Infantrymen know everything. They know Marine Corps Orders, loopholes, when the trucks are coming, the secret to the Aztec Calendar, and where the military keeps the aliens. They know it all except for these six surprising facts grunts do not know about the infantry until now.
Monthly counseling carries no weight
Every Marine gets what is called a Training Jacket. It is a folder that contains print outs of information stored on your Marine Online profile. It is a reference of where you are administratively in your career: awards, courses, PFTs, CFTs, etcetera. This folder is stored in the company office and isn’t taken out of the dusty locker until one attends a specialty school, moves to a new unit, or a change of command.
Among those documents is a section for monthly counseling. They provide feedback between yourself and the next level up on the chain of command. For a young lance corporal it may be another lance corporal with the billet of team leader. Sometimes teams leaders and the teams they lead do not see eye to eye. You are not required to sign a negative counseling and you may refuse it.
When a troop changes from one command to another, one section to another, those counseling documents become null and void – because they’re no longer part of your chain of command. Your new leadership may be curious to read them before destroying them. Simply rip those out when you have a change in leadership for a fresh start. That won’t work for Non Judicial Punishments, however, those are permanent.
You did sign up to pick trash
As mentioned earlier, Marine Online (MOL) is the source where you can access most information about your career. Within the labyrinth of menus contained there is a section where you can view your enlistment contract. For Operation Security reasons, I will not publicly say where but there is a finite number of places where it can be. Think.
I remember once I was complaining about police calling, picking up trash, as a young private. That I did not sign up for this and the usual belly aching of a devil pup. My squad leader overheard me and instead of an a** chewing we pulled up my MOL. He scrolled and clicked and BAM! There it is, my contract, my initials, and next to it ‘police call’. Yes, without exaggeration we signed up to pick up trash too.
You pay for housing and MREs
If you look at your Leave and Earnings statement you will see that housing is taken out of your check. When you go on field ops your meal card number is used and those meals are charged that way. For married troops who do not rate a meal card, your MREs are reduced from your pay. Troops pay for their uniforms and medals too, this should not come a surprise but it is.
Your name tapes do not require your full name
My last name is 13 letters long and so was my lieutenant’s. We’re both of latino descent and have two last names. The Marine Corps smushed them together, as is tradition. You can pick to have your first last name be the one displayed on your name tapes.
I was once at the operations office when a former gunnery sergeant of mine needed my signature for his checkout. After a moment he said I was out of regs and pointed to my name tape that read Cano. ‘Lieutenant A************ does not have A************* on his name tape. Only A***, I am within regs.’ He did not know what to say except ‘ok’. I signed his check out sheet and he was on his way.
You do not have to use issued gear
There is only one thief in the Marine Corps, everyone else is trying to get their stuff back. Well let me tell you, F*** that guy. As long as gear serves the same functions and is tactical you can use it during field ops. No one can mistake your gear as theirs, its easily identifiable if someone “accidently” takes it. When you check out of supply you will not have to run around base buying expensive lost items before you EAS. According to MCO 4400.201-V1, you are accountable for the gear but it does not state you must use it. When everyone else is freezing their butts off using issued sleeping bags you can sleep like a baby in your climate rated personal gear. Unless there is a standard operating procedure for uniformity, you’re in the clear.
You can do your annual training classes anytime of the year
You can do your cyber security, sexual assault prevention training, and other annual training any time of the year. The deadline is at the fiscal or calendar year depending on the training required. A battalion can have a certain percentage of the troops have their training in the red to prioritize mission critical training. This is when, pre-covid, thousands of troops would be packed together for their annual death by powerpoint presentations. You can get out of those if you do your annual training on an individual level. So, when everyone is suffering, you can play xbox in your room and get paid for it.
Kids seem to grow up so fast, even faster when we’re deployed. It takes time for every military parent to reconnect with our children after being away for long periods of time. Adults are concerned with the endless cycle of responsibilities in our careers, marriage, and budgeting. Children on the other hand are concerned with missing you.
Phone and video calls may be enough for us but it may not be enough for them. The burdens we carry are worth it when we see their smiles, living in safe homes, and getting a good education. Little ones are immersed in a more digital reality than millennial parents when they were their age.
The bright side is that we can connect with them over games they’re interested in and you’ll be surprised how much you remember about gaming if you aren’t already playing solo. From their perspective, winning with your team is awesome — but winning with your dad is epic.
Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
The easiest way to describe Minecraft is that it’s digital Legos. It was developed by Mojang and has three modes: Survival, Creative, and Adventure. This game can be played on any platform or phone and has online capabilities.
Survival is straight forward where you gather supplies and build things to help you weather the elements or defeat enemies. Creative Mode makes you immune to damage and have access to every block (piece) in the game. In Adventure mode most blocks cannot be destroyed and it has a more roleplaying type of element to it, like Skyrim but with training wheels.
Minecraft has been used to teach kids about programming, coding, and Modding (creating custom characters, buildings, and effects) in schools as well. This game can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be. You’ll be surprised how fast they learn when taught in gamer speak.
Cuphead and Mugman utilizing the talking guns concept.
Cuphead is a sidescroller game developed by StudioMDHR with Disneyesque graphics. The game was completely hand drawn to resemble the iconic animation styles of the 1920’s/1930’s and a complementary soundtrack. It doesn’t support online gameplay but if you’ve ever played Contra or Megaman, you’re going to kick ass at this game.
