7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of veterans are diagnosed with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a given year. More and more veterans seek treatment for PTSD in order to learn how to address their symptoms, improve positive thinking, learn ways to cope when symptoms arise and treat problems related to trauma such as depression and anxiety or misuse of alcohol or drugs.


We are fortunate to be living in a time when America “supports the troops” and encourages the identification and treatment of invisible wounds. In addition to increased efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs to treat PTSD, there are many veteran non-profit organizations who step in to help.

The treatments and opportunities are far-reaching and varied, including offering psychotherapy or meditation classes.

And then there are non-profit organizations that have learned that a little adrenaline can go a long way. Here are six of them:

Motorcycle Relief Project 2019

www.youtube.com

Motorcycle Relief Project

Based in Colorado, Motorcycle Relief Project invites veterans on guided motorcycle adventure trips to decompress and learn some tools for managing stress. The organization creates a positive environment for veterans to connect with each other find some relief from everyday stresses by touring “some of the most scenic paved roads in the country as well as some amazing jeep trails and forest rides.”

These five-day trips are structured and led by professional staff and other veterans in order to allow participants to begin to re-frame their trauma with new narrative recovery through serving others:

“We know that you might not always be able to accept it when someone thanks you for your service, or that you don’t always feel worthy of someone’s gratitude or admiration just because you wore the uniform. We get that. But we also recognize that serving in the military or as a first responder is hard work. In difficult circumstances. With high demands and intense pressure. And for many of you, serving came at a great personal cost. So no matter how you may feel about your motives for serving or what you did or didn’t do while you were over there, the fact remains that you served. And that alone is enough for us to want to serve you back.”

Go to the Motorcycle Relief Project website to check out their program and apply.

Mercy, Love & Grace: The Story of FORCE BLUE (Trailer-HD Version)

www.youtube.com

Force Blue

Force Blue unites the community of Special Operations veterans with the world of marine conservation for the betterment of both. By providing “mission therapy” for former combat divers, Force Blue retrains and retools veterans before “deploying” them on missions of conservation and restoration.

In the keenly unique organization founded by Marine Recon vet Rudy Reyes, Force Blue teams work alongside marine scientists to complete tasks such as surveying the health and disease of sea turtles and plant 100 yards of coral to help restore Florida’s Coral Reef.


To be considered for Force Blue, or to help sponsor a veteran, check out their website.

Retired UFC Hall of Famer, Army Veteran and Actor, Mr. Randy Couture

youtu.be

Operation Jump 22

Operation Jump 22 was founded in 2017 by a team of Marines and a licensed skydiver to create an exciting event for veterans and help combat veteran suicide. Operation Jump 22 helped raise funds for Merging Vets and Players, an organization that matches up combat veterans and former professional athletes to help both transition to civilian life by connecting with their community.

On Nov. 2, 2019, Operation Jump 22 invited participants to help raise funds and then jump 13,000 feet out of an airplane. The event Go Jump Oceanside brought together veterans, first responders and the community to bring awareness to the alarming veteran suicide rates — and get a massive burst of adrenaline.

That positive surge of adrenaline, mixed with community support, can help reprogram the fight-or-flight response centers in the brain that are activated and imprinted during stressful situations like combat or sexual assault.

The next jump is on Nov. 7, 2020 if you’re looking for a little adrenaline of your own.
War Horses For Veterans Foundation For Combat Veterans

www.youtube.com

War Horses for Veterans

A recent study found that PTSD scores dropped 87 percent after just six weeks of therapeutic horsemanship sessions. Conducted by Rebecca Johnson, a professor in the University Of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing, the study introduced veterans suffering from PTSD to basic horsemanship skills.

The veterans, working under strict ethical guidelines for the welfare of the horses, learned to groom and interact with horses before riding and caring for them.

War Horses for Veterans brings combat veterans together for multi-day all-expenses-paid programs that introduce the basics of horsemanship, including grooming and riding. Veterans can return as often as they want — as long as they bring another veteran with them.

DIAVOLO’s The Veterans Project

www.youtube.com

Diavolo – Architecture in Motion

You may recognize the name from America’s Got Talent, where the contemporary movement company combined physics-defying acrobatics with mind-blowing sets, much like cirque-du-soleil.

In 2016, the company created The Veterans Project to give vets the Diavolo experience, from choreography to training to performing. The mission of The Veterans Project is to utilize Diavolo’s unique style of movement as a tool to help restore veterans’ physical and mental strengths through workshops and public performances all around the country.

From Los Angeles to Florida to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Diavolo offers its experience free of charge to veterans, helping them challenge their boundaries and tap into their own creative healing.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD when I returned from Iraq, and there was a moment early on in rehearsal with DIAVOLO when I realized it was the first time I have truly felt at peace since returning from war, and I’ve been back a decade.” — Chris Loverro, United States Army

Warrior Surf Foundation – Folly Beach, South Carolina – October 2015

www.youtube.com

Warrior Surf Foundation

Warrior Surf enhances the physical and mental well-being of veterans and their families through surf therapy. By combining surfing and yoga with wellness and community, Warrior Surf channels the healing energy of the ocean to help break the cycle of trauma and help the body work through residual feelings of comfort and distress.

Surf therapy helps improve emotional regulation and frustration management while creating non-battlefield bonds and community connection. They hold several 12-week programs and 5-day travel camps throughout the year. In addition to surfing, vets who participate in the program work on wellness with individual coaching sessions as well as yoga to increase mobility and improve mindfulness.

