Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Members of the 386th Expeditionary Wing dental team were given a unique opportunity to join forces with the Army veterinary clinic to provide support to the K-9 unit at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 8, 2018.

In most instances in a deployed environment the medical group supports the vet by providing medications and food related support, but on this day it was to perform a teeth cleaning on Military Working Dog Vviking.

“I am very grateful to do this out here,” said Staff Sgt. Torri Olivieri, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group dental services noncommissioned officer in charge. “Working with a military working dog and supporting the mission in this aspect is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”


In a deployed location, the veterinary clinic leans heavily on the medical group in emergencies to support the K-9 unit if the veterinary clinic is unavailable.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Army Capt. Carolyn Scholl, 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services veterinary core officer, prepares to insert a breathing tube in military working dog Vviking’s throat during a routine teeth cleaning at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

“I called the dental tech and dentist down here today so they could get hands-on experience with the MWD, because if there is an emergent situation they would be the ones taking care of the dog,” said Army Spc. Caitlin Hinds, 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services vet technician.

While the veterinary clinic is a role three facility, which means they are able to support a majority of surgeries, they aren’t specifically trained to perform routine cleanings.

The vet clinic takes the opportunity to invite both medical clinic staff and dog handlers to many routine visits, such as blood draws and check-ups, to ensure they have the knowledge and are comfortable to do these things if they are unavailable, Hinds explained.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Air Force military working dog Vviking receives a belly rub from his handler before his teeth cleaning at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy L. Mosier)

Staff Sgt. Angelina Borges, 386th Expeditionary Medical Group military working dog handler, discussed an incident in 2018 when her partner, MWD Vviking, was having issues lying down and sitting and the vet was there to help her every step of the way to help improve his health.

“I am really thankful for the vet clinic here and how they have explained everything to me,” Borges said.

The trust and willingness to accommodate one another has really bolstered the partnership between the Army and Air Force and Hinds looks to keep improving that relationship.

“I can go to the kennel master and medical group and say, ‘I need this,’ and they are more than willing to help,” Hinds explained. “It makes me feel good, because I am building the bonds back.”

The cohesiveness between units at ‘The Rock’ stems from these bonds and has developed with trust and partnership with one goal in mind — to complete the mission.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the US Air Force maintains operational success

Airmen at aircraft maintenance squadrons around the service have begun innovating with new scheduling, accelerated hands-on training courses, and virtual reality simulators to get new maintainers proficient quickly; keeping more aircraft ready to fly and improving operational readiness.

We begin a continuing series of video vignettes at Travis Air Force Base, California, highlighting airmen who are successfully closing the aircraft maintainer experience gap.


Growing his replacement

Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Flynn, a 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant aircraft maintenance unit supervisor at Travis Air Force Base, California, is responsible for the approximately 300 personnel keeping 18 C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft mission-ready.

It is one of the Air Mobility Command missions that never sleep.

“Our mission never stops,” Flynn said. “We are 24/7 and 365 days a year. The demand for rapid air mobility is constant and is never going to stop.”

While the operations tempo has been fierce over the past decades of combat operations around the globe, Flynn, a 19-year veteran of the aircraft maintainer career field, plans to reenlist and shape the maintainer force of the future.

“My job is to create my replacement… There is an influx of new airmen that is putting a stress on the (noncommissioned officer) tier. They have gone from supervising two airmen to three, four or five. So, that means I am here at 0600 every day, catching the young staff and tech sergeants coming off night shift and those going on day shift and checking in with them; making sure I am approachable,” Flynn said.

He utilizes the ups and downs of his own career maintaining B-1 Lancers and C-17 Globemaster IIIs and teaching electronic warfare navigation systems to relate to and support his NCOs and junior airmen.

“With this abundance of new airmen, it’s very important to explain to them that this is not a ‘One Mistake Air Force,'” Flynn said. “It is not only my job to set standards and expectations, but to talk to them about their mistakes, help them correct it and build them back up. I try to pass on everything I have learned, mistakes and successes, through those daily encounters.”

“There was a point in my career where an NCO stuck his neck on the line for me. He said, ‘airman Flynn is an asset to the Air Force and we should retain him.’ I haven’t looked back since. Immediately following that I got my assignment at McGuire (AFB) and taught two different career fields across multiple mission data sets for C-17s and C-5s. I definitely believe failing forward is a positive thing and that NCO sticking his neck out for me has made me want to do it for others.”

Waypoints for success

“I really want to get my degree and go the officer route. If given the choice, I definitely would become an aircraft maintenance officer. I would come right back here,” said Airman 1st Class Raeqwon Brown, a 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5M electrical and environmental specialist.

That’s a big dream for an airman that has only been on the Travis Air Force Base, California, flightline for a few months and is still working on completing the core 5-level tasks to become a journeyman maintainer.

Yet, Brown’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dantuma, is committed to turning that dream into an achievable goal.

“My immediate goal is to get him trained up to be a highly proficient maintainer, but the ultimate goal is to keep motivated airmen like him in the Air Force,” Dantuma said.

“That is the good part of all the new maintainers coming in from tech school; I get to train new maintainers the way I know they need to be to benefit to the mission. … If he is willing to put in hard hours and focus every day on learning the aircraft and procedures, then I will help him map out the steps he needs to take to become an officer.”

It is just the kind of support that has Brown feeling as if he has found a home.

“It is a great reassurance to know that a noncommissioned officer would even consider showing you the waypoints to getting a degree and becoming an officer. … Even in the short amount of time I have been in the maintenance realm, I feel this is what I would want to do for the rest of my career,” Brown said.

A1C makes good

Airman 1st Class Caitlin Good is a KC-10 Extender crew chief assigned to the 660th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.

According to her command, since her arrival to the unit in July 2018, Good has excelled.

She’s excelled so much that, with the assistance of supervisors, other noncommissioned officers and experienced airmen, she was 100% complete with her 66 core 5-level upgrade tasks in three months.

“From day one, it was support from the supervisors on my team and the other airmen that have been here for a long time. We’re the same rank, but they have a lot more knowledge and experience. They were all a big help to me,” Good said.

“The NCOs made sure that I was there and I was seeing it, doing it hands-on and doing it frequently. Just a lot of repetition, making sure that I did something over and over again to make sure I got it.”

