Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Now that Thanksgiving is over, most people are setting their sights on Christmas – and all the gifts they’ll have to buy. This holiday, consider shopping for socially responsible items – things made in the USA, gifts from small businesses, and products that give back to others, like servicemembers and veterans. Here are my top gift ideas:

Note: None of these companies paid for this post or gave free items in return for being mentioned.

Oscar Mike Made in America T-shirt.

This clothing company makes all their clothing in the USA, and proceeds go to help injured Veterans participate in adaptive sports. They also make masks, water bottles, hats and other gear. $25

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Sword & Plough Crossbody Bag

This awesome bag was inspired by unique aircraft insulation surplus and is wool and leather. Sword & Plough helps support veteran jobs through positions on their team, with their contract manufacturing partners (which are veteran owned or partially staffed by veterans), through their veteran-owned fulfillment center, and through their Brand Champion program. $149.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Black Rifle Coffee Frogskin Camo Poncho Liner Hoodie

This unique hoodie is made of poncho material, and Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran-owned coffee company that gives back to veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.  $54.99

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Boldfoot Sock of the Month Club

Made in the USA with American materials, 5% of all Boldfoot socks profits goes to veterans in need. 3 month subscription, $41.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Fallen Heroes Pen

Each Junior’s Bullet Pen is handcrafted by Gold Star Father, Major (Retired) Jeff Falkel PhD.  From once-fired military brass. In honor of his son SSG Chris Falkel, US Army Special Forces, K.I.A. in Afghanistan and our service men and women. $29.95.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Grateful American Long-sleeve T-shirt

This shirt by the Gary Sinese Foundation features the words “Grateful” and “American” printed down the arms. The Gary Sinese Foundation is a nonprofit that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military. $30.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Rollors Outdoor Game

Rollors combines the fun of horseshoes, bocce ball and bowling, and the large wooden pieces are all made by local veterans and was created by a veteran. $49.95.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Flag Pocket Square

Created by Marine Corps veteran Christopher Costa, Pocket Square Heroes makes pocket squares inspired by military ribbons and the American flag. $24.99.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Sgt. Sleeptight Marine Camouflage Teddy Bear with Sleep System

This is the perfect gift for military kids and can be customized to each service. Comes with uniform, a full color storybook, a sleep system including door hang, Sleeptight Oath and 5 stickers, and a gift box. Every purchase helps Sandboxx donate bears monthly to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty through our partnership with TAPS.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Find other Sandboxx gifts, including stationery sets, stamp packs, newsletter subscriptions, apparel and gift cards at https://shop.sandboxx.us/

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this veteran went from Marine grunt to business mogul

Veterans who served in infantry have earned powerful experience in overcoming adversity, solving complex problems and dealing with difficult people – often under harsh conditions with limited resources. Marine vet Patch Baker, founder of Mobius Media Solutions, is living proof that those experiences translate into the civilian world.

When I made the decision during my sophomore year in high school to serve in the Marine Corps, I distinctly remember the conversations with family and friends about my future MOS. I had enlisted as an 0311—a rifleman.


Nearly everyone insisted that I should choose a different path because the infantry “offered no useful job skills” that would help me when I got out.

I disagreed with them at the time, and today, I am even more steadfast in my position.

I believe that military service—especially in combat MOSs—uniquely prepares us for entrepreneurship in ways that most people don’t realize. As entrepreneurs, we frequently face environments similar in many ways to what we faced in the infantry.

We regularly encounter intense challenges that demand both a high degree of personal accountability and teamwork to successfully overcome. We’re required to adapt, improvise, and overcome on a daily basis. And we must motivate and inspire both ourselves and our teams in order to achieve our objectives.

And just like in the military, but unlike most nine to five jobs, entrepreneurship usually means thinking about the welfare of our team instead of just ourselves.

You don’t need to look very hard to find powerful examples of this; there are literally hundreds of nationally recognized, and thousands of lesser-known but very successful, companies founded by infantry veterans.

One of those veterans is Patch Baker.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

I had the opportunity to meet this Marine veteran a couple of years ago, and since then, I’ve come to respect and admire him greatly, both as a human and as an entrepreneur.

While we all like to joke about “dumb grunts,” Baker has done a phenomenal job of making these jokes irrelevant. (Just don’t leave any crayons out around him.) His early career path may look very familiar to a lot of veterans. After serving 15 years, with multiple combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, Baker returned to the U.S. to train fellow Marines, and was eventually medically retired.

You might think that by going from a harsh combat environment to the civilian world, everything would seem like unicorns and rainbows, but much like the first few hours at Parris Island, it was anything but that. One of Baker’s first civilian jobs was as a welder, but unfortunately, he didn’t adapt well to his new environment.

“I went from an environment where we would have died for each other, to the clock-punching monotony of every man for himself. My employer gave me a vague idea of what they expected, but if you thought too far outside the box, you didn’t fit. One guy told me that I made everyone look bad by outworking them,” Baker said.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

The fact that he communicates like a typical Marine, with a healthy dose of knife-hands and F-bombs, probably didn’t help matters. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before Baker made a decision that many veterans in similar circumstances have made: He became a military contractor.

Baker soon felt at home again, but after several close calls, and eventually getting shot outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Baker knew he was pushing his luck and it was time for a change. This time, his return to the civilian world was different. More positive. Empowering.

