'The West Wing' cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts - We Are The Mighty
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‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, and other former cast members of NBC’s The West Wing reunited to produce an advocacy video on behalf of Justice For Vets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation of a nationwide network of Veterans Treatment Courts in the U.S. criminal justice system.


Half of the U.S. military’s returning service members experiencing some form of mental health issues, one in five have some form of post-traumatic stress, and one in six struggle with substance abuse, both related to experiences in their service. Many of the 700,000 veterans in the criminal justice system are there because of their service-related trauma, addiction, or mental illness. This is not limited to the veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2008, Judge Robert T. Russell of Buffalo, New York noticed many of the returning faces in his courtroom were veterans. The rising number of veterans in the city’s treatment courts led to the creation of the country’s first Veterans Treatment Court. The idea was to create a support group among the niche population of veterans adopting, with slight modifications, ten key components as described in the U.S. Department of Justice Publication entitled Defining Drug Courts: The Key Components, combining those with the ten essential elements of Mental Health Courts.

These courts allow veterans to appear before judges who understand the unique challenges facing them. More than that, Veterans Treatment Courts give vets the the chance to participate in recovery with fellow veterans, to re-establish the esprit de corps kindled by their military service. The court becomes their new unit with the judge in the role of commanding officer. The new team members support each other and are mentored through their rehabilitation period.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
Veterans Service Officers share a unique bond with particpants and help them access their claims. (Photo: Justice For Vets)

The Department of Veterans Affairs plays an important role in guiding recovery of the veteran. The courts area “one-stop shop,” linking veterans with the programs, benefits and services.  A Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist, or VJO, is present during hearing to give the courts on the spot information about health records, treatment options, disability benefits, and to make appointments. The VJO is not a member of the court, but plays a critical advisory role.

And there is a lot of evidence showing Veterans Treatment Courts work.

“The concept is creating a community,” Judge Marc Carter of Harris County, Texas told a crowd gathered to watch the Justice For Vets public service announcement in Los Angeles. “It’s not only important in Veterans Courts but in the entire criminal justice system. While they’re in treatment they have success, but when they’re back to their homes they face the same triggers that sent them to me in the first place. In the Veterans Courts we create that community. It can change their lives forever.”

There are now 264 Veterans Treatment Courts in 37 states, and one in Guam. 13,200 veterans are in the care of the courts and their community instead of behind bars, with 3,000 more veterans serving those courts as volunteer mentors. The structure, rigorous treatment and peer mentoring of Veterans Treatment Courts are producing more permanent positive treatment outcomes, returning more veterans to their communities, and saving the American taxpayer the cost of incarceration.

“Vets courts will continue to grow as they do in Texas,” Judge Carter said. “The value of bringing people back healthy to their communities as opposed to putting them in prison and returning them in the same conditions is immeasurable.”

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How the Vietnam War changed the Navy SEALs forever

When the war in Vietnam kicked off, the Navy’s special warfare operations weren’t exactly the same as we know them today. During World War II and the Korean War, the Navy’s special operators were mostly “Frogmen,” members of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT).

Within months of the start of the Vietnam War, the Frogmen were carrying rifles and became experts in special operations tactics. The Navy SEALs were about to be reborn and tested in the jungles of Vietnam. 

The Navy SEALs, as we know them today, were established in 1962 in a commitment from the Kennedy White House to develop America’s unconventional warfare capabilities. The SEALs were descended from the World War II-era joint “Scouts and Raiders” and the Navy’s UDTs used extensively throughout that war. 

Although they kept a low profile throughout the Korean War, the UDTs’ Frogmen perfected many of their operations along the North Korean coastline (even moving inland in many cases) and honed their commando abilities against a real-world enemy. 

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
The UDT/ “Frogmen,” predecessors to today’s SEALs, on a mission to clear mines off the coast of North Korea in 1950 (U.S. Navy / National Archives)

But Vietnam was the first war in which the Navy SEALs were fully funded and fully developed, graduating three classes of SEALs from the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Course (BUD/S) every year. 