Veterans interested in participating can register on the Warrior Surf Foundation website.

Outward Bound for Veterans 173rd Expedition

www.youtube.com

Outward Bound for Veterans

Outward Bound for Veterans offers wilderness expeditions that purposefully scaffold wartime experiences (carrying heavy packs, sore shoulders, rubbery legs, sleeping out, strange noises, sweat, dirt, frustration and anger) in order to help veterans return home after wartime service.

By offering challenges that are physically and emotionally demanding — without the life-threatening experience of combat — Outward Bound gives veterans the opportunity to re-experience those conditions in a different context, which helps them transition back to civilian life. As a result, veterans successfully draw on the benefit of connecting with each other within the healing environment of nature.

Interested veterans can search for expeditions, which include everything from backpacking to whitewater rafting to rock climbing right here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Blood donation could earn Super Bowl tickets

The American Red Cross and NFL are teaming up this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals – especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 – to give blood and to help tackle the national convalescent plasma shortage.

During this critical time, those who come to donate blood or platelets this January will be automatically entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.* In addition, those who come to give Jan. 1-20 will also be automatically entered to win a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card.**

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood today with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

“Blood and plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may have the power to help critically ill patients currently battling the virus,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, Red Cross medical director of clinical services. “With hospital distributions for convalescent plasma increasing about 250% since October, these generous donations are vital in helping to save lives throughout the winter – a time that is often challenging to collect enough blood products for those in need.”

As COVID-19 cases have risen across the U.S., so has the need for convalescent plasma – leading to a shortage of this potentially lifesaving blood product. COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to make a game-changing difference in the lives of COVID-19 patients. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could provide a patient’s immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus.

How those recovered from COVID-19 can help

There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help – through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. Health emergencies don’t pause for holidays, game days or a pandemic – blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling injury and illness.

Blood donation safety precautions

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. Donors must wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

About blood donation

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

* Terms and conditions apply. Additional information and details are available at https://www.redcrossblood.org/local-homepage/events/super_bowl.html

** Terms and conditions apply. Additional information and details are available at https://www.redcrossblood.org/local-homepage/events/super_bowl.html

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 business lessons learned from the attack at Pearl Harbor

We all know the phrase about the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941 — “a day that will live in infamy”. Understanding the devastating, clever and well-executed Japanese attack on the anchored and sleeping U.S. Navy Pacific fleet seems, at face value, unnecessary. And the business world today is marked by staggering complexity, technological innovations, instant communication and data-driven decision making. So what can an old battle hope to teach?

Despite occurring decades in the past, the lessons of Dec. 7, 1941 have never been more relevant nor more vital to the success of businesses and the people who lead them.  Dec. 7th, 1941 is a constant reminder for the importance of innovation, preparation and training so businesses, like the military, are rarely surprised and always ready.

6 business lessons learned from the attack at Pearl Harbor

Lesson #1 – Surprise attacks will continue to be a favored tactic.  Even at the start of World War II, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army possessed formidable military power in the Pacific. U.S. Navy ships patrolled to China and the U.S. Army occupied major bases throughout numerous Pacific islands. The attacking Japanese knew that a surprise attack was essential to temporarily defeat the United States. The tactic is similar in business — surprise either with existing business tactics or with new tactics, such as digital disruption or customer disintermediation, remain a favored and an effective tactic for competitors to disrupt the business landscape.

Lesson #2 – Never underestimate the capabilities of simple, quick-win innovations. One of the major innovations that allowed the Japanese to be successful on Dec. 7, 1941 was the use of simple and highly-effective military innovations. The Japanese built and tested wooden modifications to aircraft launched torpedoes that allowed the torpedoes to run just below the water’s surface and to run over the top of deployed anti-submarine torpedo nets that made anchored ships vulnerable.  Japanese midget submarines allowed the Japanese to gather intelligence close to U.S. Navy ports.  Complex Japanese codes, later broken during World War II, allowed the Japanese to communicate effectively and in secret. Innovation is often thought of as an entirely new capability when, in fact, true innovation is an effective introduction and use of technology. The Japanese took existing technology and applied multiple “quick-win” ideas to make them significantly more effective.

Lesson #3 – Loyalties and friendships can quickly shift.  At the end of World War, I, the Japanese were a distant ally and the newly formed Communist Soviet Union was an enemy. At the start of World War II, Japan was the enemy and the Soviet Union was now an important ally. The global structure of U.S. allies and enemies is constantly shifting in military, technology and commercial affairs. This lesson is essential for businesses to constantly develop multiple strategies with multiple sets of allies to ensure success even as alliances rapidly shift and goals transform.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD
The USS Arizona (BB39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7 1941. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Lesson #4 – Passion, innovation and leadership reduce major offsets. As the Japanese planes flew away from Pearl Harbor, it appeared that the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army were damaged for years. Yet, only months later, the U.S. Navy had raised, and repaired ships sunk in the Pearl Harbor attack. In its own combination of military innovation, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, in a daring logistical concept, bombed mainland Japan with the “Doolittle Raid” of medium bombers launched for the first time from an aircraft carrier. All these critical military activities were created by leaders across the Pacific and the United States acting with passion, innovation and determination to reduce the strategic offsets of Dec. 7, 1941.

Lesson #5 – New technology without training vastly reduces the benefits.  The U.S. Army had early versions of ground-based radar that detected the incoming Japanese aircraft. Due to a broad array of command and control failures, communication lapses and misunderstanding of radar’s capabilities, the warning of the Japanese attack were lost to the leaders. Innovative technology requires training, new procedures, new tactics and, vitally, new levels of trust so leaders at all levels benefit.