Rather than suppressing what the military taught him, he realized he could apply the principles of his training to manage the chaos of civilian life and thrive. “I started giving myself new missions, learning new business skills, and quickly saw the power of video to grow a business,” Patch said. “I threw myself into absorbing this new world, sometimes not sleeping for days at a time.”

Once he began to treat civilian life more like a mission, things clicked. “If you don’t make sales, if you release a bad product, or if you have poor customer service, your business will die,” Baker stated, bluntly. “Although your teammates’ lives are not on the line, their livelihoods are.”

He went on to create Mobius Media Solutions, which started as a digital marketing agency and then in early 2020, morphed into an education company for the digital marketing industry.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

Along the way, Baker has built an impressive legacy. He has managed marketing campaigns ranging from ,000 to id=”listicle-2646891045″ million invested per month, owns 36 businesses, and has helped create several millionaires. He’s also spoken on stage alongside prominent entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk, Roland Frasier and Kevin Harrington. His companies, collectively, are currently on track to produce 0 million dollars in revenue this year.

But his journey isn’t just about the money or prestige. Baker freely shares his knowledge with others on a regular basis to help streamline their path to success, and he has invested both time and capital into American Dream U, an organization dedicated to helping fellow Veterans smoothly transition into civilian life.

While a large part of Baker’s success can be attributed to his grit and the ability to apply a mission-oriented mindset, equally important has been his ability to build an effective team.

Baker explained, “A ‘team’ by definition is a collection of members operating together to accomplish the same outcome. If all of those members don’t have the same end goal, the team will never reach its potential, and division among the ranks is inevitable. Give them a clearly defined way forward, success is almost a certainty and the byproduct is unit cohesion.”

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Courtesy of Patch Baker)

Baker definitely follows his own advice when it comes to building a strong team. Having collaborated on a few projects together and watching many others from the sidelines, I’ve seen how he aligns members to the same goals, empowers them, and how he specifically acknowledges their accomplishments loudly and publicly rather than taking the credit for himself as many so-called “leaders” do.

This mindset has created powerful leverage that coupled with his grit and mission-oriented mindset, has enabled him to advance farther and faster than most since returning to civilian life.

Baker’s journey is a perfect example that veterans can all learn something from. Bakers advice? “Any veteran or civilian can grow a profitable business in a structured, systematic way. If you can be trained to be an elite warfighter, you can train yourself to be an elite civilian.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Up late? 5 ways service members stay awake when the going gets tough

Exhaustion is the great equalizer. There comes a point for everyone when your body demands sleep, and if you aren’t willing to give it what it wants, things start to get rough. It doesn’t matter if you’re a soldier on post in a combat zone or a new mom trying to make it through the day after a sleepless night of diaper changes and bottle-boiling, the sandman comes for us all.

If you’re desperate for sleep, the best thing you can do is rack out and get some. If that’s not an option, however, here are some of the ways service members stay alert long after exhaustion has set in. They’re not always the healthiest options, but hey, if we were that worried about our health, we’d be getting some rest.


Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Instant coffee works best when you can chew it.

Caffeine

Ah, caffeine–the old standby. Whenever anyone’s tired, the first thing they think to do is pour themselves a nice hot cup of joe. Of course, in the field, that’s not always an option, but there are plenty of other ways to get your fix. Aside from the service-member favorite energy drinks, the most common field-sources of caffeine come in MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Some even now come with sticks of caffeinated gum.

If you’ve got the time and the hot water, the small packets of instant coffee that come in MREs can make for a passable cup, but plenty of guys simply pour the pouches into their lips like a pinch of chewing tobacco. Might not be delicious, but it’ll help keep you up. Of course, too much caffeine poses a number of problems, including dehydration and nausea, so there are limits to what a lipper of coffee can do for you.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Nicotine

Not just for smoke breaks, nicotine can also go far in helping to keep you conscious and alert during long nights on post or in the campus library. A lot of service members pick up cigarette or chewing tobacco habits during their time in uniform, in part because it offers something to do during long stretches of downtime, and in part because of the kick of energy you can get from a properly timed smoke break.

Of course, nicotine comes with a whole host of negative side effects, so choose your weapons wisely when waging war against your own exhaustion.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Debate

Many service members stumble across this tactic on post: you and another person are stuck in one place for a while with nothing to do but look at the horizon, so you spark up a bit of conversation. Before you know it, you’re arguing about whether or not Darkwing Duck was a better show than Duck Tales and you’ve both managed to kill two hours of your shift… so powerful is the magic of useless debate.

It’s important not to let friendly debate boil over into a full-fledged fight, however, which can be a real challenge sometimes when you’re operating on little sleep.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Get physical

Long after caffeine has failed you and nicotine is just giving you the shakes, there’s one more thing you can do to help you overcome the heaviest of eyelids: get up and get moving. Something as simple as hopping off your chair for a set of push-ups can get your blood pumping again. Go for a walk around the office or your house, karate chop some old boards in your garage, or haze yourself with a few sets of burpees.

And as an added bonus, you can meet the criteria for “getting physical” by getting into a fist fight with your buddy once your Ducktales debate gets out of hand.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

When your friends are counting on you, you do what you’ve got to do.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

Just ride it out

Eventually, if you ride out your exhaustion well into the next day, some of the worse symptoms will begin to subside. You’ll feel strange, hazy, and detached… but conscious nonetheless. The human body is capable of playing dirty to get you to do the things you need to do (like sleep), but it’s also good at letting you stay in the fight when it becomes clear the things you need to do aren’t in the cards.

