5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Soldiers of the post-9/11 generation have been part of a social experiment aimed at preventing them from doing dumb things. The idea was to pair each troop with an assigned “best friend” — a battle buddy — and that each pair would keep an eye on one another. Troops have to make sure their comrade is doing the right thing and, if they aren’t, say something before both of them make the blotter- aka, the buddy system.

At its worst, soldiers end up in trouble because their Blue Falcon of a squadmate decides to throw caution to the wind and do whatever’s on their mind. But, as much as soldiers bemoan always having someone by their side — and the system’s goofy name — it’s actually brought about plenty more benefits than downsides.


5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Even if that means you’re now forced to take that guy into less-than-pleasant situations.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Robert Taylor)

It makes sure no one is left out

Let’s call the “battle buddy system” what it truly is — a forced-best-friend system. Everyone from the social butterfly specialist to the dorky private is forced to at least talk to each other after they join the unit.

Granted, you’ll eventually either become actual friends through the process — or you’ll swap to someone you’re cooler with — but it opens the social gates for some of the shier soldiers in the barracks.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

If your squad leader is happy, everyone’s happy — or you should be terrified. Depends on the squad leader…

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Keeler)

It eliminates much of the stress of being an NCO

Specialists and below often miss the bigger picture when they’re at the lowest rungs of the totem pole, but taking any kind of weight off their shoulders is a blessing. When you’ve got to watch over six soldiers, things get missed and mistakes happen.

When those six soldiers are keeping to themselves and keeping each other in check, there’s a better chance that they’re doing the right thing.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Worst case scenario: You’ve got another person to help you win a fist fight against some overzealous douchebag.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland)

It ensures someone will always watch your back

Soldiers stationed overseas in Korea or Germany know this all too well: You can’t even leave post without a battle buddy by your side. Drunk, American GIs being tossed into a foreign city without any means of figuring out how to get back in time for formation is actually pretty common.

Sure, now you run the risk of leaving two soldiers more lost than a butterbar on the BOLC land nav course, but the odds are better that they’ll at least be safe while they’re trying to find their way back.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Hopefully, at least one of you listened to the safety brief.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Johnston)

With the buddy system, it’s been proven that dumb stuff happens less frequently

As with everything in the Army, there have been studies upon studies that have analyzed the efficacy versus the cost of telling your squad to be friends with one another. Because, you know, even the Army can make something as simple as drinking a beer with your friend into a PowerPoint slideshow.

It’s simple, really. Soldiers who have a person that’ll say, “what are you doing, you friggin’ idiot?!” are less likely to end up in the commander’s office.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Everyone needs a good, steady shoulder every now and again. It’s the least you can do for someone who’ll do the same for you.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tyler Kingsbury)

The buddy system gives soldiers at least one person to talk to when it gets rough

Those studies also point to why the battle buddy system was implemented to begin with — to help decrease the alarming number of self-inflicted deaths and injuries within the ranks.

Everything else on this list is all fine and dandy, but if just a single soldier is saved because they had just one person to talk to, the program is a success. If hundreds of soldiers were talked out of that darkness because their squadmate became their best friend, I’ll forever argue its merit, no matter how goofy it sounds calling another grown-ass warfighter my “battle buddy.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The key to conversation: Vulnerability is not a weakness

Have you ever been lost for words in how to approach a serious conversation? As military spouses, we may feel vulnerability is a bad thing, but it’s crucial to have meaningful, heartfelt conversations. Have you ever shared legitimate fears, hoping for a safe space to find relief, and were met with jokes or platitudes? Here are a few ways we weave vulnerability into our conversations.


Please, Sir, can I have some more?

Asking for what you need might sound demanding, but this request allows the other person to know what you’re looking for to support you better. Ideas for phrase starters could look like: “I’m looking for encouragement…advice…a reminder I’m not crazy and can do this,” Sometimes as listeners, we advise because we want to help when the other person is just looking to vent or verbally process. Knowing this information beforehand gives the listener insight into how to respond in a way that nourishes each of you.

