Basic trainees in the Air Force are being issued “Stress Cards.” If basic training gets too hard or they need a time out they can just pull these out and the instructor has to stop yelling at them.
No joke. I heard it from my cousin. Or my friend John. My buddy swears he saw them being handed out to the new trainees. Kids today just don’t have the chutzpah my generation does. One time when I was platoon leader in Somalia, this kid handed me one and asked for a time out, I kid you not.
None of that is true, of course. The stress cards myth is usually attributed to the Air Force, due to the perceived ease of Air Force basic training, and the Chair Force reputation. Sometimes, Bill Clinton introduced them to the Army (because the 90s were that awesome). In the legend, they’re yellow, because if you need to use one, you’re yellow too! Even some Airmen are guilty of perpetuating it. Whenever someone hears about the stress card myth, they are usually doomed to repeat it.
There is truth to the myth, but it wasn’t the Army or even the Air Force. In the 1990s, the cards were issued to new recruits as a means of telling them of what their options were if they got depressed. It contained basic information such as chaplain services and what to tell your Recruit Division Commander, etc. instead of deserting or washing out. And they were blue, because if you need these services, you were probably blue too.
The Blues Card was not a Get Out of Jail Free Card, though some RDCs reported troops holding it up while being disciplined, trying desperately (and probably in vain) to use it in that way. If you waved this in your RDC’s face, he probably made you eat it.
The Army did issue “Stress Control Cards” which were the equivalent of a wallet-based mood ring. the recruit or soldier could put their finger on a special square, which would turn colors to indicate a range of stress levels, from “relaxed” to “most stressed.”
For those of you who used to be in the Army or Navy, imagine your Drill Instructor or RDC’s response to your waving this card around while they’re trying to discipline you. How would that have gone? Tell us in the comments below.
The Veterans Choice Program for private health care is in such bad shape that the bill backed by President Donald Trump to fix it will be difficult to implement even if done right, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.
The Choice program was aimed at reducing wait times through increased access to private health care, but the GAO’s performance audit conducted from April 2016 through May 2018 found that, in many cases, veterans would have been better off making appointments at VA facilities.
“Timeliness of appointments is an essential component of quality health care,” the report released June 4, 2018, said, but poor management and bookkeeping under the Choice program can result in veterans waiting up to 70 days to see a private doctor.
In 2016, the average wait for a private appointment was 51 days, the GAO said, although the VA eligibility rules made private care an option when the veteran had to wait 30 days to see a VA doctor.
“Delays in care have been shown to negatively affect patients’ morbidity, mortality, and quality of life,” the report said, and the “VA lacks assurance that veterans are receiving care from community providers in a timely manner.”
At a White House ceremony June 6, 2018, Trump is expected to sign the VA Mission Act, which provides $4.2 billion to overhaul and expand the Choice program for private care while consolidating its seven existing care options into one.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)
The GAO report warned that staff shortages, bureaucratic roadblocks and poor communication between the VA and private doctors under the existing Choice program make a quick fix unlikely.
“To the extent that these factors persist under the consolidated community care program that VA plans to establish, they will continue to adversely affect veterans’ access to care,” the GAO said.
Citing the problems with Choice detailed in the report, the GAO said, “Ignoring these lessons learned and the challenges that have arisen under the Choice Program as [VA officials] design the future consolidated program would only increase VA’s risk for not being able to ensure that all veterans will receive timely access to care in the community.”
VA pledges action to correct problems
The blizzard of acronyms used by the GAO in its report, and by the VA in its response, illustrates the difficulty the individual veteran has in navigating the system.
The GAO called for better coordination among the VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the VA medical centers (VACMs), the VHA’s Office of Community Care (OCC), third-party administrators (TPAs), the Computerized Patient Record Systems (CPRS), the Community Care Network (CCN) and private doctors themselves, who often complain of late payments.
In its response to the GAO report, the VA concurred with four of the five recommendations for improving the transition from the Choice program to the VA Mission Act but disagreed with the GAO on urgent care.
The GAO found that “VAMCs and TPAs do not always categorize Choice Program referrals and authorizations in accordance with the contractual definition for urgent care.”
The GAO said that a referral to private care is to be marked “urgent” when a VHA doctor determined that it was essential and “if delayed would likely result in unacceptable morbidity or pain.” However, the GAO found that some referrals originally marked as routine were changed to urgent to speed up the slow appointment process.