Just like hunger pains will subside after a time, so too will the horrible weight of exhaustion… at least, for a few hours. Once that second wind subsides, you’ll be hurting worse than ever. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to rack out by then.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How ‘walking blood banks’ will save lives on the battlefield

While carrying a ruck sack may sometimes feel like the equivalent of carrying a refrigerator on your back, a ruck sack is not able to provide a stable, temperature-controlled environment for lifesaving blood products that might be needed in remote or deployed environments.

The XVIII Airborne Corps and the Armed Services Blood Program are partnering to identify soldiers with blood type O who have low levels of antibodies in their blood. These individuals have the ability to provide an immediate blood donation to an injured person of any blood type that needs a transfusion at or near the point of injury.

“We are taking individuals with type O blood, who are already considered universal donors for packed red blood cells, and testing the levels of antibodies in their blood,” said Lt. Col. Melanie Sloan, director, Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center. “Everyone has antibodies. They are naturally occurring and can attach themselves to transfused blood cells. The titer testing helps identify individuals with lower levels of these antibodies.”


The Army is currently using the standard of 1 to 256 for the level of antibodies in the individuals identified as low titer O. When a person with blood type A or B needs blood and is receiving blood from a type O donor, the lower level of antibodies will make it easier for the body to accept the different blood type. Low titer O blood can be given to anyone in need, regardless of their blood type.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Sgt. Charles Moncayo, 82nd Airborne Division Band, get his blood drawn as part of the low titer O testing at a blood drive hosted by the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY), June 7, 2019.

(Photo by Eve Meinhardt)

1st Lt. Robert Blough, the physician assistant for the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY) and a former Special Forces medical sergeant, arranged for soldiers in his unit to get tested for low titer O and also helps with mobile training teams to teach others how to perform field blood transfusions. He said he is passionate about implementing this program across the force because he has seen first-hand how it can save a life.

“In 2007, I had an Iraqi get shot in lower abdominal area,” said Blough. “He was bleeding out internally, not overly fast, but there was nothing I could do to stop the bleeding inside him. The MEDEVAC got delayed. We were sitting on a mountaintop with this guy and I did not have the ability to transfuse blood to save his life.”

Blough said that experience led him to volunteer for the working group spearheading the efforts to identify and screen fresh whole blood donors within the XVIII Abn. Corps.

The ability to transfuse blood while on the battlefield or at a remote location is hardly new and its effectiveness has been proven throughout history.

“We were doing this in 1918 during World War I,” said Lt. Col. George Barbee, deputy corps surgeon, Task Force Dragon, XVIII Abn. Corps. “We were still doing whole blood transfusions in World War II up through the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.”

Barbee said that the Army transitioned from whole blood to component therapy in the 1970s. He said that while breaking the blood down into components is effective for treatment of some disease processes, it’s not a feasible option for an immediate need for blood in the field.

“We have done a lot of studies to see what the best method was for saving lives through transfusion,” he said. “They pointed back to whole blood.”

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Sgt. Charles Moncayo, 82nd Airborne Division Band, get his blood drawn as part of the low titer O testing at a blood drive hosted by the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery, June 7, 2019.

(Photo by Eve Meinhardt)

The ability to identify low titer O soldiers provides an agile and flexible approach to accessing the lifesaving measures that whole blood provides. The ASBP is increasing the amount of low titer O whole blood that it stocks on its shelves for rapid deployment and emergency measures.

However, blood needs to be stored in a temperature-controlled environment and bags of blood are not always readily available in a time of crisis. The pre-screened and identified soldiers provide an instant supply if one of their peers is injured and needs a transfusion.

Each of the identified soldiers is regularly tested for a variety of blood-borne diseases to ensure their safety and the safety of others. Patient privacy still applies for identified donors. If they are removed from the roster, the information is kept confidential and only revealed to the patient.

While the identification of being a “walking blood bank” might seem a little odd for the soldiers who have this universal blood type, they are instrumental to efforts to improve survivability and mobility for the Army. Barbee hopes to someday see the program implemented across the Department of Defense.

“We completely support the XVIII Airborne Corps’ whole blood initiative,” said Col. John J. Melvin, chief nurse and chief of clinical operations, U.S. Army Forces Command Surgeon’s Office. “It closes the gaps that we see on the battlefield for blood supply at role one and conditions of prolonged field care. In order to provide the best opportunity of survival for our soldiers, the whole blood program is essential for our successful treatment of combat casualties.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Getting accepted into a military academy as a military kid

Dignity, Loyalty, Disciple, Integrity, and Perseverance.


These are just a few of the values that are placed upon the hillside of Trophy Point, at the United States Military Academy. Seen engraved in the history going back to 1845 at the United States Naval Academy and memorialized in granite at the United States Air Force Academy. Internalized forever in the minds of all of the cadets that walk the long line set before them across the country at each one of these distinguished military academies!

These values bring to light the type of person each cadet strives to be as they embark on the journey that has been walked time and time again by some of the most prestigious members in American History.

As a military child, you are often thought to have these same values instilled in you from the time you are able to talk. You already have a great understanding of sacrifice and resilience by the time you are a teenager. Seeing your parents hold themselves at a particular military standard gives you a glimpse of the person you could very well become. Growing up in this lifestyle could be extremely beneficial in setting you up for success in your journey to gaining an appointment at a military academy.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

upload.wikimedia.org

Each of the academies has the same basic requirements.