Let’s take it to the next level

What do you do when you want to have a serious conversation and do not want to be brushed aside or met with sarcasm? Using this ‘level’ tool, you can set the tone for discussion beforehand.

  • Level 1 is everyday chat, light-hearted fun.
  • Level 3 is, ‘I want you to take me seriously and hear me out; please don’t make light of this.’
  • Level 5 is divorce talks or a year-long unaccompanied tour announcement. A high stakes all-hands-on-deck conversation.

By stating the level, you give the person you are hoping to talk with an understanding of where you are mentally.

Hurry Up and Wait

Be prepared to wait if you ask for a level 3+ conversation. If they are in the middle of a project, they may need to get back to you later to give you proper attention. Adding more care to our conversations is a gift. Providing clarity on the topic helps them mentally prepare as well. For example: “Hey, hun, I’d love to have a level 3 about your deployment next week, we need to make a plan,” or, “Hey, mom, level 5, I’m four months into a one-year deployment, with three kids. I’m not okay. I need help.”

When we share the topic of conversation and use an easy tool like levels, we can let people know the seriousness of our feelings before the discussion even starts. Using these tools can change the conversation from one of frustration to one of vulnerability and met hearts.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Star Trek’s ‘Kobayashi Maru’ test is a must for military leaders

Over the years, the varied iterations of the Star Trek franchise have inspired countless young men and women to pursue careers in cutting edge technologies, space sciences, and the like. As a kid growing up on a steady diet of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” however, I saw something else that spoke to me: a command structure that each and every crewmember had the utmost faith in.

The crew of the Enterprise each knew where they fell within the decision-making hierarchy, what their role and responsibilities were, and most importantly, who to look to when it came time to make hard decisions.


Breaking the chain of command or violating direct orders, of course, played a pivotal role in a number of episodes and movies–but in my young mind, that only further emphasized the importance of command: where starship captains were forced to decide between their orders and what they knew to be right. Almost universally, the captain that erred on the side of ethics got off scot-free, no matter how egregious their crimes. Good leadership, I learned, is about looking failure in the eye, accepting the consequences, and doing what has to be done.

Leadership in Starfleet, like in today’s real-world military, is a near constant life-or-death matter. Fortunately for the Star Trek universe, they have a test to see if you have what it takes to lead in such an environment.

Wrath of Khan – Kobayashi Maru

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The test

The Kobayashi Maru test was first shown on screen in 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” The premise is simple: a cadet is placed in command of a starship simulator and tasked with responding to the distress call of a damaged fuel carrier: the Kobayashi Maru. The stranded vessel is adrift in the neutral zone dividing Starfleet’s Federation Space from the Klingon Empire. The cadet-turned-captain has to make a hard decision: do you risk war with Star Trek’s Cold War Russian stand-ins, the Klingons… or do you allow the civilians to die?

The right thing to do, of course, is rescue the civilians–but the moment a cadet issues that order, things go bad. Communications with the civilian vessel are immediately lost just as multiple Klingon warships appear in pursuit. In clear violation of the treaty between their peoples, the cadet-in-command can try to talk their way out of trouble, turn and fight, or leave the civilians to their fate and run, but it doesn’t matter. The cadet’s ship is invariably destroyed. All crew members are lost. It’s a failure that’s spectacular in measure, both in terms of the lost vessel and in terms of lost lives. For an aspiring Starfleet captain, it’s a living nightmare… and that’s the point.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Kirk didn’t learn from the Kobayashi Maru, so he went on to learn the hard way.

The “no win scenario”

No matter how long you serve in the military or how competent a leader you are, failure comes for us all. If you’re fortunate, your most egregious failures will all come in training environments, and you’ll never have to go home with the weight of lost brothers or sisters on your conscience. In the worst of scenarios, victory or failure may be entirely outside of your control, but the burden of loss remains. When someone dies under your command, be it in combat or otherwise, it sticks with you.