As a result, Good was granted a unique waiver from attending the four-month long Maintenance Qualification Training Program, which all newly-assigned crew chiefs normally go through.

In addition to her already stellar performance, she was selected to join the ranks of flying crew chiefs, which most airmen do not accomplish until two or three years into their first KC-10 assignment.

She continues to excel by helping close the aircraft maintainer experience gap; spreading her knowledge and experience to waves of new airmen filling out the career field.

“There is a lot more pressure because you are a 5-level now. You’re expected to be in a leadership role,” Good said. “We just got a fresh new group come in from our first phase of training at the Field Training Detachment.

“When we catch a jet, I’ll tell them and show what we do and some tips that I’ve learned to make the job quicker and more efficient. Basically, just passing on what I’ve learned to the new group that’s coming in, and there are three more groups coming in after them. But, I get more repetitions as I train them and try to be an example for them, trying to be kind, be patient, just like everyone has been with me.”

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

From homeless to Hollywood: 10 questions with Army veteran Steve Kuryla

Steve Kuryla spent a lifetime serving in the intelligence community and in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in West Berlin and other hot locales around the globe. He has written a book titled “Six to Days to Zeus: Alive Day” that has been optioned in a screenplay and film production by two heavyweights in the Hollywood industry. A Deadline article in April of this year covers the production and is titled “Phillip Noyce To Direct Secret Iraq Mission Thriller ‘Alive Day;’ Mike Medavoy Producing.” He currently runs a program called Tier One Tranquility Base that helps veterans transitioning home where more information can be seen at https://tieronebase.org/index.html.


Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

1. Can you share about your family and your life growing up?

I was born into a very poor Catholic family in Upstate New York, the Finger Lakes region. The house was a single travel trailer that we added onto as more kids came along. The house was built from recycled ammunition boxes as my dad drove explosives for the U.S. Army Depot. He’d bring the boxes home, then take the truck back to the owner. Our job was to have the boxes stripped and nails straightened before he got home. Eventually, there was enough lumber to build the house, but the floors were hardwood and dirt until I was in my teens.

2. What made you want to become a soldier and what was your experience like?

The only other option I had was to go work at a foundry, putting green sand into boxes so pump parts could be poured in “sand castings.” By 14 years old, I was living in the woods, showering in the school gym. Playing lacrosse, football and wrestling meant I was a year-round athlete. I joined the service as a way to get away from home. Suffice it to say, steel toed boots and Jack Daniels had a lot to do with my motivation to leave.

3. What are you most proud of from your service in the Army?

At this point in time, I’m not really proud of anything. We played “Whack-a-Mole” against the terrorists of the world, as far back as The Baeder-Meinhof Gang, Abu NIdal, the Red Army, PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc……and I assumed our impact would be greater and bring peace. This is a hard question to answer that I am still pondering. The ripples go away from us. But maybe the one thing that I reflect on and “smile” about, not really pride…is the good we did in places that were hell holes. Srebrenica, Somalia, Bosnia, Bogota and some Central and South American places…….. we brought light to some very dark places.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Chief Kuryla received a Meritorious Service Medal (center) while stationed in West Berlin. The left patch is the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOMM) patch. The right patch is the Berlin Brigade. Photo credit Kuryla.

4. What values have you carried over from the Army back into the civilian world?

Values I brought back into my civilian life: Never quit. “Life is about what you do to other people”…. do five meters, even when it sucks, just keep moving forward. Integrity is everything. Honor is a lost concept in the civilian world, but that doesn’t mean you should give up yours. Fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves is a way of life, not just a bumper sticker.

5. What was one of the toughest lessons to learn coming from the service to Hollywood?

One of the toughest lessons I learned coming from the military to Hollywood: Not everyone has a moral compass. There are those who are in it for the money only, others for fame and they’ll stab you in the back in two seconds and step over your corpse just to get two seconds of limelight. In the military, I was in a place where soldiers HAD TO climb through the filters of Ranger School, BUDS, Airborne Training…and when they finally got to my unit, or like units, they stood for something: those filters don’t exist in Hollywood. Eventually, you can find like-minded souls and “your tribe” and I am very lucky to have found Phillip Noyce and Mike Medavoy.

My respect for their character and what they’ve accomplished runs deep, so I’m very proud to know them and be working with them. They stand for the same moral compass I have lived my entire life. They make movies that resonate, make people think and it’s not just about “entertainment or money!” They make movies that are about the human condition and the SOUL…and that’s what I write about. Anyone can make a military recruiting movie that makes kids “wannabe” a SEAL, or Green Beret, but the people I’m involved with currently go way past the box office. They go straight to the soul and make people think, reflect and hopefully motivate the viewers to become better human beings. It would be very easy to have changed what I wrote in “Alive Day” and make it into some action movie that made a lot of money. But they stuck to the spirit of the story, the journey of Warriors and the consequences of a lifetime of war on the soul. I’m very, very lucky that Karma and Synchronicity came together, and I get to be among these Hollywood giants.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Steve’s book. Photo credit Amazon.com

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Director Phillip Noyce on set for the filming of The Saint. Photo credit IMDB.com.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Mike Medavoy receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Photo credit UPI.

6. What has it been like working on your book and soon to be feature film “Six Days to Zeus: Alive Day?”

Cathartic. Therapeutic. Had anyone told me I would be writing; I would have called them nuts. This started out to be a chronological document so a shrink and I could sort through my trauma closet and start working on my nightmares and PTSD. That turned into “The Observing Ego” template and I hit my stride and was able to start working on my issues. I came home with a rage syndrome that scared the hell out of people. Combined with my “adrenaline seeking behaviors,” I was socially unacceptable and targeted routinely by Law Enforcement as a possible “ax murderer.” And I loved it. It kept people away from me. I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I self-isolated, and was taking way too many narcotics and other meds from the VA. After 39 spinal reconstructions and surgery to repair my body from a T.O.W. missile strike, “Friendly Fire,” I found myself climbing back out of the crab bucket, living in a wheelchair as a homeless veteran in a park in N.C. to coming to California to see a Dr. G in Daly City who eventually got me out of the chair, surgically implanted a “Dorsal Column Stimulator” in my spinal cord, fused my pelvis and spine finally the correct way and turned my life around.
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Photos of the surgery completed on Kuryla’s back. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Photos of the surgery completed on Kuryla’s back. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Broken screws and items removed after failed surgeries to repair Kuryla’s back. Photo credit Kuryla.

