Newly-released memoir 'Once a Warrior' is a raw and compelling journey of purpose - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Once a Warrior by Team Rubicon’s CEO Jake Wood is more than a memoir; it’s a deep look inside the heart and mind of a modern American combat veteran. It’s also an extraordinary story of courage, loss and finding a beacon of hope within purpose. 

Wood’s journey to putting on a uniform and serving his country began in the most unlikely of places: Mauthausen. He was only seven years old when he toured the concentration camp in Austria responsible for murdering untold numbers of Jewish people. Wood was horrified by the evil that took place but also awed by the photos of the American soldiers responsible for liberating the prisoners. He wanted to be them. Although his father hoped there would never be anything for him to liberate when he grew up, 9/11 changed everything. 

When the towers fell during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 Wood was a freshman on a football scholarship at the University of Wisconsin. He felt a sense of guilt for choosing football over exploring West Point, knowing the country would be going to war. A few years later he watched the news as they announced the death of former NFL player turned soldier Pat Tillman. It shook him. Wood knew what he had to do. After he finished his last football game during his senior year, he announced he was going to the Marine Corps. 

Wood served four years as a Marine with two combat tours, one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. His memoir will bring you in and out of his experiences at war and the life he tried to rebuild when he got home. Although he is best known now for being the CEO of Team Rubicon, the story of getting there wasn’t without hardship or loss. It was the culmination of so much that made him want to write his story. Ultimately, it was the birth of his first child that solidified his commitment to tell it. 

“My daughter was born two years ago and it made me want to try to put my life in perspective. That started a soul searching journey for me. Part of it was because I knew my daughter would ask me about my time at war. I felt like I owed her a better response,” Wood explained. He began writing some of the book over 10 years ago by chronicling the events of Iraq and Afghanistan. He shared that re-reading those words over a decade later not only caused a new reflection, but it forced him to come to terms with his experiences in combat. He was ready to put it all out there.  

As much as it was difficult for Wood to put his life in the pages of Once a Warrior, it was a relief at the same time. Ultimately, he hopes his story will inspire veterans to know their worth. “I think we have an entire generation of veterans who are hanging in the balance. Who they are going to become is whatever we tell them they are. If the broken veteran narrative prevails, we’ll have a generation of men and women lost to that. But if we reframe it and say, ‘You have so much more to give and you are stronger. America needs you, the battle isn’t over there it’s here,’” he explained. 

The chain of events that led to him finding purpose again was remarkable in that, had they happened any differently, the Team Rubicon and Jake Wood the world knows – wouldn’t exist. “The universe has this weird way of presenting us with these moments where decisions become really consequential,” he said. 

A year into building Team Rubicon, Clay Hunt – fellow Marine veteran and one of Wood’s closest friends – committed suicide. Although Hunt’s story has been told, Once a Warrior opens a curtain into the devastation and other myriad emotions Wood experienced in the days after. It’s a stark reminder of the cost of war that even having purpose couldn’t stop. “I just felt like people should hear his story. It’s played out 20 times a day in this country. I felt like if I could humanize that for people…when you hear Clay’s story, it makes it real,” he shared. Hunt wasn’t the only Marine that Wood lost. He wears the names and lives of four Marines on his wrist, a constant reminder for him to pay it forward because as he says, he survived and they didn’t. 

Too many people within the American public utter, ‘Thank you for your service,’ with a sense of rote memorization – a reaction when they don’t know what else to say. Wood wants them to take it deeper. “Most veterans want to share their stories, it’s a literal moral burden and by sharing it they are sharing the weight of those actions or experiences,” he said. “It’s important for the public to hear these stories, as democracy we send our sons and daughters off to war. It’s less than 1 percent of an all volunteer force and we owe it to them to understand what that actually means when we make the decision to use force overseas.” 

Once a Warrior pulls the reader in and out of the moments that changed the trajectory of Wood’s life and built the foundation of who he is today. It’s also a deep look into the raw reality of an American combat veteran’s life after war. The pages of this book offer a compelling account of courage and resiliency through devastating loss, but also…hope. Despite witnessing the horrors of war and disaster, Wood remains inherently hopeful for the future. When asked what he would say to those reading his story, he was direct. “My call to action for Americans would be… be worth fighting for. Live your life like you are worth fighting for.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why this generation’s Lance Corporals are different

If noncommissioned officers are the backbone of the Marine Corps, then lance corporals are the muscles that keep it moving. As all enlisted Marines and warrant officers know — not to mention the Mustang officers who ascended the enlisted ranks before earning a commission — lance corporals hold a special place in the heart of the Corps.

Gone are the days of “Lance Corporal don’t know,” and the “Lance Corporal salute.” Today’s Marine Corps E-3s are smarter, faster, stronger, and more tech savvy than the old salts from years gone by. They are the iGeneration, seemingly raised with a cell-phone fused to their fingers at birth. They are more familiar with Snapchat and Instagram than cable TV and VHS tapes. They are a digital generation, and they fit uniquely and seamlessly with the Marine Corps’ vision of a connected ‘strategic corporal,’ ready to fight and win America’s battles as much with technology and ingenuity as with bullets and pure grit. The bedrock for tomorrow’s Marine leaders is the ability to make sound and ethical decisions in a world flipped on its head during the past two decades.


Enter the “Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar.”

