6 ways to give back during a pandemic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Everyone goes through tough times, and taking care of each other is part of what it means to be an American. This year, holiday volunteering is a little trickier than usual. With COVID-19 cases rising nationwide, many in-person volunteering opportunities have been adapted or put on hold. That said, the need for generosity and support is higher this year than it has been in decades. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help without leaving the house, and others that are simple and low-risk. These are a few of the safest, most impactful options to lend a helping hand in 2020. 

1. Donate to Toys for Tots

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, there are more families facing financial hardship than ever. This loss is felt more keenly than usual around the holidays, so Toys for Tots steps in to help. The charity has donated 584 million toys to date, and donating this year is easier than ever. Through their virtual donation page, you can donate a toy in just a few clicks

2. Donate blood

While this one isn’t virtual and may not be recommended for those at high risk, donating blood is a way to give back that’s truly lifesaving. There’s always a need, and it takes less than an hour at a Red Cross blood drive location near you. If you’ve already had COVID and have since fully recovered, you can also donate plasma to help other patients get fight the illness. 

3. Donate supplies to shelters

Shelters aren’t immune to the pandemic, nor the annual cold and flu season. Donating supplies is a low-risk way to help the homeless this Christmas. Frequently needed supplies include: 

  • PPEs- Gloves, surgical masks, and goggles, 
  • Cleaning supplies and garbage bags
  • Thermometers
  • Fever-reducing OTC medications like Tylenol
  • Linens- Towels, sheets, blankets, etc
  • Foods and hydrating fluids- Instant soups, teas, Pedialyte, Jell-O

Contact shelters in your area to review current donation policies and check which items they need the most.

4. Deliver food to seniors

While volunteering in senior centers is limited in most areas, you can still help by bringing older folks hot meals! Meals on Wheels delivers food to both seniors living on their own and those living in centers to help them maintain their independence and reduce their risk of injury or illnesss. 

Since the elderly are at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, less trips to the grocery store mean fewer changes to get sick. You can help either by volunteering to deliver meals, or by donating to help support the program. 

5. Volunteer virtually

If you prefer adding a more personal connection to your charity efforts, virtual volunteer options are a great option. If you have skills that can be offered virtually, consider donating your services. Offer virtual tutoring, music lessons, therapy, or any other special skills you’d like to share! Volunteer Match can help match you with opportunities that are good fit.

Even if you don’t have any virtual services to offer, you can help by volunteering for support call centers. Soldiers’ Angels has countless ways that families can give back to the military community all year round. 

6. Adopt a family

Perhaps the most personal way to help this Christmas is by “adopting” a family. You connect with a family in need, preferably with children close in age to your own, find out what they’d like for Christmas, and make their holiday dreams come true. To get paired with a family, contact your local branch of the YMCA or Salvation Army

MIGHTY CULTURE

Have old razors? Here’s how you can use them to support injured warriors

Fisher House recently announced partnership with TerraCycle, Gillette and CVS Pharmacy for a new razor recycling initiative. Not only will they aim to make a positive impact on the environment, but serve military families while they do it.

“How it works is that you collect all your shave products. The boxes, cartridges and the razors. Keep them until the end of August and mail them to TerraCycle,” said Michelle Baldanza, Vice President of Communications for Fisher House Foundation. CVS is providing the free shipping label for those participating. She continued, “The most weight that’s sent to them by state per capita – the winner of that – will get a playground for their Fisher House.”


In the press release for the initiative, TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky said, “We are happy to align with these forward-thinking companies to give communities the opportunity to engage around a free, easy recycling solution that supports veterans and their families.” Fisher House Foundation is proud to partner with other nonprofits and organizations to continue to serve military families.

This initiative is open to anyone who wants to participate. It also creates a unique opportunity for military bases to get involved and create friendly competition with their neighboring states. Should a state win that already has a playground for their Fisher House, another project of similar value will be approved. If for some reason there is not a Fisher House in the state that wins, one within the closest geographic proximity will be chosen instead.

Most Fisher Houses are located near major medical or VA facilities and are completely free for troops and their families to stay at while a loved one is receiving treatment. Fisher House Foundation now boasts 88 comfort homes for military families. They are breaking ground on a new home in Kansas City in a few months and opening one in New Orleans at the end of the year. The comfort homes are scattered across the United States, with a few in Europe.

