Weed” to the Willie Nelson-esque “TDY Again.”

The band kicked off when Kurek and his fellow jet jock Robert “Trip” Raymond were deployed to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch and later Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We were out there for six months, there was nothing else to do,” Kurek said. He and Raymond wrote some songs and performed for the rest of their squadron.

Their songs drew what Kurek described as “wonky eyes” from some, but their squadron commander was very supportive, encouraging them to record the songs on CD, even offering to put up the money.

“We were kind of writing on stuff that pointed out things that drive you crazy in the military,” he said.

After the band’s return stateside, they went to Texas to record their first CD, “Live at the Sand Trap.”

Turns out Dos Gringos’ wing commander was less than pleased with their extracurricular enterprise and barred them from performing at the Cannon Air Force Base Officer’s Club.

But the band went viral in a 2003 sorta way via the enlisted maintenance personnel who particularly dug the song, “I’m a Pilot,” Kurek said. The semi-satirical ditty about a self-centered fighter jock — which evokes a sound similar to some songs from the 80s band Warrant — was passed around the flightline.

Eventually, Dos Gringos would put out three more albums —”2,” “Live at Tommy Rockers,” and “El Cuatro” — before the band had to go on hiatus due to pressure from higher ups as Raymond rose through the ranks.

They were not done with music, though. Both felt some frustration with how some caricatured vets and with what they perceived as an effort by Nashville to cash in on the veteran experience.

Kurek recounted that the war wasn’t always patriotism or sadness, pointing out there was a lot of “goofing off and laughter” because of “boredom.”

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Stephen Covell, a former Army medic who contributes to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

“Vets can write about anything,” Kurek said. Eventually, in a conversation with Erik Brine, a C-17 pilot who was a later addition to Dos Gringos, Kurek recounted someone asking, “I wonder if there are any other people who did what we did on deployment – bring a guitar and write songs.”

They began a search, and it was a pair of submissions from Stephen Covell, an Army medic who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, that prompted them to create Operation Encore.

“Those two alone were the best I ever heard,” Kurek said. “They conveyed a combat vet’s experience.”

Covell’s submissions pushed Kurek and Raymond to launch a Kickstarter campaign to pay for airfare, studio time, mixing and mastering.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Rachel Harvey Hill, a military spouse who has contributed to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

While two albums, “Volume 1” and “Monuments,” have so far been released, Kurek notes the process has been a challenge, largely due to the way the music industry has changed. Kurek recounted that when the first Dos Gringos album came out, CDs were still king. The rise of iTunes and digital downloads were one shift which evened out – the volume increased, even as they got less per song.

With Operation Encore, though, the big challenge has been the fact that the music industry has shifted once again to streaming services, and it takes hundreds of thousands of streams to get real money. Furthermore, Kurek pointed out that Dos Gringos was a niche market, and their audience knew what they would get.

Operation Encore is different.

“Operation Encore is a compilation, not one band, sound, or genre,” he explained, pointing out some of the songs were pop rock, others country or bluegrass. Furthermore, the singers who appear are scattered all over the world. Just getting the performers together for a concert would entail airfare, hotel rooms, and equipment rental. Not to mention all the stuff that is in the riders for the artists.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Kurek, though, is still hot on his Iraq War-era band.

“I wish we could do one more Dos Gringos album,” he said.

Operation Encore’s CDs can be purchased at CDBaby.com, or bought as digital downloads from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play. Dos Gringos CDs are also available at CDBaby.com, and can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the Army’s new fitness standards

On Jan. 2, the Army began administering the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or “OPAT,” to all recruits to assess their fitness for military occupational specialties. The OPAT also will be used to assess some Soldiers who are reclassifying into a different MOS.


New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Spc. Daniel Geray, 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, California Army National Guard, breathes heavily during the interval aerobic run of the Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) event of California’s 2017 Best Warrior Competition Nov. 1-5, 2016, at Camp San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California. (Army National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

Army Recruiting Command estimates that the OPAT will be administered to about 80,000 recruits and thousands of cadets annually. Soldiers moving into more physically demanding MOSs also will have to meet the OPAT standard, said Jim Bragg, retention and reclassification branch chief for Army Human Resources Command.

