7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

Your life as a military spouse is what you make it. There, I said it — it’s your responsibility to make yourself happy in this military life. Before you stop reading this article or leave me a nasty comment, give me a chance to explain.

I am a military spouse of twelve years and have been with my husband for fifteen years. I’ve moved eight times – from coast to coast and even to Alaska for a time. My first move with my husband was in 2006. I was only 21 years old. I left my family and all I knew, and two days after we arrived at our new duty station, my husband got underway on a boat for weeks.

I was alone, I didn’t have a job, friends, or even cable or internet!


It. Was. Horrible.

I remember feeling waves of depression and not wanting to get off the couch as I watched Grey’s Anatomy on DVD for the millionth time. I was isolating myself and never felt more alone in my life. Did you know that loneliness can literally hurt your brain?

One study found that loneliness was a risk factor of dementia later in life.

After a few days of living in this funk, I took a good hard look at myself. I saw my stained sweat pants, unwashed dishes, and wondered what I was doing. We had just PCS’d to one of the most beautiful beach towns in Florida, and here I was wasting away, getting paler by the minute. I got off that couch and set out to build a life.

I knew that I could stay in that space forever, but I was losing the opportunity of a lifetime in the process. This military life is beautiful – but it’s up to you to embrace it.

Fast forward to 2020 and I couldn’t imagine having any other life. MilSpouse life is my jam! I look forward to every PCS and see it as an adventure just waiting for me to dive into. Each new state is a new home filled with new foods to taste, cities to explore, and above all — friendships that await. Once you get off that couch and commit to building a life as a military spouse, the absolute best part of military life is waiting for you. Your future MilSpouse bestie is out there!

As military spouses, we are so lucky. We get to surround ourselves with people that we immediately have a connection with. A community that gets every annoying, frustrating and beautiful part of military life. You don’t have to say a word and these military spouse brothers and sisters see you and completely get it. There’s no fumbling about the weather or times of awkward silences – you are instantly in a circle that’s welcoming you with open arms.

So, what are you waiting for?

Here are my top seven reasons why you need to get up off your couch, change out of those sweat pants, and find your MilSpouse bestie:

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

1. They know the best hair stylist or barber

This information has been handed down like the holy grail to them and they are just waiting to share that beautiful treasure with you.

2. Got a nightmare PCS story to share? Pull up a chair. 

Your future BFF wants to hear all about it and compare notes with theirs.

3. They’ve already scoped out all of the medical doctors, dentists, and specialists

Making decisions on your healthcare is exhausting and nerve-racking. They’ll be there to help you with the feedback you need to make your choices more securely.

4. Deployment sucks

They’ll let you cry on their couch, vent out your anger or hibernate alone for a few days. At the exact time you need them to, they’ll drag you on some adventure that’ll make those deployment days fly by. Your MilSpouse bestie will save you – I know, mine saved me.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

5. Your holidays will be merry and bright

The military spouse community will fill your holidays with so much joy and laughter that you’ll be okay FaceTiming your family when you can’t go home. Friendsgiving all day every day.

6. They’ll carry you through the hard times

Whether it’s deployment, missing your family, or an unspeakable tragedy, they’ll carry you through loss that feels unbearable. I’ve held my friends through the broken space of experiencing a miscarriage, and when I went through my own years later, their strength kept me from drowning in grief. They’ve got you.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

7. Mission first? No problem

The needs of the service will always come first. The needs of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Air Force will always come above your birthday, anniversary, or planned dates. Know it, embrace it, and have a plan B.

Your spouse is working late and missing the delicious dinner you made? No problem, call your bestie to come over and eat with you. Date canceled because of a last-minute training exercise? Totally okay because now you can go see that RomCom with your friends instead. I absolutely treasure my time with MilSpouse besties – because at this point, they are spread all over the country.

I have friends that I can call anytime, anywhere, and know that they’ll be there. It’s a beautiful life and one I choose to make wherever we are. Even with all of the hard pages of my MilSpouse story, thanks to my besties, I would go back and do it all over again.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

A new SpaceX video shows never-before-seen footage of its first astronaut flight

SpaceX released a video on Tuesday that chronicles its Demo-2 mission, the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon spaceship. The mission carried NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to and from the International Space Station, and it went remarkably smoothly – an outcome that felt somewhat out-of-keeping with this turbulent year on Earth.

“We hope it brings a little bit of brightness to a pretty tough 2020,” Hurley says at the end of the video.