The weeklong training is required for all lance corporals vying for a blood-stripe and much-coveted place in the NCO ranks. The Marine Corps’ Enlisted Professional Military Education branch instituted the program in 2014 to “bridge the gap between the initial training pipeline and resident Professional Military Education,” according to the seminar’s Leader Guide. The seminar prepares junior Marines to face the challenges of an evolving, uncertain and dangerous world 19 years into the 21st Century.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Lance Cpl. Antonio C. Deleon, an aircraft ordnance technician with Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron E. Parks)

“Our lance corporals are the gears that keep this machine moving,” said Sgt. Maj. Edwin A. Mota, the senior enlisted Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan. “The Lance Corporal Seminar is vital to their success this early in their careers. Whether an enlisted Marine stays in for four years or 30, they will never forget the leadership lessons they learned — both good and bad — as a lance corporal.”

Each seminar has a cadre of NCO and staff NCO volunteers who lead small groups through physical training, guided discussions and scenario-based training. The idea is to get lance corporals to think critically, both on and off duty, to help prepare them for a leadership role as a corporal, sergeant and beyond.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Lance Cpl. Celestin Wikenson, an airframer with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), maintains the skin of a MV-22B Osprey helicopter Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron E. Parks)

“As a lance corporal in the infantry during the 90s, it was a completely different Marine Corps than it is today,” said Mota. “We took orders and we carried them out without a lot of questions. Our NCOs, staff NCOs and officers didn’t expect us, as lance corporals, to understand the strategic-level significance of our training and operations back then. But today, the Marine Corps cannot afford for our lance corporals to not know how they affect our mission at the tactical, operational, strategic, and diplomatic levels.”

Enlisted PME is a central component for measuring an enlisted Marine’s leadership potential and their fitness for promotion, regardless of rank. The seminar is usually a first term Marine’s introduction to formal military education and sets the tone for future PME courses as NCOs and staff NCOs. The guided discussions and scenario-based training is designed to help junior Marines to think critically before acting instinctively, according to 19 year old Lance Cpl. Dylan Hess, a mass communication specialist with the 31st MEU and a student in a recent seminar.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Lance Cpl. Richard T. Henz, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crewman with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit sits alongside a CH-53E helicopter at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cameron E. Parks)

“As a lance corporal, we are expected to follow orders and get the job done, regardless of our job,” said Hess, a native of Vacaville, California who enlisted in September 2017 after graduating from Will C. Wood High School. “During the seminar, we were challenged to rethink our role as junior Marines. In today’s Marine Corps, especially here in Japan, everything we do is a representation of all American’s stationed here and the seminar helped us better understand why the decisions we make, on and off duty, are so important as ambassadors to our hosts here in Okinawa.”

The lessons learned during the seminar will help tomorrow’s leaders refine their leadership ability, according to Hess.

“Today’s generation joins the Marine Corps for many different reasons, but our commitment to the Marine Corps is the same as any other Marine from past generations. Many of the junior Marines today don’t remember 9/11, don’t remember the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re still committed to always being prepared for our next battle, and the Lance Corporal Seminar definitely gives us a better understanding of leadership challenges and opportunities as we grow into the NCO ranks.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ghost stories as told by your platoon sergeant

Bonfires in the military are rare — and almost no one tells ghost stories over them. But if you ever do find yourself on the receiving end of such tales, you’ll notice that, just like many ghost stories, they’re filled with all sorts of morality lessons — it’s just that the military’s morality lessons are a little different than everyone else’s. And when the platoon sergeant tells them, they’re always pretty bloody and seem to be directed at one soldier in particular.


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

He was such a promising soldier before the incident… Before the curse…

(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Meyer)

1. The AG who flagged the commander. Twice.  

It was an honest mistake, a lapse of judgement in the shoothouse. The assistant gunner had to take over for the gunner, and he shifted the gun’s weight at the wrong time and angle, pointing it up at the catwalks — and the commander — by accident. The platoon leader reached out his hand for a second, saw that it was done, and decided to wait for the AAR to address it. But then the AG rolled his shoulders again to settle the strap, pointing it at the commander again.

What happened next was epic. The platoon sergeant launched himself across the room, tackling the AG. The commander started screaming profanities. The platoon leader started doing pushups even though no one was yelling at him. But it was the eastern European military observer who did it. He mumbled something under his breath — a gypsy curse.

The AG took his smoking like a man, but he didn’t know the real punishment would come that night. He awoke to sharp pains throughout his abdomen and looked down to find three 5.56mm holes in his stomach. Now, he’s normal and fine during the day, but at night, he wanders as the ghost of live-fire exercises past. Eternally.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

When in large formations, always remember to shut up and color.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tojyea G. Matally)

2. The specialist who dimed out the platoon sergeant

Specialist Snuffy was an ambitious soldier — a real Army values kind of guy — but he took it too far. The platoon sergeant tried to provide some top cover to a soldier in trouble during a horseshoe formation, but Snuffy was kind enough to rat out the original soldier and the platoon sergeant for protecting him.

The rest of the platoon didn’t take it kindly, saying that Snuffy should’ve let the platoon sergeant handle it internally. So when Snuffy first started hearing the whispers in the barracks, he assumed it was just the platoon talking about him. But then he heard the whispers in the latrine. And on patrol. And while cleaning his weapon in a closed barracks room.

He slowly lost sleep, instead just tossing and turning to the unrelenting noises. When he was able to drift off, he was haunted by the visions of wrathful ghosts who declared him a blue falcon and buddyf*cker. It wore away at his metal foundation until he was finally chaptered out for insanity. It’s said that the voices are still out there, waiting for someone to screw over their own platoon once again.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Talk back to first sergeant, and you will do pushups until you die, and then your ghost will do the rest of them.

(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Selvage)

3. The team leader who actually talked back to the first sergeant

Corporal John was smart and talented, but also prideful and mouthy. He led a brilliant flanking movement during an exercise, keeping he and his men low and well-hidden in an unmapped gully until they were right on top of the OPFOR’s automatic weapons. But then he made a mistake, allowing his team to get bunched up right as a grenade simulator was thrown his way.