The levels have two modes: simple and regular. Boss fights and their patterns of attack change with the game difficulty. You can teach your child about strategy, attack pattern recognition, nurture hand-eye coordination, and teamwork. Together, your young protege will be unstoppable in Metroid, Mario, and Castlevania games.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! – Gameplay – Nintendo Treehouse: Live
Nintendo has the lion’s share on the nostalgia market and it’s console sales spike every time a new Pokemon game releases. If you remember picking your favorite starter in Professor Oak’s lab, you’re going to love going down memory lane with your tiny pokemon-master-in-training.
In the ancient days of Gamboy Pocket/Color, we had to battle and trade over a physical cable that connected our hand-held devices. Nowadays all trading and battling is done over the internet.
The latest game is a remake of Pokemon Yellow so you can still keep it old school with the original 151. There are a ton of differences from the Red and Blue but it will still hit your right in the feels.
Dad: “Loot the gear.”
Daughter: “There’s someone there.”
Dad: “Loot the gear.”
Fortnite is an online first/third person shooter in a battle royal arena. It’s like the old school shooters, 007 Golden Eye for example, where you find random weapons on the ground with the added twist that the map gets smaller.
There is a very high chance your child is already playing this game; it’s whats trendy with the younger player base. If you’re unsure if they play this game just turn to them right now and ask if they can do a Fortnite dance for you.
It has several game modes but the most common ones are team or solo battles. Players are able to build impromptu bases out of wood, cement, and metal to give them cover when fighting. This is a game where your old Halo badassery will elevate you to near God status in the eyes of your kids.
“My dad can out snipe your dad.”
Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG) is another battle royal game with the same principles as Fortnite, which is also this game’s competitor. The key differences are that you won’t be able to build bases and the graphics are more teen/adult oriented. Call of Duty is out gran’ ol’ man. PUBG is in.
Regardless of the games you choose to play, the important thing is that you have fun and bond with your children. We’re all busy and it’s hard to understand or care about what they think is important because you know what responsibilities really are important.
When you play games with your kids, you’ll know what they’re talking about when they’re excited about something — and they’ll know you give a sh*t. I still remember when I played Super Nintendo with my old man. Give your kids the gift my dad gave me: the precious memories of owning everyone else.
“There’s a very unique bond between infantry soldiers not found in any other [career] in the Army,” Staff. Sgt. Leonard Markley, a recruiter in Toledo, Ohio, whose primary career field is infantry, said in a recent service news release. “It’s us against the world, and we as infantrymen all know about the hardships that come with this [career]: walking countless miles, sleep deprivation and rationed meals.
“Even when I see another infantryman walking by, I have respect for him and have his back, because we are brothers through all our hardships,” he added.
To qualify for the infantry, applicants must score a minimum of 87 on the combat line score of the Armed Forces Qualification Test and pass the Occupational Physical Assessment Test at the heavy level, according to the release.
Recruits attend a 22-week Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. During training, they will list their specific infantry job preferences, although assignments are determined by the needs of the Army. Upon graduation, soldiers are assigned as either an infantryman (11B) or an indirect fire infantryman (11C), the release states.
“The Infantry has instilled a work ethic in me that is noticeably different than my peers,” Markley said. “This work ethic and discipline will set me apart wherever I go after the military. It is the premier career for leadership and management development skills. I can go anywhere and be a successful manager in any civilian field.”
Until recently, Army recruiters were offering bonuses of up to ,000 for a six-year enlistment in the infantry. The Army began paying out hefty bonuses for infantry recruits in May 2019 to meet a shortfall of about 3,300 infantry training seats by the end of fiscal 2019. It was part of a sweeping new recruiting strategy launched at the beginning of fiscal 2019, after the service missed its fiscal 2018 goal.
For some people, there’s nothing like the taste of a loaded bagel and the caffeinated buzz of an extra-large coffee after a night of drinking. Others would rather stick to gulping down bottles of water and popping ibuprofen as soon as they wake up to ward off symptoms of a hangover.
But here’s the thing: While there are a handful of quick-fix “tricks” said to sober you up fast after a night of drinking, most of the so-called “tried and true” methods don’t actually work. The only true way to sober up after a cocktail or five, is to, unfortunately, wait it out.
Ergo, if you thought these things would sober you up in a hurry, they won’t.
1. Greasy meals won’t rebalance your blood sugar levels
If your go-to breakfast after a night of drinking is bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel, or order of french fries dipped in a chocolate shake, here’s some bad news.
If you’re going to treat yourself to a slice of pizza or to-go burrito, the right time to do so is actually prior to drinking, Alexis Halpern, MD, emergency medicine physician at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center told Refinery 29. Heavier meals make it so that the body has to spend more time and energy breaking up the food, Halpern explained, meaning the alcohol you drink after the fact will take longer to settle into your bloodstream.
However just because junk food is definitely heartier than, say, a salad, that doesn’t necessarily mean before a night of drinking you shouldn’t at least try to work in some nutritious options.
“If you give your body back the things that it needs and the things that it loses when you drink, you’re going to feel better no matter what,” Halpern said, so foods that are high in protein, zinc, vitamin B, potassium, and even foods that have a high water content are great options.
But if you’re not the type of person who enjoys drinking a ton of water, and is willing to spend a little extra cash, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, told INSIDER that Pedialyte helps “replenish lost electrolytes including sodium, potassium as well as keep your blood sugar level up, since heavy alcohol consumption could lead to low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia.”
3. Painkillers can cause an upset stomach when mixed with lingering alcohol in the body
Oftentimes people will pop a pill after a night of drinking to nurse a hangover headache, but according to the NIH, many pain relievers can cause “stomach upset, bleeding and ulcers, liver damage (acetaminophen), and/or rapid heartbeat.”
Before mixing alcohol with any medicine (or taking them right after drinking), it’s important to do your research and speak with a medical professional.