Even that conclusion was difficult to reach because of the VA’s lack of reliable records and data, the GAO said. “Without complete, reliable data, VHA cannot determine whether the Choice Program has helped to achieve the goal of alleviating veterans’ wait times for care,” the GAO said.
In its response to the report, the VA said that the GAO’s recommendation on urgent care “is no longer needed because VHA has resolved the issue with the new CCN (Community Care Network) contract.”
Under the new contract, VHA staff will have responsibility for scheduling community care appointments with providers, as opposed to the old system in which administrators routed referrals to the TPAs (third-party administrators), the VA said.
In the transition from Choice to the VA Mission Act, the VA will also set up a new referral and authorizations system that will be called “Health Share Referral Manager (HSRM).”
The VA said that HSRM will “measure the time it takes to review and accept consults, prepare referrals and schedule veterans community appointments.”
The VA in flux
The VA Mission Act has been estimated to cost as much as $55 billion over five years. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has said that funding sources have yet to be identified, but he was confident they would be found.
When Trump signs the bill June 6, 2018, as one of the major achievements of his administration, he will not have a VA secretary looking over his shoulder.
Trump has said that he intends to nominate Wilkie to the permanent job, but the Senate has yet to set a date for his confirmation hearing. In the meantime, Peter O’Rourke, who had been the VA chief of staff, has become acting secretary temporarily.
Its major proponents have acknowledged that the VA Mission Act and the overhaul of Choice will be difficult to implement.
At a panel discussion last month sponsored by the Concerned Veterans for America, which lobbied hard for the expansion of private care, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tennessee, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said that putting the VA Mission Act into effect will sorely test the VA.
“Let me tell you, it is a painful thing to do,” Roe said. “This is a massive undertaking. It could be very disruptive to the VA. It’s humongous.”
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.
The U.S. defense secretary has again accused Russia of violating a key Cold War arms control treaty, calling the unresolved and increasingly tense dispute with Moscow “untenable.”
Jim Mattis’s remarks on Oct. 4, 2018 after a meeting of NATO military leaders were the latest in a series of increasingly blunt statements by U.S. officials regarding the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.
Russia has repeatedly denied U.S. assertions, first made publicly in 2014, that a ground-launched cruise missile Moscow has developed, and reportedly deployed, is in violation of the agreement, known as the INF treaty.
After years of public criticism of Moscow, U.S. officials in 2017 started becoming more aggressive in their approach. And Russia acknowledged the existence of a missile identified by Washington, but denied that it had violated the treaty.
In early October 2018, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said U.S. forces might have to “take out” the Russian missiles if the dispute continues. She later clarified that she wasn’t referring to an actual U.S. military attack.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis speaks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 14, 2018.
“Russia must return to compliance with the INF treaty or the U.S. will need to respond to its cavalier disregard for the treaty’s specific limits,” Mattis said in Brussels.
“The current situation with Russia in blatant violation of this treaty is untenable,” he said.
Congress has backed funding for a new missile program to counter the Russian weapon, and Mattis said in early 2018 that defense planners were working on new low-yield nuclear weapons to force Russia back into compliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed Mattis’s comments, saying Russia was imperiling the treaty, which is widely considered a “cornerstone” of European security.
Hey, remember in your last cyber awareness re-certification when you had to click through a whole scenario based on whether or not you would share industrial secrets on message boards with friends you had met at a science and engineering convention? Has anyone besides a senior officer or civilian engineer ran into that particular conundrum literally ever?
If the security pros were really going to prepare standard soldiers on the line for how to defend Army networks from unsavory actors, they can probably jettison entire sections of the cyber awareness training and add a short text document like the one below:
Seriously, everyone, we let the USO build so many centers on our bases for a reason. Get some pizza, watch the game, and do your shady downloads there.
(U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)
Download your movies (porn) on the USO or morale networks
Yeah, we know you guys find more and more ways to download things you shouldn’t on the Army networks. We try to limit the sites you can connect to, the types of files you can download, and even what ways you can get the files off of the computer afterwards. But still, you find ways to email each other .jpgs and .movs of disgusting stuff.
