PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis - We Are The Mighty
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PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

During PTSD Awareness Month, explore rewarding VA careers that help Veterans take charge of their mental health and pursue fuller lives.

Mental health is a cornerstone of medical care at VA. We’re committed to treating the whole patient – helping Veterans across the country heal their minds as well as their bodies.

With the expertise of numerous professionals – including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers and crisis line operators – we provide crucial mental health services that millions of Veterans rely on.

“Veterans face unique challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. Our mental health experts are there to help them achieve balance and wholeness,” said Darren Sherrard, associate director of recruitment marketing at VA.

In honor of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, let’s take a look at a few rewarding VA career opportunities that help Veterans living with mental health issues.

Cutting-edge PTSD treatment

PTSD affects seven out of every 100 Americans at some point in their lives and is often seen in Veterans who have gone through war, dangerous peacekeeping operations or other trauma.

Created in 1989, our National Center for PTSD is a world leader in research and education. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosing and treating PTSD, the center rapidly translates research into practice to deliver the latest, cutting-edge mental health care to Veterans.

Experienced, licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, clinical social workers or master’s level clinicians can be part of this groundbreaking work with a career as a PTSD therapist. Fellowships and internships are also available.

With a career at the National Center for PTSD, you can help trauma survivors feel safe in the world and live happy, productive lives.

Helping Veterans in crisis

Compassionate, qualified responders have helped millions of Veterans and their family members through the Veterans Crisis Line since it launched in 2007. The call center stands ready around the clock to take calls and texts from Veterans and active military personnel needing confidential assistance.

Our Veterans Crisis Line responders answer calls, texts and chats from Veterans, active-duty personnel, and their friends and family members. They help diffuse situations that put Veterans’ lives at risk, provide assessments and evaluate potential for suicide or homicide.

“This team is a lifeline to Veterans and military personnel in need,” Sherrard said.

Mental health careers

Beyond the PTSD center and the Veterans Crisis Line, there are rewarding careers in mental health throughout VA.

“It’s been said that the richest people are the ones who have lives filled with great meaning, and I just can’t imagine a job that pays more than this one,” said Joel Schmidt, a VA psychologist of nearly three decades who currently serves as associate director of advanced fellowships in the VHA Office of Academic Affiliations.

Whether you’re a psychologist, a social worker or in another mental health care field, you can help coordinate care that empowers Veterans and helps them reclaim their mental and emotional freedom.

You’ll have limitless room to grow and excel in your career with access to a huge variety of care environments, the chance to conduct research and the support to pursue further education.

Work at VA

Take a lead role in helping Veterans who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD. Explore a career at VA today.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

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Boeing unveils commercial for Eagle 2040C


The F-15C has a very enviable combat record. Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that during Operation Desert Storm, United States Air Force F-15s scored 36 kills in air-to-air combat.

The Royal Saudi Air Force notched two more kills with the F-15, and Israel has a number of kills with this plane as well.

Related: The real purpose behind China’s mysterious J-20 combat jet

But at the same time, the F-15 has been facing increasingly better competition. Perhaps the most notable is the from the Flanker family of aircraft (Su-27/Su-30/Su-33/Su-34/Su-35/J-11/J-15/J-16), which has been receiving upgrades over the years.

Boeing, though, hasn’t been standing still, even as it lost the Joint Strike Fighter competition. Instead, it has been pursuing F-15 upgrades.

The Eagle 2040C is one for the F-15C air-superiority fighter, which has been asked to continue soldiering on with the termination of F-22 production after 187 airframes.

In the video, one of the planes is seen carrying 16 AIM-120 AMMRAAMs — enough to splash an entire squadron of enemy planes! (“You get an AMRAAM! You get an AMRAAM! EVERYONE gets an AMRAAM!” a la Oprah)

Check out Boeing’s Eagle 2040C video above. Seems like they missed an opportunity for one hell of a Super Bowl commercial.