By 1967, the number of BUD/S classes increased to five per year. Before the mid-1960s, SEALs in Vietnam were being used to reconnoiter beaches and landing sites, survey waterways and train South Vietnamese commandos. The CIA began to use SEALs in its Phoenix Program, an effort to undermine the Viet Cong in South Vietnam through counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations.  

In the late 1960s, the Viet Cong, the guerrilla forces of the North Vietnamese communist government, had created an entire shadow government of its own in North Vietnam. The bread and butter mission of the U.S. Navy SEALs was to deploy into the jungle and take down VC leaders. 

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
SEALs in the Mekong Delta, 1967 (U.S. Navy/ National Archives and Records)

Most of these leaders were mid-level, and the SEALs would deploy in nine-man  teams, with two of those being South Vietnamese commandos and one being a Navy SEAL officer. The team would head out into the jungle for a couple of days, complete the destruction of a VC official, and then head back to base. 

These direct action, search-and-destroy missions were a far cry from the SEALs earliest days of carrying demolition explosives to a specific structure and destroying it before leaving the area. On top of killing the enemy, SEALs also had to gather intelligence in Vietnam. This meant they had to actually capture enemy troops and interrogate them. 

Sometimes, this meant learning to speak Vietnamese. The SEALs had truly come into their own as a complete, well-rounded special operations force. For the duration of the war in Vietnam, there were at least eight full platoons of Navy SEALs in the country.

The elite status of the special operators also included the look they’re still known for to this day: relaxed uniform and grooming standards. One of the favorite items among Vietnam-era Navy SEALs, were Levi’s blue jeans – because the government-issued camouflage just didn’t hold up against the dense jungle foliage.  

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
Why Levi’s didn’t capitalize on this with a marketing campaign, we may never know… (U.S. Army)

For all the trouble SEALs had at the start of the war, including high casualty rates, public anger over the Phoenix Program, and internal Navy division over the relaxed grooming and uniform standards, the SEALs proved they were worth the trouble. They were willing to do what other units weren’t willing to do, in the face of overwhelming odds. 

And the Navy SEALs still do it, almost 60 years later. 

MIGHTY TRENDING

President Trump rejects negotiations with the Taliban

U.S. President Donald Trump has rejected the possibility of negotiations with the Taliban anytime soon following a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.


“We don’t want to talk with the Taliban,” Trump said at a Jan. 29 luncheon with representatives of the UN Security Council. “There may be a time, but it’s going to be a long time.”

Kabul, in recent weeks, has been hit by several deadly assaults, including a massive suicide car bombing in a crowded central area on Jan. 27 that killed more than 100 people and was claimed by the Taliban.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
U.S. Army Capt. DeShane Greaser stands in a crater caused by a bomb dropped during an air strike conducting a Battle Damage Assessment outside a combat outpost in Afghanistan. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

At least 235 other people were wounded in the attack, including more than 30 police officers.

Following that attack, Trump called for “decisive action” by all countries against the Taliban, saying in a statement that the “murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.”

Speaking at the White House on Jan. 29, Trump said: “We’re going to finish what we have to finish” in Afghanistan.

He added that “innocent people are being killed left and right,” including children, and that “there’s no talking to the Taliban.”

Several Americans were killed and injured earlier this month in the 13-hour siege of a Kabul hotel claimed by the Taliban.

Afghan officials, along with the Trump administration, have accused neighboring Pakistan of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

Also Read: ISIS latest attack was on a children’s charity in Afghanistan

Early this month, Washington announced it was suspending security assistance to the Pakistani military until it took “decisive action” against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network that are operating in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the freeze could affect $2 billion worth of assistance.

Captain Tom Gresback, a U.S. military spokesman for the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, said on Jan. 29 that Washington is “very confident the Taliban Haqqani network” was behind the deadly suicide bombing in Kabul over the weekend.

The United States has long said the Haqqani network has found safe haven in Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal on Jan. 29 that Islamabad “is extending whatever help and assistance is required” to combat terrorism.