You’ll keep moving, you’ll keep working, but late at night, when you’re alone with yourself, you can feel the weight of it bearing down. Good leaders know they’re going to hurt, but importantly, know how to get the job done anyway. They know that sometimes failure is unavoidable… often because they’ve faced their own Kobayashi Maru somewhere along the way.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Melissa Wenger)

The measure of a good leader

I lost a Marine to suicide only weeks after being given my own squad. It tore our team apart and reshaped my approach to leadership and service. If I could be called a good leader after that, it wasn’t because I was born with an innate ability to rally the troops or because I had the decision making prowess of Jean Luc Picard. It was because I’d already felt the crushing weight of failure pulling me down into the darkness. I’d already been up at night, assessing what I did wrong. I’d already looked a grieving mother in the eyes and choked as I stammered an apology.

Failure is an unavoidable part of any military operation, but good leaders know how to roll with even the most crushing of punches. Some may come to the table with that ability, others, like me, have to learn it the hard way–by failing. The measure of a leader is their ability to recover from those failures, their ability to lead in adverse conditions, and their ability to shoulder the weight of their conscience without compromising the task at hand.

Every military leader needs to face the Kobayashi Maru sooner or later. Starfleet is just smart enough to add it to the training schedule.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons troops don’t mention it’s their birthday

As a child, birthdays are a big event. Every year is celebrated like it’s the biggest day of the year. Then there are milestone birthdays: They’ll hit the sweet 16 and get their license, turn 18 and join the military, turn 21 and they legally drink…and then that’s about it. Unless they’re looking for a sarcastic “congratu-f***ing-lations,” it’s just another day in the military.

Even though some members of the chain of command have good intentions, it’s best not to test the waters by letting everyone know it’s your birthday. Here’s why:


5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Don’t think you can just take in the singing. You’ll be in the front leaning rest position through it all.

(photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar)

Your gift is embarrassment

Think of the moment when you go to a chain sit-down restaurant and one of your buddies mentions it’s your birthday to the staff and they come out to sing “happy birthday” with almost no excitement in their voice.

Imagine that except it’s the rest of your company singing, they all know you, and they’re slightly agitated because they have to take ten seconds out of their day to sing to you.

The intention is to make you awkward. And it works almost every single time.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

And yet for some reason, they always add the “And one more for the Corps. One more for the unit! One more for the First Sergeant!” Like the “one per year” thing didn’t apply. How old do they think you are?

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Crystal Druery)

Push-ups for every year

If troops let it slip that they’ve successfully made another orbit around the sun, it’s not like there will be a surprise party secretly waiting in the training room. The poor unfortunate souls are often given the most re-gifted present in the military: push-ups.

There’s no spite in this. And despite how civilians feel about push-ups, they really aren’t that bad. But the troop owes Uncle Sam one push-up for every year they’ve been on this Earth. It’s in good fun though and they’re almost always done with a grin.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Happy birthday, ya poor b******.

(Meme via Terminal Lance)

There (usually) won’t be cake

Cakes are actually a lot harder to find on military installations than you’d think. If the kindhearted soul who does want to do right for the party, they’ll need to go off-post.

For everyone else (and those troops in the field or deployed) they’ll often just get a doughnut or the pound cake that comes in the MRE. Candles are optional but they’re occasionally cigarettes.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

“Cool. You’re older. Now get back to work.”

(U.S. Army Photo)

It’s still a regular work day

In between the awkwardness, the pranks, and mediocre reception, the Army goes rolling along. It’s still just a regular old day.

Some chains of command may give single troops a day off (usually as a consolation prize because they give married troops their anniversary off.) Some don’t. The work still needs to get done and it’ll feel like it’s just any of the other 364 days in a year.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

You know your squad has your back if they carry your home from the bar.

(U.S. Army Photo)

But the squad (usually) does care

The squad is your new family. Just like your siblings went out of their way to make sure your birthday was special, so do your squad-mates.

Just like the push-ups, the squad will usually get together and buy shot for every year you’ve been on this Earth and share them with you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Marine veteran Todd Boeding, Carry the Load

On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Tanner Iskra interviews guest Todd Boeding, who shares his past, present and future as a Marine Corps veteran, as well as his involvement honoring veterans through Carry the Load.