Lesson #6 – Every level in the company needs to be trained as leaders.  The Japanese surprise attack exposed an Army and Navy leadership style that trained leaders to await orders. Waiting for orders during chaos and threat will never lead to success. Following Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military became a fighting force that used training, available military forces, innovation and technology to create a style of fighting that prized initiative and independence to achieve military success.  n the military campaigns in the Pacific following Pearl Harbor, leaders down to the lowest level understood that every person needed to attack to ensure the defeat of Japan.


The best way to use military history for commercial benefit is not to sharply judge the past actions of military leaders. Military history and its lessons need to be understood in context and universally applied to the business challenges of today. When every person in an organization is better trained from the lessons of past mistakes to succeed in the future an organization is truly using history to its present and future advantage.

Chad Storlie is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer, an Iraq combat veteran and has 15 years of university teaching experience as an adjunct Professor of Marketing.  He is a mid-level B2B marketing executive and a widely published author on leadership, logistics, marketing, business, analytics, decision making, military and technology topics.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Navy SEAL wants to inspire kids to reach their full potential

Marc Lonergan-Hertel grew up in Massachusetts with the dream of becoming a Navy SEAL — a dream he made into a reality. But he had a long way to go before achieving such a feat. He decided he needed to toughen up first, so he joined the Marine Corps, where he eventually found himself in Force Recon.

His military career took him through some of the toughest training the military has to offer. And he wrote about it in his memoir, Sierra Two: A SEAL’s Odyssey in War and Peace.

But Lonergan-Hertel didn’t stop there. He continued a life of adventure and service after leaving the military and today, he wants to call attention to real-world heroes he met along the way. He wants his transformative journey to help inspire others — namely, our nation’s youth — so they can maximize their full potential and achieve their dreams.

He calls himself a Protector.


7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD
Lonergan-Hertel’s Book is available on Amazon.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Lonergan-Hertel and 1st Force Recon.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

Those who fight monsters inevitably change,” Lonergan-Hertel says, explaining what he means by the title “Protector.” It’s from a popular saying about post-traumatic stress, written by an unknown author. The quote goes on to note that if you stay in the fighting long enough, you will eventually become the monster. The former Navy SEAL wants to keep Protectors from getting that far.

“There is a cost to being a protector. Love is the only way to heal the wounds [that change you]. Remember this: As a protector, you run toward the things that others run away from. You go out to fight what you fear. You stand between others and the monsters on the other side of the wall.”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Lonergan-Hertel in his world-record paraglider flight, 70 South Antarctica.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

You can read about his adventures fighting monsters in his book, Sierra Two. After his time in Force Recon, he left the military and worked as a Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles as well as a hunting guide in Colorado. Eventually, he decided to explore the Army and join the Special Forces. Shortly after joining the California National Guard, he was able to wear a maroon beret in support of 19 Special Forces Group and prepared to try out for Delta Section. He didn’t make Delta, but it did prepare him a selection packet he could submit to the Navy. He graduated from BUD/S in 1996 and joined SEAL Team Four. He left the military in 2000, but didn’t leave behind the adventurer’s life.

“My platoon chief recommended me for an around-the-world expedition through the Cousteau Society,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “I ended up getting the position as a team member and expedition leader and scout for NatGeo and Discovery Channel programs to Antarctica the Amazon jungle, where I had experience as a SEAL.”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Lonergan-Hertel and his NatGeo Team. Lonergan-Hertel is center, in the cowboy hat.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

During his military career and post-military adventuring, he began to question what he valued most in life. He began to look for his true purpose. As his journey sharpened his self-awareness, he was soon transformed into a new person. He became a Protector – and wanted to be the best Protector he could be. His life took him to rescue hurricane victims, assess the environment in Antarctica while diving under the ice shelves, hike up the Amazon River Basin alone and encounter endangered tribes along the way — he even lost his best friend to pirates along the same river.

“I wrote my book because I realized how much our life journey sharpens our awareness of what really matters in life,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “Real life experiences transform us as human beings and gives us an understanding of risk and sacrifice.”

He even has a line of survival gear, that includes a heat reflective thermal field blanket sleep system, called First Line Survival. Lonergan-Hertel calls it “base camp in a bag” and all the proceeds from First Line Survival benefit his Protectors tour.

But the longtime adventurer is more than just an author. He’s crossing the country with fellow Protectors to tell their stories in stage presentations, meant for school-age children but meaningful to parents as well. He wants children to grow up with the confidence to realize their abilities and potential, to see a personal path toward a positive future, and realize they have the power to do this within themselves at all times.

“I understand very clearly that the gift of life can be away very quickly,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “The best thing I can leave behind is to inspire others to have confidence in themselves and to help others who have a more difficult journey in life.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

US military is America’s heaviest drinking profession

“This comes as a surprise,” said no one, ever, of a new analysis that finds military members drink alcohol more than workers in any other job.

A review of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s survey data from 2013 through 2017 by a behavioral health company has found that troops spend more days a year consuming alcohol than people in any other industry.

They also binge-drink more, imbibing at least four or five alcoholic beverages a day in one sitting at least 41 days a year, the most of any occupation. That’s the CDC’s definition of binge-drinking, depending on gender. The military personnel surveyed said they binge-drank about a third of the days they consumed alcohol.