The never-before-broadcast footage shows Behnken and Hurley driving to the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. After giving thumbs-ups to onlookers, the two astronauts board the Crew Dragon.

“Three…two…one…ignition, liftoff,” Mission Control says. Then SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket ignites.

Once they enter space, Behnken does a backflip as a stuffed sequined dinosaur floats around the capsule. “Tremor the Apatosaurus” was the latest in a long line of stuffed animals that astronauts have brought into space as zero-gravity indicators; when the toys start to float, observers know the ship has entered microgravity.

The video also shows the moments after Crew Dragon docked with the space station, when the astronauts met up with the members of Expedition 63. The montage ends with their return to Earth: A small white capsule shrieks through the atmosphere, then its parachutes deploy, slowing it to a gentle splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

You can watch the full video below:

Crew Dragon‘s Second Demonstration Mission

www.youtube.com

SpaceX is learning from Demo-2 to make its next mission smoother

As test missions go, Demo-2 was remarkably hassle-free.

“The greatest surprise is that this mission was as smooth as it is,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and COO, said after Behnken and Hurley’s splashdown.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

Astronaut Bob Behnken pushes aside a plush dinosaur toy floating around the cabin of the Crew Dragon as it reaches low-Earth orbit, May 30, 2020. NASA TV

Still, the mission wasn’t without snags. For instance, once the Crew Dragon landed, its thrusters began emitting toxic fumes. Throngs of boats carrying tourists and onlookers also ignored commands to keep their distance.

These problems serve as learning opportunities for NASA and SpaceX as they prepare for the next crewed mission in their partnership, Crew-1. That’s scheduled to launch at 2:40 a.m. ET on October 31.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

From top left: Shannon Walker, Soichi Noguchi, Victor Glover, and Michael Hopkins pose with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Jim Bridenstine/NASA

That crew includes NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins is slated to be the mission’s commander, Glover the pilot, and Walker and Noguchi mission specialists.

The Demo-2 astronauts have already offered some words of wisdom for that group. Hopkins said Hurley warned him about the shocking speed of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

“His comment about entry was, ‘It happens fast,'” Hopkins said in a press briefing on Tuesday. “From the time the de-orbit sequence starts, the entry sequence starts, to when you touch down is very fast.”

“For me, that means I need to make sure that we, as a crew, are ready for it,” Hopkins added. “When things happen fast, you need to be anticipating.”

But minor issues and surprises aside, NASA and SpaceX officials are mostly hoping for a repeat of Demo-2’s success later this fall.

“It will be a great mission if Crew-1 goes exactly the same way,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s head of human spaceflight, said during the Tuesday briefing. “I’m counting on a beautiful mission.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

NASCAR’s Jesse Iwuji is having the best week ever

We Are The Mighty wants to wish a very Happy Birthday to our favorite racecar driver. Jesse Iwuji turns 33 today, and we are wishing him the happiest of days. While his birthday is no doubt a special day, this year’s celebration is a bit more sweeter.

As many of you know, Jesse is unique among NASCAR drivers. He is a Naval Officer who is following his dreams of becoming a racecar driver. That dream took a big step up this week.

Jesse was recently promoted into NASCAR’s Xfinity Series where he will be driving the No. 13 Toyota Supra for MBM Motorsports. He will continue to also race the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Reaume Brothers Racing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.


In addition to the promotion in NASCAR, Jesse also was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy – talk about having an amazing month.

Here are some of Jesse’s friends, family, superior officers, fellow drivers and colleagues wishing him a happy birthday. You can tell the impact a man has from the company he keeps, and this collection of amazing people shows just how awesome Jesse is and why WATM is such a big fan:

Jesse Iwuji NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut at Road America | US Navy | Military | Congratulations

youtu.be

Jesse was born on August 12, 1987, the son of Nigerian immigrants. Born and raised in Texas, he was an athlete in high school and excelled in both sports and school. That excellence landed him at the United States Naval Academy. Jesse played for the Midshipman while learning to be a Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to playing safety, Iwuji also ran track for the Naval Academy.

He graduated in 2009 and went into the Fleet, first working on mine countermeasures which included a deployment to the Persian Gulf in 2012. He later served on the USS Comstock before moving into the Naval Reserves in 2017.