Born and raised in Texas, Boeding was always known to take unorthodox paths in life. He dabbled in college, left for the Marine Corps seeking structure and discipline, and eventually returned to finish up his degree at The University of Texas at Dallas.


Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2003, Boeding discussed the hardest part of the transition back to civilian life: finding a sense of belonging. Boeding was able to find his purpose of being part of something bigger through Carry the Load.

September 11th Volunteer Opportunity with Carry The Load

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Carry the Load offers opportunities to learn how to care again and to do it in a way that meaningfully impacts the families who lost their loved ones. Currently, Carry the Load is partnering with the National Cemetery Association on Sep. 11, 2019, to help maintain the dignity of cemeteries.

If you would like to learn more or want to help in this movement, click on this link: www.carrytheload.org/NCA.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Millennials can learn these 7 lessons from the military

As a millennial myself, I’m the first to admit that my generation is just as imperfect as those who came before us. We’re all influenced by our upbringing, whether we like it or not; how we think, set goals, and look at life are all tied to how we grew up. 

For more reasons than one, younger generations tend to be more individualistic than previous generations. They’re often highly motivated to reach leadership positions and meet personal bests, but military life can impart some priceless lessons. 

1. Take baby steps.

When you grow up with 24/7 access to Pinterest, YouTube and Google, it’s easy to believe that you can learn to do anything overnight from a 12-minute tutorial. Achieving true mastery, however, requires diligence.

In the military, recruits are taught how to make their bed and wear their uniforms correctly, long before they see any action. Imagine if you joined the Army, had one hour of combat training, and then got tossed into battle. Even if you learned a few skills first, you would be woefully unprepared. By perfecting each small step, members of the military build a foundation for success- which they’ll rely on when it really counts.

Breaking things down into pieces and mastering them is a skill that millennials and zoomers can apply anywhere; work, the gym, even in relationships.

millennial soldiers fold flags


2. Take pride in your work, regardless of what it is.

We grew up being told that we could be whatever we wanted to be if we just tried our best. Disney movies glossed over the fact that in real life, you usually have to try your best for a while. Like, for years. Meeting your goals doesn’t happen during the course of a 2-hour movie. You might have to put up with jobs you don’t like to get to the one you really want.

When you’re in the military, you learn that no job is insignificant. Others are depending on you to do your job well, so take pride in your work. Even if your work is cleaning toilets. Think you’re beneath doing such menial labor? Prove it by doing a damn good job.

3. Discipline is the key to long term success.

Millennial Marines training
US Marine Corps (USMC) Basic Training recruits from Platoon 2086, Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island, South Carolina (SC)

Like we said — success doesn’t happen overnight. This isn’t a fairytale. Millennials tend to think they’re failing if they don’t meet their goals quickly, but achievement takes persistence. You have to show up every day and work hard. In the military, a lack of discipline can later mean the difference between life and death. In civilian life, discipline means the difference between meeting your goals and fizzling out after a few weeks of effort. Your pick.

4. Millennials, pay attention to how you present yourself.

College students in pajamas, we’re looking at you. The way you show up every day leaves an impression. In the military, your uniform tells your superiors a lot about you. If it’s sloppy, wrinkled and ill-fitting, they’re not going to trust you as much as the guy standing next to you with a perfectly pressed, spotless ensemble. Why? Because it seems like you don’t care. If you don’t care enough to present yourself well, what else are you careless about?

recruited millennials during boot camp
Recruits stand in formation during boot camp activities at the Naval Training Center.


While it’s totally possible to write a brilliant essay in sweatpants, the way you present yourself sends a message to your teachers, your boss and everyone around you. Even if you’re working from home, the way you dress will influence how you view yourself. Are you put together or a mess? You get to choose the message to send.

5. Roll with the punches.

Military life isn’t always predictable, and neither is any other lifestyle. Sh*t happens. When you take a hit, you can either collapse, or you can get back up and keep going. Joining the military teaches you to be adaptable so that you can thrive in any environment you run into.