 

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Time-tested U-2 cameras are getting new life on drones

A major defense corporation has announced that their RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has successfully flown test missions carrying the Optical Bar Camera broad-area synoptic sensor, an imaging device originally deployed on the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane.


PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
An RQ-4 heads back to its hangar. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

Northrup Grumman has been testing the RQ-4 with new sensors in an attempt increase the types of missions for which the aircraft can be deployed. The SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor, another item commonly deployed on U-2 missions. The SYERS-2 collects multiple sources of energy and can detect teams burying explosives or dismounts on the move, even from high altitude.

Adding U-2 equipment to the Global Hawk makes a lot of sense because the two aircraft are both focused on high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance. The drone can fly for 30 or more hours on a mission with ground-based pilots and sensor operators switching control in shifts.

With the new cameras, the RQ-4 could become an even more valuable eye in the sky for the Air Force. And it might allow the Global Hawk to take over some of the U-2’s missions at a fraction of the cost.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
A U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane comes in for a landing. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt Aaron Oelrich)

“The successful flight of the Optical Bar Camera is another significant step in the evolution of Global Hawk,” said Global Hawk’s Northrup Grumman Program Manager, Mick Jaggers. “It’s the result of our focus on increasing capability, reducing sustainment costs and fielding the open mission systems architecture that enables faster integration of cutting edge sensors at lower costs.”

Northrup Grumman is also looking at testing the MS-177 multi-spectral sensor on the RQ-4. The MS-177 has similar imaging capabilities to the SYERS-2B and is often deployed on the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the JSTARS.

The MS-177 does provide a significant advantage over the SYERS-2B. While the SYERS is a “wet-film” camera that requires film processing before the image can be analyzed, the MS-177 uses an electro-optical sensor, which allows digital files to be sent to the ground station while the drone is still in flight.

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Japan’s greatest aircraft carrier was sank by a tiny sub

The Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Shinano was, at the time of its completion, the largest aircraft carrier in history to that point. It was heavily armored for a carrier, a 72,000-ton behemoth.


A behemoth that sank not only without sinking an enemy ship or engaging in a major battle, but that never even launched a plane.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
The IJN Shinano was the largest aircraft carrier in history in 1944, but she was doomed to sink without ever launching a plane. (Photo: Marine engineer Hiroshi Arakawa, Public Domain)

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan had a much larger and stronger fleet than the U.S. and early Japanese victories after Pearl Harbor made it seem undefeatable. But America’s industrial might and intelligence breakthroughs allowed the U.S. to reverse the tides.

The tipping point came at the Battle of Midway when American forces sank four fleet carriers and a heavy cruiser.

The Imperial brass had to make tough decisions quickly to protect the Japanese Navy and regain the initiative. Admirals turned to a Yamato-class battleship still under construction, the Shinano, and made the decision to finish it as an aircraft carrier instead.

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The USS Yorktown during the fierce air battle at Midway in 1942. The Yorktown was lost, but it helped sink three Japanese carriers. Japan also lost a fourth carrier and a cruiser in the battle. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Yamato-class battleships were the largest in history, greater even than the famed German Bismarck. But as American success had proven, the age of the battleship had closed and the age of the carrier had begun.

Converting the Shinano to a carrier took a lot of work and design compromises. The battleship armor was reduced but was still thicker than what most aircraft carriers boasted. Even the Japanese armored carrier Taiho got by with less.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
The Japanese battleship Yamato was the largest in the world. One of its planned sister ships, the Shinano, was completed as an aircraft carrier. (Photo: Public Domain)

All the extra armor limited the Shinano’s potential air fleet to 47 planes compared to the Taiho’s 63 operational planes and 15 reserve spares. But the Shinano held lots of fuel and ammo and was expected to act as a support carrier, launching its own planes and resupplying all nearby aircraft during battle.