Then his pursuit of his dream took off.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Road America – Jesse Iwuji

www.youtube.com

Moving into NASCAR is no easy feat. But with his belief in honor, courage and commitment, Iwuji pushed forward through all the obstacles. He first thought about becoming a racecar driver during a Navy football event at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Throughout his active duty career, he balanced his duties and deployments with his pursuit of his passion. Upon entering the Reserves, he started accelerating his career with stints in the NASCAR KN Pro Series East and West which are regional proving grounds for drivers looking to prove themselves on the stockyard circuit.

From there, he moved into the truck series where he has competed for the last three years. His recent promotion to the Xfinity Series puts him one step closer to the NASCAR Cup Series which is, for those of you who don’t know, the highest echelon of stock car racing in the world.

Jesse’s debut on the Xfinity circuit was at the Henry 180 where he finished the race in the 26th spot. His next race should be at the legendary Watkins Glen road course this weekend.

Hopefully soon, we will see him racing in the Cup Series at places like Daytona, Talladega, Martinsville, Dover and Bristol.

Happy Birthday Jesse and congratulations on both your promotions!

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to take care of your mental health this Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner — for many, a time of cheer.

But the holidays are also tough for many who know spending several days with their families brings chaos, judgment, and the reopening of old wounds — particularly now the political chasm between the generations seems wider than ever.

It’s always vital to look after your mental health, but Christmas get-togethers with family members you only see once a year and too much wine can bring about unpleasant moments that burn us out.


Niels Eék, a psychologist for the mental health platform Remente, told Insider there are some key coping mechanisms that can ease us through the holiday season with less stress and angst this year.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Photo by Paola Chaaya)

“A lot of the time, stressful situations can make us feel helpless and trapped,” he said. “Always trying to think about possible solutions will not only keep you calm and rational, but will also help you solve the problem at hand.”

‘Sometimes people can say hurtful things without noticing’

Firstly, he said arguments usually arise from miscommunication or rash responses, which often aren’t intentional.

“If you want to avoid a row, it’s often beneficial to take a step back and try to understand all of the viewpoints involved,” he said. “Examining the bigger picture is key. What is everyone trying to achieve?”

For example, if tensions are running high around the Christmas preparations, write all the tasks down and delegate them by priority. Or if a relative has said something you think is hurtful, try and work out what they meant without reading between the lines. In other words, be diplomatic, Eék said.

“Sometimes people can say hurtful things without noticing,” he said. “Instead of adding fuel to the fire, put it out by answering with a diplomatic response, such as ‘thank you for your opinion, I’ll think about it’ or ‘what did you mean by that, could you explain a bit further?'”

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Photo by Toa Heftiba)

Listening is always your friend when it comes to communicating with someone who has different beliefs to you. It’s better to attempt a base level of respect before firing shots that aren’t going to get you anywhere.

Of course, if you’re not being granted the same respect in return, you’re well within your rights to excuse yourself and no longer interact with that person.

“Even if forgiveness is impossible, take a deep breath and try to stay calm,” Eék said. “After all, you’re unlikely to see them again for a long time, and it might be worth it for the sake of everyone else’s Christmas to just smile and power through it.”

Don’t spread yourself too thin this year

As we get older, we realize there is no real obligation to spend time with people who have hurt you. Unfortunately, for some people, that includes their families.

But whatever your situation, the excitement around Christmas can mean spreading yourself too thin. That’s why Eék said it’s important to say “no” around this time of year. Trying to cram everything in means you can lose out on resting, which can make everything else more frustrating and exhausting.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Photo by Drew Coffman)

It’s just as justified to make time for what’s important to you — whether that’s getting enough sleep, exercising, or reading a book — as it is to spend time with friends and family. So never apologize for taking some time to take care of yourself, and for making decisions about the events you actually want to attend.

“Knowing the motivations behind your decisions will help you figure out what you want to do this Christmas,” said Eék. “And who you want to spend your time with.”

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

Read more:

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 27th

I know the sh*t has hit the proverbial fan and the world is going through a fairly sh*t time at the moment… But hold the presses because it came to light, via Business Insider, that Gen. James Mattis (Ret.) did some modelling work for a veteran-owned leather jacket company in between his time in the service to his appointment as Secretary of Defense.

Just when you thought the Patron Saint of Chaos could not get any more badass, he can apparently pull off a leather jacket far better than any of us ever could.