My wife has been a rock-solid warrior as well, sticking with me through thick and thin, when others simply walked away to preserve their own comfort zone. I was still in a chair most of the time when I met her, so she was either so very desperate that she’d marry a cripple guy with a brain injury and baggage from hell, or there is something about this woman that America missed. I often tell her she’s a SEAL that didn’t go active duty. She wrestles large animals every day as an Equine Veterinarian….. so wrestling with me is right up her alley.

Working on the book has been like peeling an onion. I had NO IDEA how deep I was into the Intel World. We never had time to reminisce. We just went to the next mission, sometimes having six or seven missions going at the same time in differing phases of “pre-deployment” to “planning” to active operations and then post mission BDA and assessments….. Everything from Non-combatant Evacuation (NEO) Operations to combat support missions to High Value Target (HVT) take downs, to Embassy clearing and hostage rescue, the Cold War, the War on Drugs and the Global War on Terrorism all blended together.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Pictures from Chief Kuryla’s time in West Berlin. Photo credit Kuryla.

Over a 30 year period, the mission tempo was pretty active at points that you just never kept up with it all. You just went to the next mission. So, taking the time to go back in time, from 1976 to 2006 and reconstruct the chronology has been very cathartic. Fleshing out the writing, changing names and dates to get through the Pentagon Pre-Publication Review process has been a hurdle, but I firmly believe in the process and signed the “non-disclosure agreements” with full honor and intent. This is a nine book series now…and future endeavors include a TV series as well as several other movies. T

here are 180 covert missions and seven combat tours to write about. Simple things like a 10 year war in Bosnia, Islam against Christianity, led to 9/11 the same day (in 1683 or there abouts) September 11th, for Bin Laden to hit the towers. No one in America seems to understand that the 10 year war in the Balkans led directly to 9/11. “The Asset” was a singular chapter, now a separate book will document American Intelligence, success and failures that led to the 20 year war we are currently in. As well as a look into future wars based on American Foreign Policy and future intent.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

The night the wall came down in Berlin. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A guard tower from Berlin. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Before the Wall came down in Berlin. Photo credit Kuryla.

7. What leadership lessons in life and from the Army have helped you most in your career?

Listening more than talking… learning all the facts, not just those I want to hear, evaluating and taking the time to look at other perspectives were “leadership” skills that I emulated from some of the great men in uniform that I got to work with. Henry Shelton, David Patraeus, William B. Caldwell, Colin Powell, Stormin Norman Schwartzkopf, Keith Alexander, “Buck Kernan,” Kellog, Keene and a list of names no one would know… my mentors and those I tried to emulate are great Americans.

And those around me who were aware, conscious, watched me and recognized my potential are the ones I credit with my success in life. I never knew I could write. Didn’t know I had anything to say. “Talking about it” was contrary to everything I knew as honorable in the military. Compartmented Intelligence was just that. Compartmented with a “Must Know” caveat. When I got out, I was shocked at what American Society didn’t know about the rest of the world and what our soldiers were doing. Not just the TS/SCI stuff, but the basic foreign policy that put men and women in harm’s way. America, especially Congress, seem to be completely unattached, uninvolved in sending troops to war. I found a new mission in life, writing about soldier stories, explaining the chaos in a way that resonates at the human “vulnerability” level. When you connect with another human at the soul, then you’re doing something worth doing. Then you’re communicating, educating, making a difference. And that’s what the “Six Days to Zeus” series is doing. Connecting at the soul and revealing the journey of Warriors in a modern age.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Teufelsberg, German for Devil’s Mountain, in West Berlin during the Cold War. Photo credit Kuryla.

Book one, Alive Day is about “what happened.” Book two, “Please don’t call me Hero” is about the consequences of War on our bodies, brains and families back at “Fort Livingroom.” It’s a glimpse into the problems, but the unconscious damage we do to our families. They pay the consequences of the US going to war, but they never signed up for it. They get to pay anyway… even when we bring muddy boots back into Ft. Livingroom. Book three, “Walking off the War” is a glimpse into the awakening, the move to conscious intentional living and the medical miracles that got me out of a wheelchair and back on my feet.

The series continues for six more books going back to Berlin in 1976 and Covert Operations against Soviet Illicit Agents and Soviet Special Operations personnel, Spetsnaz working the Morse Code problem for NSA and other US Intelligence Agencies including the Potsdam mission and Field Station Berlin at “Devils Mountain” or Teufelsberg! Operation Elsa, stealing a brand-new Soviet T-72 Tank, Operation Porch Light that broke a Russian cypher and tore down 14 terrorist networks throughout Europe and the US, and many, many more.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Items that came with the Russian T-72 that Chief Kuryla “acquired”. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Items that came with the Russian T-72 that Chief Kuryla “acquired”. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Items that came with the Russian T-72 that Chief Kuryla “acquired”. Photo credit Kuryla.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Items that came with the Russian T-72 that Chief Kuryla “acquired”. Photo credit Kuryla.

8. As a service, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?

Veterans have to be willing to talk. There is a syndrome where veterans don’t think they did anything special. It’s part of the problem that comes with honor and the “code” we live by. I am working to get a section on my author site for soldiers to write in, tell me their story and see if it’s worth pursuing. When guys like me don’t think they did anything special and are willing to bury it….they get shocked (like me too!) when they begin to tell their story and find out the world wants to know. The ripple effect of me telling my story has affected so many veterans and so many civilians, that it’s truly humbling. For some reason, after they read the book and the two weeks of silence goes by, (digesting time), they now have permission and they come tell me their story. Their trauma and how my writing has affected them, allowed them to heal and talk about what happened. And then I get to help them learn what I have learned: It’s no longer about what happened…it’s about what you do NEXT that counts!!!
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A picture of one of the patches they took of Manuel Noriega (pictured). Photo credit Kuryla.