But that wasn’t in the cards for the massive ship. It was launched on Oct. 8, 1944, and was sent from Yokosuka, Japan, to Kure, where it was scheduled to receive its aircraft.

On Nov. 29, 1944, the ship was hit by four torpedoes from the American submarine USS Archerfish. The Archerfish had been sent to the area to rescue aircrews downed during bombing runs on Tokyo, but began conducting normal patrols when the bombing missions were called off on Nov. 11.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
The USS Archerfish sank the world’s largest aircraft carrier with a single torpedo spread in 1944. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Archerfish first spotted the Shinano while surfaced at night on Nov. 28. A lookout reported seeing a large mass and the captain referenced his nautical charts and told the lookout that the mass was an island. The radar officer responded, “Captain, your island is moving.”

The Shinano spotted the Archerfish following it and, probably suspecting that the sub was one member of a wolf pack, began zig-zagging across the water to avoid shots from other subs.

This was a mistake.

The Archerfish was alone and wouldn’t have been able to catch the Shinano if it had fled or dispatched one of its destroyers to hunt the sub.

Instead, the carrier’s evasive maneuvers allowed the sub to slowly get in range and launch a spread of 6 torpedoes over 40 seconds. Four of them smashed in the Shimano just above the carrier’s thick anti-torpedo protections.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
The USS Mississinewa sinking after being struck by a Keitan torpedo. World War II torpedoes punched massive holes in the sides of ships, allowing water to rush in and sometimes igniting fuel or exploding ammunition. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Japanese destroyers finally turned to fight and the Archerfish was forced to dive to avoid the depth charges that followed.

The torpedo damage to the Shimano caused it to slowly list. The Japanese captain attempted to flood the opposite side to keep the ship level, but the ship had rolled too far and the water inlets were exposed to the air. Unable to correct the list, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. It rolled and sank a few hours later.

The Archerfish was originally credited with sinking a light carrier. The Shimano’s silhouette was unique, and U.S. naval intelligence had to make its best guess as to what sank. After the war, the Japanese acknowledged the battle and alerted the U.S. to the size of the ship they sank.

The Archerfish crew was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. It was present in Tokyo Bay when the articles of surrender were signed on the deck of the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.

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Now you can race to the Rhine fueled by 80-proof liquid Patton

Your local exchange’s package store could soon have a surprise for you military history buffs: a little taste of “Old Blood and Guts” for your tumbler.


Kentucky’s Boundary Oak Distillery is now distributing a liquor bearing the face of the famous Gen. George S. Patton. Even though it hails from Kentucky and is made by a bourbon distillery, the libation isn’t actually bourbon. Instead, the manufacturers call the barrel-aged cane liquor “Patton Armored Diesel” after the tradition Patton started during World War II.

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According to Boundary Oak, that World War II-era drinking tradition included a “drink, a cup, and a sign his troops associated with Armored Diesel.” The bootleg hooch was made differently from division to division, using a mixture that included bourbon, whiskey, scotch, and white wine. One variation even had a shot of cherry juice to represent “the blood of our enemies.”

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“Everybody who has seen this has been equally as excited as we are about it,” Boundary Oak owner and master distiller Brent Goodin told the Associated Press.

Patton commanded the 7th Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II and then led the 3rd Army through France and Germany after the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. He died in a car accident shortly after the end of the war in Europe.

He is one of the most celebrated leaders in the history of the United States Army.

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And you thought that movie was just a drama. (U.S. Army photo)

Part of the revenues from Patton Armored Diesel will benefit the General George Patton Museum and Center of Leadership at Fort Knox. The liquor has the endorsement of the Army and the Patton family. Patton’s grandson, George Patton “Pat” Waters, told the AP the product was “a real tribute to all those soldiers who served over there with Gen. Patton.”

Waters will help promote Patton Armored Diesel, which retails for around $46 per bottle.