How your body responds to caffeine after a night of drinking will ultimately depend on how much you regularly drink it sober.
If you’re a routine coffee drinker, Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told INSIDER drinking about 24 oz of coffee can help avoid withdrawal symptoms.
However, if you’re not a routine coffee drinker, downing a large cup or two of the stuff could worse or cause headache, and may also lead to increased dehydration as coffee is a mild diuretic.
In the Channel 4 program Food Unwrapped, Tony Moss, a professor of addictive behavior science at London South Bank University, reiterated this point and said that coffee will not help you sober up.
“We know from wider research that coffee isn’t an antidote to alcohol,” he said. “Taking coffee is a stimulant that will reverse that feeling of being slightly tired as your blood alcohol is coming down. The only thing that’s going to sober you up in that respect is a bit of time.”
If you only eat foods high in protein, without including any complex carbohydrates, Derocha said this will “negatively affects an already low blood sugar level,” leading to “a headache or make an existing headache worse.”
Rather than clinging to one food group to sober you up, Derocha told INSIDER it’s important to eat well-balanced, healthy meals after consuming alcohol, as your body needs a slew of nutrients that work together to help it recover.
Cold showers might wake you up, but they won’t sober you up. Think of it this way: In order to sober up, your body needs to relax. Dousing yourself in cold water accomplishes the exact opposite.
Dr. Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist, gastroenterologist, and an adjunct professor at Touro College told INSIDER cold showers “raise your awareness and alertness by shocking your body with ice-cold water sending signals to your brain to wake up.” When this happens, he explained, your brain and body become stressed, making you feel worse.
“Instead, take a shower with warm water and relax,” he said. “Your body will need to run its process to process all the alcohol in your bloodstream.”
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
The Marine Corps is offering some former Reserve pilots lucrative bonuses to get them back in the cockpit.
Former captains and majors qualified to fly certain aircraft who are willing to rejoin a Marine Corps squadron can pocket up to a $30,000 lump-sum bonus if they agree to a three-year term in the Active Reserve. Those willing to serve two years in the Reserve are eligible for a $20,000 payout.
It’s called the Active Reserve Aviator Return to Service Program, and it targets six types of fixed-wing, rotary and tiltrotor pilots “in order to fill critical aviation shortfalls,” a service-widemessage on the bonuses states.
Top priority will be given to former F/A-18 Hornet and MV-22B Osprey pilots, along with KC-130 Hercules aircraft commanders, according to the message. But the program is also open to former AV-8B Harrier, UH-1Y Venom and CH-53E Super Stallion pilots.
Capt. Christopher Prout with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing shoots an AIM-7 Sparrow missile from an F/A-18C Hornet airplane
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Christopher Prout)
“The retention incentive is distributed as a lump sum of 20,000 dollars for the 24 month service obligation or a lump sum of 30,000 dollars for the 36 month service obligation, less any applicable taxes,” the message states. “Lump sum payment will not be paid out until the member is joined to the [Active Reserve] program.”
The incentives will be paid out on a first-come, first-served basis “until funds are exhausted,” it adds.
Only aviators who previously qualified for — or had not yet applied for — career designation are eligible. Those who applied for but were not offered career designation in the Active Reserve are ineligible, the message states.
Pilots who were already career designated on the Active Reserve will automatically be career designated upon re-accession. Those who hadn’t previously applied for career designation will be able to do so once they rejoin.
Top assignments will involve flying operations at the squadron level across several Reserve units in the continental U.S., including California, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Maryland or New Orleans. Assignments aren’t limited to those squadrons though, the message adds.
Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing fly F/A-18C Hornet airplanes.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore)
Captains who served more than 10 years of active-duty service who weren’t previously considered for major on an Active Reserve promotion board are eligible to apply. So are majors who weren’t previously considered for O-5 who served more than 12 years on active duty, and those who were considered for lieutenant colonel who served more than 15 years.
Earlier this year, the Marine Corps announced it would be offering big bonuses to active-duty pilots as well.
Top bonuses targeted Marines in the grades and communities with the biggest pilot shortages. Active-duty pilots were eligible to earn up to 0,000 bonuses if they agreed to keep flying for eight more years.
The bonuses targeted captains and majors who fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, C-130 Hercules, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-53 Stallion.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
On December 9 and 10, 2020, seven celebrities took to the legendary Range 37 at Fort Bragg, NC. Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East, her husband and retired NFL player Andrew East, UFC heavyweight champion and former 101st Airborne Sgt. Randy Couture, MMA fighter Dan Henderson, former Bachelorette finalist Shawn Booth, and country music stars Chuck Wicks and Lee Brice teamed up with the Green Berets to raise money for the Special Forces Charitable Trust.
The inaugural Special Forces Charitable Trust Tactical Challenge saw each celeb team up with two Green Berets to run the gauntlet and ring some steel. Using a variety of decked-out Special Forces weapons from handguns to precision rifles, the celebs conducted a familiarization day on Wednesday before the competition itself on Thursday. “This is a one-of-a-kind, truly unique opportunity for teams from the U.S. Army Special Forces and the National Celebrity communities to unite and compete in precision marksman skills, tactical movement, and physical endurance,” the trust announced.
The Special Forces Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) charity that supports Green Berets, past and present, and their families. They organize family readiness retreats, award scholarships for Special Forces children and spouses, fund memorials and monuments, and provide financial support to the families of fallen soldiers.
The SFCT Tactical Challenge Competition will air on the Outdoor Channel in 2021. The air date is to be determined. Donations are made by joining a watch team on the SFCT website. Donations can be made in support of a particular celebrity team and will be used in direct support of the Special Forces community and food banks located in the Special Forces Group Headquarters local area. The donations are also 100% tax-deductible.