9. What would you like to do next in your career?

Make more movies, learn as much as I can about financing, producing, and getting the stories out there. Tour and talk to our next generation. We need to teach the lessons we’ve learned as soldiers, teach critical thinking skills, make them aware that “Freedom isn’t free” and engage our young minds in active communication. Our children are being hijacked…with our permission, by our silence and preoccupation and our lack of parenting involvement. The America we all fought for is being sliced and diced, subverted and our children’s minds are being targeted. We all need to influence that change, through writing, movies, plays, music and active communication and engagement! Our veteran population are some of the most gifted humans on the planet. I hope to be a part of that change.
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

More pictures of the morning they took Noriega and the patches removed from his uniform. The center photo is a breakfast with Noriega the morning of. Photo credit Kuryla.

10. What are you most proud of in life and your career?

Pride is not a luxury I indulge in. I am more grateful than anything else. I can’t say I’m proud of anything, but I am the luckiest man on the planet that I got to live the life I did. That I got to meet the people I love and fought with. Even the disasters, the trauma and the adversity….it all made me a better human being. After all this reconstruction and medical miracles, I truly am coming to a place of PEACE now…finding my inner strength again, counting my blessings and realizing just how lucky I have been. How blessed I have been to have worked with and fought beside some of the finest human beings God ever put on this planet. And that’s not a bumper sticker. I truly believe that “All evil needs to succeed is for good men to sit back and do nothing.”

I don’t mourn the loss of those I served with, I thank God that such men lived.

MIGHTY CULTURE

COVID-19 is the epitome of Deliberate Discomfort

I’m a Green Beret, US Army Special Forces. Right after I earned my green beret and reported to my unit for this first time, I found out we were going to combat in a few weeks and I would be leading a team of older, battle hardened green berets into battle. My commander told me right before he introduced me to my team, “You’re in command now…. Do something with it.”

Now, I’m a veteran and I find myself wearing a few hats – I’m a business owner, Executive Director of a non-profit, and author. COVID-19 has really hurt my companies – all of my business contracts this year are canceled / postponed. I have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Its forced me to grow my hair out – I look like Moses from the ten commandments.

I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat.
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

What do you do? Do you sit and wait for something good to happen? Do you close shop and use COVID-19 as an excuse for why you failed?

Or do you follow my company commander’s advice and do something about it?

Things are tough for everyone.

People are feeling uncomfortable to say the least.

Let’s be honest about who we are and what we are experiencing. That feeling of discomfort isn’t something we should hide or pretend we’re not going through. Let’s embrace this deliberate discomfort and be vulnerable. Most of the time, we put up a front – we fake it until we make it. We’re pretending to be someone we are not. COVID-19 has given us a beautiful gift. This is a time where there’s no more faking. Its just us – stripped down – stressed out – trying to hold it together.

No more pretending that everything is fine.

Here’s what I believe – If COVID-19 is affecting you, I believe that YOU can do something about your situation. I believe you can dare to win by getting comfortable being uncomfortable. I believe that its only through discomfort that we find solutions, learn, grow, and improve. It’s only through deliberate discomfort that you can achieve your full potential.

In the past 8 years, my company has worked with 13 x NFL teams, MLB teams, and numerous corporate clients to identify, assess, and develop the leadership behaviors required to win. We help them to do this by showing them the DELIBERATE DISCOMFORT mindset.

Now I appreciate that you may not have served in the military, but I know that at some point all of you realize that something needs to change. I hope that you don’t wait for something bad to happen to be the person you were destined to be.

There are a million “experts” out there telling you to seek comfort, to look for the easy path. I’m telling you the opposite. I’m telling you to seek discomfort. To take the road less traveled. To be vulnerable. To dare.

I am looking at COVID-19 as a blessing. I took my company commander’s advice and did something. I transitioned my business model to online training. One of the ways we reach our tribe is through our best-selling book, Deliberate Discomfort: How US Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win By Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

If you want to learn more, Deliberate Discomfort is available in hardback and e-book on Amazon, Barnes Noble, and other book sellers. This week we are launching our e-book for a limited, one-week only .99 price.
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force ranges support environmental and cultural conservation

Within the confines of U.S. Air Force ranges there are things that exist nowhere else in the world.

Vast expanses of natural habitat containing unique plants and animals, archaeological sites and artifacts of Paleolithic Native Americans and cultures past, are contained in these, sometimes misunderstood, restricted spaces.

In fact, U.S. Air Force ranges support conservation efforts which strive to expand beyond man-made borders to increase numbers of threatened and endangered species to a healthy and sustainable population.

“I think the public has the perception that the training range is a bombing range in that we obliterate the entire range but that is a very large misconception,” said Anna Johnson, Nellis Air Force Base Natural Resource manager. “The target areas are a very small portion of the range and those target areas have remained the same for decades … going into the future the target areas are not supposed to change at all.”


These ranges, which are utilized for a wide variety of military training and or testing, try to strike a balance between responsible land stewardship and mission accomplishment.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A very small area of the range is used for missions and targets while the surrounding area is left virtually untouched.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

According to Johnson, ranges require a lot of land area because of the distance and speed at which aircraft travel and for safety buffer zones during weapons employment.

Roads, targets and infrastructure account for less than 10 percent of the Nellis Test and Training Range landscape and the rest of the 2.9 million acres has been undeveloped and untouched. In fact, the only litter of note found on the range, according to Johnson, comes in the form of mylar balloons which travel extremely long distances.

The same can be said for ranges across the U.S. including Avon Park Air Force Range, which covers 106,000 acres, in Central Florida.

“Plain and simple, if we as the Air Force don’t take care of this property we’re going to lose the ability to use it,” said Mr. Buck MacLaughlin, APAFR range manager. “This is natural real estate and this is land we have been entrusted with to be able to do our training.”

That trust is granted by the American people and backed by U.S. federal regulations.

“The stewardship of the land is a responsibility that falls upon the Department of Defense and by proxy the Air Force, through the Sikes Act, where essentially we are mandated to partner with conservation organizations,” said Col. Chris Zuhkle, NTTR commander.