First sergeant took him to task for the mistake, and John pointed out that most other team leaders wouldn’t have seen or used the gully as effectively. He did push-ups for hours, yelling “You can’t smoke a rock, first sergeant!” the whole time. But first sergeant could smoke rocks.

The pain in John’s muscles should’ve gone away after a few days. He was an infantryman. But instead, it grew, hotter and more painful every day. On day three, it grew into open flames that would melt their way through his skin and burst out in jets near his joints. Then, his pectorals erupted in fire. The medics threw all the saline and Motrin they had at him, but nothing worked.

Slowly, the flesh burned away, leaving a fiery wraith in its wake. It now wanders the training areas, warning other team leaders of the dangers of mouthing off.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Keep. Your. Eyes. Open.

(Photo by Senior Airman Gina Reyes)

4. The private who fell asleep in the guard tower

He was just like one of you. Barely studying his skill book. Rarely practicing for the board. But that’s you expect from privates — just a good reason for their leadership to encourage them. But then, he was up in the guard tower during the unit’s JRTC rotation. He had stayed up playing video games the whole night before his shift and, by the time the sun was going back down, he was completely wiped.

He fought his eyes falling, but a thick bank of fog that rolled in caressed him to sleep. As he drifted off, he felt the light tickle of skeletal fingers around his neck. He thought briefly of the rumors of undead that wandered the Louisiana swamps.

Despite the threat to him and his buddies, he dropped into the lands of dreams. He was found the next morning with his eyes bulging from his head and thick, finger-shaped bruises on his throat. It’s a tragic reminder to keep your stupid, tiny little eyes wide open.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Not sure how he got so many negligent discharges with an empty magazine, but just go with it. It’s hard to find photos to illustrate ghost stories.

(U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Terry Wong)

5. The King of Negligent Discharges

It’s said that he whimpers as he walks. He was once like one of you, a strong, upstanding killer. But then we were doing “Ready, up!” drills and this moron kept pulling the trigger while he was still raising his weapon. Somehow, no amount of yelling got him to stop doing it. The impact points of his rounds kept creeping closer and closer to his feet until his platoon sergeant finally grabbed him and threw him, physically, off the range.

But the disease was in his bones by that point. He started accidentally pulling the trigger on patrols while at the low ready, and then again on a ruck march. They stopped giving him live ammo. Then they stopped giving him blanks. Then he was only allowed to carry a rubber ducky rifle, and then finally he was only allowed to carry an actual rubber duck.

Somehow, even with the rubber duck, he had negligent discharges, sharp squeaks that would split the air on patrol. But one day it wasn’t a squeak — it was the sharp crack of a rifle instead. He had shot himself in the foot with a rubber duck, a seemingly impossible feat.

He’s a gardener now, always careful to point his tools away from himself, because he never knows when the next one will go off.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why Day of the Deployed should be a federal holiday

In the United States, we enjoy a good amount of federal holidays, during which many employers give their employees a paid day off. During these breaks, which sometimes result in a three- or four-day weekend, everyone can take some time to relax with friends and family — maybe even enjoy a barbecue.

Everyone, that is, except the troops deployed to combat zones. On these days, troops will (sometimes) get a slightly nicer meal served by their chain of command before they return to the grind.

To celebrate the troops that are in harm’s way and the sacrifices their families make, we have today, October 26th, the oft-forgotten Day of the Deployed. Despite the fact that it’s officially recognized by all 50 states as of 2012, you’ll likely see far more people posting things to their social media account about National Breadstick Day, which, this year, happens to share the date.

While the holiday doesn’t necessarily call for huge, elaborate celebration, officially recognizing it as a federal holiday during times of ongoing conflicts would go a long way. Hear us out.


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Lt. Col. Honsa’s cousin worked to give him a nationally recognized holiday while he was deployed… The rest of our families need to step up their care package game…

(U.S. Army)

Of the ten holidays observed by the federal government, two of them directly honor the military: Memorial Day, for fallen troops, and Veterans Day, for the living. There’s also Armed Forces Day, which honors the current, active duty military, but that holiday is rarely recognized outside of the military community.

The Day of the Deployed is similar to Armed Forces Day, but it specifically honors the troops who are currently deployed. The holiday first began in 2006 when Shelle Michaels Aberle approached North Dakota Governor John Hoeven to officially proclaim a day to specifically honor the troops out there fightin’ the good fight. The date October 26th was selected in honor of Aberle’s cousin, Lt. Col. David Hosna — the birthday of a soldier who, at the time, was deployed.

When Hoeven became a senator, he sponsored S.Res.295 on October 18th, 2011, to designate October 26th as the “Day of the Deployed.” It was approved unanimously and without any amendments. Since then, all 50 states have officially observed the holiday.

Six years later and the holiday is nothing more than a footnote at the bottom of calendars, found by those looking for wacky holidays — and that’s a shame. A day to commemorate the heroic acts of the troops fighting on the front lines does not deserve to be on the same level as Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day.

Federal recognition of the day would put it in league with the holidays that people get an extended weekend to celebrate — you know, the ones people take seriously. For this to make most sense, we’d need to make a couple of changes:

First, it should become a floating holiday — this year, it falls on the last Friday of October. In our opinion, that’s the perfect place for it. Not only would that mean a three-day weekend, it also means it could incorporate Remember Everyone Deployed Fridays in an official capacity, which gives people a way to celebrate.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

And with the way that the postal system works for outlaying combat outposts, the care packages would arrive just before Christmas!

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup)

On this newly upgraded National Day of the Deployed, everyone would wear red as a symbol and, as an action, they’d send care packages out to those on the front line. Hell, even if only a tiny fraction of the American population actually sends care packages, that’d be a huge windfall for the troops.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

A day to remember the troops deployed overseas is an objectively better reason for a four day weekend.