The Landstuhl Fisher House in Germany is a vital house as it is next to the medical facility that troops injured in combat go through for treatment. “They started it just after a bombing in the 90s and finished it just before 9/11. The timing was really incredible that it happened right before the surge,” Baldanza shared.

Each Fisher House is between 5,000 to 16,800 square feet in size. There are up to 21 suites and are all professional furnished and decorated. Each can also accommodate between 16 to 42 family members. The homes are gifted to either the DOD or VA when they are completed.

“For 16 years we’ve had four star charity ratings. Between 93 percent to 95 percent of what we bring in goes right back into the Fisher Houses. They know what we do goes to the service members, families and veterans,” Baldanza explained. Fisher House also boasts an A+ grade from Charity Watch.

According to their website, Fisher House served over 32,000 families in 2019 alone. They’ve also given million in scholarships to military children and given out over 70,000 airline tickets with their Hero Miles program. When an injured service member is receiving treatment and there is no Fisher House, they put their families in nearby hotels with their Hotels for Heroes program.

Baldanza expressed that Fisher House Foundation is only a part of the puzzle of support that cares for veterans and their families – it takes a village. This is one of the main reasons that they continually build partnerships, like the recent one with TerraCycle, CVS and Gillette. Together, they know they can accomplish so much more for military families.

“There are so many needs that are out there, it’s hard to fill them all. We [Fisher House Foundation] try to take care of those basic burdens so that family members can heal with their loved ones and help their loved ones heal too,” Baldanza explained. She continued, “We always say ‘a family’s love is the best medicine’ and that’s the goal – to keep these families together.”

To learn more about Fisher House Foundation or to join in on their latest initiative, click here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Our Forgotten Heroes: Why don’t we talk about World War I?

During the “Great War”, the United States of America lost over 116,000 of her troops in a span of only 19 months. While initially remaining neutral and refusing to enter into World War I when it began in 1914, that changed after repeated attacks on America’s ships. In 1917 the U.S. entered into the fray, declaring war against Germany.

It can be argued that without American’s force beside the allies, the war wouldn’t have ended in victory, but a stalemate. History has documented this impressive and vital piece of our story. So why don’t we talk about it and those incredible heroes that turned the tide for an entire world in the name of democracy?


Why don’t we discuss how more Marines were killed or wounded in the battle of Belleau Wood than their service’s entire history at that point? That battle alone claimed over 10,000 American casualties in just three weeks. It should also be known that France refused to enter into this particular battle because they felt it was too dangerous. Instead, they insisted that the Americans do it.

We did, but it came at an extremely heavy cost.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

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In September of 1918, 1.2 million American troops entered into the deadliest battle in its history. Many were undertrained and not yet battle-tested – but their sheer numbers and grit did what other armies could not in four years. It was an incredible offensive effort as the Expeditionary Forces of the United States actually caught Germany completely by surprise with their attack.

America’s troops took an area that had been held for four years in just two short days. This battle ended the war, but America lost 26,277 of their own to win it. We also had 192,000 casualties. It was this specific battle at Meuse-Argonne, or The Battle of Argonne Forest, that pushed Germany into literally pleading for an end of World War I. America brought Germany to its knees.

This war was pivotal for so many things that have occurred in the last hundred years. We need to remember those lost their lives in the name of democracy. Let us also not forget the ones that died slowly years following World War I due to the effects of the lingering bullets, “shell shock” (now called post-traumatic stress disorder), and the effects of poison gas exposure.

Those who survived through all of that though? Their personal war at home was just beginning.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

upload.wikimedia.org

When service members returned home following the end of World War I, they were celebrated with parades – if they were white. The African American men who returned home after fighting alongside their brothers’ in arms were treated with open hostility and disdain. Some were killed.

The years following the “Great War” were not kind or easy to digest but need to be remembered. They matter.

Following the war, the Great Depression and race riots wreaked havoc on the United States, leading many to question what they fought for. Not only did they question their sacrifice – but they were deeply suffering after their service for their country.

Veterans received just with an honorable discharge. Although they received monetary allotments if they had a disability through the War Risk Insurance Act, it wasn’t enough. They were also required to maintain insurance for care and paid a premium that came out of that allotment, reducing their income even more. Many were too severely disabled to work to make any extra income and the money they received from the government didn’t cover living any kind of quality life.
6 ways to give back during a pandemic

media.defense.gov

High unemployment, lack of quality medical care and poor housing was the “thanks for your service” that these veterans received – if they were white.