“In this case [with the NTTR] it’s the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife that make sure that we meet not only our mission needs but also that we do everything in our power to meet the conservation requirements and sustainment for those lands.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over 300 federally listed species live on Defense Department land. Range environmental management offices must always be mindful they’re falling within the guidelines of the endangered species act to keep the best interest of the mission and environment on their radar. Avon Park has 12 endangered species, which are spread throughout the entire range area. The large habitat poses some unique challenges when it comes to mission planning.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

‘I hear people call this place, the last bit of wild Florida or real Florida. You know, it’s pretty cool’ said Aline Morrow, a Fish Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, assigned to Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida.

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

“If we are putting undue impact on these threatened and endangered species, and really not even just the threatened and endangered ones, all the natural species in Central Florida that make this range their home, if we’re not balancing the requirements between taking care of those species and doing the military mission the military mission is going to get curtailed,” said MacLaughlin.

“That costs money in terms of fuel, it costs money in terms of manpower and more importantly the units that need this training, those men and women who are going to go in harm’s way, they don’t get the ability to practice their craft if we’re not doing that other part.

According to Brent Bonner, APAFR environmental flight chief, the wildlife management piece takes a lot of moving parts to ensure mission accomplishment.

As part of the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan species are constantly monitored so range operations knows their location and status, especially during critical times, such as nesting season for endangered birds, to help protect future generations of these rare creatures.

Aline Morrow, a USFWS biologist who works closely with the environmental flight, helps survey and track animals, such as the Florida Bonneted Bat, which some consider to be the most endangered bat in North America. She says the first natural roost of the bat was found on an impact area of Avon Park in 2014.

Once a roost is found, it’s marked and mission planners know to buffer a certain area around the roost so as not to disturb the bats.

“It’s just 110 percent support from everybody who’s out here,” exclaimed Morrow. “They’re [the Air Force] always asking us, ‘what are you doing?’ and they get just as excited as we do when, for example, just a couple weeks ago, we had a sighting of a Florida Panther and the commander sent an email out with the pictures to everybody. Now everyone has the picture as their background on their laptop … I never felt like someone from the Air Force sees us as a regulator, they see us as a partner. We’re there to help you guys [the Air Force] see your mission as much as ours.”

While most of the efforts focus on managing the landscapes inhabited by wildlife to ensure they are able to thrive, it’s just a piece of the bigger picture.

The Wild and Free Roaming Wild Horses and Burro Act of 1971 established requirements to manage these animals, which aided America’s expansion and growth, while also making sure there is an ecological balance.

Tabatha Romero, BLM Wild Horse and Burro specialist, knows first-hand how important management practices are.

She says people have an idealized version of how these horses are and the animals should just be left alone, but they don’t see the harm caused when the horses are overpopulated and they overgraze or run out of water and mothers have foals that can’t nurse because they can’t produce milk.

“With the NTTR it goes to show how sound our management practices can be,” said Romero. “When we are allowed to use the tools available to us and conduct comprehensive environmental management programs we have healthy horses on healthy ranges and that’s the ultimate goal of our program.”

Sound management practices are essential to ensuring the mission is accomplished, but with ranges providing pristine landscapes and safe havens for several endangered species it can sometimes become the only place these plants and animals live. In order to protect these species, and more effectively accomplish training, ranges have started looking at growing conservation efforts outside their physical boundaries.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Range borders protect against development leaving a majority of the range land as a safety buffer zone and therefore untouched. This pristine habitat (right) sometimes ends where the range fences end leaving the outside land (left) open for development or public usage.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Perry Aston)

According to MacLaughlin, it all started with the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program. This program works with willing landowners that border ranges, and partners with conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, using federal money to purchase conservation easements.

“This is a real estate negotiation with a landowner that comes to the table and says ‘I want to protect my property’,” stressed MacLaughlin.

The REPI program presented potential for conservation efforts and education to expand in a big way, but sometimes there were unforeseen issues.

Agencies such as the Department of Interior or Department of Agriculture may be trying to accomplish the same thing on the same lands but due to existing laws, where federal money could not be used from one account to the other, the efforts may be halted.

This is where the Sentinel Landscape Program, which APAFR was declared an official Sentinel Landscape in 2016, came in that allowed multiple agencies to leverage each other’s programs and focus on combined efforts.

“It’s a direct sustainment of the mission,” said Bonner. “As we increase the species on our property and they’re decreased off property they become more valuable to the public … we want to make sure we don’t get in a situation where we are the only people with Red Cockaded Woodpeckers – that will impact our mission. So, we want to go outside the fence on those conservation efforts, protecting those species.”

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker is an endangered species thriving on the Avon Park Air Force Range. About the size of a cardinal, the RCW calls the longleaf pines located on the range home. Marked and protected by the range mangers. The goal of the range is to expand the RCW habitat off the range and increase the population.

(U.S. Air Force courtesy Photo)

While the natural resource management team is focused on current issues, facing threatened and endangered species, they are also looking at preserving the past. Many Air Force ranges are homes to thousands of years of cultural history which could potentially be lost forever if it weren’t housed in the safety of the range’s fences.

When a base or range requires building a new structure or beginning a new mission, it’s much more complicated than just planning for operations and making it happen.

Surveys and studies are done to ensure the space isn’t on ground that contains a culturally significant site, meaning it contains vital information such as relevant tools, or qualifying traces of history, that are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A map of the cultural dig sites on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

(Nellis Cultural Resource Office)

According to Kathy Couturier, APAFR cultural resource manager, she helps determine the Area of Potential Effect for a particular site and what the mission impacts will be on the site.

She then provides guidance or alternative solutions to operating around those sites and runs the plans up to the State Historic Preservation Office for review and approval. This process ensures that time, money, and resources are utilized in the best way possible to effectively accomplish the mission while still ensuring eligible sites remain protected.

Federal laws, regulations, and procedures, such as determining the APE, have been put in place to ensure these sites are preserved and treated with respect so as to not repeat the mistakes of the past when significant cultural resources were destroyed as highways and cities were built on top of potentially significant cultural sites.

Environmental teams across the nation’s ranges such as the NTTR, which has sites dating back 10,000 years and works closely with 17 Native American tribes, try to ensure that cultural ownership of the land is not lost.

“These tribes are very intact in their language, they still speak it fluently, they teach it in their schools to their children,” says Kish LaPierre, NAFB cultural resource manager. “They have amazing oral history so we work very closely with them and they give us information to help us protect the prehistoric and ethno historic sites.”