“Our desire and support is for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and the early resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” Faisal said.

He added that Pakistan has “very limited influence” on the Taliban, “if any.”

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
A Marine fire team return to base after a routine patrol in Afghanistan.  (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups — including Islamic State extremists — since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Trump in August unveiled his new strategy for the South Asia region, under which Washington has deployed 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan to train, advise, and assist local security forces, and to carry out counterterrorism missions.

The United States currently has around 14,000 uniformed personnel in the country.

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (Aug. 3 edition)

Here’s today’s rundown for those busy defending the nation (and those who support them):


Now: 4 military disguises that were just crazy enough to actually work 

Articles

The Air Force wants to roll out a cheaper attack aircraft to fly alongside the A-10

The hullabaloo surrounding the future of the US Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II has been endless.


Its effectiveness on the battlefield has been proven with servicemembers on the ground going as far as calling it their “guardian angel” in the heat of battle. Equipped with an arsenal of weapons, including its notorious 30mm Gatling gun, it’s not hard to see why the A-10 commands such respect.

Also read: This 1973 war is why the Air Force thinks the A-10 can’t survive in modern combat

However, even with its impressive resume, the Air Force continues to float plans to replace the A-10 after 40 years of service.

Even so, a Defense News interview with a US Air Force official indicated that a compromise may be on the negotiating table.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
The A-10 shows off its non-BRRRRRT related talents during the 2011 Aviation Nation Open House on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in 2011. | US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Bob Sommer

Lt. Gen. James M. Holmes, the US Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, explained that a new light attack aircraft could be introduced that would not outright replace the fleet of nearly 300 A-10s, but instead, supplement them starting as early as 2017.

In doing so, Defense News reports that this new light aircraft, called Observation, Attack, Experimental (OA-X), would give commanders a cheap alternative to fight insurgents, compared to the costs of operating the A-10 and other fighter aircraft.

“Do you believe that this war that we’re fighting to counter violent extremists is going to last another 15 years?” Holmes asked in the Defense News interview. “If you believe it does, and our chief believes it will, then you have to think about keeping a capability that’s affordable to operate against those threats so that you’re not paying high costs per flying hour to operate F-35s and F-22s to chase around guys in pickup trucks.”

However, that doesn’t necessarily preclude the A-10 being outright replaced. Defense Newsreported that the Air Force began floating an A-10 replacement possibility in July. Under the proposal, the Air Force would conduct close air support (CAS) missions with the A-10 with a supporting cheap OA-X in low-threat environments.

Under the proposal, the Air Force would at a later date also acquire a fleet of future A-X aircraft that would perform in medium-threat environments and eventually replace the A-10.

Also on the table was the possibility of pushing back the projected retirement date of the A-10 from 2022 due to the high operational costs of the Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighters.

It should be noted, however, that the annual cost of the A-10 program costs less than 2% of the Air Force’s budget. In 2014, it was also reported that the A-10 costed about $11,500 per hour to operate — about a third of the hourly cost of the military’s latest F-35 Lightning II.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these great camo patterns from around the world

Militaries around the world use camouflage to evade detection by the enemy in all kinds of environments, from jungle and desert to city streets.

Avoiding detection is often a matter of life and death, and the patterns and colors are dictated by the environment where troops expect to operate.

Some work better than others, but all patterns are designed to help troops blend in with their surroundings.


‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

British Soldiers use a compound as shelter during an operation in Afghanistan.

(Photo by Cpl. Daniel Wiepen)

1. Desert camouflage

Desert camouflage has gone through a host of updates since the war in Iraq began, in an effort to make troops harder to spot in sandy and dusty environments there.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to Marines during a town hall in Shorab, Afghanistan, June 28, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz)

2. US Marines wear a digital pattern with small pixels.

MARPAT, as the camo pattern is known, is widely viewed as one of the best concealment patterns because of the small, digitized pixels.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

US and Romanian soldiers discuss an operation during a multinational exercise in Poland in June 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Hubert Delany)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

A Russian soldier participates in an exercise in February 2018 in Belarus.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Dutch troops pictured during NATO exercise Trident Juncture.