(U.S. Army photo by CPT Jarrod Morris, TAAC-E Public Affairs)

Now, let’s take a look at the competitors. There are already three holidays that fall around(ish) the last Friday of October: Halloween, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day.

On Halloween, children enjoy a day of free candy and dressing like princesses and superheroes while adults awkwardly party while disguised as various pop-culture references. An extended weekend around that time would be very welcomed by the public — it wouldn’t hurt to give people a day off and let them know they have the troops to thank for it.

Earlier in the month, there’s Columbus Day, a federal holiday that’s becoming less relevant and more contentious by the year. As time goes on, evidence surfaces that suggests that Columbus, as an explorer, never stepped foot on American soil. He wasn’t the first person — or even the first European — to get here, and whether we should celebrate beginning of harsh times for American Indians is hotly debated. A 2014 report from Rasmussen showed that only eight percent of the U.S. population even believes that the day is even important. Honestly, we can’t see there being much push-back if we nixed Columbus Day in favor of Day of the Deployed.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

It’d also never leave the American public’s mind that our troops are still not home to enjoy the little things — like paid time off.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Lauren M. Gaidry)

Finally, on the other side of October, we’ve got Veterans Day. If Day of the Deployed were to become a floating holiday, it’d fall somewhere between eleven and eighteen days before Veterans Day.

If the final Friday of October happened to be the 31st, that means the country would enjoy back-to-back three-day weekends. If it fell on the 25th — the longest possible gap — that’d mean people could enjoy a total of eight days off and ten days of work between two holidays honoring the troops and what they’ve given this great nation of ours.

Give people that kind of time off and the freedom to enjoy themselves a bit, and you’ll truly drive home the point that brave men and women are out there sacrificing so that we can enjoy the liberties we do.

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 reasons you should cast your vote for the MVC Choice Awards

For starters, think of this program in the same light as the People’s Choice Awards in the entertainment industry. While the Emmys and Academy Awards have their place, the People’s Choice Awards are specifically designed “For the People, By the People”. Similarly, the MVC Choice Awards receive no marketing firm input, no senior leadership influence, no media company buys, just the opinions of those we trust the most…our fellow service members, veterans, and military spouses. And since it’s all about the vote, here are some of the reasons you should take the time to do it!


1. It counts

There are so many awards you can spend time voting for in the military community that are eventually decided by a small group of panelists. Unfortunately, sometimes the popular vote isn’t all that popular, and sometimes the results aren’t even close to what the community thinks. With the MVC Choice Awards, the results are based 100% on the popular vote. No crazy formulas or algorithms, no panelists deciding what you should think is important. Just a vote based on real-life experiences from those of us who have actually lived them.

Bonus: Voting is only open to members of our community – service members, veterans, and military spouses.

2. Community chosen nominees

Military life is complicated at times, but the MVC Choice Awards aren’t. You’re 100% in control. After you are verified to vote, you can nominate any company or organization of your choice. Just add a few pieces of information about the organization and we’ll verify and do the rest. After that you’re all set, and others can go and vote for the businesses and organizations you’ve nominated!

Bonus: All verified voters can nominate as many organizations as they want.

3. Verified voters

We take these awards seriously, because we know how much an award can impact an organization and how it can sway your thoughts and actions. We understand that by naming an award winner, more people will look to them for support and expect quality service. That’s why we verify who is voting, and why, you can’t vote for the same organization more than once in a given year. No one will be able to vote for themselves every day throughout the open period. As a verified voter, you help encourage businesses and organizations to support our community and also say thanks to those that have been doing just that.

Bonus: Our hosting partner, GovX, is handling the verification process.

​Not quite convinced yet? Here are 3 more bonus reasons to vote.

  1. The three nominees with the highest ratings in each category, will be invited to attend the MVC Choice Awards Banquet at the Washington D.C. Hilton on 10 September 2019 during the Military Influencer Conference (Hosting Partner), with the top organization for each category being announced on stage.
  2. The top three from each award category will also be recognized online when the official winner list is published by Task Purpose (Awards Hosting Partner).
  3. Data collected through votes in the “PCS Relocations” category will be made available on-demand, year-round, through PCSgrades for anybody researching their next PCS or relocation.

Help us recognize those who support our community and get ready to cast your vote!

This article originally appeared on PCSgrades. Follow @PCSgrades on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s everything you need to know if you want to join the US Army

The Army also has options for those who want to serve as commissioned officers. Which option is best depends on your education level, where you want to go to school, and your age or family status.

Enlistees can also join the Army Reserves or Army National Guard directly.


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Students at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state take the Test for Adult Basic Education to improve their general technical score on the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery, Aug. 27, 2010.

(Photo by Spc. Alicia Clark)

First, you’ll need to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB.

The ASVAB is a multiple-choice exam that will help determine what jobs you qualify for in the military. Each service has its own minimum standards, according to Military.com, which provides practice tests for those who want to prepare.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Recruiters gather with high-school students for an education event where they learned about Army operations and procedures, in December 2018.

(US Army photo by Amber Osei)

You’ll eventually meet with a recruiter.

If you’re not sure where your nearest recruiting station is, you can submit an application online, and the recruiter will come to you.

Otherwise, it’s important to remember a few things when you’re at the office:

You have no obligations until you sign a contract.

Make sure you understand whether the job you want has openings — if not, you may want to consider waiting until it does.

You’ll eventually need to pass a medical exam.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Army Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, administers the oath of enlistment to 26 recruits in New York City.

(Army photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Once you decide to enlist, the recruiter will take you to a Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.

If you haven’t taken the ASVAB already, you’ll take one when you get to the MEPS.