You must be a United States Citizen at least 17 years of age, but no older than 23 on July 1st of entry. You cannot be married nor pregnant and all around you must be of Good Moral Character.

But this is just the beginning of what can seem like an endless checklist to prove that you could be one of the few who receive an appointment to attend. All of these schools listed as well as a few other academies have several steps that must be taken in order to apply.

Filling out an application page is just the beginning.

You will need everything from a physical fitness assessment, and medical exam, to a written nomination from your Congressional Representative or Senator. The best way to make sure you are navigating the entire process correctly is to reach out to the Academy Admission Representative for that particular school of choice. This staff member will have a wealth of valuable information for you in completing the process. Not only are there summer programs that are offered at these academies, you can also schedule a visit during the academic year to help you determine if this is the right path for you.

As we all know the college path is something thought about early on in our childhood education. The good thing is that it is never too early to start working on your application.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Gaining knowledge and leadership through joining the scouts, or a sports team, will only show the dedication and discipline you have had through your youth. Volunteering with a nonprofit and making sure you have a strong GPA will only help you as you navigate your way through your future.

There are so many different ways your military child can set themselves up for success now and it is beneficial to them in their future choice of attending a Military Academy.

For more detailed information on the Military Academy’s mentioned above check out the admission tabs below.

https://www.westpoint.edu/admissions

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how you can find meaningful employment as a veteran

Finding a job is a daunting and sometimes difficult task after separating from the military. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. Hiring Our Heroes provides a variety of tools such as a resume builder, a corporate fellowship program and a career planning tool, along with several hiring events across the U.S each year.


Career Summits

Career Summits are meant to help veterans improve their chances of obtaining a job by providing training programs and job fairs around the country.

Resume Engine

The Hiring Our Heroes Resume Engine is a resume building tool used to help civilian employers understand skills learned in the military. Veterans can better explain their skills to potential employers by using this system.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Hiring Our Heroes helps Veterans and military personnel translate skills, build resumes and find employment after they leave service.

Vet Roadmap

Hiring Our Heroes provides a guide to help veterans understand the resources available in their search for a job. Much like the military, the transition process requires a strategic plan, an assessment of resources, and a lot of work. The VET Roadmap breaks the military-to-civilian transition process into three simple actions, helps a veteran navigate the transition process which is continuous, and identifies best-in-class resources.

Veteran Fellowship Program

The Veteran Fellowship Program is a six week long paid internship with businesses in Maryland, and Washington D.C. Veterans have the opportunity to work and learn valuable skills from these businesses. Additionally, the fellowship program helps veterans with their resume and interview skills.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

EXCLUSIVE: What Iran’s military training is like, according to an Iranian

Author’s note: The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the United States. In Iran, the media and the internet are closely monitored by the government. However, it’s impossible to keep track of everyone. And sometimes, despite the tremendous risk involved, an Iranian is eager to share their story and hit back at the pervasive propaganda that Iran’s government uses to control its people.

The vast military camp was on the outskirts of a small city. The soil was nearly frozen. There wasn’t a tree or any greenery in sight. Concrete buildings made up the complex where Farhad (a pseudonym for his real name) would receive his two months of mandatory military training. He wore light brown and dark green fatigues, a belt, and a pair of poorly manufactured combat boots.


First, Farhad marched for a while. After that, his picture was taken, along with the other conscripts. He then was shown to his barracks and bunk. While many training camps in Iran don’t permit leaving the base, he was allowed to go home every weekend.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Iranian soldier in basic training barracks.

(Screenshot of video posted on Youtube by Persian_boy.)

“Soldiers need food. Their food was shitty — rice with little pieces of meat — and this helped to lessen expenses,” he said.

The food may have been bad but remaining connected to his family was one of the benefits. He and the others there were allowed to call home anytime after 5 PM using the phone booths set up on the grounds of the camp.

As for the training he received, Farhad called it a “joke,” especially the shooting portion.

The firearm he was issued — a Heckler Koch G3 — has been around since 1959. If he would have been part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, or Sepâh), he would have been issued an AK-47 instead. According to Farhad, you go out on the range one time and shoot a dozen bullets. Your results are written on a scorecard, and then it’s back to marching. “You march a lot,” he recalled.

Farhad further described what he learned about weapons: “Not much. Effective range. Pure fire range. Caliber. Rate of fire. Weight. How many bullets they take. How to discharge. How to aim. How to safely check a weapon. How to clean your weapon. How to carry it. How many ways there are to carry it. Different types of weapons in the military. Things like that.”

In addition, he didn’t receive any combatives or medical training. “They aren’t trying to make soldiers. They want a work force,” Farhad said.

More so than actually training in combat or tactics, the Islamic Republic of Iran is interested in creating soldiers submissive to its religious ideology. Farhad said that religious indoctrination was a major part of his training experience, but he and many others didn’t take the sermons seriously. In fact, they would question and mock the mullah’s lecture whenever they had the chance.

“The mullahs really got frustrated with us,” Farhad said. “No one cared about them and made fun of them when they could and laughed and argued with them and put holes in their arguments all the time.”

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Iranian soldiers marching.

(Screenshot of video posted on Youtube by Persian_boy.)

When asked if this resulted in a consequence for him or anyone else involved, Farhad said no. “We didn’t get in trouble. Pretty much everyone was doing it.”

Even the non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in the camp didn’t follow the written rules that governed it.