Its first big promotion features a limited edition collector’s case for the bottles. The case is designed to look like a mini version of the general’s footlocker, complete with the stenciled “PATTON” lettering on the lid.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
Patton’s dog Willie mourns after the general’s 1945 death. (U.S. Army photo)

“We’re not trying to glorify alcohol, we’re just trying to glorify him,” said Goodin in the same AP interview. “This generation, they enjoy craft American spirits, and we want to give them a history lesson along with a good drink.”

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French special forces emerge from the shadows in this stunning video

France has been looking for some new recruits for its Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, and it’s turning to YouTube to drum up some interest.


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Members of France’s special forces fire their HK416 rifles. (Youtube screenshot)

According to a report by the London Daily Mail, the video is titled, “A very special video” (gee, did they draw their inspiration from promos for the TV show “Blossom” when they were talking titles?), and shows French commandos in the type of scenes you’d see in a Hollywood blockbuster.

This includes insertions by parachute, minisub, and with scuba gear.

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A Eurocopter Tigre escorts a transport helicopter. (Youtube Screenshot)

The French Commandement des Opérations Spéciales was founded in 1992 to control the special operations forces across the entire French military. This includes the 1st Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine and the 13th Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes from the French army, the Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos from the French navy, and the Division des Opérations Spéciales from the French air force.

The famous Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale — known for a number of hostage rescues and counter-terrorism missions — can be called on by the COS for reinforcement, along with other units across all the French armed forces.

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A C-160 Transall comes in for a landing. (Youtube Screenshot)

One notable piece of gear that is featured in the video is the Transall C-160, a Franco-German twin-engine cargo plane that can hold up to 88 paratroopers and which has a top speed of 368 miles per hour and a range of 1,151 miles. France had 75 of these planes in service.

Also seen are helicopters like the AC532 Cougar, the AS332 Super Puma, and the AS330 Puma, Tigre gunships, and assault rifles like the HK416 and FAMAS. You can see the entire trailer below.

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Air Force mini-drone swarms will be used for attack, reconnaissance

The Air Force is expected to rapidly increase its fleet of small drones to blanket enemy areas with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, jam enemy air defenses and potentially use drones as small explosives designed to overwhelm enemy targets with fire power.


The Air Force recently unveiled a Small UAS Road Map which, among other things, calls for the increased use of smaller drones to accomplish missions now performed by larger ones. This includes initiatives to explore algorithms which allow for swarms of mini-drones to perform a range of key ISR and combat functions without running into each other, Brig. Gen. John Rauch, Air Force Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Having numerous drones operating in tandem creates a redundancy which is significant as it increases the likelihood that a mission can still succeed if one or two drones are shot down by enemy fire.

A small class of mini-drone weapons already exist, such as AeroVironment’s Switchblade drone designed to deliver precision weapons effects.  The weapon, which can reach distances up to 10 kilometers, is engineered as a low-cost expendable munition loaded with sensors and munitions.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
A Switchblade drone.

Air Force strategy also calls for greater manned-unmanned teaming between drones and manned aircraft such as F-35s. This kind of effort could help facilitate what Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has said about mini-drones launching from a high-speed fighter jet.

Along these lines, Rauch talked about a “loyal wingman” concept wherein larger platforms such as an F-35 or F-22 will be able to control a fleet of nearby drones, drawing upon rapid advances in autonomy and computer technology.

“Teaming is where you might put a couple of different platforms and use them together to perform something. The loyal wingman concept will make an extension of the same aircraft,” he explained.

Part of the progression of this technology incorporates a transition from the current circumstance wherein multiple operators control a single drone to a situation where one human is performing command and control functions for a number of drones simultaneously.

For instance, the Air Force is now advancing a new drone Block 50 Ground Control Station wherein a single operator will perform functions now done by multiple operators.

The new Block 50 will also include auto take-off-and land, within and beyond line of sight capability and an ability to use “open architecture” to integrate new software as technologies emerge, Rauch said.