(Photo by Hille Hillinga)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Belgian and German soldiers conduct weapons proficiency training in Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture.

(Allied Joint Force Command Naples)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Sailors from the HMAS Warramunga pictured during an interception of a suspect vessel in the Arabian Sea, where they seized approximately 100kg, or 220 pounds, of heroin.

(LSIS Tom Gibson Royal Australian Navy)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Sailors attached to the USS Blue Ridge fire M16 rifles during qualification training at Camp Fuji.

(Photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Ethan Carter)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Army students in a cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Army students in cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

A camouflaged Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle sits under a tree in Poland.

(Photo by Spc. CaShaunta Williams)

11. Militaries have creative ways of concealing vehicles, like this infantry carrier.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Over 400 US Navy sailors are desperately fighting the 1,000-degree fire raging on a warship for more than a day

A devastating fire continues to spread throughout the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, a US Navy official revealed in an update Monday, over 24 hours after the ship burst into flames.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, told reporters that the fire, which is believed to have originated in the lower vehicle storage area, has damaged the superstructure, collapsed the masts, and spread to the bow.


Sobeck said at the moment it is believed that there are two decks standing between a fire as hot as 1,000 degrees in some places and about 1 million gallons of fuel, but he said that while the risk of the fire reaching the fuel was “absolutely a concern,” the response team would “make sure” the fire does not reach the fuel.

With all the water that has been dumped onto the ship, the Bonhomme Richard is listing on its side. Navy helicopters alone have dumped 415 buckets of water on the ship.

And a total of 57 people, including 34 sailors and 23 civilians, have suffered injuries, such as smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion. Five remain in the hospital.

Sobeck told reporters Sunday evening that “we’re absolutely going to make sure it sails again.”

He added: “We’re just going to get right back at it once we get this thing contained and put out.”

On Monday, he reiterated that he remained hopeful.

There are more than 400 sailors battling the blaze aboard the Bonhomme Richard. “We’re doing everything we can,” the admiral said, adding that the Navy responders would “make every effort to save the ship.”

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Firefighters battle a fire aboard the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christina Ross)

‘Hell in a very small space’

The ongoing fight aboard the ship is intense. “Shipboard fires are enormously hard to fight,” retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO commander, wrote on Twitter Monday.

“Having been through a couple, I can tell you they are hell in a very small space,” he said. With temperatures as high as they are in some places on the ship, sailors are rotating in and out on 15-minute firefighting shifts.

The specific cause of the fire is unknown and will likely remain unknown until the fire can be extinguished.

The ship was undergoing maintenance at Naval Base San Diego when the fire ignited.

“At least some, if not all of, the major firefighting systems are tagged out for maintenance,” retired US Navy Capt. Earle Yerger, the former commander of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, told Insider. Sobeck confirmed that the Halon fire-suppression system was not active.

Furthermore, “in the yards, you have multiple cables, wires, and hoses running straight through passageways,” he said. “As a result, you can’t close the fire doors. Once [the fire] got seeded and got going, there is no way to contain it. It was like a chimney all the way up to the island.”

Yerger added that limited manning may have also hindered the crew’s early ability to fight the fire, saying that had the ship been at sea with a full crew, they would have likely had it under control in less than an hour. At the time of the fire, there were only 160 people on the ship.

While Sobeck has expressed optimism the ship could be saved, Yerger said the ship was likely too far gone.

“You’re not going to fix it,” he told Insider, adding that the ship’s future probably involved being towed out and sunk to a “deep point in the ocean.”

“Build a new America-class and call it a day. This ship is 23 years old. You’d be better off to start fresh,” he said, referring to the newer amphibs replacing the Wasp-class vessels. “Just let it go.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia and Pakistan begin anti-terror military cooperation

Pakistan and Russia have begun annual joint military drills to boost counterterrorism cooperation to tackle the growing threat of Islamic State stemming from neighboring Afghanistan.