The African American veterans were often denied housing or any kind of equality – leaving them homeless and destitute. This terrible choice for America to treat these brave men in such an abominable way would go on to pave the way for the next seventy years of struggle, advocacy, and racial tension that the country had ever seen.

The government failed all of its returning servicemen.

America failed its heroes by avoiding that chapter in its history.

Our World War I veterans did fight, suffer, and die for our freedom. Let us not forget it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why you should drop the new year’s resolution

We’re nearing the middle of January, and chances are your new year’s resolution is already feeling like a bit of a battle. Resolutions are a helpful tool for testing ourselves and improving our willpower, but if you’re having a really hard time sticking to your new vow, you might be better off giving up.

Psychologist Niels Eék, the cofounder of mental health and wellbeing app Remente, told Insider resolutions can offer us direction if we’re suffering from end of year anxiety about what we actually achieved in the previous 12 months, and making clear future goals can really help us focus.


“The extent to which resolutions can help you will depend on your personality, though,” he said. “Consider if having a deadline and an annual roadmap is a good motivator for you, or if it will make you procrastinate and stress. If it’s the latter, new year’s resolutions might not be for you.”

Walk before you can run

Bereavement and trauma specialist Terri Daniel, the author of “Grief and God: When Religion Does More Harm Than Healing,” told Insider for most people, new year’s resolutions are “more of a joke than a commitment.”

“The joke is supported by the advertising industrial complex, which sees a huge increase in the sale of diet products and gym memberships every January,” she said. “So if you make a resolution on New Year’s Day only to forget about it three weeks later, you are the rule, not the exception.”

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

(Photo by Jonathan Borba)

Many people set resolutions that they’re simply not going to stick to, like signing up for a marathon when they’ve never put on a pair of running shoes in their life.

According to Statista, the most common resolutions include “exercise more” and “lose weight,” but only about a quarter of people are actually able to keep them. Eék said this is because it requires a lot of effort to change habits that are ingrained in us.

“To succeed, you not only need to keep your own motivation intact, you will also need to consider the environment you live in, the company you keep, and your day-to-day routines,” he said. “For instance, if your resolution is to ‘lose weight,’ going on a diet might work for a little while until your cravings take over.”

Being clear about why you’ve made certain resolutions also helps in the fight against losing interest. If it’s something based on what you want, not what other people and society think you should do, there’s a much better chance you’ll persist with it.

To give up or not to give up?

Daniel said if a resolution doesn’t come from the heart, it’s not going to stick.

“Making extreme commitments on a specified holiday because popular culture prescribes it is not a firm foundation for that intention to take root,” she said. “Instead, consider making simple resolutions every day or every hour about small things that are easy to manage.”

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

(Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters)

For example, try starting every day with the intention of counting to ten before you react to an annoying coworker. Or pick things you can improve at over time, like being a better listener, driving more carefully, or watching less tv news.

Resolutions are supposed to be a challenge, and when life throws you a curveball, it’s all part of the fun, Eék said.

“Expect setbacks and disappointments along the way,” he said. “If you stay focused and inspired, though, I’m sure you’ll achieve your goal before the year is over.”

Also, neuroscientific research has found that the brain struggles to distinguish between what we want and what we have.

“As such, setting a goal can have a powerful effect on the brain as it can trick the brain into believing it has already accomplished the goal, making your desired outcome part of the brain’s self-image,” Eék said. “This is what makes goal-setting such a powerful tool.”

On the other hand, this means your brain can be your harshest critic, he said, which makes it even more disappointing if your resolution isn’t going to plan.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

(Photo by Yukie Emiko)

“By not meeting your goal, your brain will react as if you have taken something away that it already had and, therefore, will become upset and react by cutting off your supply of dopamine [the feel-good hormone],” Eék said. “Feelings of anger, disappointment, and embarrassment may arise instead.”

It’s likely you’ll hit a wall at some point, which means it could be time to readjust. But if you’ve reflected on why you’re not succeeding, made some changes, and you still don’t feel any motivation whatsoever, then it might be time to throw in the towel.

These are some tell-tale signs you should give up on your resolution:

  • You’ve lost sight of why you decided to do it in the first place.
  • You keep thinking that you “should” instead of “want” to keep going.
  • Your plans have changed and your resolution no longer fits in.
  • It’s negatively affecting your mental health.

Essentially, if you’ve lost sight of the point of the resolution you made, it’s making you feel like a miserable failure, and it’s getting in the way of you achieving anything else, then you should give yourself a break.