Analyzing responses from 27,000 people in 25 industries, Delphi Behavioral Health Group, a Florida-based substance use treatment company, found that members of the military reported drinking alcohol 130 days out of the year, followed by miners, 112 days per year, and construction workers, 106 days. Miners were also second in binge-drinking, doing so 38 days out of the year, and construction workers were third, at 33 days.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

At the low end of the spectrum, health care and social assistance workers had a drink roughly 68 days per year.

For those who track the Pentagon’s yearly behavioral health surveys and media reports of arrests of service members for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to cases of sexual assault and even murder, the findings support what has been known for decades: the services have a drinking problem, and according to the Delphi report, it appears to be worsening.

The report noted that military personnel in 2014 reported drinking fewer than 100 drinks per year. Now, that number tops 130.

“People in the armed forces typically have ranked the highest every year since 2014,” said Ryan Serpico, Delphi’s lead researcher. “It’s shocking, but not shocking … [These results] enforce what we already know, but again, they shine a light on this, saying it’s a problem and we need to do something about it.”

The study was based on the CDC’s National Health Interview Surveys from 2013 through 2017, the latest year data was available. As with any study based on survey results, however, it comes with some caveats, including potential bias from respondents who chose to participate and their ability to accurately describe their drinking behaviors the previous years.

Also, of the nearly 27,000 survey participants, only 81 said they were in the military. So the findings could simply reflect the habits of 81 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who like to drink. A lot.

“I don’t know how the CDC executed the surveys,” Serpico said, “but when it comes to sample size number, we typically look for 26 respondents in order to make any judgements on the data.”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Adam Dublinske)

Still, the findings echo the results of a survey frequently conducted by Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank, for the Defense Department called the Health-Related Behavior Survey, or HRBS. While results from the 2018 survey have not been published, the 2015 survey found that 30 percent of troops reported being binge drinkers, and one in three service members met criteria that indicated they engaged in “hazardous drinking or possible alcohol use disorder.”

According to the 2015 HRBS, the percentage of these behaviors was highest in the Marine Corps, where hazardous drinking — described as drinking that results in negative consequences like risky behavior, missed work days or serious personal problems — was reported by nearly half the service.

The Air Force had the lowest percentages of these drinking issues, according to the survey.

Excessive drinking has been estimated to cost the Defense Department id=”listicle-2634691247″.1 billion per year in lost productivity and medical treatment. It also is thought to result in the loss of roughly 320,000 work days a year and lead to roughly 34,400 arrests per year.

Despite the impact of alcohol use, however, 68% of active duty troops said they perceived the military culture of being supportive of drinking, and 42% said their supervisor doesn’t discourage alcohol use, according to the HRBS.

Bri Godwin, a media relations associate with Delphi, said there appears to be acceptance of excessive drinking in the military but added that service members can take control of their habits — and those of others — by being mindful.

“There needs to be a conversation on drinking and how much it affects you or someone else. Are you mindful of the consequences — how is it affecting you mentally, physically and financially. You have to do a personal inventory, see how it’s affecting you and determine what you need to do to fix it,” she said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This innovative treatment for veterans doesn’t involve drugs

More than 20 veterans die by suicide every day in America. This number does not include the loss of first responders, caregivers, or their family members. Due to the lack of effective treatment for mental health issues developed from traumatic experiences, self-medicating, isolation and violence have plagued a generation of heroes.


The Boulder Crest Retreat, a privately funded organization, uses an innovative approach to treating mental health issues in veterans, their families and first responders, without the use of drugs. Treating symptoms derived from mental health issues has become big business in America, especially amongst the Armed Forces. Medicating symptoms of PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues only create new, and possibly, worse issues like self-medicating, leading to addiction.
7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Courtesy of Boulder Crest Retreat.

America’s service members are exposed to numerous levels of trauma when they go to war. Upon their return home, they may experience feelings of paranoia, anger, guilt and sadness. Expected to function normally, many of them indulge in unhealthy coping habits to appear ordinary. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, during Vietnam, 15 out of every 100 veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, this number later increased to 30 per 100 in more recent studies. In the Gulf War, 12 out of every 100 veterans were diagnosed with PTSD. Now, in OIF and OEF, the numbers have continued to rise and are anywhere between 11 to 20 diagnosed in any given year. With the number of veterans seeking treatment for PTSD growing rapidly, the costs have become unmanageable for VAs across the country. They have partnered with non-profits and other state agencies to help fill the financial void for treatment.

Chairman, and Co-Founder of Boulder Crest Kenneth Falke, spoke about his personal journey to creating a place of peace for Veterans and first responders. He visited top psychiatrists from a few of the best universities in America, including Harvard. He was in search of a way to help relieve the stigma of mental illness. On this journey, he met Dr. Richard Tedeschi. Dr. Tedeschi has studied the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on individuals and families for many years. He now teaches post-traumatic growth and how the traumatic experiences people face can create a positive response over time.

With the incorporation of methods taught by Dr. Tedeschi, Falke was able to offer a comprehensive curriculum to people who’d before, only been treated with medical intervention. “We need to normalize mental health issues,” Falke insisted. Boulder Crest does just that. The program began five years ago with the help of philanthropic funding. Falke said, “At some point in time, we all suffer.” He’s right. Nearly every person on the planet has experienced some form of trauma in their lives. With the help of Boulder Crest, people can feel safe and normal. Instead of treating symptoms, Boulder Crest teaches wellness to their clients, with a focus on mind, body, spirit, and finance. There is a program specifically for family members, couples, and caregivers. The family path program also teaches family members how to live a mentally healthy life. This program has proven to be more effective than symptom reduction alone. The Warrior Path program is an 18-month program with a required seven-day, in-residence stay for all clients. Male and females are housed separately throughout the duration of the program.