After reading that, I just don’t know what to do anymore. Anyway, here’s some memes while I contemplate whether dropping my stimulus check on that $1,300 jacket would be worth the ire of my wife…


[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FR3YccT28gPzQtIzHpsp4317narsE98ce3d6QCayngb4_ojTP6OhU6r5j08kl_iOrBI0ySSn3IoDUzYkpFam17hZ5jun5whBR14-fONl8ZgM6hTzAl2YzKo0YylZqwwBHWWfch4JPtMYpovzIgw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=797&h=c897c3d567e591cfad93952f21c3d0007b767dfe7d4025bfeae5611642c86039&size=980x&c=2496357750 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FR3YccT28gPzQtIzHpsp4317narsE98ce3d6QCayngb4_ojTP6OhU6r5j08kl_iOrBI0ySSn3IoDUzYkpFam17hZ5jun5whBR14-fONl8ZgM6hTzAl2YzKo0YylZqwwBHWWfch4JPtMYpovzIgw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D797%26h%3Dc897c3d567e591cfad93952f21c3d0007b767dfe7d4025bfeae5611642c86039%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2496357750%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FC1B0VXrZadoT2OvzQyVS49UTzLipXGcMMlSyFft9RVGmxtTarq3PiWeluFshD71DKv0XuOFaQsLwZsaFjUqjmjT7wPArRAxzDpK_G5U0VlirxLK4rdFVHPxS44bgRpWSxyXkecXbykPxgY9EjQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=506&h=5504d31e5b326a340ae56353f9c8081196383c8b341966fde81d34386a44acfa&size=980x&c=2863792711 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FC1B0VXrZadoT2OvzQyVS49UTzLipXGcMMlSyFft9RVGmxtTarq3PiWeluFshD71DKv0XuOFaQsLwZsaFjUqjmjT7wPArRAxzDpK_G5U0VlirxLK4rdFVHPxS44bgRpWSxyXkecXbykPxgY9EjQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D506%26h%3D5504d31e5b326a340ae56353f9c8081196383c8b341966fde81d34386a44acfa%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2863792711%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fd1TegbF7yC-Iy1FD_wl20FPK5Z43-92NFVpbV1cZ_S4TTze-_CajH8XvEvV5jmB-LJyXDfu4_IO0_wiL7aylgJ_XIDaGXk3hUFmTGAFzrASbPYXRwFng8BVwm1FbCZBc0dOj-QDHzTl0Z84Q_g&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=639&h=22f6413191495b97d0d2b5feac0767ae028d3e37ad4b48bf432992a6e27aa4f7&size=980x&c=1842827359 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fd1TegbF7yC-Iy1FD_wl20FPK5Z43-92NFVpbV1cZ_S4TTze-_CajH8XvEvV5jmB-LJyXDfu4_IO0_wiL7aylgJ_XIDaGXk3hUFmTGAFzrASbPYXRwFng8BVwm1FbCZBc0dOj-QDHzTl0Z84Q_g%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D639%26h%3D22f6413191495b97d0d2b5feac0767ae028d3e37ad4b48bf432992a6e27aa4f7%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1842827359%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fvsk9pjbGGY0t3MpVZCsi0dS7g4dWAX_uY3oliL_ytsMtcu6ffWUJLDJoz2nkSyvIlbsheRDzqoqgKQmUf6vmhIkHrXxys4GENDRy4zOrvxK9bv_hXik02Mncg9LLRXIQDUMhxEyD3-kjf_-y0A&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=496&h=e9dded176521b91ee4aa409fbccba762a7134cf77c15fef20059e9f0574b25ad&size=980x&c=3938817770 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fvsk9pjbGGY0t3MpVZCsi0dS7g4dWAX_uY3oliL_ytsMtcu6ffWUJLDJoz2nkSyvIlbsheRDzqoqgKQmUf6vmhIkHrXxys4GENDRy4zOrvxK9bv_hXik02Mncg9LLRXIQDUMhxEyD3-kjf_-y0A%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D496%26h%3De9dded176521b91ee4aa409fbccba762a7134cf77c15fef20059e9f0574b25ad%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3938817770%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FHkOyF5jqj_U8gu5lvU5Iz947cQg95L0ZraLXLJDGSyxZfFematK_Aouz4ld-yWk-fAt3qj5juBBpOaJs1ShcdyXozzoLxRdOkH3Z1GrR&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=509&h=b81ed875b77f5b58148bfdb810e6d99cd45d21fe9114d6f7f43fa7a30845eaf1&size=980x&c=919958823 