6. Even millennials can’t do everything alone.

If you went into battle alone, you’d die. The movies lied to you. There’s rarely a single, beloved hero who gets all the glory. Winning a war takes a literal army. The same goes for civilian life. You can absolutely choose your own goals, but you’ll need support to get there. Your family, your coworkers, your classmates…you’re all team members in one way or another. Be a solid member of the team, and others will be there to support you when you need it the most.

7. Don’t be a d*ck.

There’s no way to sugar coat this one. People remember how you treat them. In the military, being a good guy and taking care of your team is invaluable, and it’s no different anywhere else. While millennials and zoomers tend to focus more on empathy than older generations (and we’re great tippers), our drive for personal accomplishment can limit our perspective.

MIGHTY CULTURE

That time a US Marine eloped with a Princess from Bahrain

There are roughly 8,500 U.S. personnel stationed at the Navy’s base in Bahrain. In 1999, one of those, Lance Cpl. Jason Johnson, faced a court-martial and legal battle to wed his beloved girlfriend, a Bahraini local named Meriam. The Marine met Meriam at a local mall and, over the objections of her family, the two continued their love affair.

The biggest problem is that Meriam’s full name is Meriam bint Abdullah al-Khalifa, and she was a member of the royal family’s house of Khalifa. So, when Lance Cpl.Johnson smuggled her out of Bahrain and into the United States, it was kind of a big deal.


5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

It wasn’t just that she was a member of the royal family, her family’s Islamic faith was incompatible with Johnson’s Mormon beliefs. She was forbidden to marry a non-Muslim, by both her religion and her family. There was also an age difference, as Johnson was 23 years old and Meriam al-Khalifa was just 19.

There were a lot of reasons why they shouldn’t have gotten married, but with the help of a friend, they still managed to exchange letters. Their affection for one another only grew.

Until it was time for Johnson to return to the United States.

Undeterred by things like “passports” and “legal documents,” he snuck the girl into the United States with forged documents and a New York Yankees baseball hat. By the time they landed in Chicago, U.S. immigration officials were waiting for Meriam, and took her into custody.

Meriam was held for three days by customs and immigration officials. Eventually, she was granted asylum as she worried about the possibility of honor-related violence if she returned to her family.

“She does not believe that she can go back and be safe at this time,” her lawyer, Jan Bejar said at an official hearing. “All the woman did is try to leave a country that does not allow her to live with the person she wants to live with.”
5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

The couple also made the talk show circuit.

(The Oprah Winfrey Show)

They were married just a few weeks after arriving in the United States. Weeks later, her family sent a letter, forgiving her for eloping, but not mentioning her new husband. For a while, the two lived in base housing on Camp Pendleton, but when the Marines found out what had happened, they were understandably upset with Johnson. He was court-martialed, demoted, and eventually left the Corps.

The two settled down to live their lives together in the Las Vegas area where Johnson got a job as a valet, parking cars for wealthy nightclub patrons — patrons like Meriam’s family. The al-Khalifa family hadn’t forgotten about Meriam or Johnson. The FBI alleged that the family paid an assassin half a million dollars to find Meriam and kill her.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

But their married life wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. Johnson told the Associated Press that al-Khalifa was more interested in partying in Las Vegas than she was in enjoying life with her husband, spending the money they made from selling their story to a made-for-TV movie called, The Princess and the Marine. By 2003, the whirlwind romance came to a dead stop, buried in the Las Vegas desert.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

The cast of ‘The Princess and the Marine.’

Johnson filed for divorce in 2004, saying “it was what she wanted.”

Deep down inside, she knows that I loved her more than anything in the world,” Johnson told the AP. “I can say I enjoyed every minute I spent with her.”
MIGHTY CULTURE

Iraq war veteran gives rare insight into his Medal of Honor moment

David Bellavia, who received the nation’s highest military honor June 25, 2019, for his heroic actions in Iraq, offered rare insight into his Medal of Honor moment at the Pentagon on June 24, 2019, revealing the thoughts and emotions that flooded his brain as he charged into a house filled with insurgents in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004.