If you have, you’ll undergo a medical exam, speak with a counselor about job opportunities and the enlistment contract, and take the enlistment oath.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

US Army soldiers from One Station Training Unit low crawl through an obstacle course during their first week of basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

Basic Combat Training, has three phases.

After “reception week,” recruits enter Red phase — basic tactical training and Army heritage and tradition are hallmarks of this phase, as is the physical-fitness test. This phase is meant to break down individual recruits’ confidence in order to train them to work as unit during the next phase.

Next, they enter White phase, where they will start to rebuild confidence and learn marksmanship and combat training.

The last step is Blue phase, during which they will be trained to use weapons like grenades and machine guns and conduct field training and 10- and 15-kilometer marches.

Once they graduate, they will move on to advanced training in their specific job fields.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Cadets enter Michie Stadium for their graduation ceremony at West Point — 936 cadets crossed the stage to join the Long Gray Line in May 2017.

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

If you’re applying for a ROTC scholarship or admission to the Military Academy at West Point, the process starts online.

You’ll apply for West Point on the academy’s admissions page. Once you submit a questionnaire, you’ll be assigned a candidate number to finish the process.

Requirements to enter the academy are slightly higher than they are to enlist. Competitive SAT or ACT scores are a must, as are a physical-fitness exam and recommendations from teachers or counselors at your high school.

You’ll interview with an academy alumnus and also have to complete a separate application process for a nomination, usually by a senator or congressional representative.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

ROTC cadets take a break from Leader Development and Assessment Course training.

(US Army photo)

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

ROTC scholarships may be awarded to high-school students who wish to pursue a four-year degree at a civilian college.

The Army’s service obligation after graduation is four years on active duty and four years in the Army Reserves. Under some circumstances, like a lack of active-duty billets, students can go straight into the reserves. (Candidates can also enlist directly into the Army Reserve.)

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Officer candidates with Washington National Guard troops disembark a morale flight on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

(US National Guard photo by Maj. Matt Baldwin)

Officer Candidate School (OCS).

OCS is meant for enlisted service members or civilians who already hold a four-year degree and want to become a commissioned officer.

The Army holds this 12-week leadership and tactical training course at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Should we change the name of Army bases named after Confederate generals?

With Confederate statues coming down across the nation, it’s time to ask: Should we change the name of Army bases named after Confederate Generals?

I think it’s a good discussion for us to have as a nation and an Army. When we can assess the problem and make rational decisions, I trust the Army leadership to make the best decision for our force and nation. We may not all agree on that or those decisions, but one of the greatest parts of America is civil discourse. It’s not difficult to see the pain these names may cause or why the current names don’t matter.


I’ve been to countries where they’ve torn down statues and changed names, erasing history without dialogue. There were many more significant issues, but none of those places have peace and prosperity. A statue or name change alone will not change society or bring a land of opportunity. When not done correctly, it divides people. However, this is an opportunity to do something right for the current and future generations.

We can have discussions and study our Civil War for years. There are a few undeniable conclusions. The Confederates attempted to succeed from the Union and the score was Union – 1, Confederates – 0. The Confederates implicitly or tacitly endorsed slavery of people based upon the color of their skin. We can learn from these difficult times in our nation’s history, so as not to repeat them. We should not honor these generals that fought against their country and therefore the right to own slaves.

In my 20-plus year military career, I never once cared about a base’s name, let alone whether the name of a general inspired me. What motivated me were the units that called those bases home. The famed 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 10th Mountain Division and United States Army Special Forces — these and other storied units are what inspired me. We stand on the shoulders of giants. I’d read about these units in books and watched them in movies. The unit lineage is what mattered to me, and I’m willing to bet most of those I served with would agree.

I also didn’t care that they were named after famous generals. They didn’t inspire me or give me a sense of pride. Truthfully no generals, living or dead, ever inspired me. I had the privilege to work with some of the finest generals of our time. I have immense respect for these men and what I learned from them is invaluable. However, I wouldn’t say I was inspired. Why, you might ask? These generals are so removed from the fight that I find it hard to gain inspiration. Those that inspired me were leaders closer to us out conducting missions in the dirt, and my brothers and sisters that I served with.

I will not lose sleep if we change the names of our bases to Fort Tomato or Fort Pine Tree. I hope that we make these decisions with a thorough process. If Army leadership is considering such a process, I do have some excellent suggestions. Medal of Honor recipient, MSG Roy P. Benavidez, Fort Benavidez. Commander of the Tuskegee airmen, General Benjamin O. Davis, Fort Davis. The list of worthy American soldiers is much longer than the number of bases.

The truth is, we are hurting as a country. If this can help our nation heal, I’m all for it. It’s absurd not to have the discussion. Let’s reinvigorate patriotism and pride in our Army. We can run major marketing campaigns sharing the stories of these worthy soldiers. We can all be proud to say “I’m reporting to” or “served at” Fort (insert great American name).

I leave you with only one question: Will you be part of the discussion with me?

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Navy SEAL wants to help veterans explore benefits of CBD

Having served as a Navy SEAL for almost a decade, Mike Donnelly, founder of The CBD Path, knows what it means to put mileage on your body. Passionate about fitness recovery and the veteran community, Donnelly was motivated to start a wellness brand with a mission to offer superior quality CBD products that assist others on their journey to a happier and healthier life.

For Donnelly, the choice to explore owning a CBD business just made sense.

“I’ve met a lot of veterans who have a lot of issues from the last 20 years of war. I started hearing that a lot of the guys had started taking CBD, and were seeing really good results,” he said.


So he and his wife Claudia, co-founder of The CBD Path, spent the better part of a year researching CBD, how it interacts with the body, and whether it might be effective against some of the issues veterans experience.