The Boulder Crest Retreat has two locations; Virginia and Arizona. Sitting on acres of grasslands, Boulder Crest offers a desirable serene ambiance best for rest and relaxation. Each location houses about 10 males and two females per year. With the ever-increasing need for services, Boulder Crest Retreat hopes to offer its program to more individuals in the coming years. The organization also offers activities outside of formal instruction such as; Archery, Equine therapy, the labyrinth, and so much more.

Boulder Crest Retreat is free to combat veterans (honorably discharged), their families, and first responders. Potential clients do not need a mental health diagnosis to be considered for the program. This retreat is a highly sought-after program. Wait times can be up to six months, depending on location. Proven to be three to five-times more successful than medical intervention alone, this program has changed how PTSD is treated.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Courtesy of Boulder Crest Retreat.

How you can help

Because programs like Boulder Crest are funded through the community, they rely on crowdsourced funds to operate. There are ways you can get involved that will empower you to want to do more for America’s veterans and first responders. By attending events, donating, and volunteering, you can help more Veterans get the treatment they need. If you are a college student, applying to be an intern at Boulder Crest Retreat, not only helps them, but it helps you too.

If you are a veteran or first responder and have experienced Post Traumatic Stress and could use some encouragement and guidance, contact Boulder Crest. Your now doesn’t have to be your forever. Change paths and begin the wellness journey you deserve.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things you had to have known before joining the military

Well, you took the leap and signed on the dotted line. Now you’re standing in your underwear in front of your bed at boot camp holding a camouflage bag in front of your face and some dude is screaming his head off at you. The thought that’s probably running through your head sounds a lot like, “this is nothing like what my recruiter sold me on.” Well, it’s their job is to get you in — what did you expect?

You might go through the rest of your career believing that some dude in a cool-looking uniform lied to you during an otherwise innocent visit to your local shopping mall. And you know what? If this were any other decade, a time before the internet was easily accessible by anyone, you might actually have a believable story.

But in 2018, that just doesn’t fly. Your recruiter didn’t lie to you; you just didn’t do the research.

If you’ve signed up, you’ve got no excuse for failing to know the following:


7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Just make sure it’s the best fit for you, either way.

If you match your branch of service

Not everyone is cut out to join the Marines; it’s a rough-and-tumble lifestyle that requires you to forsake most creature comforts. In fact, you may find that the branch that best suits you isn’t one you were considering at all.

If you’re unsure of what you want out of the military to even the slightest degree, consider each branch carefully. Next, consider the next item on this list.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

If want to join the Marines to purify water, more power to you…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels)

If you match your MOS

This is a big deal. A lot of people join the military and sign up for an MOS they’ve never even heard of because it “sounds cool” only to realize that it’s not at all what it it sounds like (looking at you, 1179 Water Dogs). Granted, some people end up liking their job, even if doesn’t match the title — but those who end being miserable are a detriment to the unit.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Air Force PT in a nutshell.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

The fitness requirements are (usually) demanding

If you’ve got a big brain but don’t like running a lot, join the Air Force. Rumor has it they only run in boot camp (and from the sound of gunfire, usually back into their air-conditioned buildings). If you want to join the Marines, but have a hard time doing push-ups, you’ll learn — but it will not be a fun experience.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

So, maybe you should decide on how long you want to get yelled at before you sign up.

(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

Boot camp and basic training suck

Marines call it boot camp because, well, you wear boots and you’re at camp (not the fun kind). The other branches call it basic training. Not only will you experience vary across branches, the amount of time you’ll spend there will, too. The “easier” branches go for 9 weeks at most and the toughest (and, in my non-biased opinion, most handsome) branch goes for 13.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

This may be the thing that changes your mind more than anything.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy D. Wolff)

Real-life experiences may vary

It may do you some good to ask about the experiences of friends or family members who’ve served and don’t look back on it with rose-tinted glasses. If your uncle’s tales seem a little too far-fetched, rummage around on Reddit and other online communities to get an idea of peoples’ general experiences in the branch you’re considering. The facts are out there if you look.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

If you don’t do the research and you feel like you got screwed — that’s on you.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Duane Duimstra)

Recruitment tactics are tactical

Before you set foot into the recruiting office, keep this in mind: Recruiters are essentially the salespeople of the military. They’re not going to outright lie to you, but they’re trying to sell you on the service they represent.

The fact of the matter is that you should be able to recognize the tactics they’ll use to try and get you to sign up. Treat it like you would any other big decision. If the person you talk to is echoing things you’ve found in your research, they’re probably being honest.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is America’s Funniest Home Videos: Military

The folks over at America’s Funniest Home Videos, like, the actual producers of that show, have released a full 10 minutes of funny clips from the military that are actually fantastic with everything from funny training accidents, to hilarious pranks, to Joe doing stupid stuff in the barracks or on deployment.


★CRAZY Military Moments ★ | Army FAILS & Funny Soldiers | AFV 2019

www.youtube.com

Some of them are common experiences that always have hilarious moments, like when soldiers stumble and fall fantastically while coming out of a rollover trainer. Others are a little more niche, like the foreign soldiers (probably British) conducting an amphibious assault who accidentally jump into waist-deep mud.