Disgusting stuff that has viruses hidden in it. No, not HPV — computer viruses. We let the USO set up wifi on base, we set up morale wifi on base. And we don’t monitor what you download directly to your personal devices. Please, please stop downloading your movies to the government computers.
(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)
Stop clicking on email links. Just stop. Google the sites and stories you want.
We’ve given so many warnings about phishing and spear phishing attacks, but soldiers keep getting caught in these kinds of attacks. So, from now on, when you see an email you want to click on, please just Google the keywords for the site you wanted to visit.
Google will typically screen out malicious sites, making it much better at this than you are. So stop even trying to decide which links are safe and which aren’t. Just stop clicking on things.
Stop clicking past all the security warnings
The Army has a problem with security certificates, meaning that you’re going to have to tell a few of your browser tools to make security exemptions for the army.mil sites. Obviously not best practice, sorry about that, but please stop adding security exemptions for other sites all over the web.
Army.mil sites flag security checks because it takes an act of Congress to update all of our certificates. The other sites you visit flag security checks because they’re trying to turn on your camera while you’re watching the vids so they can blackmail you with the resulting imagery. Oh, speaking of blackmail bait:
Civilian teaches a soldier how to use a tactical smartphone without sending pictures of his junk to social media contacts who aren’t actually hot girls.
(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Avery)
The 19-year-olds messaging with you aren’t real and don’t want your dad bod
Hate to tell you this, but most of you’ve gotten up in pounds as you’ve gotten up in rank, and even those of you who have not have gotten up in age. And, I know it’s a big surprise, but 19-year-old girls are typically into college boys with six packs. So, please, start feeling more suspicious than horny when you get texts, Tinder matches, or private messages from people way too attractive to be interested in you.
Otherwise, these people engage in lengthy conversations where you incriminate yourself in conspiracies to meet them in hotels, and then they blackmail you for money or government secrets. Just watch adult sites instead. (But, again, use the morale or USO internet, not the NIPR. Not. NIPR.)
Sgt. Hercules can lift any load, but can he set a secure password?
(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cline)
Change your passwords and stop using nicknames for your genitals
Whether you’re accessing your premium subscription on that adult website, getting into your email, or opening a new Grindr account, please stop using the same passwords for everything. And please, please stop using your children’s names, birthdates and anniversaries, and favorite car manufacturer for passwords.
No, your genital nicknames aren’t any better, especially since you all keep bragging about the names on Reddit and Facebook.
We’re tired of putting up pictures of soldiers in front of computers or holding smartphones, so here’s an Army colonel addressing a conference as a video game avatar.
Why do you update your Steam games every day but virus scans only when you buy new computers?
You know how your Steam library is automatically updated, all you gamers out there? For everyone else, it’s sort of like when Flash player needs another update. It happens frequently, you won’t notice the difference unless you read the patch notes, and it’s actually essential that you do the updates.
So, new rule, please set your virus protections to automatically update. If you won’t or can’t do that, then update your virus definitions every time Flash or Steam initiates an update.
Also, please figure out how computers work
This, by the way, gets to a larger issue that isn’t necessarily a direct cyber threat, but it’s honestly just sort of grating, and even the game-playing nerds aren’t immune to this: figure out how your computers work. Not only would this help you avoid cyber threats better, but it would also cut down on the number of times we hurt ourselves biting our tongues.
It’s just so exhausting hearing people talk about buying a new hard drive to improve their frame rates or graphics, or people getting 4K monitors when their video cards can’t support it. Just, please, learn how computers actually work before you get a new MILITARY STAR card to fill with ill-considered purchases.
The always-candid U.S commander in the Pacific declared that “the Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the most consequential region for America’s future.” He added that he did not see any change in the United States’ commitment to his theater as a result of the presidential election or the public turmoil with the leaders in the Philippines and South Korea.
Addressing a Defense One forum Nov. 15, Adm. Harry Harris expressed concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapons technology and “Chinese assertiveness” in the South China Sea, but said “America has critical national interest in the region and must alleviate the concerns of our allies and partners.” He added the need to deter any potential adversaries as well.
“The United States is the guarantor of security in the region and will remain so,” he said.
To support that view, Harris noted that America is sending its best military systems to the region before they go anywhere else.