LaPierre says the conditions around the NTTR are perfect for the preservation of artifacts. There are several sites where, often times, there are baskets sitting still full of seeds and tools laying around as if the inhabitants just left and were planning to come back but they didn’t.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

While cultural sites on public lands are sometimes vandalized (left), sites on ranges remain pristine (right) due to limited access.

(Bureau of Land Management) (Nellis Cultural Resource Office)

“We have almost 3 million acres of land and it is virtually untouched,” said LaPierre. “The NTTR has been blocked off from the public since 1940 so it’s a huge prehistoric time capsule – it’s like a living museum.”

Understanding and mitigating the impact of how land use can have long lasting and far-reaching effects is on the forefront of the Air Force’s environmental programs.

Range teams across the country take great care when executing their mission to make sure they are not only following federal laws but also taking a vested interest in the lands they have been granted the ability to use so the past and present are preserved for future generations.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This new approach to health is changing the lives of veterans

Here’s a question that could change your life: What matters most to you in your life? The answer can start you on the path to Whole Health.

Whole Health puts the focus of health care on the veteran rather than just the veteran’s illnesses and symptoms. It’s a patient-centered approach that considers the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that can influence your health. Veterans examine these areas of their lives and set goals based on what matters most to them. In turn, those goals drive the health planning decisions they make with their VA care team.

All VA medical centers and clinics now offer training in Whole Health and personal health planning, as well as a range of well-being programs.


MIGHTY CULTURE

This WWII Army veteran just celebrated his 102nd birthday

The McCurtain County VA Clinic and members of the local community gathered in Idabel, Oklahoma to celebrate World War II veteran Sydney Hunnicutt’s 102nd birthday.

“We truly care about the veterans in our community and we just want to make a difference,” said Lisa Morphew, registered nurse and clinic manager. “We love our veterans and want to show them that we’re here to help, whatever their needs are.”

VA clinic staff presented birthday cards and Jonathan Plasencia, associate director for the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, presented a gift bag to Hunnicutt on behalf of VA Voluntary Service.


Twelve of Hunnicutt’s family members were able to attend the party including several who were visiting from California. Dorothy Cash, Hunnicutt’s daughter, said she was grateful to the clinic and community who helped make the day special for her father.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Jonathan Plasencia shakes Sydney Hunnicutt’s hand.

“It means the world to us,” said Cash.

During World War II, Hunnicutt was drafted into the U.S. Army and deployed to the Philippines with the 63rd Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division. During the Battle of Luzon, Hunnicutt fought the Japanese and was shot in his left hand. He lost two fingers and was later awarded a Purple Heart.

“It’s an honor to be here today to celebrate a member of the Greatest Generation,” said Plasencia, who drove from the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee to celebrate Hunnicutt’s milestone. “Veterans have many options for their health care and when they place their trust in VA, that is a privilege we do not take lightly.”

“It couldn’t have been better,” said Hunnicutt, who turns 102 on July 13, 2019.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Clinic staff join Sydney Hunnicutt for his 102nd birthday celebration.

Hunnicutt has been a patient at the clinic since it opened in 2017, and Dr. Jose Gomez has served as his primary care physician.

“He is so happy,” said Cash. “Dr. Gomez has been the best.”

Dr. Gomez said it’s been a privilege to provide care for Hunnicutt.

“I want to thank him for his courage and for putting his life on the line for us to be able to have the freedoms that we have,” he said. “It’s an honor just to shake his hand.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 memes that wrap up 2020 perfectly

We have nothing good to say about you, 2020. So instead, let’s review with this completely spot on list of memes. Take a look below at what the best of the internet has to offer about how this year has gone so far. (And fingers crossed that it doesn’t get worse in the next month). 

Jumping straight into the deep stuff. 

  1. This reminder in case you forgot:
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

No really … where’s the punchline?? We’re owed one after this year, right??

  1. When you can’t even enjoy coffee.
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

2020 PLEASE stop ruining good things. I mean, pleaseeee! 

  1. Then there’s this totally accurate meme. 
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A breather would be nice. 

  1. When you hate to spread the bad news:
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

We just can’t deal with this right now. 

  1. Because this has been the longest year of all time. 
memes

Sums it up.

  1. No good options ahead:
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Where’s the option for “None of the above?”

  1. But seriously, this is not your typical year.
memes

Can we just be the House on Fire Girl meme?

  1. The difference is slightly noticeable. 
memes

Is this our past vs. our future? 

  1. Even celebs are feeling this heat.
memes

Can we get everyone to re-do this with the full calendar year? 

  1. Finally, waiting for this line to end:
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Enough with the hidden scenes, 2020!

MIGHTY CULTURE

What really happens when a soldier goes AWOL

Joining the military isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Even if you sign up to be a mechanic or a veterinarian, you’re committing to a cause much larger than yourself. If you’re needed on the war front, you’ll be sent there. If you’re needed in battle, you’ll fight. Orders are given for a reason, and following them isn’t optional. 

For that reason, not showing up to your post is a big deal. Legally, soldiers who show up late or not at all can be punished severely. In practice, that’s not the whole story. 

Why is going AWOL such a big deal?

The culture of the US military is a huge departure from civilian life. In the military, individual freedom isn’t really a thing. Military members are like cogs in a machine. To run smoothly and safely, everyone must do the jobs assigned to them. When they don’t, the machine starts falling apart. During the Civil War, desertion was a crippling problem. Military forces simply can’t function properly when people don’t show up to the job they agreed to do. 

People go AWOL for a number of reasons.

The reasons for going AWOL, or absent without leave, vary. Technically, even briefly abandoning your post or showing up late is considered being absent without leave. When most people refer to going AWOL, however, they’re referring to desertion. After you’ve been AWOL for over 30 days, you’re considered a deserter. Desertion happens for countless reasons, like:

  • Having unrealistic expectations going in
  • Failing to adjust to military life
  • Experiencing issues with family while deployed
  • Avoidance of hazardous assignments
  • Issues with substance abuse

These are just a few of the many reasons that soldiers abandon their duties. Some simply have a change of heart. When they experience the stark reality of war, some soldiers decide they can no longer support it and flee. Regardless of the reason, shirking your responsibilities is a serious offense, with serious consequences. 