“Remember, at the end of the day, a resolution is there to help you, not to cripple you,” said Eék. “If it’s continuously doing the latter, simply let it go.”

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

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MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch this amazing police dog traverse tricky obstacles

A Belgian Malinois named Lachi has earned some celebrity for his video in which he traverses two thin ropes in order to retrieve his tennis ball.


MIGHTY CULTURE

Why ‘Crayon-Eater’ is actually just a bad joke

The rivalry between branches can best be described as a sibling rivalry. We’re always making fun of each other whenever we can, calling the Air Force the Chair Force, the Coast Guard a bunch of puddle pirates — the list goes on. One thing that branches can’t seem to figure out, though, is a good, slightly insulting nickname for Marines.

It seems like the other branches tried to find some kind of insult for Marines but, instead, we’ve turned those monikers into sources of pride. We like being called names like Jarhead. It’s kind of cool, really. You’re saying our hair regulations are so disciplined it’s stupid? Maybe it’s your attitude toward discipline that has us always on the delivery side of insults. Think about it.

But one thing that’s sorta caught on and is becoming popular is calling Marines, “Crayon-Eaters.”

Well, here’s why that nickname just won’t hold water:


6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Snipers know why there’s some truth there…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Krista James)

1. First off, it’s just kind of… weak

Maybe we’re just too dumb to understand the insult here but, quite frankly, it sucks. It’s lame.

If you were to call your friend a “Crayon-Eater” in any other situation, they’d just shrug and say, “okay,” with a condescending tone. It’s no better than a Kindergarten insult. You might as well say, “you poop your pants!” At least then there’s some truth for some Marines.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

“You think crayon-eater is funny?!”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Aaron Bolser)

2. It’s ironic

The whole point of the joke is to say that Marines are stupid. Got it. But you know what’s stupid? The joke itself. It’s ironic how dumb the joke is. Instead of making Marines look dumb, you actually just display the inability to create a layered, intelligent insult. “Crayon-eater” is so bland and overplayed that it loses any impact it might have.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

We’re not afraid to take shots at each other because it’s all part of the brotherhood.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas)

3. Marines have better insults for each other

The things Marines say to one another on a daily basis are way worse — it’s stuff so bad that we can’t even mention it on this website. They’re things that would make your average civilian’s stomach turn and cause airmen everywhere to puke all over their computer desks.

The worst part is that the joke isn’t even close to being offensive. Of course, some of you may read this and say, “this guy is just offended,” and the answer is no — and that’s the problem. You think something as lame as “crayon-eater” is going to offend a member of a tribe whose trainees are taught to yell, “kill!” during training?

Didn’t think so.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

They’re laughing at you, not with you.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

If you want to keep using the joke, go right ahead. Just remember, when a Marine laughs in your face because your joke isn’t doing what you thought it would — we tried to warn you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These 10 memes perfectly show how we really feel about New Year’s resolutions

Although it isn’t a stretch to assume the entire world is glad to see the end of 2020, many of us will still find ourselves annoyed as we watch our friends and family share their resolutions for the new year. It isn’t because we are mean-spirited and don’t want them to succeed, either. There are just certain resolutions that make their way onto lists every January which cause the eye-rolling. In true WATM fashion, we felt that memes could more adequately demonstrate responses to many of these over-used resolutions.

  1. Exercise more
new years resolutions

Listen, we aren’t trying to be negative but exercising more is literally always a thing. For those who’s gyms aren’t closed it’s inevitable that you’ll see it fill in January and then slowly but surely go back to normal by March. Everyone makes this resolutions with great intentions but very few will actually follow through with it.

2. Diet

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Eating healthy is a admirable resolution. The problem is that people tend to go balls to the wall and cut out everything, setting themselves up for failure. Day one always goes well, as the meme suggests. It’s day three, four and five that are the problem. Sustaining crazy diets just isn’t feasible and truly isn’t healthy either. Word to the wise: eliminate the word diet from your resolution.

3. Stop procrastinating

new years resolutions

Procrastinators everywhere have this one on their list. There are studies that have suggested procrastination has tripled in the last 30 years. Rather than making a blanket goal to never procrastinate (a failure just waiting to happen) re-frame this resolution to be about organization. By creating the space and time for the things on your to-do lists, they become more obtainable. Create reasonable due dates, putting the reins of control in your hands.