But the whole collection really shines when you see the soldiers doing stupid games that you’ve never tried. For instance, I’ve never made a wind-powered vehicle out of a poncho liner, some old wheels, and broken office chairs. But I want one. And my personal heroes are now the troops who lifted an entire tent off the ground and moved it so their buddy, asleep on their cot, would inexplicably wake up outside.

The full collection is available above (duh, you know what YouTube embeds look like). It’s mostly U.S. service members, but there’s a smattering of allies and even some clips that might be from rivals. The videos appear to have accumulated over decades with soldiers in ACUs appearing just moments from grainy shots that look like they’re from the ’80s.

Skip to 4:34 for the guy who accidentally launches himself onto a fire extinguisher.

But, by far, top recommendation comes at 7:01 when some apparent trainees play a game that appears to be an adult version of quarters. Remember quarters? The bloody knuckles game from school, not the drinking game. The one where each player takes turns making a fist on a table while the other person slides a quarter across the table as fast as they can to try and bloody the first player’s fist.

Yeah, these guys play that, but with a shoe instead of a quarter and a crotch instead of a fist. 10/10, would show the clip to trainees and hope it catches on.

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

After Action Report #3: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Stats? Projections? F$%k that noise. Numbers can’t guarantee wins, but being as tough as nails sure helps. As the 2018 NFL Season enters its third week and fantasy football fans continue to debate advanced metrics, the veterans at We Are The Mighty are taking a different approach to finding the best players across the league.

This week, our team of self-declared fair-weather fans scouted the NFL to find the players worthy of serving on one the military’s most elite units: the Army Special Forces — Operational Detachment Alpha, known exclusively as the “A-Team.”

A Special Forces team is full of quiet professionals, each of whom has a set of unique, special skills, ranging from demolitions to weapons to communications. Earning your place on a Special Forces team takes training, time, and a little luck, but it ultimately comes down to one simple question: Can you perform under pressure?


This results-based mentality is exactly the same approach used by NFL players across the league and, in the season’s opening week, five players have distinguished themselves worthy of making the inaugural “A Team Report.” Some earned this distinguished honor by breaking records while others made the list via sheer, viking-level badassery. Either way, all the players on this week’s A-Team Report stepped up when it mattered.

Here are this week’s picks

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(NFL YouTube)

Tight End Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers

TE Vance McDonald deployed a mean stiff arm and completes a Touchdown.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(NFL YouTube)

Wide Receiver Paul Richardson – Washington Redskins

WR Paul Richardson executes a perfect combat roll into the end zone

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(NFL YouTube)

Quarterback Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills

Rookie QB Josh Allen halo jumps for a Touchdown

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(NFL YouTube)

Wide Receiver Albert Wilson – Miami Dolphins

WR Albert Wilson blitzkriegs through the Oakland Raiders defense for a 74 yard Touchdown.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(NFL YouTube)

Defensive End JJ Watt – Houston Texans

DE JJ Watt breaches the Giants O-Line for a sack.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How Jarred ‘JT’ Taylor went from TACP to media and coffee mogul

If you’ve ever watched a video or seen an ad from Black Rifle Coffee Company, you’ve seen the work and style of co-founder Jarred Taylor. “Everything is devoted to creation,” Taylor said, describing his overall philosophy. “So every piece of time, it might seem like I’m having fun, but everything is devoted to creating stuff for the audience base, on my part.”

Taylor grew up in Novato, California, north of San Francisco. His father was in the U.S. Navy, and they lived on a decommissioned U.S. Air Force base, Hamilton Army Airfield. In 1994, he and his family moved to Bangor, Washington.


“I was always fascinated with the military,” Taylor said. “I loved jets specifically.” But his other passion, from an early age, was film. “I would tell people when I was super young, ‘I wanna make movies, I wanna make movies, I wanna make movies.'”

It’s Who We Are: Jarred Taylor

www.youtube.com

At age 13, Taylor started making short skateboarding films using his parents’ 8mm camera and a VCR. When he was in high school, technology improved and he began using iMovie to edit. He took all the classes he could about digital media.

Taylor completed high school a year early and joined the Air Force in 2002. As the war in Iraq started, he was eager to get in on the action. “I was kicking and screaming during basic training, trying to find any way to get to that,” he said. When he had the chance to become a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) — the person responsible for coordinating air strikes on the ground for the Army — he passed selection on his first try.

His role as a TACP meshed nicely with his continuing desire to create movies. “I was in this cool job now where we drop bombs right in front of our face. And I was like, ‘Well shit, no one’s ever really recorded this so I’m gonna do that,'” Taylor said. During two deployments to Iraq, he made films that were eventually used to help with military recruiting.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Jarred Taylor while in the U.S. Air Force.

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.)

Taylor re-enlisted — with a hefty ,000 bonus — and became an instructor at the TACP schoolhouse. “It was one of the biggest signing bonuses they ever had,” Taylor said. “I got it and spent pretty much all of it on camera gear and editing stuff. I was gonna go full force on this.”

He began moonlighting in marketing and design work for a variety of companies in the tactical industry as early as 2005. “I had only been in the military for two years before I was searching for something more, wanting to come home from work and continue to work,” Taylor said. “I went to my first trade show with a shitty photo album from Walgreens with a bunch of 4×6 pictures. Everything was always a stepping stone.”

At the same time, Taylor began studying social media, especially YouTube and Facebook. “I’m face deep in how do you get traffic, how do you get the maximum number of people to see this stuff?”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.)