Predator Retiring

The Air Force is advancing plans to retire the Predator drone by transitioning pilots to the operation of its larger Reaper drone – all while developing small drone technology and expanding technology and mission scope for the Reaper itself, service officials said.

“As we sundown Predator, we will train people from one system to the next to focus on Reaper. The current members that are flying Predators will transition from Predator to Reaper,” Rauch said.

This trajectory for the Reaper is evolving alongside a separate effort to harness increasingly smaller, lighter-weight sensors, transmitters and receivers.

In addition, as technology continues to progress and lead to the miniaturization of sensors, receivers and transmitter and lighter materials, smaller drones are increasingly expected to perform those larger missions currently reserved to large drone platforms.

However, this developmental phenomenon is not likely to lead to a replacement for the larger, weaponized Reaper anytime soon – given its importance to strike and reconnaissance missions.

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U.S. Air Force

At the same time, Rauch did say the evolution of drone technology will likely lead, ultimately, to a new platform which will replace the Reaper over time.

Over time, the Air Force plans to upgrade the software as well as the arsenal for the Reaper, giving it a wider range of weapons and mission sets.

The idea is to further engineer the Reaper with what’s called “open architecture” such that it can easily and quickly integrate new weapons and technologies as they emerge.

“There are some composites that allow for lighter weight engines that are coming along for power and thrust output. Also, what they might burn can save a lot of fuel – and offer the hope of something miniature able to do theater wide ISR and not just over the next hill,” Rauch said.

Rauch added that the Air Force is now working through various kinds of sensor developments from the largest drones to the smallest ones, analyzing weight, power and sensor fidelity issues.

The Air Force Adds Weapons, Fuel Tanks to Reaper

The Reaper currently fires the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, a 500-pound laser-guided weapon called the GBU-12 Paveway II, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions or JDAMs which are free-fall bombs engineered with a GPS and Inertial Navigation Systems guidance kit, Air Force acquisition officials told Scout Warrior.  JDAM technology allows the weapons to drop in adverse weather conditions and pinpoint targets with “smart” accuracy.

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Staff Sgt. Randy Broome signals a jammer operator to move a Bomb Rack Unit 61 forward, while loading it onto an F-15E Strike Eagle at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Aug. 1. The NCO is an aircraft weapons specialist with the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. | U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung

“Weight starts causing an issue. We will give it an arsenal that rounds out that will be done as test time is available. JDAM is something that is within that realm and AIM-120 changes air to air engagements,” Rausch added.

The Air Force Military Deputy for Acquisition told Scout Warrior in an interview that the service has begun the process of adding new weapons to the Reaper, a process which will likely involve engineering a universal weapons interface.

“We are looking at what kind of weapons do we need to integrate in. We’re looking at anything that is in our inventory, including the small diameter bomb. We’re working to get universal armament interface with an open mission systems architecture,” Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch told Scout Warrior several months ago.

A universal interface would allow the Reaper to more quickly integrate new weapons technology as it emerges and efficiently swap or replace bombs on the drone without much difficulty, Bunch explained.

“If I can design to that interface, then it costs me less money and takes me less time to integrate a new weapon – I don’t want to go in and open up the software of the airplane. As long as I get the interface right, I can integrate that new weapon much sooner,” he added.

There are many potential advantages to adding to the arsenal of weapons able to fire from the Reaper. These include an ability to strike smaller targets, mobile targets or terrorists, such as groups of enemy fighters on-the-move in pick-up trucks as well as enemies at further ranges, among other things.

Drone attacks from further ranges could reduce risk to the platform and help strikes against Al Qaeda or ISIS targets to better achieve an element of surprise. Furthermore, an ability to hit smaller and mobile targets could enable the Reaper drone to have more success with attacks against groups of ISIS or other enemy fighters that reduce the risk of hurting nearby civilians. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda are known for deliberately seeking to blend in with civilian populations to better protect themselves from U.S. drone strikes.