4. Reduce stress

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Listen, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Reducing your stress is a noble goal but the reality is we are all going to continue to suffer from stress. It’s how you manage it that is the point. Re-frame this basically unobtainable resolution to be “implement self-care”. Life stressors are waiting for you in 2021, but if you have positive coping tools in your tool-belt to combat them, you’ll make it through.

5. Travel more

new years resolutions

Traveling more always makes it to the top of the list of resolutions, but this meme is more of the real reality we are facing in 2021. Sorry friend!

6. Eat more at home

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Day one of quarantine had everyone planting liberty gardens and making homemade bread. Day 90 had DoorDash and UberEats apps downloaded to your phone. PS: using a restaurant delivery service doesn’t really count for this goal. Just saying.

7. Learn something new

new years resolutions

This meme is on point! But for real, this is a resolution you can actually accomplish right now. Many of us have endless extra time to devote to learning a new skill, so stop procrastinating (also a resolution) and do it!

8. Reduce smart-phone time

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Literally. We’ve all seen the epic videos of people walking and smart-phoning, they don’t end well. Although this goal tends to be at on the list of most stated resolutions, follow-through is low. Instead, make it measurable and obtainable. Leave your phone in another room during mealtimes for one. Get to know the humans in your quarantine bubble with you instead. Ya know, your family?

9. Get more sleep

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Americans are sleeping less. One in three adults aren’t getting enough sleep, according to the CDC. Since this study was done in 2016 and we don’t yet have 2020 numbers, it’s pretty safe to say that its the same or higher due to the stress or endless nighttime YouTube video scrolling.

10. Save money

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

We saved this goodie for last for a reason. It’s always on the list. This goal ends up being a failure for so many because it’s too big and broad. Be realistic! Reduce your latte ordering to twice a month, get rid of a few streaming services and only order food for delivery once a week. You’ll save $100 a month easily! There will still be plenty of shows and movies to watch while you are procrastinating to keep busy not being busy. Make your own fancy coffee and snackies (saving money and learning a new thing, two resolutions in one!).

As you dive into your 2021 New Year’s resolutions, just remember there’s someone just waiting to make a meme about it. Choose wisely.

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.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

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.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

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.

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Army looks at new ways to retain these field experts

Senior warrant officers from around the Army congregated to discuss talent management on day two of the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Doug Englen of the Army Talent Management Task Force served on a panel of five distinguished senior warrant officers to discuss a series of personnel reforms designed to help acquire, develop, employ, and retain the right talent among Army warrant officers. Warrant officers are subject-matter experts in their field, serving in diverse roles across the Army from flying helicopters to conducting offensive cyber operations.

Every community within the Army has its own unique talent management challenges. The warrant officer community, in particular, has struggled to retain the most experienced warrant officers.


“In 1991, we had 1,500 warrant officers with over twenty years of warrant officer experience. Today, that number is just 350, even though we still have the same number of warrant officers,” said Englen.

Since arriving to the task force over one year ago, Englen has helped the Army begin to address talent management issues specifically impacting warrant officers.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Senior warrant officers from around the Army discussed talent management at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps; some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

(U.S. Army photo)

“When an active duty warrant officer retires, he or she is placed on the regular Army retired list, unlike commissioned officers, who are placed on the reserve Army list,” said Englen.

“Title 37 of the U.S. Code prevents dual compensation of retirement and reserve pay,” said Englen, “But by offering our retiring warrant officers Selective Reserve (SELRES) status, we can allow them to serve in the Reserve component following their retirement from active duty without causing them to lose their retirement pay.”

Doing so would help the Army address at least part of its manning shortfalls in the Army Reserve, which is currently short approximately 4,000 warrant officers.

The warrant officer community is also incredibly diverse. Each career field, said Englen, requires its own unique approach to talent management.

Aviators, for instance, can require over a year’s worth of training before they can be assigned to their units. Under the current system, many warrant officers are promoted to chief warrant officer two (CW2) either during or shortly after flight school. The task force is drafting a new policy to “reset” a warrant officer’s date of rank once they complete flight school, allowing time to develop them as a warrant officer (WO1) for two years before being promoted to chief warrant officer two (CW2).

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Senior warrant officers from around the Army discussed talent management at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps; some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

(U.S. Army photo)

Other communities, such as Special Forces and air defense, do not require extensive warrant officer training timelines, as they draw from their respective communities.

Instead, Englen noted, these communities are working to directly commission senior non-commissioned officers in the grades of sergeant first class through first sergeant to the rank of chief warrant officer two (CW2).