He cited the decision to send the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs to Japan next year, saying it sends a “signal that we’re sending our most powerful aircraft to the Indo-Asia-Pacific before anywhere else. No other aircraft can approach it. I’m a big fan. But in a bigger sense, it’s a signal that Indo-Asia-Pacific is important.”
Harris also noted that the Navy’s new massive destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, is homeported in the Pacific. The Navy is increasing the number of Virginia-class attack submarines in the theater and sent the new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to Japan on its first deployment.
Although the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program has been plagued with problems, Harris gave a strong endorsement for the relatively small, fast and modular ships. Recalling the concern he and other Navy officers had during the Cold War over the Soviet Union’s force of small, fast missile craft, the admiral said if the LCS were equipped with anti-ship missiles it would force a potential adversary to spread its defenses against that threat.
And despite the usual naval focus of his vast command, Harris praised the Army’s increasing strength and capabilities in the Pacific.
What the Army brings, he said, “is what it always brings: mass and fire power.”
Harris said he also encourages Army leaders to contribute more to what he called “cross-domain fires,” which would include cyber and information warfare.
He added, “I think the Army should be in the business of sinking ships with land-based ballistic missiles,” which is similar to what the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force is planning to do in response to China’s aggressive claims in the East China Sea.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently declared anti-ship weapons as a necessary Army capability. And the Marine Corps, in its recently released Operating Concept, said the Corps should be able to support the Navy’s ability to project power by developing anti-ship systems.
Harris said he thought that if the Army would put those kinds of weapon systems in place, it would be “a threat to potential adversaries in the Western Pacific,” which apparently referred to China.
While criticizing China’s “assertiveness” and its construction of military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, Harris said his personal relations with his Chinese counterparts were good and he stressed the importance of continued military-military contact.
The admiral also insisted that, despite the anti-American rants of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, there has been no change in U.S. access to bases there and no orders to remove Special Operations forces advising Philippine troops in their anti-terrorist actions.
Harris carefully avoided any questions about the possible changes in his command due to the election of Donald Trump, but said, “America never has a lame-duck commander in chief…I continue to serve President [Barack] Obama until January 20, at which point I’ll serve President Trump.”
“That said, I have no doubt we will continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he added.
The Defense Department says it’s to make the human more effective in combat. Because as anyone who’s ever lost their mobile phone knows, having all your numbers stored under names like “Josie Drunk Girl” and “Do Not Answer” makes your memory soooooooo much better.
But the list goes on. According to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, the new technologies the Pentagon wants to develop will allow commanders to identify and analyze enemy defenses.
Further technological innovations would include wearable electronics, exoskeletons, greater use of drones and manned aircraft working together, and mother ships that would send out mini-drones to execute military missions, all of which could incorporate AI.
The announcement comes not just against the urging of America’s tech mogul community, but also amid skepticism from within the Defense Department’s own ranks, presumably until Deputy Secretary Work actually told a packed conference at the Center for a New American Security the DoD wants to be able to “kick the crap out of people who grew up under an authoritarian reign,” at which point, I imagine they erupted in cheers and then partied like a group of tailgating Buffalo Bills fans.
It’s not easy leading a country through wars and economic strife. All that hard work can in fact, make any man or woman hungry.
From cheeseburger pizza to custard pie, these are some of the favorite meals of US presidents.
Harry S. Truman
Famous chefs, including the easily-irritable Gordon Ramsay, have been known to criticize awell-done steak. Not Harry S. Truman though — he was once quoted as saying, “only coyotes and predatory animals eat raw beef.”
The 33rd President also enjoyed chocolate cake, chicken and dumplings, custard pie, and fried chicken.
As the President, you have at your disposal a button to send the world into a nuclear ice age. Fortunately, Lyndon B. Johnson used that power to instead install a button that was dedicated to have an aide bring him some Fresca.
If something smelled rotten in the White House, it may not have just been a White House scandal. President Richard Nixon was well-known to love his cottage cheese. It didn’t just end there though — the only President to resign in US history loved to have ketchup with his beloved cottage cheese.
As a hero for many in the Republican party, President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies has been debated for decades. However, he seldom showed his conservative side when it came to his favorite food: Jelly Belly jelly beans.
As a voracious consumer of these little treats, over three tons were consumed during his presidential inauguration in 1981.