Although the challenge has yet to air, some of the celebrities that took part have given us a glimpse of the action to come on their respective social media platforms. “The past two days have been the most humbling and eye opening days ever,” Johnson East posted on Instagram. “Being able to work along side and be taught by the best there is has truly been an honor.” Johnson East started her charitable work with the Special Forces community 12 years ago by helping with Special Forces retreats.
Wicks, who currently leads in donations raised, had a similar experience working with the Army’s elite operators. “After spending 2 days with the #GreenBerets I’m completely humbled and very proud to be an American,” Wicks posted on Instagram. “Watching the best of the best do their thing and then getting the opportunity to learn from them was an experience of a lifetime.”
Be sure to follow the Special Forces Charitable Trust and watch out for the air date announcement of the Tactical Challenge competition. Donations can be made directly on their website.
If you are considering moving to a new place after the novel coronavirus pandemic, you may want to consider one of these 30 US cities.
Recent polling has suggested that many Americans are thinking about moving. The news website Axios reported in late April on a Harris Poll survey that found that about one-third of Americans said they were thinking about moving to less densely populated places. And recent research from Moody’s Analytics found that less densely populated places with a larger share of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher were likely to recover first from the economic impact of the pandemic.
During stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus, more and more Americans have transitioned to working from their homes. In a Gallup analysis, 62% of respondents in a survey conducted from March 30 to April 2 said they were working from home, compared with 31% of respondents in a survey conducted from March 13 to 15.
New Gallup polling has indicated that even after stay-at-home orders lift and employees can return to offices, some people are thinking about working remotely at least part of the time. In a survey conducted from April 13 to 19, 53% of respondents said they would work remotely as much as they could, while 47% said they would return to the office as much as they previously did.
Business Insider decided to find out which cities could be the best to live in after the coronavirus pandemic for those Americans seeking a new home and planning to continue remote work.
To do this, we used nine economic, educational, and demographic metrics from government data sources and academic research that we think people might consider when moving and that could help a metro area recover faster from the economic effects of the pandemic.
These measures are the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate, ability to work from home, population density, housing affordability, monthly household costs, cost of living, weekly two-way work commute, total elementary- and secondary-school spending per student, and share of residents age 25 and over who have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Each measure was rescaled to a uniform z-score, allowing us to add the values together to get a final overall index for each metro area that we then used to rank the 30 metro areas at the top of the list.
Here are the 30 best cities to live in after the coronavirus pandemic, based on our analysis:
30. Danville, Illinois
Danville’s cost of living — the metro area’s price level of goods and services compared with the US’s — is 21.4% lower than the national average. The city’s population density of 84.3 people per square mile is also lower than in most metro areas.
29. Grand Island, Nebraska
In Grand Island, 74.1% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, indicating better housing affordability than most metro areas. Grand Island’s cost of living is slightly lower than in most metro areas, at 15.7% lower than the national average.
28. Peoria, Illinois
Peoria is among the 100 metro areas with the lowest cost-of-living scores, at 12% lower than the national average. Average housing costs in the city are 5.22 a month.
27. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.9%, 0.6 percentage points below the national rate. Omaha’s cost of living is 7.9% lower than the national average.
26. State College, Pennsylvania
State College’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.6%, 0.1 percentage points higher than the national rate in February. Additionally, 46.7% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 18th-highest share among metro areas.
25. Green Bay, Wisconsin
In Green Bay, 75.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the 16th-highest share among metro areas. Average housing costs are 6.86 a month.
24. Columbus, Indiana
In Columbus, 79.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.3%, tied for the 13th lowest among metro areas.
23. Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.2%, tied for the sixth lowest among metro areas, and 49.3% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the 10th highest among metro areas.
22. Lansing, Michigan
Lansing is among the metro areas with the highest share of jobs that could be done from home, at 41%. Lansing’s cost of living is 8.8% lower than the national average.
21. Syracuse, New York
Syracuse’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.4%, close to the national rate in February. Syracuse is also among the 100 metro areas with the highest share of jobs that could be done from home, at 38%.
20. Cheyenne, Wyoming
Among the metro areas, Cheyenne has the shortest weekly commute to and from work, at two hours and 28 minutes, and the 18th-lowest population density, at 37.1 people per square mile.
19. Ithaca, New York
Ithaca has the seventh-highest total spending per student in elementary and secondary public schools, where the school district in the metro area with the most students enrolled spends ,220 per pupil. The metro area also has the sixth-largest share of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, at 51.9%.
18. Wausau, Wisconsin
In Wausau, 77.5% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the fourth-highest share among metro areas, and average housing costs are 9.32 a month.
17. Madison, Wisconsin
In Madison, 42.6% of jobs could be done from home — a higher share than in most metro areas. The pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.6% was lower than the national rate in February.
16. Dubuque, Iowa
In Dubuque, 74.1% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, which is more than in most metro areas, and average housing costs are 5.57 a month.
15. Logan, Utah
Logan’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2%, tied for the second lowest among the metro areas. The weekly commute to and from work is two hours and 57 minutes, tied for the 16th shortest among metro areas.
14. Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, lower than most metro areas, and 72.3% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing — it’s among the 100 metro areas with the best housing affordability.
13. Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville had a pre-coronavirus unemployment rate of 2.2%, tied for the sixth-lowest rate among metro areas, and 41.5% of jobs could be done from home, a higher share than in most metro areas.
12. La Crosse, Wisconsin
In La Crosse, 73.7% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, which is higher than in most metro areas. It has the 15th-shortest weekly commute to and from work, at two hours and 56 minutes.
11. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
In Cedar Rapids, 75.9% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the 13th-highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3%, 0.5 percentage points lower than the national rate in February.
10. Columbia, Missouri
Columbia’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, lower than most metro areas, and its weekly commute to and from work is two hours and 58 minutes, the 18th shortest among metro areas.
9. Bismarck, North Dakota
In Bismarck, 76.7% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the ninth-highest share among metro areas. Its pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.4%, the 19th lowest among metro areas.
8. Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines’ pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.7%, which was lower than in most metro areas. Additionally, 42.7% of jobs could be done from home, the 17th-highest share among metro areas.
7. Rochester, New York
The Rochester metro area school district with the most students enrolled spends a total of ,943 per pupil in elementary and secondary public schools, the second-highest amount among metro areas. And 39.3% of jobs could be done from home, a higher share than in most metro areas.
6. Ames, Iowa
Ames’ pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2%, tied for the second lowest among metro areas. Additionally, 50.7% of residents who are at least 25 years old have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the ninth-highest share among metro areas.
5. Champaign, Illinois
Champaign’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.2%, which was 0.3 percentage points lower than the national rate in February. The school district with the most students enrolled had the 20th-highest total spending per pupil in elementary and secondary public schools, at ,606 per pupil.
4. Bloomington, Illinois
The share of jobs that could be done from home in Bloomington is 39.4%, and 72.2% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing; both shares are higher than in most metro areas.
3. Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 2.1%, tied for the fourth lowest among metro areas. The weekly commute to and from work in Fargo is two hours and 52 minutes, tied for the 10th shortest among metro areas.
2. Jefferson City, Missouri
Jefferson City’s cost of living is 18.3% lower than the national average and the fifth lowest among metro areas. And 77.2% of households spend less than 30% of their income on housing, the seventh highest among the metro areas.
1. Springfield, Illinois
Springfield’s pre-coronavirus unemployment rate was 3.5%, equivalent to the national rate, and 42.9% jobs could be done from home, the 16th-highest share among metro areas.
Christmas time is synonymous with giving and receiving presents. Everyone loves to receive a gift, even it means you have to awkwardly open it front of a person who’s eagerly watching your face, waiting for a reaction. That love of receiving doesn’t begin and end on Christmas morning, though — not by a long shot.
Gift buying is an art. Picking the perfect gift can be difficult, and when you’re shopping for someone close to you, the pressure is on. Now, if one or more of those someones is a veteran, well, you’ve got some thinking to do. Veterans are a special breed. We’ve got an odd sense of humor, an irregular view of ‘normal,’ and can be plain ol’ weird. Finding the right gift for your vet will likely be a mission.
We know the Christmas season is over, but the following gifts can be enjoyed by a vet on any calendar date.
Can’t go wrong with any of these choices
9 and a half out of 10 veterans love to drink and can likely throw down with the best of them. Consider buying your vet their favorite bottle of liquor. If it’s one of those gift boxes that comes with a few, nice glasses, that’s great! If not, that’s fine; glasses are optional.
Near the top of every Marine’s gift list
Vets love clothing that makes sense. Help out your vet by getting them some clothing that can be useful. Think something somewhere between Under Armor and a ghillie suit.
Two things veterans can always use more of: travel and relaxation. The type of travel will vary from vet to vet, but we all appreciate a good vacation. It could be as simple as some alone time, a day trip, or a spa day.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to please veterans — just a little attention to detail.
Please, check on your friends this time of year
An ear and a shoulder
Transitioning back into civilian life can be a strange experience for many vets. We might move on, find a job, and start a family, but the feeling of camaraderie will never really be quite the same.
If you’ve got a vet in your life, it might not seem like a gift to you, but give them a call every now and then to check in, see how things are going. It’s a small gesture, but a worthwhile one.
You can talk about them but you can’t talk without them — that’s pretty much the commo creed. One U.S. Army information technology specialist took to the mic to remind everyone just how important that is.
The signal specialist here is known as Mark Vision, aka Marcus Twitty, a Germany-based soldier and Christian rapper who woke up one morning wanting to rap and ended up writing an entire EP. His track about being a commo soldier is called “This Is The Life (S6 Anthem),” and it’ll be stuck in your head for days.
For those not in the know, the ‘S’ in S6 means staff and the ‘6’ means communications. In the case of the U.S. Army, the S6 is the signal officer at the battalion or brigade staff level. In the song, he also mentions a “25 Uniform,” referring to the Army MOS 25U, Signal Support Systems Specialist, who works with radio and data, provides technical support for computers and networks, and maintains comms-related terminals, equipment, and data.
The song goes through the most common questions an IT specialist comes across on a daily basis, like:
What’s the wifi password?
Why can’t I login?
Why is my account disabled?
Also mentioned in the song is why people ask him about their account status while he’s eating lunch, second lieutenants trying to throw their rank around to get better service, and that TKS, the leading cable and telecomms service provider for U.S. troops in Germany, set up their civilian wifi and not the Army – but soldiers come to him for help anyway.
This is hilarious because we all know it’s 100 percent true. Be good to your communications staff: These are the kind of things they have to put up with every day.
Rip-Its are a comforting old friend to American Post-9/11 veterans. Most American probably don’t even know they exist, unless you happen to be a regular at your local Dollar General store. In war zones, Rip-Its are widely available for sale and, in some cases, are free. Move over, coffee, this is the unofficial beverage of the Global War on Terror.
The problem with this is overindulgence may actually be hurting troops as they transition back home.
Rip-It, the military’s favorite brand of energy drink (when deployed), is sold to the military by National Beverage Corp., the same team of drink magicians who brought us Faygo and La Croix. It’s sold in much smaller cans than the ones available in the U.S., but anyone naive enough to believe that keeps U.S. troops from drinking too much is sadly mistaken.