One night on watch duty, Farhad smelled something weird. There was a little place outside of the chow hall that was mostly blocked from view, and when he looked out there, he saw two NCOs smoking. It didn’t take long to figure out they were smoking marijuana, which is a felony for a soldier in the Iranian military. He investigated further in the morning, finding remnants from dozens of marijuana cigars on the ground.

Farhad’s boots and the frigid cold gave him the biggest problems, though. In addition to the blisters all over his feet from marching, he also had an infection to keep at bay. And despite how cold it was, the military didn’t provide their conscripts with warm enough clothing. During a particularly cold watch duty assignment, he and the others on duty passed around a poncho, each using it for a few minutes to keep warm.

When training concluded, there was a ceremony where everyone dressed their best, but, unlike basic training graduation in America, family and friends were not permitted to attend. To his recollection, only one conscript failed to complete the training.

Farhad then spent two years in the Iranian military, which only solidified the negative impression he started with.

“It’s such a shitty, unreliable, broken system,” he said. “Whenever I see these websites talking about Iran’s military might, it makes laugh. They have no idea what they are talking about.”

Resistance Radio: Fighting ISIS Over the Airwaves

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 meal-prep mistakes you’re making and how to avoid them

Meal prepping can be a handy way to ensure you have ready-to-eat dishes waiting for you throughout the week. Plus, it can save time and take the guesswork out of figuring out what to eat each day.

But properly preparing meals isn’t always easy or foolproof. Here are some common meal-prep mistakes to avoid.


Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Chris Lawton)

1. Not keeping your kitchen stocked can lead to disorganization and last-minute shopping trips.

The first rule of meal prep is to keep your kitchen stocked with the essentials, especially when it comes to ingredients with a longer shelf life.

Registered dietitian Becky Kerkenbush said a kitchen ready for meal prep will have staple ingredients like rice, oats, frozen fruit, frozen or canned vegetables, cooking spray and oil, frozen protein (chicken, fish, etc.), herbs, spices, and canned legumes and beans.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel)

2. Insisting on prepping all of your meals only once per week might be too stressful or impractical.

Although it’s nice to be able to knock out all of your meals in one go, don’t be afraid to prep more than once per week if it suits your lifestyle better.

Kerkenbush told INSIDER that for tastier meals and possibly better food-safety practices, a good rule of thumb is to aim for prepping twice a week.

And if the idea of prepping multiple times per week seems a bit overwhelming, consider starting slow.

Monica Auslander Moreno, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, said if it feels like you’re committing too much too soon, consider taking on one breakfast, one lunch, or one dinner at a time.

“Don’t try to launch a full week’s worth of meals at once, that’s very stressful. Instead, build your repertoire as you go,” she told INSIDER.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Caroline Attwood)

3. Not storing food properly could lead to wasted or spoiled meals.

Aluminum foil and plastic wrap may not be the best tools for meal prepping.

To keep food fresh and properly portioned, Kerkenbush said you should store meals in individual containers that have a tight seal. It’s also useful to label and date your prepared containers before putting them in the fridge or freezer.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Nithin P John)

4. Preparing more food than you need might lead to waste and stress.

If you’re not feeding a large group, you likely don’t need to create dozens of meals in advance, especially if your prep time is limited.

“Make as much food as you’re comfortable with and that you really need to help minimize stress and food waste,” Toby Amidor, registered dietitian and author of “The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook” and ” Smart Meal Prep for Beginners,” told INSIDER.

When deciding how many meals to prepare each week, also consider whether or not you might tire of a dish after eating it multiple days in a row and plan ahead for any upcoming trips or social engagements that won’t require you to bring ready-made dishes.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Peter Wendt)

5. Not following a schedule could make meal prepping more difficult.

Procrastination will get you nowhere when it comes to meal prep. That’s why Amidor said that one of the tricks of meal prepping is proper scheduling.

“From selecting recipes and creating your weekly menu to food shopping and cooking, you need to schedule when you will do each of the steps involved in meal prepping,” she told INSIDER.

She said that when you leave important tasks until the last minute and scramble to get everything done, you’re more likely to give up on meal prepping altogether.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Caroline Attwood)

6. By not freezing extras, you’re missing out on bonus meals.

Although the containers stacked high in your fridge may not look like a lot of food, there’s a chance you may end up with more meals than you can eat in a week, especially with heartier dishes like lasagna or slow-cooker chili.

“This is the perfect time to freeze individual-sized containers so you can have a delicious dish ready when you are busy down the road,” said Amidor.

Fortunately, per Foodsafety.gov, you can safely freeze most cooked meats and leftovers for at least a month. Keep in mind that some foods don’t freeze well or shouldn’t be frozen for a long period of time, so you’ll want to check food-safety guidelines before stowing away your prepared meals.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Megan Hodges)

7. You’re potentially wasting money and groceries if you’re not doing your homework before you shop.

It’s wise to have a plan before you hit the grocery store so you can avoid wasting time and money.

In terms of preparing to grocery shop, Moreno said she recommends you choose recipes ahead of time and create shopping lists based on the number people you need to serve.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel)

8. Failing to pre-pack meals into containers could mess with your portion sizes down the road.

It’s important to portion out your food as soon as you make it. By not doing so, you may likely throw off your meal-prep schedule.

“If your plan is to get four meals out of a dish but you don’t pre-pack them into containers, you may end up with one or two meals less than you planned,” Amidor said.