He even had a special cup-holder designed for Air Force One so his jar of Jelly Belly beans wouldn’t spill during turbulence.
Just like a hot, juicy sex scandal, President Bill Clinton loved his hot and greasycheeseburgers.
Adorned with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles and onions, his love for burgers was evenportrayed on an episode of Saturday Night Live. After health complications, he decided he would become a vegan in 2011.
In July 2007, then-White House chef Cristeta Comerford revealed that President George W. Bush loves his “home-made cheeseburger pizzas,” which is a Margherita pizza topped with minced meat, cheese, lettuce, and pickles (ew!).
President Bush also enjoys home-made chips, peanut butter, cinnamon bread, and pickles.
WorkSafeBC is the name of the Worker’s Compensation Board of the Canadian province of British Columbia, covering 2.3 million Canadian workers. The Board is responsible for processing claims, complaints, and (among other things) prevention of workplace accidents. This is where they really shine.
The accident prevention videos the Board makes and uploads to YouTube received more the 25 million views since 2006. They’re short and to the point, illustrative of the importance of accident prevention, and have many fans. One such fan is the United States Air Force.
A video called Struck by Mobile Equipment really resonated with the USAF, who formally asked WorkSafeBC if they could use the video as part of their official safety training.
In an article from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), an official at WorkSafeBC told CBC he received an email from the Air Force saying “We love this piece. It’s really effective for our target audience in our Mishap Prevention Program for people who are 18 to 24 years old.”
Other areas covered by CBC but not picked up by the Air Force include Returning to Work and Caring for People with Dementia.
It was in August 1942 that Private 1st Class Edward Ahrens would cement his place in the halls of Marine bad*sses when he singlehandedly took on an entire group of Japanese soldiers who were trying to flank his unit.
Ahrens, a Marine assigned to Alpha Co. of the 1st Raider Battalion, was in the second assault wave hitting the beaches of Tulagi on Aug. 7, 1942. After pushing off the beach along with Charlie Co., Alpha set up a defensive line that night, according to War History Online.
Then the Japanese fiercely counter-attacked. Fortunately, Alpha Co. had Ahrens protecting its right flank.
“I came across a foxhole occupied by Private First Class Ahrens, a small man of about 140 pounds,” said Maj. Lew Walt, of what he saw the next morning. “He was slumped in one corner of the foxhole covered with blood from head to foot. In the foxhole with him were two dead Japs, a lieutenant and a sergeant. There were eleven more dead Japs on the ground in front of his position. In his hands he clutched the dead officer’s sword.”
Ahrens had successfully thwarted an enemy attack that would have opened a huge gap in the defensive line. As he lay dying, according to Walt, Ahrens whispered to him: “The idiot tried to come over me last night-I guess they didn’t know I was a Marine.”
“Private First Class Ahrens, with utter disregard for his own personal safety, single-handed engaged in hand-to-hand combat a group of the enemy attempting to infiltrate the rear of the battalion.
Although mortally wounded, he succeeded in killing the officer in command of the hostile unit and two other Japanese, thereby breaking up the attack. His great personal valor and indomitable fighting spirit were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the defense of his country.”
Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs chose a contractor to run its Choice Card program who was previously fired for allegedly defrauding the government after working on a similar contract with the Department of Defense.
The contractor, TriWest, now takes so long to schedule appointments with private healthcare providers that many veterans could shorten wait times by opting for traditional VA care, whose delays Choice was intended to allow veterans to escape.
Choice Card links vets with private doctors, but VA seemingly tried to sabotage the program, fearing it jeopardizes its budget.
TriWest contracts to administer parts of Tricare, the active military’s healthcare system, since 1996. TriWest paid $10 million in September, 2011, to settle charges that it defrauded the government by negotiating low prices with doctors but not passing the resulting savings on to taxpayers.
“Those who overbill Tricare threaten to undermine the health care provided to our men and women in uniform,” Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, said of the legal settlement at the time.
But the standards seem to be lower for care owed to those who formerly wore the uniform of the U.S. military, because VA gave TriWest a contract in September, 2013, to run its Community Care program, a precursor to Choice Card that allowed veterans to use private doctors in some circumstances.
Inspector general reports said that program was run poorly, pointing the blame both at TriWest and the way VA set up their work. Meanwhile, Congress created the Choice Card program to enable any veteran delayed more than 30 days for VA care, or who didn’t live close to a VA facility, to seek private health care services.