Former Staff Sergeant Bellavia and his team were clearing houses in support of Operation Phantom Fury. In one house, insurgents ambushed his squad, pinning them down. Bellavia rushed inside the house to provide suppressing cover fire so that his fellow soldiers could exit the building safely.

Ret. Sgt. First Class Colin Fitts told reporters that had it not been for Bellavia, he probably wouldn’t be here today.


After Bellavia and his squad got out, a Bradley fighting vehicle hit the war-torn house hard, but not hard enough to eliminate the threat. It was necessary for someone to head inside and clear the building of insurgents, who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, among other weapons.

“David Bellavia had to go back into a darkened, nightmare of a house where he knew there were at least five or six suicidal jihadis waiting,” Michael Ware, an embedded reporter who was with the staff sergeant and personally witnessed the Medal of Honor moment, told press at the Pentagon.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Engagements on the first floor.

(U.S. Army)

Supported by one fellow soldier inside and three outside, Bellavia re-entered the house, fighting room-to-room, killing four insurgents and mortally wounding a fifth in the fierce fight.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Engagements on the second floor.

(U.S. Army)

“A lot of things go through your mind. Some are very rational. Some are completely irrational,” Bellavia explained. “The first thing you’re thinking about you’re scared, you’re life is on the line. The second thing you’re thinking is you’re angry. How dare anyone try to hurt us. How dare anyone try to step up against the US military.”

“You’re angry. You’re scared,” he said, telling reporters that it’s a certain kind of peer pressure that keeps you moving forward. “When you’re peer is asking for help … it’s easy. Peer pressure might make you smoke cigarettes at 13. But, peer pressure can also make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. It’s about who your peers are.”

Bellavia talked a little about the house he cleared, and it sounded horrific. He explained that the scenes when he first entered and when he re-entered the house were very different due to the extreme redecorating the Bradley fighting vehicle did prior to his re-entry.

“The water had ruptured. All of the plumbing inside. Fallujah had been abandoned for months. So, that water was very unpleasant. It assaulted your senses,” he revealed, adding that there were propane tanks lying about, broken mirrors, makeshift bunkers, and insurgents hopped up on experimental drugs in the dark.

“It was tough. The mind is playing tricks on you,” he said, “You don’t know if you are firing at the same individual or if this is a new individual. A person gets dropped, then they disappear.”

Bellavia said he “thought it was a real possibility” that he wouldn’t make it out.

Bellavia is the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor, an upgrade of the Silver Star he initially received, for “conspicuous gallantry” during his time in the Army. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon June 24, 2019, he said that this honor “represents many different people,” including many who never came home.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how astronauts pee in space

“Let’s talk about peeing in space.” — Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo-Award Winning Author

During the space race of the Cold War, NASA scientists were so excited to get a man into space, they failed to come up with elegant means for him to relieve himself. As a result, the first American in space, Alan Shepard, was forced to pee in his spacesuit.


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At that point in time, NASA wasn’t even considering female astronauts. In fact, women weren’t admitted into the astronaut program until the late 1970s — and it wasn’t until 1983 that Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. “By this point,” observed Robinette Kowal, “the space program was built around male bodies.”

This exclusion wouldn’t be comical except for the fact that male astronauts literally lied about their penis sizes, causing failures in early pee-sheath engineering.

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That’s right, our early heroes of space exploration refused to use “small” condoms and would instead pee all over themselves. I don’t blame men for this. I honestly blame toxic masculinity, penis shaming, and lazy men who refuse to learn how to give sexual pleasure to their female partners — but I digress.

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The urine-condom technology developed enough to allow for a vacuum to suction the pee out into space, which apparently not only takes some timing skillz but looks pretty cool. The urine will boil violently, then the vapor passes immediately into the solid state and becomes a cloud of very fine crystals of frozen urine that might even catch the light of the sun…

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NASA continued to try to contain men’s pee with condoms and bags. After the accident aboard Apollo 13, the astronauts couldn’t use the regular urine vent but the alternate system caused droplets to float around the ship. Mission Control told the crew to stop dumping pee. According to Robinette Kowal, “it wasn’t meant to be a permanent ban, but the crew didn’t understand that. So they were stashing pee in every bag or container possible.”