No one gets enough sleep in a war zone as it is. And when soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are awake, they need to stay vigilant about their work, any external threats, and, in some places, internal threats as well. This is one reason coffee has been a mainstay of the U.S. military for so long.
The rise in popularity of energy drinks like Rip-It happened to coincide with a huge number of young people, the primary consumers of energy drinks, heading off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The love affair’s timing is a perfect storm. It became a little slice of home and comfort while pulling double duty keeping people awake when they needed to be.
Even people who never drank an energy drink before were likely to try at least one while deployed.
Eventually, these same troops returned home from their combat deployments. The study found 75 percent of soldiers were still drinking them after coming home. Of those,16 percent were drinking two or more per day, an amount the study defined as “excessive.”
Those found to be drinking more were more likely to exhibit signs of mental distress or other mental issues, especially aggressive behaviors, sleeplessness, alcohol misuse, and excessive fatigue after being home for seven months after their combat deployment. Not only that, those drinking to excess “are associated with being less responsive to evidence-based treatments for PTSD,” the authors of the study wrote.
Troops who consumed fewer than two drinks reported a lower rate of these symptoms.
The study didn’t address Rip-It specifically, though it did ask what size study participants were prone to using. The use of drinks by this Army sample was five times higher than in a previous study of airmen and civilians in the general population.
Military leaders aren’t likely to call for an end to the widespread use of energy drinks, but many have already called on their troops to cut down on consumption.
Air Force officials say they’re rolling out a number of initiatives to address the problem, but the training squadrons in charge of preparing pilots are still using some stop-gap measures to train the pilots they have.
Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, outgoing head of the Air Force’s Air Crew Crisis Task Force, told Air Force Magazine in July 2018 that his team, set up in 2017, now has a five-year plan and has made progress in revamping the pilot-training process.
The plan provides structure for implementation of the 69 initiatives proposed to address the shortage. The plan also intends to grow manning levels to 95% by fiscal year 2023.
“When I first started there was no timeline, just initiatives,” Koscheski said.
Capts. Wes Sloat, left, and Jared Barkemeger, 7th Airlift Squadron pilots, take off in a C-17 Globemaster III at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 27, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Keith James)
Koscheski, who is leaving his position to be director of plans, programs, and analysis for US Air Forces Europe and Africa, said the plan focuses on pilot retention, production, and requirements.
The retention element was “critically important” and the one in which the service has seen the most advancement, he said. It includes increased pay and bonuses, more flexibility in assignments, and the reduction of the administrative duties that many find onerous or distracting.
“Sometimes instead of trying to create more aircrew, if we create more support personnel or keep the aircrew we have healthy, we can get more production out of” fewer people, Koscheski told Air Force Magazine.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Air Force Times in June that the service was getting ready to announce a plan to reinvigorate squadrons, ensuring they have strong leaders and high morale.
“That, to me, is the secret sauce. That’s what’s going to keep people in. It’s what’s kept me in,” Goldfein said, without describing the plan.
Goldfein has also said he wants to push production to 1,400 to 1,500 pilots a year. (Others say 1,600 a year are needed to fix the shortfall.) But the force already faces challenges growing production from 1,200 pilots a year to 1,400.
President Donald Trump and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, second right, with two US Air Force pilots at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 15, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash)
Finding airmen who want to be pilots generally hasn’t been the issue, however. What the Air Force has struggled with is getting student pilots through the training pipeline — a process complicated by a bottleneck created by a lack of pilots available to serve as instructors.
In 2018, the training process was further delayed by a month-long safety stand down for the Air Force’s T-6 Texan training aircraft, due to unexplained physiological events that endangered pilots.
Koscheski said the stand down led the force to train about 200 fewer pilots than expected, though he and other Air Force officers have said that pause gave the service time to reevaluate the training.
A syllabus redesign was done “first and foremost … to create better pilots,” Koscheski said. “The side benefit is it now takes five to nine weeks less to get pilots through pilot training, so … we’re able to get more [students] through [the pipeline], but now it just increases production.”
Researchers from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies have also called on the Air Force to increase its use of contractors, arguing in a report in early 2018 that “innovative uses of contractors in the training pipeline” were needed to ramp up pilot production without depriving front-line squadrons of fliers.
A 64th Aggressor pilot on the flight line after a Red Flag 17-4 exercise sortie on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Aug. 25, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)
The Air Force has already brought in contractors to fill the role of “red air,” in which US pilots pose as rival aircraft.
Koscheski told Air Force Magazine that the service was considering bringing in contractors to be instructors.
‘A leap into the unknown’
The lack of instructors has led some training squadrons to implement stop-gap measures and compensate in other ways in order to use their limited resources in the most efficient way.
The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona found out in 2017 it would only get 13 of the 26 F-16 instructor pilots it requested. Rather than spread the pain, the wing commander sent 12 of the new instructors to the 54th Fighter Group at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, which will take over F-16 training as the 56th shifts to F-35 training operations.
Back at Luke, Air Force officers decided to shift their remaining resources to the squadron training on newer-model F-16s. That shift was a better use of resources and better for pilots, they told Aviation Week in early 2018, but it still was “a leap into the unknown.”
Other bases are making changes to the training itself to handle more pilots with the same number of instructors.
Pilots prepare a T-6 Texan II for a training flight at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, June 13, 2018. The T-6 Texan II is the first aircraft Air Force Pilots learn to fly before moving on to more advanced aircraft.