Also, at some point in the future it may not be beyond the realm of possibility to arm the Reaper for air-to-air engagements as well.

One new possibility for the Reaper drone could be the addition for the GBU-39B or Small Diameter Bomb, Bunch said.

The Small Diameter Bomb uses a smart weapons carrier able to include four 250-pound bombs with a range of 40 nautical miles.  The bomb’s small size reduces collateral damage and would allow the Reaper to achieve more kills or attack strikes per mission, Air Force officials said.

The Small Diameter Bomb, which can strike single or multiple targets, uses GPS precision. It is currently fired from the F-15E, F-16, F-117, B-1, B-2, F-22 and F-35, Air Force officials stated.

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Raytheon

The Air Force currently operates 104 Reaper drones and has recently begun configuring the platform with additional fuel tanks to increase range. The Reaper Extended Range, or ER as it’s called, is intended to substantially increase and build upon the current 4,000-pound fuel capacity of the drone with a range of 1,150 miles.

The upgrades to Reaper, would add two 1,350-pound fuel tanks engineered to increase the drones endurance from 16 hours to more than 22 hours, service officials said.

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PETA declares war on US Marines drinking cobra’s blood in Thailand

This time, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, better known as PETA, didn’t have to create gruesome imagery of animals secretly being hurt or mistreated to get people’s attention. The Pentagon’s public affairs apparatus did it for them. And there’s nothing secret about it.

Every year, United States Marines and Thailand’s Marines take part in a blood-drinking ritual as part of the annual Cobra Gold joint training exercise. Thai troops conduct a ceremony in which a king cobra snake is beheaded and its blood is shared among the participants.  

The photos prompted members of PETA to protest the treatment of king cobra snakes in front of Thailand’s embassy to the United States in Washington and in front of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s house. 

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PETA: The same people who found a problem with this guy (Wikimedia Commons)

Drinking the cobra’s blood is more than just a source of cool photos of United States Marines, it’s taught to the Marines by the Thai armed forces as part of its jungle survival training. The blood of the cobra, they say, can be used as an alternate source of hydration when water isn’t available or isn’t clean enough for drinking. 

PETA has been protesting the use of cobras (and geckos, chickens and insects) in the exercise ever since it discovered that the exercise existed. Cobra Gold is the largest military training exercise in Southeast Asia, and the joint U.S.-Thai exercise covers interoperability, disaster response and other military operations between the two countries. 

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Multi-National Forces march in formation after the conclusion of the official opening ceremony of Cobra Gold 2017 (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Castaneda)

The 39-year-old exercise is conducted in and around Thailand, but often has many other partners and observer nations. The coming exercise will include live-fire exercises, land-mine reduction, and other simulated war games. 

It’s not just an important military exercise, it’s also a partnership-building exercise. Many different nations have joined Cobra Gold, either as participants or observers. China became an observer in 2015 and Burma joined the exercise for the first time in 2016. 

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Lance Cpl. Dakota Woodward, from Brandon, Florida, drinks cobra blood Feb. 8 during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

But PETA isn’t targeting the exercise itself, just the part where the Thai soldiers tame, kill and drink the blood of a king cobra and other wild animals as part of the exercise. The organization calls it unnecessary, and a zoonotic disease vector “on par with COVID-19.”

PETA also has a problem with the way Marines and Thai troops are taught to kill the animals they eat for survival, claiming the method of killing chickens isn’t approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and that geckos should be killed by blunt force trauma, among other issues. 

Photos of the Cobra Gold exercise and of United States Marines drinking cobra’s blood have been public since long before PETA first learned about the event in 2020. That seems to bother the organization just as much.

“The fact that the general public was able to see footage of our U.S. Marines taking part in something so cruel set this apart,” said PETA Associate Director Ashley Byrne, who may not have ever actually met a Marine. “I don’t think that this reflects the values that we want associated with our country.”