“We talked with veterans who were taking it routinely, and every one of them said that it improved their quality of life. I have a friend who had part of his leg cut off and was in a really bad place. He swears the day he got on CBD, it saved his life,” Donnelly said.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

(Military Families Magazine)

What is CBD?

Recently, CBD has seen a surge in research regarding its potential use in several neuropsychiatric conditions. CBD is a non-psychotomimetic cannabinoid that’s found in cannabis plants. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production, sale, and consumption of hemp and hemp-derived compounds like CBD provided the plant is tested by a third party and is proven to contain under 0.3% THC.

It’s been shown that CBD might have a beneficial effect on mouse-model studies of post-traumatic stress disorder. New research from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that the beneficial effects might be the way CBD works on the endocannabinoid system.

The research from JACM is the first of its kind to study the clinical benefits of CBD for patients who have PTSD. Eleven adult patients participated in the study. CBD was given in a flexible dosing regimen to patients diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed mental healthcare worker. The study lasted eight weeks, and PTSD symptom severity was assessed every four weeks by patient-completed PTSD checklist questionnaires, compiled from the current DSM-5.

From the total sample of 11 patients, 91% saw a decrease in their PTSD symptom severity. This was evidenced by a lower DMS-5 score at eight weeks compared to baseline scores. The mean total score decreased by 28% after eight consecutive weeks of treatment with CBD.

What about VA benefits?

Since the research surrounding CBD is still so new, the knowledge base about its benefits remains murky. Veterans like Donnelly find themselves increasingly frustrated with the legal hurdles surrounding CBD and medical marijuana, even as bipartisan support for legalizing the drug continues to grow.

Federal jobs become off-limits for veterans who use CBD, even if they reside in one of the 34 states that have an active, legal medical marijuana program. Currently, the VA maintains that veterans will not be denied benefits because of marijuana use, including their disability payments.

The Donnellys hope that will change soon. In addition to reaching out to several veteran organizations to collaborate with them to get the word out about CBD, The CBD Path also has a plethora of educational information linked on the site.

“Veterans need a lot of education and guidance about CBD, so we try to show them how and when to take our products. We have a quiz to help them understand what’s the best product for them,” Claudia, who manages the site’s social media presence, said.

Check out The CBD Path on Facebook

IAVA is a non-partisan advocacy group that works to ensure post-9/11 veterans have their voices heard. Travis Horr, director of Government Affairs for IAVA, said that the organization is very aware of the issues and questions veterans have concerning CBD. In fact, 88% of IAVA members support additional research into cannabis and CBD, and 81% support the legalization of medical cannabis, according to Horr.

The organization’s official stance supports the use of CBD and medical cannabis by veterans where it is legal.

“Many veterans suffer from chronic pain and mental health injuries. We believe more research should be done into treating those injuries with cannabis and CBD,” Horr said.

IAVA supports the Medicinal Cannabis Research Act (S.179/H.R. 712) to ensure that research happens at Veterans Affairs. Legislation passed out of the House VA Committee in March. More information regarding IAVA’s Policy Agency can be found here.

As the federal government continues to explore how CBD might be helpful, Donnelly and his team at The CBD Path are confident that, eventually, the VA will catch up to what many veterans already know.

“We believe it’s just like any other vitamin, a supplement to add to your toolbox, to manage stress, level off anxiety, and maintain good sleep patterns,” Donnelly said.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sending letters to Marine boot camp (2020)

Do you know someone who is going to Marine boot camp or who is already at boot camp? If so then your recruit is officially beginning their journey to becoming a United States Marine! Over the next 12 weeks, your recruit will be pushed beyond their limits and if successful be made into a Marine. Through this transformation, your recruit will need your support and motivation to help them succeed. Here is all you need to know about sending Letters to Marine boot camp.


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

MCRD San Diego Mailing Address

MCRD San Diego Mailing AddressSample Address
RECRUIT First Name, Last Name
#(st, nd, rd) BN “Company” Platoon ####
##### Midway Avenue
San Diego CA 92140-####
RECRUIT John Doe
1st BN Alpha Company Platoon 1000
38001 Midway Avenue
San Diego, CA. 92140-5670
Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

MCRD Parris Island Mailing Address

MCRD Parris Island Mailing AddressSample Address
RECRUIT First Name, Last Name
#(st, nd, rd) BN “Company Name” Platoon ####
PO Box #####
Parris Island, SC 29905-####
RECRUIT John Doe
1st BN Alpha Company Platoon 1000
PO Box 16945
Parris Island, SC 29905-6945
Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

What should I write in my Letters to Marine boot camp?

Over the next thirteen weeks recruits will be pushed beyond their limits and, if successful, transition into a United Staes Marine.

Mental and physical exhaustion will become a norm as the loved one you said goodbye to is transformed into a completely new person.

Mail call will be the most anticipated time of the day, and your recruit will enjoy receiving a lot of mail from your over the course of the next three months.

In case you ever face writer’s block, we’ve come up with some questions to ask your recruit when writing Letters to Marine boot camp.

1. What were your first thoughts when you got off of the bus and stepped onto the yellow footprints?

2. What time do your mornings start?

3. How delicious is the chow?

4. What has been the worst thing about boot camp?

5. If you could describe boot camp in one word what would it be?

6. How many recruits are in your platoon?

7. What’s the name of one friend you’ve made, where are they from?

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much fun are pugil stick battles?