Plus, by not planning out your portions you may end up consuming more or less calories than you’d planned, she added.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Army is paying to train soldiers for new jobs and for their spouses to get licenses

Soldiers and their spouses now have two big ways to advance their professional goals, thanks to two new Army initiatives. Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston recently spoke with We Are the Mighty to explain the Army’s new Credentialing Assistance Program and the changes to the Army’s Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program, both designed to give soldiers and their spouses better career options.


Grinston said that under the Army Credentialing Assistance Program, active, Guard and Reserve soldiers would be able to receive up to $4,000 annually to use toward obtaining professional credentials, in much the same way that tuition assistance is currently available. In fact, a soldier can use both tuition assistance and credentialing assistance, but the combined total cannot exceed $4,000.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

“The world has evolved and some of these credentials are equally important to a college degree,” Grinston said. “We want to give all opportunities to our soldiers, and not just limit them to a 4-year degree. We have the best soldiers in the world and they do incredible things in the Army, and they should be able to keep doing those things when they get out. It’s good for them and it’s good for the military – we’re making better soldiers, as well as better welders and better medics.”

Soldiers are now able to use credentialing assistance for any of the 1,600 professional credentials currently available in the Army Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) portal, and the credentials they pursue do not have to align with the soldier’s military occupational specialty (MOS). Right now, the most popular credential soldiers choose to pursue is private airplane pilot, he said.

“We allow you to get a credential in your interest because your interests may change over time. I don’t think we should limit our soldiers to their MOS. It’s all about making a better soldier, and at some point, everyone leaves the military, so I don’t think we should limit them to their MOS.”

Grinston said the Credentialing Assistance Program reflects the priority Chief of Staff of the Army James McConville set to put people first, and he said that commitment extends beyond the soldier to the soldier’s spouse and family, too. That’s why the Army is doubling the maximum amount available under the Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program from 0 to id=”listicle-2645503326″,000 and expanding the program so that spouses who move overseas will also be eligible to be reimbursed for licensing fees.

“We ask a lot of our spouses, we ask them to do a lot of things. We want them to be able to get relicensed, but we’ve been making them pay for that out of pocket,” Grinston said. “If we’re going to put people first, we need to put resources behind that.”

The motivation for changing the spouse licensing reimbursement program came from experiences Grinston has seen with his wife, a teacher, as she tries to re-enter the workforce.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

He also said it arose out of the small group meetings he regularly holds with Army spouses around the country. During a session at Ft. Knox, a military spouse told him that she was a behavioral health specialist and that when they moved, the state of Kentucky required her to take more credits in order to be licensed.

“We still have a long way to go, but I’m working with state reciprocity so we can do more for spouses as we move them from one location to the next,” Grinston said, noting that that particular spouse’s story really struck him. “We need behavioral health specialists to work. We need them right now.”

He said that the Army is working with every state to align licensure requirements so that a spouse who is licensed and working in one state will be able to continue working when their family moves with the Army. Internally, the Army is also looking at ways to streamline the screening process for jobs at Army Child Development Centers (CDCs) so that a spouse who has already passed the background screening and is working at one CDC will not have to resubmit to the screening process when the family moves.

“If you’ve already gone through the background screening for, say, the CDC at Bragg and now you’re moving to Hood, you shouldn’t have to go through the screening again,” Grinston said. “We need CDC caregivers, now. If we hire more, we can add a classroom, and that’s 10 more kids off the waitlist. Less of our kids on the waitlist, that’s another way we can put people first. People first is something we’ve always tried to do, and now we’re trying to do it even better.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

No right to quit – Soldier honors Black History Month by sharing father’s legacy

FORT GORDON, Ga. – Fort Gordon honored Black History Month with a command program Monday in Darling Hall. The program was hosted by Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and broadcasted live on Facebook to help maximize attendance.

The theme for this year’s observance is “Honor, Remember, Inspire.”

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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear, 80th Training Command, shows a photo of his father with Cuba Gooding Jr. The actor played his father in the movie Men of Honor, which was released in 2000 – six years before Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear passed away. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear of the 80th Training Command, a U.S. Army Reserve unit based in Richmond, Virginia, served as the program’s guest speaker. Brashear is the third-born son of the late Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, who is the subject of the well-renowned film “Men of Honor,” and whose role is played by actor Cuba Gooding Jr.

Phillip said he likes to share his father’s story in hopes of inspiring others to overcome all adversity.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phillip Brashear, 80th Training Command, shows photos of his father enduring going through a series of movements required by the Navy to prove that his father was fit to return to active-duty following an injury that cost him his left leg. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

Born in 1931 to a family of sharecroppers in Kentucky, Phillip said that his father faced many obstacles during his lifetime. But Carl refused to let them get in the way of setting out to accomplish what he believed God had intended for him.

With barely an eighth grade level education, Carl enlisted in the Navy in 1948 at age 17.

“Race, poverty, and illiteracy were three things that my father had to face before he finally joined the Navy to try to do better in his life … three things still affect every country today,” Phillip said.

But his obstacles were far from over. Even among the ranks, racism was rampant. Being a Black man during that time meant career paths in the military were very limited. But Carl set his sights on becoming a diver and succeeded in 1954, making him the first African American Navy diver.

About 12 years into his career, Phillip’s father was involved in a military operation off the coast of Spain where he was sent in to assist with bomb recovery. During the operation, Carl suffered an injury that later required his lower left leg be amputated. The injured diver could have decided that was the end of his military career, but he refused. Instead, he endured months of pain and rehabilitation, determined to prove to the Navy he could still perform his duties.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans
Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear is seen in this photo climbing a wall ladder with weights strapped to his back while wearing dress shoes and his prosthetic leg. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

“At any point, my father could’ve said, ‘This is too much for one man to bear,’ but my father wasn’t built like that, and he wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Phillip said. “My father said, ‘You know what? What’s for me is for me, and what God told me I could accomplish, I can accomplish despite.’”