The fastest option was to store it in the collection bags they wore in their suits. Poor Fred Haise kept his suit on for hours and got a urinary tract infection and a kidney infection.

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Male astronauts switched over to the Maximum Absorbency Garment as well because it was more comfortable and less prone to resulting in pee floating around the cabin. This is a great example of how diversity encourages innovation, folks.

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Robinette Kowal’s Twitter thread doesn’t stop there. She goes on to cover modern malfunctions, farting in space, the effect of gravity on urination urges, official and unofficial erections in space, and menstrual periods.

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(Apparently NASA engineers tied Sally Ride’s tampons together like a bandolier? Guys, if you have period questions, just ask women.)

Today, the International Space System efficiently collects urine and recycles 80-85% of it to astronaut drinking water. Peggy Whitson, an astronaut who hit her “radiation limit” after logging 665 days in space (an American record), suggests that engineers will find a way to create a closed-loop system and recycle all of their water.

So see some International Space Station innovation in action, check out this video of Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti demonstrating their toilet.

International Space Station toilet tour

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MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 18th

Retired Air Force Colonel and NASA astronaut, Greg Johnson posted a nice, heartfelt video for the folks seeking tips about getting through this time of isolation – as he’s something of a subject matter expert from his time in space. He makes excellent points, such as have a routine, be mindful of others, and stay positive, but I’d like to throw my two cents in from what I learned in Afghanistan.


Tip one: Don’t skip out on meals. You can even hit up midnight chow if you’d like. Beach season is cancelled this year anyway.

Tip two: Take whatever breaks you feel you need. We all basically lived in the smoke pit (regardless if we were actual smokers or not) and still somehow managed to get things done. You can too. You also have the added advantage of turning your Zoom meeting off and not having to deal with your boss all day.

Tip three: Don’t feel guilty about binge watching tv or playing video games all day. A good chunk of most Post-9/11 troops’ off-duty time on deployment was spent in the MWR doing the exact same thing and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d say they didn’t earn it after a stressful day.

If my list somehow looks like encouragement to become a fat, lazy couch-potato… Go for it. What do I care? I’m not your NCO. Anyway, here are some memes.

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Not CID)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Private News Network)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

That’s why I like the film The Last Full Measure. It’s one of the only Air Force centered films that I can think of that doesn’t feature a single f*cking pilot. 

No offense to pilots, but your films are always the same. “I’m a renegade despite being bound by the UCMJ and I’ll only learn the value of being a part of a team after my actions directly cause someone’s death. Now cue the flying montage!”

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This might be the best Ranger panties ad ever made

For the first time ever, I find myself seriously considering buying Ranger panties. And not just buying them; wearing them to all sorts of events. These are about to be the centerpiece (and possibly only piece) of my Valentine’s Day outfit. And it’s all thanks to this ad from Dog Company of some battalion or another:


5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Look at it. Really look at it. It’s got puns, it’s got rhymes, it’s got suggestive language, it’s got a joke at the expense of cavalry scouts (thanks for securing our routes, sorry about all the jokes).

It even suggests that Ranger panties are perfect for signing into the unit when you get to Dog Company, which, come on, if you’re not checking to see if they have openings for your MOS already, you’re doing it wrong. My old MOS, unfortunately, does not appear in any infantry MTOEs, so I have to long after these shorts from afar.

But not Dog Company. No, these guys apparently get to throw on their Ranger panties, smack their significant other on the Ranger panty-clad butt, and then charge into battle against communists with guns firing and thighs open to the air, absorbing the sun’s rays and warmth while the commies are absorbing the bullets.

When they’re done with that, they get to have a short meeting with first sergeant, still in the Ranger panties and ostensibly still covered in the gore of their enemies, before going to a wedding or two and a few children’s parties.

The clown isn’t going to be the scariest thing at that party. Thank Valhalla for that.