Officials said the “Druzhba-III” (Friendship-III) drills went into action Oct. 22, 2018, at the National Counter-Terrorist Center in the mountain town of Pabbi, where the Pakistan army’s commando unit, the Special Services Group, is headquartered.

Chief army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor said this is the third exercise of the Pakistan-Russia bilateral training cooperation.


Russian military officials said during the two week exercises more than 70 Russian commando troops and their Pakistani counterparts will undertake joint tasks at an altitude of 1,400 meters.

Moscow and Islamabad launched the joint drills in 2016, a year after the local branch of Islamic State, known as Khorasan Province or ISK-P, unleashed its regional terrorist operations from bases in “ungoverned” border districts of Afghanistan.

ISK-P has carried out some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent months.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

Pakistan-Russia bilateral training cooperation aims to boost counterterrorism cooperation to tackle the growing threat of Islamic State stemming from neighboring Afghanistan.

(ISPR photo)

Russia maintains the Middle Eastern-based terrorist group is trying to use volatile Afghan regions next to the border with Central Asian countries to threaten Russian regional security interests.

Pakistan blames ISK-P for plotting terrorist attacks in the country from its Afghan bases.

The Islamabad-Moscow security partnership has strengthened and expanded since late 2014, when the two former rivals signed their defense cooperation agreement.

In August 2018, Moscow concluded an unprecedented contract with Islamabad, opening doors, for the first time, for Russian military training of Pakistani army officers.

The deal came amid Islamabad’s deteriorating relations with Washington, which has resulted in the halt of all military exchange programs with Pakistan and left a void that Moscow has stepped in to fill.

Moscow and Islamabad have been pushing for starting peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgency for ending the war and preventing Islamic State from using the turmoil-hit country as a sanctuary.

Russia acknowledges its contacts with the Taliban, while Islamabad is accused of covertly supporting the insurgents to sustain and expand the 17-year-old Afghan war.

The United States is critical of Russia’s growing contacts with the Taliban, alleging Moscow is trying to undermine international efforts aimed at stabilizing Afghanistan. Washington has also cut defense ties with Islamabad for not doing enough to prevent Taliban insurgents from allegedly using Pakistani soil for deadly cross-border attacks.

Russian and Pakistani officials deny they are providing any military assistance or shelter to the Taliban and insist their ties with insurgents are meant to influence them to engage in an Afghan peace process.

This article originally appeared on The Voice of America. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

WATCH: Florida Goodwill sews uniforms for Army soldiers

Making uniforms for Army Soldiers isn’t just for the big clothing manufacturers anymore. Now, there are others on the job, including 100 Goodwill employees in South Florida. Back in 2018, the Army decided on a new dress uniform. Of course, we all know this change was just one of many that the Army has instituted over the years. The latest iteration of Army uniforms is a vintage style that resembles those of World War II. As of early 2021, they are finally turning from vision into reality. They’re called the Army Green Service Uniforms (AGSU) and they’re coming to a post near you – soon.

https://wsvn.com/news/local/miami-dade/goodwill-south-florida-sews-up-new-uniforms-for-army-soldiers/

But as we all also know buying new uniforms ALL THE TIME can get expensive — like really expensive. A recent trip to Clothing and Sales for a price check showed that outfitting yourself in the Pinks and Greens is going to cost about $650 with alterations. YIKES. So for those of us that don’t want to shell out that kind of dough, here’s an alternative.  

Sewing their way into the hearts of US Soldiers

The Goodwill employees in South Florida on the job are honored to be a part of the making of these uniforms. Walter Anderson says he feels like it’s a privilege to participate in the military process in any way he can. He knows Soldiers put their lives in danger for America. So, he’s happy to do what he can to reciprocate their service. In this case, that means sewing their new uniforms.

Goodwill’s vice-president of manufacturing Edward Terris noted that the workers feel a strong connection being able to do their part with something tangible to support the troops. Sewing the uniforms is an additional way to show their patriotism beyond just being a patriotic person. 