(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Pettis)
At Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Air Force officials are preparing for an increase of more than 100 student pilots in the next few years. By 2021, the base expects to have about 450 student pilots.
“We have an increased student load coming, and from 2017 to 2021 the forecast is a 34 percent increase in students,” Col. Darrell Judy, commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing, told The Oklahoman in July 2018.
But officials at Vance don’t expect to get more instructors for several years. Judy said the base would instead increase its use of simulators and change other parts of training in order to adjust to the increase.
“We believe we have found a way to trim off about six weeks from the current 54 weeks of training that students go through,” Judy said. “That will allow us a greater throughput [of students] with the amount of instructors we currently have now.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Alvin “Bob” River was born on December 25, 1920. A Missouri native, he once traveled with his family by wagon at 12 years old when they moved from one town to the next. His middle name is actually Edward, but he got the nickname “Bob” from a memorable childhood indiscretion. In the first grade, a girl sitting in the desk directly in front of him had long hair and one of her curls kept ending up on his desk. Tired of it, as only a six year old could be, he cut it off. Thoroughly punished and forced to apologize profusely, the deed was done and the nickname stuck. He would be “Bob” for the rest of his life.
His family made their living farming, something his oldest brother took on when he was old enough. World War II had other plans for Bob – he was drafted into the Army in 1944. Deployed to Frankfurt, Germany – he was responsible for the upkeep of the motorpool. “They kept all of the jeeps going for all of the generals,” Betty shared. He spent two years overseas, seeing and experiencing things he rarely discussed with his family. He returned back to Missouri in 1946 and began building a life after war.
Bob found himself at a basketball game fundraiser for Polio not long after getting home. Unbeknownst to him, his future wife was there too. “He was standing by the door as I was leaving the game and my sister ran back to ask him if he’d be my date to the dance we were going to. He said yes,” Betty said with a smile in her voice. Soon after that dance, they began dating in earnest. Betty shared that they loved to go to the local skating rink together. They were eventually married. Bob and Betty have now been married for 66 years.
A good natured man, Betty shared that he was always kind to everyone. He lived his life by the creed of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. They had two children together and now boast two grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren – with one more on the way. Betty said that they always “ran around” with a younger crowd, staying busy and never letting their age stop them from adventure. When Bob turned 99, he began to slow down and forget some things.
Dementia started a decline that eventually led to “sundowners syndrome,” a pattern of confusion, agitation, paranoia and fear. In April of 2020 Betty went with Bob to their daughter’s home for help but after two weeks and a bad fall, they knew it was time for outside assistance. Bob was taken to the Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. Doctors there told Betty what she knew, he could no longer remain at home for care. Although devastated, the family recognized that it was the best thing for him.
As COVID-19 continued to create havoc throughout the world, the VA home closed its doors to protect its residents. But Bob wasn’t alone, for the staff there immediately fell in love with him just like everyone else. The maintenance staff in particular loved him dearly, adopting him as their own. Although he was initially going to transfer to a different hospital to be closer to family, the VA home begged to “keep” him. Seeing how adored he was and how happily settled he was becoming, the family made the choice to keep him where he was.
When the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved, Bob was the first resident to receive it.
On Christmas Day, Bob will turn 100 years old. The family is giddy with excitement because they’ve been granted approval to come on his birthday to sing to him and be together for the first time since the pandemic started. With restrictions on socializing still in place, there isn’t much he can do to stay busy. It is their hope that they can shower Bob with birthday cards and letters, to show him how much he is loved.
It will also show him that he hasn’t been forgotten.
Bob is one of the last of his generation of World War II veterans. Their stories of courage and sacrifice will soon be gone and lost forever. Take this holiday season to remember them and truly recognize what they did for America. A true “thank you” for their service lies not in words, but in action and how you live your life. Do it in a way that honors them and all veterans, every single day.
To mail Bob a letter or card for his 100th birthday, send it to the address below:
For seven decades, the NATO alliance has practiced collective defense and deterrence against evolving international threats, and over the years, its capabilities have changed accordingly.
NATO’s most “powerful weapon,” according to Jim Townsend with the Center for a New American Security, is the “unity of the alliance,” but the individual allies also possess hard-hitting capabilities that could be called upon were it to face high-level aggression.
Heather Conley with the Center for Strategic and International Studies believes that Russia is likely to continue to press the alliance through low-end influence and cyberwarfare operations. Still, she explained to Business Insider, NATO needs to be seriously contemplating a high-end fight as Russia modernizes, pursuing hypersonic cruise missiles and other new systems.
So, what does that fight look like?
“I’ve always likened it to a potluck dinner,” Townsend told Business Insider. “If NATO has this potluck dinner, what are the kinds of meals, kind of dishes that allies could bring that would be most appreciated?”
“If a host is looking to invite someone who is going to bring the good stuff, they are for sure going to invite the United States,” he explained, adding that “in all categories, the US leads.”
Nonetheless, the different dinner guests bring a variety of capabilities to the table. Here’s some highlights of the many powerful weapons NATO could bring to bear against Russia.
Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team pilot and commander performs a dedication pass in an F-35A Lightning II during the annual Heritage Flight Training Course March 1, 2019, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)
1. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
“The air side of the NATO equation is led by the United States with the F-35 and other various aircraft,” Townsend told BI.
The fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is an aircraft that rival powers have been unable to match its stealth and advanced suite of powerful sensors.
While some NATO countries are looking at the F-35 as a leap in combat capability, others continue to rely on the F-16, an older supersonic fighter that can dogfight and also bomb ground targets. And then some countries, like Germany, are considering European alternatives.
Royal Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon F2.