We’re still not sure which infantryman found a keyboard and typed up this beautiful masterpiece. The fact that they found a keyboard indicates maybe an XO, but the fact that the final advertisement is quality indicates a specialist or corporal.

Maybe it was a team-up? Regardless, grab a pair if you happen to be in Dog Company (all proceeds benefit the FRG!). If you’re not, just get your panties from Ranger Joe’s or your own FRG or whatever. We can’t help you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how veterans can get free flu shots

VA and Walgreens are national partners, providing no-cost quadrivalent flu shots to enrolled veterans of the VA health care system. Now through March 31, 2020, enrolled veteran patients nationwide have the option of getting their flu shot at any of Walgreens’ 9,600 locations, in addition to their local VA health care facilities.


How do I get my flu shot for free at Walgreens?

No appointment is required. Simply go to any Walgreens, tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility, and show your Veterans Health Identification Card and another form of photo ID. (Patients will also be asked to complete a vaccine consent form at the time of service.)

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Walgreens has the capability to electronically send vaccination information to the VA and your immunization record will be updated in your VA electronic health record.

The VA-Walgreens national partnership is part of VA’s eHealth Exchange project. This national program ensures that many veterans get their no-cost flu shot at their local Walgreens, satisfying their wellness reminder because they either found it more convenient or did not have a scheduled appointment at a local VA health care facility.

Can I get my flu shot at no cost at the VA?

Yes! If you are enrolled with VA you may receive a no-cost flu shot during any scheduled VA appointment or at one of the convenient walk-in flu stations. For more information on locations and hours contact your local VA health care facility.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to watch Army-Navy Game spirit videos from around the world

Anyone who’s followed the Army-Navy Game for the last few years knows that spirit videos have become an integral tradition in days leading up to the game. While one or two might get traction in the news media, the truth is that military members everywhere make spirit videos to support their service academy. And now there’s a go-to place to upload and watch them.


Some spirit videos are more famous than others, like Rylan Tuohey’s Pro-Navy “Helm Yeah” and “We Give A Ship” videos. Then-West Point Cadet Austin Lachance responded in time for 2017’s Army-Navy Game with the extremely well-produced spirit video masterpiece, “Lead From the Front.”

But they don’t have to be contenders for the GI Film Festival to be good. Now, thanks to DVIDS, they all have a forum.

Even if it’s just a group of First Lieutenants, Army alums all, deciding on who should get to watch the game with them or an entire Stryker Brigade Combat Team poking fun at “Helm Yeah” and getting sick of all the winning, spirit videos are now very much a part of the greater traditions surrounding the annual contest.

Army and Navy units stationed all over the world may not be able to make the big game, but they can still be a part of the fun, making and uploading videos to DVIDSHub, the military’s multimedia imagery database. It’s a collection of photos, video, and other multimedia gathered by members of the U.S. military, made available to the public on DVIDSHub.net. It’s a searchable collection of official and unofficial multimedia collected every day by military members everywhere.

Going to DVIDSHub and doing a video search of “#ArmyNavy2018” will reveal all of this year’s spirit videos so far. The collection is dominated by Army units slamming Navy Athletics over and over. Special Forces, tankers, and even doctors and nurses at Fort Irwin all have their own takes on the GO ARMY BEAT NAVY theme.

Some are modeled to be commercials for the game. Others are just showing what they do every day and announcing their support to the guys who will take the field in Philadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 8. The 3rd Cavalry Sapper Troop, currently deployed to Iraq, just showcased a cardboard Navy ship sealed with Duct Tape, rigged to explode.

Of course, you can still find fantastic videos from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard on DVIDS. The site is a public affairs site, meant to make all the imagery captured by U.S. troops in the course of their duties available to the American taxpayer. If a military event is unclassified and was captured by a military journalist, chances are good you can find it on DVIDS.

But Army-Navy Game spirit videos are a good break from the continuous mission. Show your spirit appropriately and never blow up a Navy effigy without trained Army explosives experts or artillery fire mules on site.