Giving back to the military just feels good

Terris also brought up the fact that Goodwill hires many people with employment barriers and disabilities. For these populations, having the chance to do work they truly find meaningful is really important in building confidence and feeling pride in what they do. They will be able to walk away from this experience knowing they contributed and made a difference on a national level.  Giving back to the US Military, knowing your work is of service to them, is no small feat for anyone. 

Their Goodwill is going global

The Goodwill employees of South Florida are in the process of making 1,000 shirts and 300 hats for both the men and women of the US Army. As they finish batches of uniforms, they ship them out across the US. They will complete their sewing work by the end of February 2021. 

Related: America’s oldest WWII Veteran lived to be 112.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Stuck inside? Get free e-books at Project Gutenberg

Veterans stuck inside can turn to reading a catalog of more than 61,000 classic, free e-books and audio books at Project Gutenberg.

People can read books online or download them for reading offline, including popular e-readers.

In addition to reading, there’s a selection of audio books available on the site. The site also offers books in dozens of languages, including hundreds in Spanish.


The books are mainly older literary works whose copyright expired. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Jack London and Jane Austen are some of the celebrated authors. People can read about characters such as Moby Dick, Frankenstein, Peter Pan, Tiny Tim and Alice in Wonderland.

Searching for books

Users can search for books a variety of ways. Project Gutenberg offers a list of the most popular books, latest books, a search feature, or a random book selection. Users can also browse the digital bookshelves by categories, genre, age group or topic.

The bookshelves are broken into categories. These range from animals to history to science.

One of these categories is a section called the “Wars Bookshelf.” This section has books about the Revolutionary War, Boer War, English Civil War, Spanish-American War, U.S. Civil War, and both world wars. Selections from this bookshelf range from Marine landings in the Pacific during World War II to stories of Bull Run to audio versions of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. The U.S. Civil War and World War I are the biggest sections, with hundreds of titles.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts

live.staticflickr.com

There’s also a “Children’s Bookshelf” that offers fairy tales, fiction books, school stories and more.

Project Gutenberg also needs help digitizing, proofreading and formatting, recording audio books, and reporting errors. People interested in helping can find more information on the website. They can help produce e-books by proof-reading just one page a day.

The website receives hundreds of thousands of downloads each day and several million each month.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A sailor stuck on Puerto Rico delivered aid in his mom’s car

Joel Rivera rumbled down dirt roads in his mother’s Kia Forte weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico — on a mission for the U.S. military that he never imagined when he joined the Navy 14 years ago as a submariner.


Dressed in civilian clothing, Rivera and his cousin drove through mountains searching for islanders needing food and water who were out of reach because large trucks couldn’t use debris-filled and washed-out roads. He’d drop off what little provisions he could carry in the four-door sedan and — whenever he could get a cell phone signal — report to military officials on the island about the hardest-hit areas.

“I’d really just pick a spot on a map that was secluded,” he said. “At this point the government was handing out food and water to the cities.”

“I wanted to take care of the places where they were overlooking.”

This was far from an ordinary assignment for Rivera, a machinist’s mate aboard the USS San Francisco as it transitions from a decommissioned attack submarine to a training vessel at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
Aerial view of part of Roseau, revealing widespread damage to roofs. (Photo from UK DFID)

While the Navy sent helicopters, ships and doctors from Hampton Roads to help, Rivera was simply on vacation. He managed to get to an Army Reserve Center base, secured orders to temporarily join a military police battalion there, then was given an incredible autonomy to help in a way few others could — all without ever wearing a uniform.

“It was a great experience doing that. At the same time you could see in their faces that this is not enough, and it’s always going to be like that I think,” Rivera said earlier this month at Submarine Forces Atlantic’s headquarters in Norfolk. “I could only give them a couple things here, a couple things there.”

Rivera’s unlikely role as a submariner delivering humanitarian aid ashore started out as rest and relaxation.