2. Eurofighter Typhoons
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a capable mutli-role aircraft designed by a handful of NATO countries, namely the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain, determined to field an elite air-superiority fighter. France, which walked away from the Eurofighter project, independently built a similar fighter known as the Dassault Rafale.
Observers argue that the Typhoon is comparable to late-generation Russian Flanker variants, such as the Su-35.
While each aircraft has its advantages, be it the agility of the Typhoon or the low-speed handling of the Flanker, the two aircraft are quite similar, suggesting, as The National Interest explained, that the Eurofighter could hold its own in a dogfight with the deadly Russian fighter.
A B-52 Stratofortress deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., sits on the flight line at RAF Fairford, England, March 14, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick)
The US provides conventional and nuclear deterrence capabilities through the regular rotation of bomber aircraft into the European area of operations.
American bombers have been routinely rotating into the area since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, according to Military.com. That year, the Pentagon sent two B-2 Spirit bombers and three B-52s to Europe for training. The B-1B Lancers are also among the US bombers that regularly operate alongside NATO allies.
US Navy P-8 Poseidon taking off at Perth Airport.
4. US P-8A Poseidon
“There’s also the maritime posture, particularly as Russia continues to rely on a submarine nuclear deterrent. We need a stronger presence. That’s why we’re seeing Norway, the US, UK do more with the P-8As,” Conley, the CSIS expert, told BI.
Facing emerging threats in the undersea domain, where the margins to victory are said to be razor thin, NATO allies are increasingly boosting their ability to hunt and track enemy submarines from above and below the water.
While there are a number of options available for this task, the US Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol plane, which was brought into replace the US military’s older P-3 Orions, are among the best submarine hunters out there.
Norwegian frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad (front) leads Turkish frigate TCG Oruçreis, Belgian frigate BNS Louise Marie and a Swedish Visby-class corvette during Trident Juncture.
(NATO/LCDR Pedro Miguel Ribeiro Pinhei)
Another effective anti-submarine capability is that provided by the various frigates operated by a number of NATO countries.
“The NATO allies, in particular Italy, France, Spain, all have frigates that have very capable anti-submarine warfare systems,” Bryan Clark with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told BI.
“They have active low-frequency sonars that are variable-depth sonars. They can find submarines easily, and they are very good against diesel submarines.” These forces could be used to target Russian submarines in the Eastern Mediterranean and into the Black Sea.
“Norway and Denmark also have really good frigates,” he explained. “They could go out and do anti-submarine warfare” in the North Sea/Baltic Sea area, “and they are very good at that.”
An AH-64D Apache helicopter from 1st Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, based at Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq.
6. AH-64 Apache gunship
The Apache gunship helicopter, capable of close air support, has the ability to rain down devastation on an approaching armor column.
The attack helicopters can carry up to sixteen Hellfire missiles at a time, with each missile possessing the ability to cripple an enemy armor unit. The Hellfire is expected to eventually be replaced with the more capable Joint Air-to-Ground Missile.
The Cold War-era Apache attack helicopters have been playing a role in the counterinsurgency fight in the Middle East, but the gunships could still hit hard in a high-end conflict.
7. German Leopard 2
The Leopard 2 main battle tank, which gained a reputation for being “indestructible,” is a formidable weapon first built to blunt the spearhead of a Soviet armor thrust and one that would probably be on the front lines were the NATO alliance and Russia to come to blows.
While this tank, a key component of NATO’s armored forces, took an unexpected beating in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, it is still considered one of the alliance’s top tanks, on par with the US M1 Abrams and the British Challenger 2.
Observers suspect that the Leopard 2, like its US and British counterparts, would be easily able to destroy most Russian tanks, as these tanks are likely to get the jump on a Russian tank in a shoot out.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and ships assigned to the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) transit the Atlantic Ocean while conducting composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) on Feb. 16, 2018.
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Swofford)
8. US Nimitz-class aircraft carriers
A last-minute addition to last year’s Trident Juncture exercise — massive NATO war games designed to simulate a large-scale conflict with Russia — was the USS Harry S. Truman, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and its accompanying strike group.
The carrier brought 6,000 servicemembers and a large carrier air wing of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Norway for the largest drill in years.
“One thing the NATO naval partners have been looking at is using carriers as part of the initial response,” Clark told BI. The US sails carriers into the North Atlantic to demonstrate to Russia that the US can send carriers into this area, from which it could carry out “operations into the Baltics without too much trouble,” he added.
America’s ability to project power through the deployment of aircraft carriers is unmatched, due mainly to the massive size, sophistication and training regimen of its carrier fleet. The UK and France also have aircraft carriers.
(DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett)
9. PATRIOT surface-to-air missile system
PATRIOT, which stands for “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target,” is an effective surface-to-air guided air and missile defense system that is currently used around the world, including in a number NATO countries.
There is a “need for an integrated air and missile defense picture,” Conley told BI. “That is certainly a high-valued protection for the alliance.”
NATO is also in the process of fielding Aegis Ashore sites, land-based variants of the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, that can track and fire missiles that intercept ballistic targets over Europe.
The U.S. Navy submarine USS North Dakota (SSN-784) underway during bravo sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean.
(U.S. Navy Photo)
10. US Virginia-class submarines
Virginia-class submarines, nuclear-powered fast attack boats, are among the deadliest submarines in the world. They are armed with torpedoes to sink enemy submarines and surface combatants, and they can also target enemy bases and missile batteries ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
These submarines “could be really useful to do cruise missile attacks against some of the Russian air defense systems in the western military district that reach over the Baltic countries,” Clark told BI.
“You can really conduct air operations above these countries without being threatened by these air defense systems. So, you would want to use cruise missiles to attack them from submarines at sea.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.