Under the OPAT, there are four physical demand categories, Bragg explained.

  1. Heavy (black).
  2. Significant (gray).
  3. Moderate (gold).
  4. Unqualified (white).

When a Soldier wishes to reclassify to a new MOS, from the significant category to the heavy category, for example, he or she will need to take the OPAT. However, a Soldier whose new MOS falls within the same or a lower level physical demand category will not need to take the OPAT.

The Soldier’s commander will be responsible for ensuring the OPAT is administered prior to approval of a reclassification, Bragg said. As with any reclassification action, the battalion-level or brigade-level career counselor will administer the OPAT.

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans
Going into a tougher job? Better have the guns to do it. (U.S. Army photo)

When it comes to recruiting, Brian Sutton, a spokesman for Army Recruiting Command, said the OPAT is not meant to turn away or weed people out.

“It is designed to put the right people in the right jobs and to ensure we keep our recruits safe while doing so,” he said.

OPAT scoring is gender neutral, he added. All Soldiers, male and female, must pass the same physical standards for their desired career field.

The test will be administered to everyone coming into the Army: officer, enlisted, active, Reserve and Guard. It will be administered by any command responsible for Soldier acsessions — including Recruiting Command and Army Cadet Command — after the Soldier swears in but before he or she begins training.

OPAT measures muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power and speed. It consists of four individual tests:

  1. The “standing long jump” is designed to assess lower-body power. Participants stand behind a takeoff line with their feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. They jump as far as possible.
  2. The “seated power throw” is designed to assess upper-body power. Participants sit on the floor with their lower back against a yoga block and upper back against a wall. They hold a 4.4-pound (2-kilogram) medicine ball with both hands, bring the medicine ball to their chest and then push or throw the medicine ball upwards and outwards at an approximate 45-degree angle. The throw is scored from the wall to the nearest 10 centimeters from where the ball first contacts the ground.
  3. The “strength deadlift” is designed to assess lower-body strength. Participants stand inside a hex-bar and perform practice lifts to ensure good technique. They then begin a sequence of lifts starting with 120 pounds, working up to 220 pounds.
  4. The “interval aerobic run,” always performed last, is designed to assess aerobic capacity. The evaluation involves running “shuttles,” or laps, between two designated points that are spaced 20 meters apart. The running pace is synchronized with “beeps,” produced by a loudspeaker, at specific intervals. As the test progresses, the time between beeps gets shorter, requiring recruits to run faster in order to complete the shuttle. Participants are scored according to the level they reach and the number of shuttles they complete.

Here is a quick breakdown of the four physical demand categories incorporated into the OPAT:

  1. “Black” is for MOSs with heavy physical demands, like those of the combat arms branches, that require lifting or moving 99 pounds or more. To attain black on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 5 feet, 3 inches in the standing long jump; 14 feet, 9 inches for the seated power throw; 160 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:14 minute mile over the course of 43 shuttles.
  2. “Gray” is for MOSs with significant physical demands that require frequent or constant lifting of 41 to 99 pounds and occasional tasks involving moving up to 100 pounds. To attain gray on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 4 feet, 7 inches in the standing long jump; 13 feet, 1 inch for the seated power throw; 140 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:20 minute mile over the course of 40 shuttles.
  3. “Gold” is for MOSs with moderate physical demands, such as cyber, that require frequent or constant lifting of weights up to 40 pounds or when all physical demands are occasional. To attain gold on the OPAT, the recruit or Soldier would need to achieve a minimum of 3 feet, 11 inches in the standing long jump; 11 feet, 6 inches for the seated power throw; 120 pounds for the strength deadlift; and a 10:27 minute mile over the course of 36 shuttles.
  4. “White” is unqualified. A recruit or Soldier who attains white has failed to meet OPAT’s minimum standards.

Sutton noted that if a recruit fails the OPAT, he or she can request to retake the test. If the recruit cannot eventually pass the OPAT color designator for his or her MOS, it may be possible to renegotiate the contract to allow the recruit to enter an MOS with a lower physical demand OPAT category, the minimum being gold.

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