To deter would-be deserters, the maximum sentences are intimidating. 

If a service member fails to go to the appointed place of duty (I.E. shows up late or leaves early), they can be confined for a month, reduced to the lowest enlisted grade, and lose two-thirds of their pay for a month. If they’re absent from their place of duty for over three days but less than 30, they can be confined for six months, reduced to the lowest enlisted grade, and lose two thirds of their pay for up to six months.

The punishments for desertion are more severe. If a member deserts but returns to military control of their own free will, they risk losing all pay, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, dishonorable discharge, and confinement for two years. If they desert during a time of war, a court-martial can legally order life in prison, or even death. 

As terrifying as it sounds, in the 21st century, going AWOL is rarely punished so severely. 

The descriptions above, along with the full list here, demonstrate the maximum legal sentences. In practice, the military seldom actually presses charges to the fullest extent of the law. If you’re a minute or two late, you’re more likely to get a warning than a month of confinement. During the Iraq War, only about five percent of deserters were court-martialed, and hardly any served a day of jail time. 

For the most part, jail time is reserved for those whose absence was particularly detrimental to the mission. Those who advocate for desertion publicly are also likely to get to know the inside of a jail cell. For everyone else, you’re more likely to leave with a Bad Conduct Discharge and a slap on the wrist. (Along with losing the respect of all your superiors and the military community, of course.) 

The best way to limit the consequences of going AWOL? Own up.

If you’re currently AWOL, turning yourself in is by far the wisest choice. The longer you’re absent, the less likely you are to “get away” with desertion. Coming clean isn’t fun, but being honest is looked upon far more favorably than hiding. You should also consider using an attorney who specializes in military law to speak on your behalf so you know what to expect when you return to base. 

With all of that in mind, the only surefire way to avoid punishment is not to go AWOL in the first place. If you’re not 100% sure you can commit to military life and everything it entails, don’t enlist. If you’ve already enlisted, take your oath seriously and hang in there. You’ll thank yourself later.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a dishonorable discharge can ruin your life

A dishonorable discharge is, plainly, something nobody serving wants to get. It comes with a lot of adverse consequences that will follow you long into your civilian life and it’ll also will cost you any service-related benefits you may have acquired, including a military funeral, VA loans for a house, and medical care from the VA. If that wasn’t enough, you also lose out on the right to keep and bear arms.

The good news? There’s only one way to get this type of discharge that absolutely, positively, ruins your life. You need to be convicted in a general court-martial of violating any of a number of provisions outlined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

These include, but are not limited to: Striking a warrant officer (Article 91), failure to obey an order or regulation (Article 92), unlawful detention (Article 97), misbehavior before the enemy (Article 99), falsifying official statements (Article 107), and misbehavior of a sentinel or lookout (Article 113).


So, how often does this sort of thing happen? Well, during the shortest month of this year, Navy courts-martial, as summarized in this release, resulted in four sailors earning themselves dishonorable discharges.

Now, before we get started, know that commissioned officers cannot get discharges of any type. The officer equivalent of a dishonorable discharge is a dismissal from the service. Whether dismissed or dishonorably discharged, that service member forfeits all benefits.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

These troops hold their honorable discharges – the complete opposite of a dishonorable discharge.

(DOD)

The Manual for Courts-Martial has a detailed breakdown of what can earn you the dreaded dishonorable discharge. One way to get that life-ruining piece of paper is described on page II-134,

“A dishonorable discharge should be reserved for those who should be separated under conditions of dishonor, after having been convicted of offenses usually recognized in civilian jurisdictions as felonies, or of offenses of a military nature requiring severe punishment.”

Another way, however, is called the “four strike rule.” If you’ve been repeatedly court-martialed and convicted of three offenses, your fourth will net you a dishonorable discharge. Described on page II-136 of the Manual for Courts-Martial,

“If an accused is found guilty of an offense or offenses for none of which a dishonorable discharge is otherwise authorized, proof of three or more previous convictions adjudged by a court-martial during the year next preceding the commission of any offense of which the accused stands convicted shall authorize a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances and, if the confinement otherwise authorized is less than 1 year, confinement for 1 year.”

A third way is to get a death sentence for an offense, according to page II-139 (190 on the PDF). The manual states,

“A sentence of death includes a dishonorable discharge or dismissal as appropriate.”

This is, in a sense, kicking you while you’re down. For all intents and purposes, you’re already dead, and they then stick your corpse with bad paper.

Perhaps the most notorious dishonorable discharge in recent memory is that of Bowe Bergdahl, who left his unit in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He received a dishonorable discharge for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. As a result, he forfeited any and all benefits he would’ve earned from service.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A dishonorable discharge takes away all of your benefits, including a your right to funeral with military honors.

(US Navy)

Often, when someone messes up, they’re more likely to receive an other-than-honorable discharge. This discharge doesn’t require a court-martial — it just takes a commanding officer. That gets you kicked out of the military, but has a much lesser effect than a dishonorable discharge.

According to GIJobs.com, an OTH discharge costs a departing military member a good portion of their post-service benefits, and generally precludes re-enlistment in another branch. To get a bad-conduct discharge, you need to be convicted by a special court-martial — this is a streamlined version of a general court-martial and comes with lesser penalties. You lose out on virtually all your benefits, though.

None of these “bad papers” are good to get. So, before you try something that could get you in trouble, think it through.

popular

11 fighter pilot rules that can be applied to everyday life


Fighter pilots have a lot of cool sayings like, “Don’t ask somebody if he’s a fighter pilot. If he is, he’ll tell you. If he’s not, why embarrass him?” and “Faster fighters, older whiskey, younger women,” but not all of these can be applied to real life.

Fortunately, they also have a few saying that can be applied to real life. Here are 11 of them:

1. Train like you fight

This saying was made popular by “Duke” Cunningham, Navy Vietnam-era ace who served a stint in federal prison for misdeeds committed while serving as a congressman from California. It seems obvious, but think of how many processes your organization has that don’t really matter when it comes to executing the mission.

2. Don’t be both out of airspeed and ideas

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
U.S. Navy

That’s a bad combo. As Dean Wormer said in the movie “Animal House,” “Fat, dumb, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

3. Keep your knots up

Speed is life. It gives you options. In business “speed” can be resources, revenue, people. Having X+1 is a good idea.