The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps. Some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

These talent management initiatives aimed at the warrant officer community are expected to begin early 2020.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the military goes out of its way for certain animals

Troops lose their mind when they have to go to either Fort Irwin or Twentynine Palms. They’re both in insanely hot climates, offer very little to do outside of training, and the living conditions are far worse than what POGs are accustomed to. Despite all that, everything comes to a standstill when a single desert tortoise shows up.

The same thing happens when a red-cockaded woodpecker appears at Fort Benning, Indiana bats at Fort Knox, and piping plovers at RTC Great Lakes. These are all objectively unpleasant military installations that have endemic species of animals that put a stop to training just by showing up.

This causes a headache for many troops in leadership positions and is the butt of many jokes among the junior enlisted. It stops becoming funny, however, when leadership tells their troops that they can’t leave behind even a single breadcrumb that could attract the predators of said animals.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic
The world’s premiere fighting force is brought to a stand-still because of one, adorable little turtle.
(Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

This is all because the animals listed above are endangered and their safest habitats are on military installations.


Back in 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed, stating that the government will do its part to protect its endangered animals and prosecute anyone who bring them harm. While it’s easy to issue out fines to anyone who accidentally kills a desert tortoise, it’s even easier (and you know, better) to take preventive measures and keep them alive.

The military does its part in a large way — far larger than most organizations dedicated to saving these species. In 2011 alone, the U.S. military spent $7.6 million on keeping desert tortoises safe — a grand total of over $100.9 million since 1993. That money has gone a long way in keeping these at-risk animals alive for many generations.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic
In the case of some tortoises, it’s many generations. You know, because they live longer than humans.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Williams)

“But these are just some dumb turtles!” someone in the back of the formation may yell. That class clown might be right — these tortoises could be dumb, indeed — but it doesn’t matter. If you allow one invasive fish, for example, to fade away because of the enormous amount of money required to protect it, then there’s a justification allowing any species to die out, putting the animal kingdom right back where it was in 1972.

Potential dumbness aside, every animal must be treated with the same delicate gloves or we risk losing them all.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic
And if you’re stationed anywhere in Hawaii, that means hundreds of different species.
(U.S. Army)

The next “good idea fairy” solution is to just move them away from military installations. It should be fairly obvious why taking slow-moving prey away from a habitat where they’re cared for and are kept safe from predators and tossing them into a new, unfamiliar landscape devoid of such protections is a bad idea. If you’re having trouble seeing why that’s a problem, we’ve got an example for you:

They tried this once with the desert tortoises at Fort Irwin in 2008. The logic behind it was that the tortoises would be far safer somewhere where they wouldn’t be accidentally blown to bits by troops in training. The relocation effort cost $50 million and, within a year, about 30% of all the tortoises (who have an average life-span of over 100 years) died before the program was scrapped.

There were many factors that contributed to the dying off of thousands of tortoises. First, being put in an unknown environment meant that they had no idea where the food or water was. This was made worse when packs of predators discovered an enormous buffet of food that couldn’t run or hide.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic
Turns out suffering theu00a0occasional mortar death is better than being gobbled up by a pack of coyotes.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

There are over 400 species of endangered animals on military grounds and, even with human intervention, these are the best habitats for them. Each of the species that are protected by the U.S. Armed Forces are all carefully monitored to make sure that no harm comes to them.

It’s not uncommon for troops to incorporate their nesting grounds into their training. While preparing for a mission, their nests are treated in the same way as schools or hospitals in the battlefield. Troops just avoid them at all costs.

The good news is that this ongoing effort to protect them has yielded some very visible results. While there are outliers in the desert tortoise populations (California droughts are partially to blame), animal populations at other installations have all boomed in recent years. Simply adjusting fire from one part of the range to another at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has helped the streaked horned lark population almost quadruple in less than a decade.

Protecting these species requires a little effort and a creates bit of inconvenience, but it’s been proven that the military installations these animals call home are truly the best places for these species to thrive.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy’s two-piece, flame-resistant uniform undergoes second round of tests

U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command will begin a second round of testing in 2019 on a two-piece organizational clothing variant that offers flame resistance and moves the Navy one step closer to delivering sailors a safe, comfortable, no-cost alternative to the Improved Flame Resistant Variant (IFRV) coveralls, with the same travel flexibility as the Type III working uniform.