The following year, in 1967, Carl returned, making him the first amputee to return to active-duty after the loss of a leg.

“If the Navy saw any fault in his abilities, the Navy was going to retire him,” he said. “He struggled and he endured, and he stayed in shape so that he could do what he had to do.”

“He knew in his heart that he didn’t want to quit, and he knew he had faith and God on his side; he overcame,” Phillip said of his father. “We don’t have the right to quit. No matter how hard we think we’ve got it, there’s always somebody who’s got it worse. Always.”

Phillip showed photographs to the audience of his father during physical rehabilitation. The images illustrated some of the obstacles he faced including donning a 300-pound dive suit in harsh conditions, and climbing a metal staircase with weights over his head while wearing dress shoes. Had he slipped and fallen, Phillip believes the Navy would have discharged his father.

In doing so, Phillip said that his father proved “nobody can take your goals away from you.” It was one countless life lessons he carries with him and shares with others.

Carl continued his service as a re-certified Navy diver until 1979, when he retired. Although the senior Brashear received an honorable discharge, Phillip said that his father admitted to having an alcohol addiction and sought help prior to his discharge – yet another hurdle he was able to overcome.

“Obstacle in the way? Deal with it. Move it, knock it down, go around it, obliterate it,” Phillip said. “It’s not a sin to get knocked down. It’s a sin to stay down.”

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans
Col. Carlene A. S Blanding, Eisenhower Army Medical Center commander, gives closing remarks during Monday’s African American/Black History Month command program. (Photo Credit: Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs )

The elder Brashear passed away in 2006, but his legacy lives on in the stories his family shares and in multiple physical forms throughout Kentucky, such as the Carl Brashear Memorial Bridge in Tonieville, Kentucky and a marble statue in the Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda.

Reflecting on what Phillip shared, Col. Carlene A. S Blanding, EAMC commander, said it occurred to her that people “have no reason to not succeed.”

“It’s about action, and I think CW5 Brashear has laid the path of his father’s story for all of us,” Blanding said. “We have great opportunities, and it is our responsibility to make sure we capitalize on those opportunities.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why military working dogs are treated just like regular troops

Military working dogs are an essential part of many missions — even sensitive ones, like the raid on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Oct. 26, 2019. They’re so important, in fact, that they occasionally hold ranks themselves, although it’s merely formal and not official, and they’re always ranked one higher than their handlers.

That “seniority” honors the dog’s role and reminds the handler to be lenient when it has a bad day.

The dog who chased after Baghdadi, leading to his death by suicide, has become a celebrity — even though the dog’s name remains classified. A photo of the dog led to confirmation of its breed (a Belgian Malinois), but little else is known about the good boy (or girl). Disclosing the dog’s name and rank could lead to information about the dog’s affiliation with Delta Force, a classified unit, The Washington Post reports. That unit is still in the field, and revealing the dog’s name could put its handler at risk, although the dog’s possible name and sex have been reported, by Newsweek and the Washington Post, respectively.

Read more to learn more about military working dogs.


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U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Chrisman, a combat tracking dog trainer, and Cpl. Ludjo, a military working dog, both with Third Law Enforcement Battalion, Third Marine Information Group, play tug of war at Camp Wilson, Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(Sgt. Stormy Mendez / US Marine Corps)

The bond between a military working dog and its handler is vitally important to completing missions.

A handler needs to be able to read shifts and subtleties in their canine partner’s behavior to gather information about their targets or environments, and even how the dog is feeling.

For example, if the dog doesn’t feel like working, or has deficiencies with some tasks, the handler needs to be able to pick up on this and give the dog the tools, training, and motivation it needs to complete the task.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

U.S. Marine Corps military working dog Allie waits inside a Humvee to go on a mission while being held by her handler, Lance Cpl. Ronnie Ramcharan at the Central Training Center, Okinawa, Japan on Aug. 25, 2019.

(Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Bray / US Marine Corps)

While the military working dog’s rank is a formality — not an official rank like human troops have — it’s meant to encourage handlers to treat their dogs with love and respect.

Handlers have to be able to communicate what their canine partners are “telling” them, and to know without a doubt that the dog will listen to him or her.

“There’s no doubt about my dog: Number one, he will protect me. Number two, he will find a bomb,” Sgt. 1st Class Regina Johnson told the Army in 2011.

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Airman 1st Class Daniel Martinez, 355th Security Forces military working dog handler, participates in a simulated narcotic/bomb detection exercise with Darius, an MWD assigned to the 355 SFS, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 23, 2019.

(Airman 1st Class Kristine Legate / US Air Force)

Military working dogs whose units allow them to hold ranks are non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

By and large, military working dogs are treated as regular US troops would be.

Unfortunately, there was one period where military working dogs were left behind in a combat zone — in South Vietnam, during US troops’ hasty withdrawal there.

Prior to 2000, military working dogs were also euthanized after their service was finished. Military working dogs can now be adopted to civilians once their service is finished.

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A U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior 2011 in this U.S. military handout image from March 1, 2011.