He was born in Puerto Rico and was visiting his parents for the first time in six years when Maria struck as a Category 4 storm in September, causing catastrophic damage to much of the American territory’s infrastructure and leaving residents like his parents without electricity or running water. He had chosen a two-week visit during what happened to be hurricane season because he has no family in Hampton Roads and volunteered to work over the holidays so others could spend time with loved ones.

He was set to fly back to Norfolk just four days after the hurricane made landfall, but it soon became clear that would be impossible. A few days after clearing debris in his parents’ neighborhood, helping neighbors repair roofs and generators, he hiked for five hours to get to his grandmother’s house and ride with his uncle to a nearby military base. He needed to tell his bosses in Virginia what happened, but even the base didn’t have telephone or internet service yet.

He didn’t try going to another base for several more days — gas for a vehicle was a precious commodity. But when the roads near his parents house became passable, he found an Army Reserve Center he heard might have communications.

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joel Rivera, right, assigned to Deep Submergence Unit, directs members of the media down the hatch of the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System during a submarine rescue exercise as part of exercise Bold Monarch 2011.  (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ricardo J. Reyes)

There, he was able to use Facebook Messenger to let his superiors know he was safe. They told him to just keep helping out in his community and return to Virginia when he could.

On Day 28 in Puerto Rico, he got a cellphone signal and talked to his boss again. Rivera was told if he could find a base to take him in, he would be given temporary orders to join it so he didn’t have to use all his leave. The Army Reserve quickly said yes.

At first, Rivera mostly did clerical work at a base near his home. But after two days, he said he felt like he wasn’t doing enough to directly help.

So Rivera was given a unique assignment: Go to a commercial airport near his parents’ home in Ponce on the southern end of the island that was being used to fly in humanitarian supplies by JetBlue Airlines. There, JetBlue officials stuffed his mother’s car with boxes of bottled water, canned goods, breakfast bars, snacks, and other supplies.

“We went exploring and talked to the people, said, ‘Hey, I’m trying to find the people that really need this.’ They were really helpful. They weren’t greedy. They pointed us where to go,” Rivera said. “It’s mountainous areas, places I didn’t even know were there.

Read More: This is how the Army Corps of Engineers is helping Puerto Rico

“Dirt roads. Places I shouldn’t have been taking my mom’s car through.”

When he could, Rivera said, he’d wait in line for hours to get ice so that residents could have a cold sip of water during extremely hot and humid days. Rivera bought a cooler for the ice and paid for gas, although he said the Army base provided some fuel.

For two weeks, Rivera primarily operated on his own, occasionally texting his whereabouts to a contact at the police battalion. When he was able to get a flight home nearly two months after he arrived, he returned to the reserve center base one more time so he could thank everyone for the opportunity to work with them.

Rivera realizes it’s unusual for a submariner to do what he did, but the lessons he’s learned in the Navy about staying calm under pressure helped.

“When disaster strikes you try not freak out about it and try to see the bigger picture. We’ll eventually get this road clear, we’ll eventually get a little bit more stable with the water,” he said.

“I think that was one of the biggest things, is just realizing is that everything’s eventually going to be a little bit better throughout any situation.”

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Navy standout safety says he’s transferring a month after pro policy change

An about-face from the Department of Defense appears to have been a factor in Navy losing a top player.


Safety Alohi Gilman announced he was transferring from Annapolis, Md., earlier this month on Twitter.

“We wish Alohi the best in his pursuit of his childhood dream to play in the NFL,” Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo told the Capital Gazette, which reported Gilman’s departure.

A direct path to the NFL was possible when Gilman entered Navy this past summer after spending a year at its prep school. But during the NFL draft in late April, the Department of Defense shifted its policy to again require service academy graduates to serve two years on active duty before applying for a shift in status to pursue professional sport. That two-year requirement had been removed in the summer of 2016.