That was when he saw a YouTube video made by a former U.S. Army Ranger named Mat Best. “I took one look at him and his videos he was making and said, ‘You’re it, man. You’re gonna be it,'” Taylor recalled. “This is what the tactical industry was looking for, this is what I’ve been looking for as a partner, somebody who’s perfect for in front of the camera while I’m doing all the things behind it.”

While Taylor was still active duty in the Air Force and Best was deploying as a CIA contractor, they formed Article 15 Clothing and began posting video content on Best’s YouTube channel. By the time they teamed up with another veteran-owned apparel company, Ranger Up, to crowdfund and produce the feature film “Range 15,” they had already created a wide-reaching community that was passionate about their work.

“The script was so ridiculous that no agents could understand how this movie got funded,” Taylor said with a laugh. They managed to pull in well-known actors Keith David, William Shatner, and Danny Trejo to participate in the film, which brought Article 15 even more notoriety within the veteran community.

Through the Article 15 Facebook page, Taylor met Evan Hafer, a former CIA contractor and entrepreneur. The first time they spoke, “We ended up staying on the phone pretty much from 11 to 1 o’clock — two hours,” Taylor said. “We just went down this rabbit hole.”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

(Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.)

Taylor, Best, and Hafer began collaborating on multiple projects, and when Hafer suggested starting a coffee company, Taylor and Best were very interested. “Mat and I went chips in on Black Rifle with Evan,” Taylor recalled, “and said, ‘Okay, this is the future. This is going to be the big one that we’re always talking about, so let’s roll with it.'”

“I’m our business development guy,” said Taylor, who’s official BRCC title is Executive Vice President, Partnerships. “Evan points at things that he wants in different markets, anything that’s out there in the realm of where coffee drinkers that generally think like us, and then I go out and find the people and the influencers and the partnerships that can benefit us. I get them to jump on the Black Rifle train.”

But things weren’t always that clear cut. Taylor said he, Best, and Hafer started by running the entire operation by themselves — including “standing there with Evan while he’s roasting coffee, grinding it, and putting it in a bag, putting it in a box, putting a label on it, shipping it.”

Taylor credits much of the company’s success to the relationship he has with Hafer and Best. “We’ve spent more time with the three of us than any of us have spent with anybody else in our entire lives,” he said. “And we still are the focal point of all the big ideas for the company. It’s still coming from the three of us, in a room together making fun of each other until we find something that’s the next thing.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Third time’s a charm: Twin brothers deploy together again

From working at McDonalds, to attending Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), to serving more than 18 years each in the U.S. Army Reserve — identical twin master sergeants are mobilized together for the third time.

Master Sgt. Bryant Howard and his identical twin brother, Master Sgt. Joseph Howard, motor transport operators, 450th Movement Control Battalion (MCB), are currently deployed together to Kuwait — marking the third time they have deployed together.

Bryant decided to join first.


“I was in high school, (and) I was also working at McDonalds, and my mom called me lazy.” he said. “I figured I wasn’t, so I was going to get her mad and join the Army.”

For Joseph, the decision to join the Army was much easier after he found out that his brother was joining.

“I tried joining the National Guard. The recruiter didn’t take me seriously.” Joseph said. “I was going to back out, then I found out my brother was joining the Reserve, so I went ahead and joined too.”

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

From left to right — Master Sgt. Joseph Howard, S-3 (operations) noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), 450th Movement Control Battalion (MCB), and Master Sgt. Bryant Howard, Trans-Arabian Network (TAN) NCOIC, 450th MCB, stand back to back at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Oct. 24, 2019.

(Photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

Once their decision to join was finalized, Bryant and Joseph needed to pass through Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) before leaving for basic training.

“We were still in high school, just turned 18. We were trying to get on the battle buddy system, but something happened at MEPS and Bryant wasn’t able to join the same time I did.” Joseph said. “He had to go back four months later. Because of that, they couldn’t get us to Basic (Training) together, even though we went at the same time. I went to Fort Jackson; he went to Fort Sill.”

Although the buddy system was not possible for Basic Training, the brothers were reunited at Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

“We did go to AIT together at Fort Leonard Wood though. It took the drill sergeants a month to realize there was twins in the unit. They threw a fit because they thought we were just one super high-speed person” Joseph said.

Confusion on the brothers’ identities, like at AIT, has allowed them to play pranks all of their life.

“Our last day of high school, we switched classes.” Bryant said. “We had a different style uniforms in school — I had a pullover, and he had a button up shirt. Joseph’s teacher could tell us apart, even though she didn’t know me — but my teacher didn’t recognize him.”

After high school, the military was not the only time that Bryant and Joseph’s paths have crossed.

“We both worked at one time at Direct TV” Joseph said. “Also, we both had some sort of experience in law enforcement. I became a police officer, he worked in a jail — he was a corrections officer. The weird part about that was if I dropped somebody off at jail, they might run into him and think he was me. We don’t necessarily try to follow each other – that’s just the way things happen. It really is a small world.”

Even today their civilian careers have brought them not only to the same state, but the same location.

“Now were both mill-techs. Joseph works in the RPAC (Reserve Personnel Action Center) and I work for a unit” Bryant said.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

From left to right, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Howard, Sgt. Michael Howard, motor transport operators, 498th Transportation Company, and Sgt. 1st Class Bryant Howard, motor transport operator, 850th Transportation Company, pose for a photo as Bryant prepares to redeploy back to the U.S. at Kandahar Airfield, April. 28, 2014.