9. What is one thing your platoon gets yelled at for the most?

10. What time do you normally get to sleep?

11. Have you been given a nickname?

12. Is there anyone in your platoon not receiving mail that I can write to?

13. Has it been hard to keep your rack area clean and in tip top shape?

14. What have you liked best about boot camp?

15. How hard is it to keep your M-16 clean?

16. How fast can you take your M-16 and put it back together?

17. What has been the funniest thing your DI has said this week?

18. What’s the best advice you have received at boot camp?

19. What was going through your head when you jumped off of the repel tower?

20. What is the dumbest thing you have seen or heard another recruit do?

21. Has boot camp been what you expected it to be?

22. What is your wish list of bases you would like to be stationed at?

23. What’s the first thing you want to do after graduation?

24. What homemade/fast food meal do you miss the most?

25. Are you proud of yourself? (You should be!)

Looking for even more ideas of what to write during Marine boot camp? Read our what to writing when sending Letters to basic training article.

Your Letters to your recruit don’t need to be long and they don’t need to be fancy. What’s important is that you’re sending mail to support them through this journey.

Sending Letters via the Sandboxx app, will get your message and photos into your recruit’s hands within a couple of days (we overnight your Letters directly to the ship). We also include a return envelope with every Sandboxx Letter so your loved one can write you back!

Ready to send your first Letter to Marine boot camp?

Send your first letter to Marine boot camp with the Sandboxx app, write your message, include a photo and hit send.

Save and attach our week one image below to give your recruit motivation for their first week at Marine boot camp.

Learn more about how your Sandboxx Letter gets delivered.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to get your ailments diagnosed online (and covered by Tricare)

Having a cough has never been more nerve wracking than during the current pandemic. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a cough. Needing to go to the doctor for any reason can send a quick thought of panic, due to current protocols. Needing something as simple as a prescription refill suddenly got complicated.

But fear not, military families! There is an easier way. Thanks to ongoing efforts to increase the logistics of telemedicine and over-the-phone appointments, Tricare beneficiaries can video chat with their doctors to receive a quick fix to many questions or prescription needs.


This includes video calls, but will not include phone calls or texts.

If you or a family member is in need of a non-urgent appointment, you can call your normal doctor’s number and ask what their options are for telehealth appointments.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

media.defense.gov

Tricare covers these services via telemedicine

If you or a family member has an upcoming appointment scheduled, you’re likely to be contacted about rescheduling or moving the appointment to your phone. Services covered include:

  • Office visits
  • Preventative screenings
  • Mental health services (individual psychotherapy, psychiatric diagnosis interviews/exams, and medication management)

In addition, from March 31 through May 31, Tricare has announced they will also cover telehealth services for “applied behavior analysis (ABA) parent or caregiver guidance services under the Autism Care Demonstration.”

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose
Spangdahlem Clinic Pilots Virtual Health program

media.defense.gov

Stay up-to-date on health with social distancing

Don’t skimp on important healthcare appointments just because you can’t be seen in person. These distancing appointments allow Tricare patients to get the care they need, without risking germs. Additional distancing measures have been put into place on military bases, such as drive-through pharmacies, or in-vehicle triage.

Talk to your healthcare team to see if telehealth is available at your base.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 things only siblings of military personnel know

We learn from our siblings. We watch them. We copy them. We accidentally erase the save on their Pokèmon game when we’re 10 years old and they still, to this day, think the game file was “probably ruined from leaving it in the sun too long.”

Maybe siblings of construction workers know why it takes so long to fill in city potholes. Maybe siblings of newscasters know why they all talk in that really creepy rhythm. Maybe siblings of chess masters know the actual names of the “horsey” or the “castle” or the “boob-shaped thingie.”

Then, there are some things that all siblings of military personnel know…


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

​​​​​Actually knowing how to mail a letter

On base, deployed, or on a ship — we send our love in envelopes. Now look to your left. Look to your right. Neither of those people can properly address an envelope without Google… unless they are both over the age of 70, in which case, you are 100% at a community center playing bingo and should pay better attention to that.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

(Photo by Lt. Col. John Hall/173rd Airborne Brigade)

You do not need to set out a sleeping bag… or blankets… or anything at all

You know how military personnel sleep after coming home. They sleep like astronauts without gravity. They don’t need blankets or pillows. Hell, they barely need a floor.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

(Xinhua/Sipa USA/Newscom)

The difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day

You celebrate the men and women throughout time who have served our country in any capacity on Veterans Day. But you also know that some men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for their loved ones, and they’ve got a day, too.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

The many functions of a styrofoam cup

It turns out this can do much more than hold an .89 cent future-diarrhea-slushie from the gas station. Apparently, they can also: hold dip spit, sunflower seeds, and make a cell phone speaker louder…. Alright, it’s mostly for dip spit.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Why they might not tell a drunk dude at the bar that they served

Besides blabbering two inches away from your face for 45 uninterrupted minutes about their real estate failures and how quick their fastball was in high school, drunk dudes at bars can pose a lot of really uncomfortable and, frankly, dumbass questions. Much like college baseball scouts did to them in the 1980s — it’s best to ignore them.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Why you should willingly answer 3 a.m. calls from some random, 999-999-9999 number

Your civilian homies probably let anything outside their immediate area code go straight to voicemail. If your brother or sister is on deployment, though, you know you can get some calls at any hour of the night from some weird numbers. It’s worth it to stomach the pleas for help from a phony Nigerian prince if it means every 5th one is the resolute voice of your sibling, hundreds of miles away, asking what the new J. Cole album sounds like.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

You have traded your soul for a spaghetti MRE

Once your lips have tasted the eternal glory of it, there can be no going back. Chef Boyardee will taste like blasphemy on the tongue. My soul is currently screaming silently from a jar in the pocket of my brother’s BDUs. I traded it long ago, and it was worth every dehydrated, calorie-packed ounce.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why you should never trust the barracks lawyer

So, you messed up. That sucks. It’s time to absorb whatever punishment your command team is about to drop on you like an adult and carry on with your career. “But wait,” you hear from the corner of the smoke pit, “according to the regulations, you can’t get in trouble for that thing you did!”