VA managers and leaders of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union, which represents most of the department’s employees opposed it, fearing that fewer veterans in the government system would mean smaller budgets and fewer civil service jobs.
When VA leaders claimed budget shortfalls threatened closure of hospitals, they asked Congress to let them re-purpose $3.3 billion originally authorized for the Choice Card program.
When the bill became law anyway, VA gave the Choice Card contract to TriWest and HealthNet, another company that worked on Community Care.
A VA spokesperson said that “in order to enact [Choice] within 90 days, VA held an industry day to try to partner with industry to operate the program. Unfortunately, given the timeline set to roll out the program, VA’s only option was to modify a previously existing national community care contract, which was never intended to handle the scope” of the Choice Card model.
Official data obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation shows that more vets are now waiting months for private care because contractors take so long to schedule appointments.
Consequently, VA bureaucrats and their union will likely get the result they sought: veterans going back into the government healthcare system despite its delays.
Private care doctors aren’t happy with the Choice Card initiative either, because the companies, which also manage payments, have been so slow to pay, causing many private care physicians to refuse veterans, leading to the same result.
A knowledgeable VA source told TheDCNF that after a patient does finally see a private doctor, TriWest takes up to 75 days to get the medical results of that appointment back into the VA system. That makes followup care impossible.
Darin Selnick, an Air Force veteran and former VA official under George W. Bush who now runs Concerned Veterans For America’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, said that “TriWest and HealthNet may not have been the best choices,” but much of the failure is because VA “didn’t want it to work.”
Officials at VA “didn’t like the idea of patients going outside,” because “what does any organization want to do? It wants to get more money, more people, more power, it wants to grow,” Selnick added.
Scheduling delays happen because the system has a middleman, Selnick said. What other health care plan has “a system where you have to call a 1-800 number and they set up an appointment for you” with a provider that they select?,” he asked.
Half of all veterans are on Medicare anyway, so the VA should simply pay a small supplement to Medicare providers, instead of creating multiple administrative layers of VA bureaucrats and contractors in between veterans and healthcare workers, Selnick noted, which would purportedly save billions of tax dollars annually.
Those close to the issue believe “the chief problem with Choice is that we’ve had to rely on VA to implement it, and the department is just not very good at implementing things,” a spokesman for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which designed the Choice Card program, told TheDCNF
The committee never requested a third-party administrator to schedule appointments, the spokesman noted.
Companies involved in the Choice program defend their record. “Overall, TriWest is processing 90% of clean claims from providers within 30 days,” the company explained, adding that it got “exceptional” and “very good” performance ratings for its Tricare work, and saved the military money, but voluntarily entered a settlement on the assumption that more savings were possible.
Hiring people with prior records of failure is a pattern at VA. When hospital directors come under criticism for poor management, VA executives routinely remove them, then reinstate them at another hospital where the poor performance continues.
Only weeks after the Chicago VA fired Deloris Judd from the federal workforce for patient abuse and dishonesty, the Phoenix VA hired her to work on the Choice Card program.
Before any troop deploys or goes on a training mission, their chain of command will send down a list of items that they’re required to bring — or at least highly encouraged. Some things make absolute sense: Sleeping bags, changes of uniform, and a hygiene kit are all essentials.
Sometimes, however, the commander insists that the unit bring things that either nobody will use or are so worthless that they might as well be dumbbells.
Each individual unit decides what is and isn’t going to make the list, so each pack is different. What may be useful one day might not be the next, but these outliers almost always go unwanted.
I’d like to say common sense is common… but… you know…
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Nathaniel C. Cray)
Very specific hygiene items
Hygiene kits are essential. Don’t be that nasty-ass motherf*cker who makes everyone ponder the legality of throwing you out of the tent for the duration of the field exercise.
That being said, we should all be capable of exercising some common sense. Your packing list shouldn’t have to itemize little things, like nail clippers or deodorant. But at the same time, NCOs shouldn’t have to double check to see if you’re bringing the requisite number of razor heads.
Besides, you get extra “TYFYS” points if you come back home in uniform.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airmen Alexa Culbert)
Does your unit have the word “special” anywhere inside its name? No? Well, you better not unfold that pair of blue jeans while in-country because you’re never going to get a shot at wearing them.