“We actually work in the same building — two different units. I work for the 88th Readiness Division, he works for the 383rd Military Intelligence Battalion” Joseph added.

When Bryant and Joseph heard about an opportunity to deploy together with the 450th MCB, they took full advantage.

“We deployed together in 2003 and 2009 to Iraq” Bryant said.

“He deployed to Afghanistan at the end of 2013, and I deployed there in the beginning of 2014 — so we were actually at the same place” Joseph added. “Our older brother actually deployed with me.”

Currently, Bryant is the Trans Arabian Network Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC).

“I am the NCOIC over all the movement within Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, and the surrounding locations.” Bryant said.

While Joseph serves as the S-3 (operations) NCOIC by taking care of “the personnel, administrative, and operational aspects.”

Once this deployment is complete, the brothers may finally part ways. Joseph is considering retirement from the Reserve.

“I do want to hit my 20 year mark.” Joseph said. “It’s really hard to keep up with the changing Army — the trends and everything. Depending on what happens when I get to the States, I may stick it out longer, or I may get out.”

“I’m just going to stay in until I can’t stand it anymore” Bryant added.

Together, Bryant and Joseph have dedicated over 37 years of service to the U.S. Army Reserve — both wearing the rank of master sergeant and have seven combined deployments to show for it.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier became the first enlisted female Army ranger

As Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley made her way through mountainous terrain in the midst of a scorching Georgia summer in 2018, she admittedly struggled, carrying more than 50 pounds of gear during a patrol exercise.

Tired and physically drained, her body had withstood nearly a month of training in the Army’s most challenging training school. She had already suffered a fracture in her back in an earlier phase and suffered other physical ailments.

But then she looked to her left and right and saw her fellow Ranger School teammates, many of whom she outranked.

“I know that I have to keep going,” said Kelley, the first enlisted female graduate of the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. “Because if I quit, or if I show any signs of weakness, they’re going to quit.”


In the middle of 21 grueling training days in northeast Georgia, Kelley knew if she could weather the mountain phase of the Army’s Ranger School, she and her teammates would reach a new pinnacle, a critical rite of passage for Ranger students. The electronic warfare specialist spent 21 days in the mountains which includes four days of mountaineering, five days of survival techniques training and a nine-day field training exercise. She had already been recycled in the school’s first phase and didn’t want to relive that experience.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley marches in formation during her Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“It’s not about you at that moment,” Kelley said. “It’s about the people around you. You don’t realize in that moment how many people look up to you until you complete it. Everybody has those trying periods because those mountains are really rough.”

Her graduation from Ranger School paved the way for her current assignment as an electronic warfare specialist with the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Since 2016, more than 1,200 female soldiers have entered combat career fields, including field artillery, armor and infantry.

Kelley said the Ranger training pushed her to meet the same standards as her male counterparts. She finished the 16-mile ruck march in under three hours.

“You literally go through the same thing,” Kelley said. “It’s not any different … You do the same thing that they do. That’s the greatest thing about Ranger School: there’s one set standard, across the board.”

Taking the easy road has never been how Kelley has lived her life. As a teenager she competed as a centerfielder on boy’s baseball teams. She also was on her high school’s track team. Growing up in the small rural community of Easley, South Carolina, she had few mentors as a teen.

“I just wanted to be somebody,” Kelley said. “And I also want to be someone that others can look up to. I didn’t have that growing up. We don’t all come from a silver spoon background; some of us have to fight for things.”

She joined the Army on a whim in 2011, considering joining the service only six months prior to enlisting. She admired the Army’s rigid discipline and high standards.

“Better opportunities,” was one reason Kelley said she joined the Army. “I wanted to get out of where I was.”

Kelley wanted to reach even higher. The 30-year-old wanted to one day become sergeant major of the Army and let her supervisors know that it wasn’t some pipe dream. After an Iraq deployment with the 1st Armored Division, Kelley’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mike Vandy, told her that attending Ranger School would help chart her path to success.

7 thrilling non-profits that help veterans treat PTSD

A family member places the Army Ranger tab on Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley’s uniform.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“When I went to Ranger School, I didn’t go so I could be the first (enlisted female),” Kelley said. “I went so that I could be sergeant major of the Army. And I want to be competitive with my peers.”

After Kelley decided to apply for Ranger School, she spent five months physically preparing herself and studying while deployed. Her roommate in Iraq, former Staff Sgt. Mychal Loria, said Kelley would work 12-hour shifts, workout twice a day and still found time for study. At the same time, she helped mentor other soldiers.

“She just exemplified the perfect NCO; always there for her soldiers,” Loria said.

Kelley praised former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey for helping create more opportunities for women in combat career fields. Since the first two female graduates — Capt. Kristen Griest and then-1st Lt. Shaye Haver — completed Ranger training in 2015, more than 30 female soldiers have earned their Ranger tab. Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons became the first African American woman to graduate from the course earlier this year.

Kelley said has begun preparation for a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location. The South Carolina native said she looks forward to using many of the skills she learned during her time training to be an Army Ranger.

The eight-year Army vet said the Third Special Forces group has fostered a welcome environment for unit members, offering a wealth of training opportunities to help advance her career, including electronics and intelligence courses.

Kelley offered some advice for soldiers who may be considering Ranger School or other certifications to advance their careers.

“Soldiers need to understand that sometimes things you had planned change,” she said. “So just be open-minded to new things and don’t be scared to go after things that seem impossible. Because nothing’s impossible if somebody’s done it before you.”

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information