USFF conducted the initial wear test on two-piece variants from May through September of 2018 and collected feedback from nearly 200 wear-test participants across surface, aviation, and submarine communities about everything from colors and design, to comfort and options like buttons and hook-and-loop fasteners. The command also received feedback from more than 1,700 sailors in an online survey about colors and design.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

An information graphic describing the modernized, two-piece, flame-resistant organizational clothing wear-test design components for sailors.

(U.S. photo illustration by Bobbie A. Camp)

Fleet survey responses indicated that sailors liked the functionality of the Type III but would like to see the design in traditional Navy uniform colors. More than 70 percent of E-6 and junior sailors surveyed liked the navy blue blouse and trouser while a khaki version was the preference for chiefs and officers.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), demonstrates the operational de-blousing capability of the flame-resistant, two-piece organizational clothing prototype.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks)

“Leaders are listening to the fleet when it comes to this design,” said USFF Fleet Master Chief Rick O’Rawe, a wear-test participant. “We have an obligation to keep our sailors safe in inherently dangerous environments, but we also want to be mindful of their time. This is going to be something that’s safe, easy to maintain, and doesn’t require half-masting of coveralls when it’s hot or having to change clothes every time you leave the ship. Never again should we have to pass the words ‘all hands shift into the uniform for entering port or getting underway.'”

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Lt. Jamie Seibel, assigned to U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Command, demonstrates the operational wearability of the flame-resistant, two-piece organizational clothing prototype (khaki variant) aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks)

The updated design, which won’t require sailors to sew on components, will be tested by 100 officers and enlisted sailors to see how well it performs from wash-to-wear without ironing, and how it holds up to laundering. The two-piece variant will allow for de-blousing in extreme climates and challenging work environments. An undershirt will continue to be tested with a flame-resistant, moisture-wicking fabric in black.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

A sailor assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) demonstrates the operational wearability of the black Gortex parka and the flame-resistant, two-piece organizational clothing prototype navy blue variant.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy M. Atkins Ricks)

I have received so much feedback just from wearing the two-piece around the command every day,” said Yeoman 1st Class Kelly Pyron, a wear-test participant assigned to USFF. “The best part is that we’ll be able to transit from the ship and run errands in the two-piece; having one standard underway and in-port across the board will be much more convenient. I am excited to see the wear test moving into the next phase of evaluation.”

Once approved, the new prototype will serve as an alternative to the IFRV coverall for operational commands. The coverall may continue to be the prescribed clothing item for some sailors in applicable work environments.

Pyron expressed, “If a clothing item, that I will not have to buy, can make my life easier while keeping me safe, I’m all for it.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Coronavirus and PCS Orders: What the travel ban means for you

As the United States continues to take preventative steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus known as Covid-19, the Pentagon has issued number of statements pertaining to the coronavirus and PCS orders, as well as official and non-official travel, in the coming months.


If you have a family member or loved one currently attending recruit training, make sure to check our regularly updated article explaining audience attendance restrictions at graduation ceremonies across the force here.

It’s important to remember that most service members and even their families are not at high risk even if they are exposed to Covid-19. These precautionary measures should be seen as responsible steps aimed at preventing the spread of the infection, but not as cause for significant worry. This story will be updated as more changes manifest.

You can follow these links to jump directly to sections explaining different changes pertaining to military snd civilian travel, the coronavirus and PCS orders.

Military Travel

Family and Civilian Travel

PCS and Transfer Orders

CDC Designated Level 3 Nations

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Military Travel

On Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced new travel restrictions that will go into affect on Friday, March 13. The restrictions include a 60-day ban on travel to any nation designated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a “Level 3 Location.” This ban includes all TDY and PCS related travel.

“This restriction includes all forms of travel, including Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty, and government funded leave,” the Defense Department announcement states. “The Level 3 countries are set by the CDC and may change. The DoD guidance will follow those changes. Service secretaries and commanders may issue waivers to this policy as they determine necessary to ensure mission readiness and address specific cases”

The Pentagon also advises that service members that are traveling to unrestricted nations take specific care to ensure their travel arrangements do not involve stops or layovers in areas designation by the CDC as “Level 3.”

“Authorized Departures are delayed until appropriate transportation and reception procedures are in place for their intended route of travel as prescribed in this memorandum,” the memo states.

Military Families and Civilian Personnel Travel

Military families and civilian personnel are also barred from traveling to “Level 2” locations for 60 days. Some “level 2” designation nations include the UK, Japan, Singapore, and Bahrain — where the U.S. Navy’s Central Command is currently located.