On top of the protests, PETA filed a petition for rulemaking with the Department of Defense to eliminate the unnecessary killing of animals as part of Cobra Gold. In the petition, the organization offers an alternative to Thailand’s jungle survival training, which includes “instructional books and videos created by former military survival instructors, interactive video programs, and a focus on non-animal sources of sustenance.”


Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

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This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Serving in the Marine Corps infantry is one of the most taxing occupations the military has to offer. Whether you’re out patrolling in a hot zone, calling in mortars on an enemy position or just humping hundreds of pounds of gear, it’s tough.


For one former Marine, military service fuels his music and reflects his experiences in the Corps.

“So you’re the newest PFC? Well, welcome to the infantry. Around here we like to do things a little differently. I know your drill instructor taught you those morals and ethics, but you got to put that to the side to kill more efficiently. ”

These are the opening lyrics of “Welcome to the Infantry” performed by Marine rapper, Fitzy Mess, and they couldn’t be more truthful.

Related: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

Check out Fitzy Mess‘ video below for his cathartic rap song about life in the Marine infantry. And turn your sound up!

(Fitzy Mess, YouTube)
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Forget Godzilla, Russia is building this new sea monster

Godzilla may be king of the monsters, but during the Cold War, he’d find the Caspian Sea a little crowded.


Now, Russia is building a new Caspian Sea Monster.

According to a tweet by the Russian embassy in South Africa, the Chaika A-050 is slated to enter service by 2020. The A-050 is what is known as an “ekranoplan,” or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed these airplane hybrids during the Cold War, largely because they offered a unique mix of the capabilities of ships and aircraft.

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A Ekranoplan, or ground-effect vehicle. The Soviet Union pushed development of these Caspian Sea Monsters during the Cold War. (Youtube Screenshot)

According to militaryfactory.com, the Lun-class ekranoplan is one such example. It had a top speed of 342 miles per hour — slightly slower than the B-29 Superfortress — which could go 358 miles per hour. However, the Lun carried six SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles, which are limited for use on surface combatants like the Sovremenny-class destroyer and Tarantul-class missile boat. The Lun could climb to as high as 24,000 feet.

According to a 2015 report by Valuewalk.com, the Chaika A-050 will travel at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, with a range of 3,000 miles. It will be able to carry at least nine tons of cargo or 100 passengers. However, a Sputnik News report indicated that the Russians could install the BrahMos missile on the new ekranoplan.

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A model of the BrahMos II, Russian-Indian hypersonic missile under joint development.

The BrahMos is a version of the SS-N-26 Oniks surface-to-surface missile that has been installed on a number of Indian Navy vessels. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the BrahMos has a top speed of Mach 2.8 and a range of 500 kilometers. The missile carries a 300-kilogram warhead, and can hit surface ships or land targets. The missile can be used by submarines and surface ships.

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World War II vet gets awesome 99th birthday present

Staff Sgt. Eugene Leonard served in the Marine Corps during World War II and was wounded in action. But he never lost a love for aviation, also serving in the Air Force and as an airplane mechanic in his civilian life.


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Staff Sgt. Eugene Leonard (Youtube screenshot)

So, for his 99th birthday, one friend decided to pick up the former Marine’s spirits after Leonard became a widower and moved to the Phoenix area, Fox10Phoenix.com reported.

What was selected for that task was another World War II veteran — a restored B-17 Flying Fortress bomber.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
B-17 formation over Schweinfurt, Germany, Aug. 17, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In a day and age where we lose 492 World War II veterans a day, according to the National World War II Museum, those few remaining are a link to the heroic history of that conflict.

The same can be said for the planes. In this case, one World War II vet was able to give another one a brief pick-me up.

Here is Fox10Phoenix’s report on Staff Sgt. Leonard’s flight:

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 
PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

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33 insane photos from the battle for Okinawa

The Battle of Okinawa, known as Operation Iceberg by the Allies, eventually consisted of 306,000 service members assaulting fierce defenses manned by 130,000 Japanese troops and an unknown number of local civilians, including children, drafted into the defenses.