The reason for bringing a single change of civilian clothes is for the troops to swap clothes for RR or emergency leave while on deployment, but no one ever changes into them because they need to be in uniform while in Kuwait — and they’re probably not going to bother changing out of their uniform while on the plane.
It may be a personal thing, but I toss all of my old, nasty boots the moment I get new ones. Or donate them. Just a thought.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert L. McIlrath)
Ounces make pounds and an extra set of boots actually weighs quite a bit, given their size. As long as you’ve got a good pair on you and you (hopefully) don’t destroy them while in the field, that extra set will probably just take up space — and make your duffel bag smell like feet.
Just use the pair that you’re currently wearing in uniform. That’ll do just fine.
All you need is a woobie and you’ll be set for life.
(U.S. Army photo)
Unworn snivel gear
If it’s summer time, you probably won’t need that set of winter thermals and the additional layers that go over it. Yeah, it might get chilly at nights, but not that chilly.
This one’s all about using your head and taking what you may realistically need, even on some off chance. Does the forecast say there’s a slight chance of rain? Take your rain gear. If it says it’ll be sunny or partly cloudy, take some of your rain gear (it’s a field op. It always rains). Is it the dead of July and there’s absolutely zero chance of snowfall? Don’t bother except with anything but the lighter stuff for nighttime.
If they do tell you to bring it… prepare for a world of suck.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric Unwin)
If your supervisor specifically tells you to pack your MOPP gear for a training exercise, it’s probably because there’s going to be a lesson while you’re out there. If it’s on a hold-over from a copy-and-pasted spreadsheet, it’s dead weight.
Make an educated decision here. If you’re unsure, ask your team leader if it’s really necessary.
Again, this falls under the “if your command says it’s a thing, it’s a thing” category.
(U.S. Army Reserve Photo by Spc. John Russell)
Obviously you’ll need laundry stuff for a deployment — you’re going to be gone for many months and your few changes of uniform won’t last. If it’s just for a weekend field op, however, you’re not even going to find a laundromat in the Back 40 of Fort Campbell. Sure, you might want to bring a waterproof bag to hold your smelly clothes and wet socks, but bringing laundry detergent? Not so important.
Save yourself a buck or two and think.
(Department of Defense photo by Julie Mitchell)
Most “tacticool” crap
It’s not a terrible idea to swap some of the more, uh, “lowest-bidder” stuff that the military gives you for an equivalent of better quality. If you do, though, run it by your chain of command to make sure that it’s authorized. If it’s not, you’re wasting money, space, and weight.
Farrier (Hardy) sets his plane on fire to keep it out of German hands. (Credit to Warner Bros. Pictures)
The pilot checks his watch and does another calculation. The fuel gauge on his Spitfire had been shot out by a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, and he was reduced to estimating his remaining fuel level with quick arithmetic. As he approaches the Dunkirk coast, the engine begins to sputter and the prop slows to a lethargic, useless spin. Now gliding, the pilot spots a German Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber making a dive on the beleaguered British Expeditionary Force troops attempting to evacuate below. He lines up his gunsight and lets out a burst of fire from his .303 Browning machine guns, sending the smoking Stuka into the water.
Dunkirk movie promo (Credit to Warner Bros. Pictures)
The men on the ground cheer and wave at their airborne savior as he glides his Spitfire over the beach. Once he is clear of the British beachhead, the pilot lowers his flaps for landing. The landing gear release lever malfunctions and he is forced to manually crank his landing gear down as the beach below him grows closer and closer. He skillfully sets the Spitfire down on the beach with no bumps or bounces—a perfect landing under any circumstances. After setting fire to his plane, the pilot reflects on his long day of fighting before he is captured by German troops.
This account follows the story of an RAF Spitfire pilot named Farrier, played by Tom Hardy, in the 2017 Warner Bros. film Dunkirk. Written, produced and directed by Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk tells the suspenseful story of the British evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. What most people don’t know is that Farrier’s actions depicted in the film are based on the real-life exploits of New Zealand fighter ace Alan Deere.