“The Department of Defense’s top priority remains the protection and welfare of our people,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a released statement. “While directing this prudent action, I continue to delegate all necessary authority to commanders to make further decisions based on their assessments to protect their people and ensure mission readiness. While we deal with this fluid and evolving situation, I remain confident in our ability to protect our service members, civilians and families.”
6 ways to give back during a pandemic

PCS and Transfer Changes

The Department of Defense’ Customer Movement Portal has updated its page to include brief answers to many of the most frequently asked questions among service members and their families pertaining to coronavirus PCS order changes.

Here are the Defense Department’s answers to the questions you have about the Coronavirus and your PCS orders, sourced directly from the Pentagon’s FAQ:

Q: My PCS is rapidly approaching–how do I know if my planned move is covered by this order?

A: Contact your chain of command immediately!

Q: I’ve confirmed that my PCS is impacted by a stop movement order, but I have already submitted my movement request to the Personal Property Office. What will they do with my shipment?

A: It depends.

  • – If your shipment has not yet been awarded to a moving company, it will be put in a hold status pending further guidance (e.g. either the stop movement order is rescinded or you receive approval from your chain of command to continue with your move).
  • – If your shipment has been awarded to a moving company, but has not yet been serviced (e.g. packing has not begun), please contact your servicing Shipping Office. They will work with you to change your pickup dates to a future date in coordination with your mover and in line with DOD guidance.

Q: My shipment has already been picked up by the moving company. What will happen to it now?

A: Contact your Shipping Office to determine your shipment’s status. Depending when it was picked up, it may be in storage in the local area, en route to your planned destination, or in storage near your destination.

Q: What about my POV? I have an upcoming appointment to drop my car off at the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC). What should I do?

A: If you are unsure if the stop movement order applies to you, contact your chain of command. If the stop movement order does not apply to your PCS—or your chain of command has approved an exception to the order—proceed to the VPC as planned.

Q: I’ve already dropped my POV off, but my PCS has been delayed. Can I get my car back?

A: If you’re interested in retrieving your vehicle, contact the VPC immediately. VPCs are postured to assist customers with changing appointments, vehicle retrieval, and answering any other POV-related questions you have.

The DoD also advises that service members contact their local Personal Property Office for answers to their specific questions, or you may be able to find more answers on their customer service page.

You can also contact USTRANSCOM’s 24-hour hotline Toll Free at (833) MIL-MOVE, (833) 645-6683.

CDC Designated Level 3 Travel Health Notice Nations

The Center for Disease Control currently designates these nations as “Level 3,” barring any travel to these countries for service members for at least the coming 60 days, starting Friday, March 13.

The CDC has also designated the entire continent of Europe as a Level 3 region. This list includes:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how to adopt a four-legged military hero

Who can resist the temptation to adopt a retired military working dog?

The Air Force is once again looking for people — military members or otherwise — who want to adopt retired military working dogs.

Take a second to just look at this face.


6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Meet Fflag, a U.S. Marine Corps military working dog. Fflag is a patrol explosives detection dog, trained to find explosive devices and take down an enemy combatant when necessary.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Brendan Mullin)

Air Force officials at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland issued a news release highlighting the need for adoptive parents for retired dogs. They said that, while there is demand to adopt puppies that didn’t make the cut for the program, there is less interest in the older dogs, even though they are exceptionally well trained and could probably rescue you from a well or warn you about any nearby bombs.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

A military working dog from the 366th Security Forces Squadron, Mountain Home, Idaho, poses for a picture during a field training convoy at the Orchard Combat Training Center, south of Boise, Idaho.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Joshua C. Allmaras)

Adopting a retired military working dog can be a long process, they warned, and can take up to two years.

Interested potential dog parents must fill out paperwork and answer questions about where the dog will live and how it will be cared for.

And not just anyone can adopt one of these four-legged heroes. To be eligible, applicants must have a six-foot fence, no kids under the age of five, and no more than three dogs already at home. They also have to list a veterinarian on the application, have two references and provide a transport crate.

6 ways to give back during a pandemic

Military Working Dog LLoren, a patrol and explosive detector dog, stands by his handler Staff Sgt. Samantha Gassner. 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, during an MWD Expo at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Robert Cloys)

Interested in adopting a retired military working dog? You can contact officials at mwd.adoptions@us.af.mil or call 210-671-6766.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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