The island was critical for the planned invasion of Japan, but the losses were enormous.

Here are 33 photos that give a look inside of one of America’s most costly battles of World War II:

1. For days before the invasion, Navy ships bombarded the island with naval artillery and rockets. This photo was taken five days before the amphibious assault.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

2. A Navy Corsair fires a salvo of rockets during Operation Iceberg, the Allied effort to capture Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

3. The USS Idaho shells the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

4. Marines land on the beachhead already secured on the island. These infantrymen will continue pressing the attack against approximately 130,000 defenders.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

5. U.S. landing ships sit beached and burning on May 4 near the mouth of the Bishi River after a Japanese air attack.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

6. Famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle speaks with U.S. Marines a short time before his death on the island.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

7. A long exposure photograph shows the crisscrossing lines of Marine anti-aircraft fire over the U.S. airfield established on Okinawa.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

8. A May 11, 1945, morning artillery barrage kicks off an all-out offensive.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

9. Japanese rockets rain down on and near U.S. positions during heavy fighting on Okinawa.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

10. The infamous battleship Yamato, sent to Okinawa to attempt to beach itself and act as a shore battery until destroyed, is sank at sea on April 7 before it can reach the island.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

11. Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., at right, surveys fighting just a few hours before Japanese artillery killed him.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

12. A Sherman tank drives past a burning home. The structure was set on fire to prevent its use by snipers.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

13. Marines attempt to extinguish the flames on an overturned Sherman tank. The ammo later exploded before the Army crew could be rescued.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

14. Engineers construct a causeway from the island to the sea to allow supplies to be trucked from ships to shore.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

15. American service members move supplies by horse in areas where the mud was impassable for vehicles.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

16. Okinawan civilians hired to carry supplies line up to receive their loads.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

17. A flamethrowing tank attacks Hill 60 during the Marine assault on the mound.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

18. A Japanese plane goes down in flames over the ocean.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

19. The HMS Formidable of the Royal Navy burns after a May 4 Kamikaze attack. Eight crew members were lost and 55 injured, but the Formidable survived the war.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: Royal Navy)

20. Marine Corps infantrymen ride a tank to the town of Ghuta on April 1 to occupy it before Japanese defenders can.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

21. A Marine sprints across the “Valley of Death,” a draw covered by Japanese machine guns that caused 125 casualties in eight hours.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

22. Marines explode dynamite charges to destroy a Japanese cave on the island.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

23. The USS Bunker Hill burns after two Kamikaze strikes in less than a minute. At least 346 sailors were killed and 43 went missing.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

24. The Bunker Hill survived and returned to the U.S. for repairs. It served as a troop transport after the war before it was sent to the fleet reserve.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

25. Wounded sailors are moved from the Bunker Hill to the USS Wilkes Barre.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

26. Army soldiers move forward during the 82-day battle.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

27. A private cuts a sergeant’s hair in the Japanese city of Shuri on the island. A medieval castle in the city survived the battle.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

28. Marines rest on the side of a hill as Japanese fire prevents their further advance.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

29. A tank crewmember is relocated after suffering injuries.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

30. Wounded troops await transport to a ship hospital.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. National Archives Catalog)

31. Marine Lt. Col. R.P. Ross, Jr. places an American flag on Shuri castle on May 29, 1945. Ross was under sniper fire at the time.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis
(Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

32. The American flag is raised over the island June 22 in a ceremony marking the end of organized Japanese resistance.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

33. A U.S. servicemember visits an American cemetery. The U.S. suffered over 12,000 killed and 50,000 wounded during the battle. Japan suffered over 150,000 soldiers and civilians killed or committed suicide.

PTSD Awareness Month: Make a difference in the lives of Veterans in crisis

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