(Manuel J. Martinez/U.S. Air Force)

Cairo the dog, also a Belgian Malinois, earned accolades from former President Barack Obama for his role in killing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Cairo secured the perimeter of bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and, should the al Qaeda leader have proven difficult to find, Cairo would be sent in after him.

Upon hearing that Cairo was involved in the raid, former President Barack Obama said, “I want to meet that dog,” according to an account in The New Yorker.

“If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats,” one member of the SEAL team jokingly advised the president.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Department of Defense)

Military working dogs and their partners both require extensive training to keep up with the demands of their job.

Dogs and their trainers go through a 93-day training program to cement their skills and gain practice as a team in real-world scenarios, according to the Army.

Only about 50% of the dogs the military procures to become military working dogs are actually suitable for the job.

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Cpl. Ramon Valenci, a dog handler with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, orders his military working dog, Red, to search for improvised explosive devices during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-17, aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 19, 2017.

(Aaron S. Patterson / US Marine Corps)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

100th Military Police Detachment, Military Working Dog (MWD) Money, conducts basic obedience drills, June 25, 2019, Panzer Kaserne, Germany. The MWDs and their handlers are trained to provide narcotics and explosives detection keeping the bases safe from threats.

(Photo by Yvonne Najera)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Callie, a search and rescue dog for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rides in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as part of her familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 29, 2018.

(Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton / US Air National Guard)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Timo, 23d Security Forces Squadron (SFS) Military Working Dog (MWD), bites Joe Dukes, Lowndes County Sheriffs Office SWAT team lead, during a MWD capabilities demonstration, March 21, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Timo is trained to attack on or off leash with or without command.

(Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson / US Air Force)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

(Kevin Hanrahan)

They’re more than man’s best friend. Military working dogs are an essential part of the mission.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is the US military’s only search-and-rescue dog

In 2010, airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Port-au-Prince, the capital and most populous city of Haiti, in response to a magnitude 7 earthquake that impacted millions.

“With the destroyed airfields, it was difficult for many government organizations to land aircraft and provide assistance,” said Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, a pararescueman with the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.

The airmen were able to get on the ground and assist in clearing the airfield thanks to their special capabilities, but they soon faced more complications.

“Local sources were telling people that there was a schoolhouse that had collapsed with about 40 children inside,” Parsons said.


“A team of special tactics airmen went over and started looking through the rubble, just carrying these rocks off, looking for these missing kids. A few days into the search, (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was finally able to land. They brought a dog to the pile and were able to clear it in about 20 minutes. There was nobody in that pile.”

“It had been a couple days of wasted labor that could’ve been used to help save other lives,” Parsons continued.

“It was at that time that we kind of realized the importance and the capability that dogs can bring to search and rescue. Every environment presents different difficulties, but it’s all restricted by our human limitations. Our current practice is: Hoping that we see or hear somebody.”

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Callie, a search and rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

In response to scenarios like the Haitian earthquake, Parsons spearheaded a new approach, developing the squadron’s Search and Rescue K-9 program. The effort, launched in 2018, is designed to increase the capabilities of disaster response teams in locating and recovering personnel through the use of specially trained canines.

After several months of preparation, the unit acquired its newest member, Callie, a 26-month-old Dutch shepherd, making her the first search-and-rescue dog in the Department of Defense.

She has now earned multiple qualifications to accommodate the specific skillset of the 123rd STS, including helicopter exfiltration and infiltration, mountain rescue (rappelling plus ice, snow and alpine maneuvers), static line and freefall parachute insertion.

“Callie is trained in live-find,” Parsons said. “She goes into wilderness, collapsed-structure or disaster situations. She’s trained to detect living people, find them, and alert me when she’s located them. We react accordingly, mark the spot and begin the extraction of those people.

“The unique function that we can provide by developing Callie is that we can get her to places that nobody else can get to,” Parsons added. “That’s the biggest benefit that we really saw value in. In the situation like the earthquake in Haiti, we can get her in there, and those days in difference could be the difference in somebody’s life.”

Before Callie’s introduction to the unit, the method of search and rescue in urban settings involved probing and digging with drills and cameras. According to Parsons, this slow and sometimes unreliable method only added tools, weight and difficulty to the process.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, land at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019

(US Air National Guard photo Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Tech. Sgt. Rudy Parsons, 123rd Special Tactics pararescueman, and his search-and-rescue dog, Callie, ride a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of Callie’s familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov.29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, complete a parachute insertion into Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, during an exercise, July 16, 2019

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Tech. Sgt. Rudy Parsons, 123rd Special Tactics pararescueman, and his search-and-rescue dog, Callie, ride a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of Callie’s familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov. 29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 15, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Callie, a search-and-rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, alerts Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, her handler, after locating a simulated casualty during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Tech Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, rappel down a cliffside at Louisville, Kentucky, as part of Callie’s familiarization training, Dec. 7, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search-and-rescue K-9, during an exercise at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, July 17, 2019.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

Callie, a search-and-rescue K-9 for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rides a UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft as part of her familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center, Frankfort, Kentucky, Nov. 29, 2018.

(US Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton)

The 123rd SAR K-9 program was funded by the Air National Guard innovation program, meant to enable Airmen to make positive, meaningful change and drive a culture shift toward innovation.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

New study shows energy drinks can actually hurt returning troops

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.

While American troops are big fans of Rip-Its and other energy drinks, a recent study published in the Military Medicine journal found an association between continued, excessive consumption of energy drinks and mental health issues in returning troops.

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.

Christmas gifts that give back to military and veterans

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.

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