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US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stan Parker

The shift was felt heavily at Air Force, where baseball player Griffin Jax had given up eligibility as a senior after last year’s MLB draft and several players had NFL aspirations. Most notable among them was receiver Jalen Robinette, who expected to be a mid-round draft selection. Robinette was not drafted and after spending time in mini-camps with the Bills and Patriots his future is further clouded by what his representatives call an ongoing discipline situation at the academy that prevented him from graduating with his class.

Gilman didn’t specifically cite the policy change in his social media post announcing his intentions to leave Navy.

“Presently, I find that my goals and passions are not the best fit with the Naval Academy,” he wrote.

Gilman was an honorable mention all- American Athletic Conference pick as a freshman this past season after finishing second at Navy with 76 tackles. He made six stops, including three solo, in a 28-14 loss at Air Force on Oct. 1.

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US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell

It is not unique for players to leave service academies during their first two years before their commitment becomes binding. And it can be even more tempting for players who have enjoyed on-field success immediately to consider boosting their stock in less-restrictive environments.

Air Force basketball, for example, has lost standout players Tre’ Coggins and Matt Mooney in recent years as they transferred after excelling early. Coggins left for Cal-State Fullerton after averaging 16 points as a sophomore in 2013-14. Mooney transferred to South Dakota after his freshman campaign in 2014-15.

So, while Gilman’s path isn’t new, its timing is certainly noteworthy in that it came a month after the DOD reversed course on an athletic-friendly policy.

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THAAD now in place to take out North Korean missiles if required

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via Lockheed Martin


The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — and it appears to be headed to North Korea’s backyard.

On the heels of last month’s purported hydrogen-bomb test and a long-range rocket launch on Saturday, the US has apparently agreed to equip South Korea with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, according to CNN.

With its unmatched precision, Lockheed Martin’s THAAD can equalize tensions around the world with its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement.

In order to deter North Korean provocations and further defend the Pacific region, the Pentagon deployed a THAAD battery toGuam in April 2013.

However, after the rogue regime’s most recent launch, the US has reportedly agreed to deploy the THAAD to South Korea — which would counter almost all incoming missiles from the North.

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Heritage.org

The pressure to deploy THAAD is rapidly mounting, as US defense officials have cited North Korean missile developments.

In October, Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, assessed that North Korean has “the capability to reach the [US] homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket,” The Guardian reported.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the United States Forces Korea, a sub-unified command of the US Pacific Command, told a forum in 2014 that placing THAAD in the country is a “US initiative.”

Discussions to equip South Korea with THAAD were held during South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the White House last October.

THAAD’s ‘hit to kill’ lethal effects

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AiirSource Military | YouTube

The THAAD missile does not carry a warhead. Instead, the interceptor missile uses pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit to kill” strikes to incoming ballistic threats inside or outside the atmosphere.

Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles at once, depending on the severity of the threat.

Lockheed’s missile launcher is just one element of the antimissile system.

The graphic below, from Raytheon, shows the rest of the equipment needed for each enemy-target interception.

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via Raytheon

How THAAD works

Five minutes after an enemy missile takes off, a truck-mounted THAAD interceptor missile launches in pursuit of its target.

This is a close shot of what the THAAD missile looks like when launched:

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Lockheed Martin | YouTube

And here’s what the launch looks like from far away:

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Lockheed Martin | YouTube

THAAD’s missile hunts for its target, then obliterates it in the sky.

The following infrared imagery shows THAAD demolishing the target:

‘The West Wing’ cast reunites in new PSA supporting Veterans Treatment Courts
Lockheed Martin | YouTube

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from MDA director Vice Admiral J.D. Syring before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the US Missile Defense Agency, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

Other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD.

The United Arab Emirates has become the first foreign buyer after signing a deal with the Department of Defense for $3.4 billion. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have “expressed interest,” according to Richard McDaniel, vice president of Patriot Advanced Capability programs at Lockheed Martin. “We expect deals,” he added.

The UAE seems like a particularly appropriate buyer: In September, 45 of its troops deployed near Yemen were killed when an enemy missile struck an arms depot, a reminder of the strategic challenge of ballistic missiles falling into the wrong hands.

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