4. Keep your scan going

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
U.S. Navy

If you’re only focused on one thing, something else is about to jump up and bite you. While you’re staring at the bandit in the heads-up display, you’re missing the fact you’re about to run out of gas or get shot by the other bandit who just rolled in behind you.

5. Lost sight, lost fight

Regardless of Gucci technology or whatever, you can’t kill what you can’t see.

6. You can only tie the record for low flight

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

So don’t fly into the ground.

7. There’s no kill like a guns kill

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar

This is as pure as it gets for a fighter pilot. Feels. So. Good. And, remember, stealth doesn’t work against bullets.

8. Don’t turn back into a fight you’ve already won

Know when to bug out and then do it. Live to fight another day.

9. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tom Reynolds)

You also miss 100 percent of the shots you take out of the missile’s operating envelope . . . which gets back to No. 1: Train like you fight.

10. A letter of reprimand is better than no mail at all

As John Paul Jones once said, “He who will not risk, cannot win.” Nobody ever made history or changed the world by only worrying about his or her career.

11. If you know you’re about to die, make your last transmission a good one

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

No whining. Just key the radio and say, “Have a beer on me, boys.”


Feature image: DoD photo/ Staff Sergeant Alexander Cook

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 civilian jobs that troops appreciate the most

Sometimes, civilians have a difficult time relating with troops. In many cases, they just don’t know how to talk to them. Realistically, it’s pretty easy. After all, we’re simple creatures; we like a handful of things — alcohol, tattoos, and anything else that’s fun with a dash of self-destruction. We’re, essentially, the kings and queens of counter-culture — “rebels with a cause,” as we were once described by a Marine general.

That being said, there are plenty of civilians out there who fit right in with the troops — usually those who work in a select few professional fields. The following are the civilian professionals that get a ton of love from the troops.


But, before we kick this off, I want to make it clear you don’t have to work in one of these fields for troops to appreciate you. Troops appreciate support of any kind — even if it’s a simple “thank you.”

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

You should never piss off your bartender, honestly.

(U.S. Air Force)

Bartenders

Easily topping this list is your friendly neighborhood beer-slinger. Troops love to drink and, although some troops might find themselves embroiled in “friendly” disagreements with their bartender after kicking back a few, a good service member will always respect the person behind the bar that helps them wind down after a long week.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Tattoo artists are almost always cool with service members.

(William Cho)

Tattoo artists

Troops love tattoos, too. For each new piece, a troop will sit on the chair or bench for hours at a time — so you kind of can’t help but become friends with your tattoo artist. Artists in a military town tend to understand troops because they tattoo a lot of us. They know what we like to talk about and they can probably all draw a perfect eagle, globe, and anchor with their eyes closed.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Okay, okay. The ones from the shop on base aren’t always bad.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Chris Desmond)

Barbers

Troops need haircuts and a good barber is hard to find. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that one place off-base that isn’t too expensive and leaves you with a better cut than the clowns on base shop can offer.

Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

A lot of respect goes both ways in this regard.

(U.S. Navy)

Doctors

Life, especially one spent in the armed forces, leaves you with a lot of complications. As warfighters, we spend a lot of time working on our own bodies and training to deliver harm to the enemies’. Although doctors have a much more thorough understanding of human anatomy, troops certainly have a lot of questions.

Doctors specialize in fixing humans and grunts, well, we specialize in the opposite. Plus, grunts have medical professionals embedded with us in the form of medics and corpsman, who are usually the best friends any troop could have. So, we sort of lump all doctors in with them.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy SEAL brains are trained to alter how they process fear

Imagine how long it takes to reprogram millions of years of evolution in the human brain, trying to snuff out the instincts that kept early humans alive. Forcibly changing those instincts to instead train an individual to put themselves in harm’s way. If you ask a Navy SEAL, he’ll tell it takes about about six months, give or take — the amount of time you need to get through BUD/S.


If it ever seemed like SEALs and SEAL veterans just tend to think differently than most other civilians and veterans, then you’re on to something. Their brains have actually been reprogrammed, specifically within the amygdala, to process fear differently from everyone else.

Fear is a primal instinct that kept a lot of early humans from becoming food for dire wolves and cave hyenas. These days, humans have fewer cave hyenas to worry about, but that instinct still keeps us from walking down a dark alley in a tough neighborhood at night. Fear helps us manage risk and book it out of a situation that overwhelms us. The part of the brain that processes fear is the amygdala, which actually processes all emotions.

With fear present, the amygdala alerts the brain stem, which causes you to sweat, causes your heart to race, and initiates your body’s “fight or flight” response. The amygdala’s emotional response process is twice as fast as the frontal lobe’s logical decision-making processes.

Humans, as it turns out, are emotional creatures. The Navy takes full advantage of that.

“We introduce our students, on day one, to absolute chaos,” Capt. Roger Herbert, then-commander of the SEAL training program at Coronado Island, told the History Channel. “When you look at historic mistakes on the battlefield, they’re almost always associated with fear and panic. So, the capacity to control these impulses is extremely important.”
Air Force dental techs get rare chance to treat adorable canines

Petty Officer 1st Class Zack Schaffer, U.S. Navy SEAL and an advanced training instructor, engages targets during a close quarters defense hooded-box drill at Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command. The drill tests operators’ ability to quickly react to lethal and non-lethal threats with the appropriate use of force. Individual augmentees are used as role players during each scenario.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michelle Kapica)

Navy SEAL recruits are put through special training to change how their brains react to fear. The Navy wanted to know why lifelong athletes could fail BUD/S training while some kids who never saw the ocean before the Navy could succeed.

One close-quarters combat exercise, the hooded box drill, involves putting a hood on a SEAL candidate that renders them blind and deaf, and then putting them in a combat situation. The hood is then ripped off and the candidate has to respond in seconds.

Sometimes, the response needs to be lethal and sometimes it needs to be nonviolent. Panic is not an option. Constant exposure to fear results in experiencing suppressed emotional responses and less lag time between the fear response and the frontal lobe logic process.

A gap between the two responses could leave a special operator standing frozen, unable to respond, not knowing what to do next. Navy SEALs do not have this problem.

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