We’ve all seen this happen. That one troop — the one who thinks they know how to help you — is what we call a “barracks lawyer.” They’re not actual legal representation and they don’t have any formal training. More often than not, this troop catches wind of some “loophole” via the Private News Network or Lance Corporal Underground and they take this newfound fact as gospel.

For whatever reason, people routinely make the mistake of believing these idiots and the nonsense that spews from their mouths. Here’s just a brief look at why you shouldn’t take their advice:


Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Think about it for more than half a second. If everyone knew all the stupid loopholes, there wouldn’t be a court martial system.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen Polanco)

They think they found a loophole… They didn’t.

The actual rules and regulations have been finely tuned over the course of two hundred years. It’s very unlikely that some random troop just happened to be the only one to figure out some loophole. And, realistically, that’s not how the rules work. There’s a little thing known as “commander’s discretion” that supersedes all.

If the commander says it, it will be so. It doesn’t matter how a given rule is worded.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

What they’re suggesting isn’t real. Want to know what is? Troops breaking big rocks into smaller rocks in military prison.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)

What they’re suggesting is often insubordination.

Advice that these pseudo-lawyers offer often involves a line that often starts with, “you don’t have to follow that, because…” Here’s the thing: Unless a superior is asking you to do something that’s profoundly unsafe or illegal, you have to do it. That’s not just your immediate supervisor — that’s all superiors.

The advice that they’re offering is a textbook definition of insubordination. Disregarding an order comes with a whole slew of other legal problems down the time.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

If they’re on in the first sergeant’s office after every major three-day weekend, they’re probably full of sh*t.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

They’re usually not the best troops in the formation

If they do know what they’re talking about, it’s for good reason. They probably got in trouble once, talked their way out of that trouble, and got let off the hook because the command stopped caring to argue.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

It’s not like there’s an entire MOS field dedicated to solving such issues… oh… wait…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton)

They don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about

There are 134 articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice out there and countless other rules and regulations that pop up from time to time. There’s no way in Hell that some private in the barracks has spent the time required to study each and every one of them and how they interact with each other.

If they have, by some miracle of time management, spent the effort required to learn all of this, then why the hell have they been squandering their profound talents in your unit rather than going over to JAG? Which leads us perfectly into…

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

If you live with a lower enlisted troop who’s in JAG, they’re still a barracks lawyer if their head is firmly up their own ass about how they can help you. Catch them on the clock.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

There are actual military lawyers who will advocate for you.

They exist and aren’t that uncommon. They’re often found at the brigade-level or installation-level. It’s their job to take on your case and see how the military judicial system could work for you. Unlike your buddy in the barracks, these lawyers have spent years in military (and often civilian) legal training.

Don’t waste your time placating the barracks lawyer. Actual military lawyers in JAG will take care of you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US soldier in Afghanistan aims to be first-generation American

Spc. Mohamed Sullaiman joined the U.S. Army from Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2015. He cites that he was, “inspired as an old man,” but Sullaiman chose to serve not just for himself, he also knew it could give his family a better life.

“I am here working for my family,” said Sullaiman, who deployed to Afghanistan with the Rock Battalion in early spring 2018 to fight for the country he now calls his own.

Three years ago, Sullaiman graduated from basic training with more than just a rank, he earned the right to become a U.S. citizen. Since then, he has excelled as a soldier and a leader.


“Spc. Sullaiman is a fit, inspired, disciplined train and truly inspirational soldier,” said 1st Lt. Gerald Prater, Sullaiman’s platoon leader, “He is an outstanding contributor to the organization.”

A large part of his motivation to be a standout soldier is the hope to one day bring his whole family to the United States. While Sullaiman has served on active duty for the last three years, his wife and two children still live in Freetown. His wife is raising their two children since Sullaiman joined the Army in 2015.

Sullaiman hopes the opportunities available to Americans will open new doors for his wife and children — opportunities to escape poverty and tribal rivalry and exchange them for security and freedom.

Newly-released memoir ‘Once a Warrior’ is a raw and compelling journey of purpose

Spc. Mohamed Sullaiman, an infantryman, from 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division returns from conducting combat operations in Kabul Province, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army courtesy photo by 1st. Stryker Brigade Combat Team)

Having been away from his family for three years, most recently in Afghanistan, Sullaiman understands the importance of constant communication, “I try hard to talk to them every night so they know that everything is okay. That I’m alright.” He also contacts the State Department regularly to keep in step with the process for his family’s permanent resident visa.

Sullaiman has kept his spirits high despite the separation, “I have a special prayer every night at midnight for an hour to ask help from Allah to guide me in the right way. He’s helping me not lose faith. It’s just a matter of time. I’m still going to keep praying until it finally happens.”

A devout Muslim, Sullaiman fasted during Ramadan despite patrolling daily in the July heat. “It wasn’t really easy. There were a lot of challenges but I overcame them.”

His determination is evident whether he’s serving overseas or in the United States. While it’s easy to save money for his family while deployed, Sullaiman, who turned 36 in June 2018, lives in the barracks and stays within his paycheck so he can send money to his family every month. He doesn’t own a car and visits his family once a year, “Depending on how much money I save,” he says.

Sullaiman exudes optimism, and plans on taking three weeks off after deployment to visit his family. His goal, with full support from his leadership, is to return with his family after his much deserved leave. When asked about what it will be like when his family joins him in the United States, “I’ll be one of the happiest men. I will say thanks to Allah for everything.”

Sullaiman continues to work alongside his chain of command to bring his family to the United States.

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