Deere was born in Westport, New Zealand in 1917. During his school years, he excelled in sports and took up rugby, cricket, and boxing. After school, he convinced his mother to sign an “Under 21” form, allowing him to join the RAF at the age of 20. Deere moved to England in 1937 to begin his flight training. After graduating flight school, Deere was assigned to No. 54 Squadron and flew the Gloster Gladiator before converting to the Supermarine Spitfire in March 1939.
During Operation Dynamo, the BEF evacuation at Dunkirk that began on May 26, No. 54 flew several sorties every day to provide air cover over Dunkirk and the English Channel. On May 27, Deere destroyed a Junkers Ju 88 bomber that was attacking a hospital ship, much like Farrier did in the film. The intense aerial combat and high operational tempo of Dynamo meant that, by May 28, No. 54 Squadron had been attrited to just eight serviceable aircraft.
Deere led the squadron on a dawn patrol, Deere spotted a German Dornier Do 17 bomber. He split off a section of his patrol to engage the enemy aircraft. During his attack on the Do 17, Deere’s Spitfire was hit by machine gun fire from the bomber’s rear gunner. He was forced to make an emergency landing to the east on a Belgian beach, during which he was knocked unconscious. After he came to, Deere torched his plane and made his way into a nearby town where he received first aid and hitched ride on a British Army truck back to Dunkirk. During the boat ride back to England, Deere received harsh words and criticism about the RAF’s fighter cover from the BEF soldiers (this experience was portrayed in the story of a different RAF pilot in the film).
Deere’s scuttled Spitfire on the beach. (Photo from spitfirepv270.co.nz)
After the Battle of France, Deere flew during the Battle of Britain and the Invasion of Normandy. During the war, Deere scored 22 aerial victories, 10 probable kills, and damaged 18 enemy aircraft. He became a quadruple ace and the second highest scoring New Zealand fighter pilot in history. For his contributions during the war, Deere was awarded two British Distinguished Flying Crosses, the American Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, the British Distinguished Service Order, and appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Deere’s military career also brought him numerous near death experiences, including having his Spitfire’s wing shot off, and a head-on engagement with a Bf 109 which resulted in an aerial collision and another glide to an emergency landing. Befitting an unkillable man like Deere, his autobiography is titled Nine Lives.
Portrait of Wing Commander Alan Deere. (Photo from the Imperial War Museum)
After the war, Deere continued to serve in the RAF and achieved the rank of Air Commodore before retiring in 1967. He returned to his boyhood passion of athletics and became the RAF’s Director of Sport as a civilian. During his later years, Deere suffered from cancer. He died on September 21, 1995. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the River Thames from a Spitfire.
Memorabilia from Deere’s military career, including medals, trophies, and even the engine from one of his Spitfires, are on display at museums in both Britain and New Zealand. Perhaps his best tribute, however, is a restored Spitfire Mk IX bearing his markings when he served as a Wing Commander during the war. The Spitfire was restored by Deere’s nephew, Brendon Deere, and is flown at air shows in New Zealand.
Brendon Deere’s restored Spitfire Mk IX bearing Alan Deere’s markings. (Photo from airshowtravel.co.nz)
For decades, submarines have been patrolling and protecting America’s ships with honor as they operate deep down below the sea’s surface. Functioning as the “Silent Service,” these vessels have come a long way with their vast array of technological advances and undersea stealth.
But the concept goes back as far as the Revolutionary War, though how it got to the level of today’s technology is a wonder given the dangers of plying the ocean’s depths.
The “Drebbel,” the “Turtle,” and the “Nautilus” were all early versions of submarine technology that never quite got underway. But it wouldn’t be until Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory authorized the construction of the CSS H.L. Hunley to break the blockade of their southern ports that sub-surface warfare really came into its own.
After completion, the Hunley measured 40-feet long, 4-feet high, and 42-inches wide tightly housing a crew of eight men who had to power the vessel by hand cranking the propeller and steer through the ocean’s dark waters.
During its first testing phase in the fall of 1863, the CSS Hunley failed and sunk killing five crew members. The sub was recovered, but sank again and killed all eight crew, including co-inventor Horace Hunley, later that same year.
Although considered a dud, the Hunley’s commanders still believed in its worth and resurrected the sub from the water for the second time.
It wouldn’t be until Feb. 17, 1864, where the Hunley sank the USS Housatonic and soon after plunged toward the ocean’s floor for a third time killing all of its crew — a real death trap.