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FHkOyF5jqj_U8gu5lvU5Iz947cQg95L0ZraLXLJDGSyxZfFematK_Aouz4ld-yWk-fAt3qj5juBBpOaJs1ShcdyXozzoLxRdOkH3Z1GrR%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D509%26h%3Db81ed875b77f5b58148bfdb810e6d99cd45d21fe9114d6f7f43fa7a30845eaf1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D919958823%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Call for Fire)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F9yqKNozLjZW_-EnNglyofUgSzQDqobPa9-UK4a1wuOS2BYqrLaxEDSHYD89Jcp9uBNW9lm7Sf5qk1Va9O1mm1llT9LF0pcl9ZXZda3todq-h57Qd0lyYzuKfQshRMmq8ydjEcpRSR_5UIn9BMQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=1011&h=b4b322a96aacd89367067c46233b09e8cd64015a735b0843c559bada5cbdd7c7&size=980x&c=2311261569 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F9yqKNozLjZW_-EnNglyofUgSzQDqobPa9-UK4a1wuOS2BYqrLaxEDSHYD89Jcp9uBNW9lm7Sf5qk1Va9O1mm1llT9LF0pcl9ZXZda3todq-h57Qd0lyYzuKfQshRMmq8ydjEcpRSR_5UIn9BMQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D1011%26h%3Db4b322a96aacd89367067c46233b09e8cd64015a735b0843c559bada5cbdd7c7%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2311261569%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Not CID)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FCUbOdU-cfU8Uw81NAUw41S4sb-XZUaJwMOEQj0XnwY3eOXlui8C-IZkc2h62xG3ahJ0ERZpHDq3Dqj1MzSo-GiVLz–1j0vHXAeLg2df_Y1E_dnALXyJNddtkjtaAzzy0DX_IBXj3SfCjG9-4g&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=1001&h=c3040007fe7da72e219803c43e168224c425f65d8aa3c4e795d98befb95d828a&size=980x&c=1956724043 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FCUbOdU-cfU8Uw81NAUw41S4sb-XZUaJwMOEQj0XnwY3eOXlui8C-IZkc2h62xG3ahJ0ERZpHDq3Dqj1MzSo-GiVLz–1j0vHXAeLg2df_Y1E_dnALXyJNddtkjtaAzzy0DX_IBXj3SfCjG9-4g%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D1001%26h%3Dc3040007fe7da72e219803c43e168224c425f65d8aa3c4e795d98befb95d828a%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1956724043%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FKgjrVcjv2YLD5aWNs6o4NQqIzc66qUf4GjEhUBkWBieP7u8ZRsH-EIvlYzFgA1tHDU8r2Ghm9Bc1t9dVc8wLTNtmHNUpEr9OwGhBIYtwIpiv2TuroABREQWnrY7c6LJzYYNPEG6EcHGNo3THjA&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=268&h=72345d59f02eb84705af1ddd14199161d7b58e2c92f203db0ed52fa55a7e3f3e&size=980x&c=1301376167 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FKgjrVcjv2YLD5aWNs6o4NQqIzc66qUf4GjEhUBkWBieP7u8ZRsH-EIvlYzFgA1tHDU8r2Ghm9Bc1t9dVc8wLTNtmHNUpEr9OwGhBIYtwIpiv2TuroABREQWnrY7c6LJzYYNPEG6EcHGNo3THjA%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D268%26h%3D72345d59f02eb84705af1ddd14199161d7b58e2c92f203db0ed52fa55a7e3f3e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1301376167%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FUkGnNhoXsr3-cBjym-LHupIiB5kAkocRtrztRyZkhACF6j72I5S8TU5eMAcjE2odke_FqhsHia8tQMYYbSlDLdTukO-2m6vhFcV3XdvcM8OP78gKAomSCftGbX7IrBWoG8E1CNNR2J0Pzk0v1A&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=423&h=e2b4db2ff6768bbee85337332676074474850047a53943e5c9acc0dd32370dee&size=980x&c=3853842634 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FUkGnNhoXsr3-cBjym-LHupIiB5kAkocRtrztRyZkhACF6j72I5S8TU5eMAcjE2odke_FqhsHia8tQMYYbSlDLdTukO-2m6vhFcV3XdvcM8OP78gKAomSCftGbX7IrBWoG8E1CNNR2J0Pzk0v1A%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D423%26h%3De2b4db2ff6768bbee85337332676074474850047a53943e5c9acc0dd32370dee%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3853842634%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F4llgp4-srJzeeS7TlK5EWUmSlL9QxNd9V63CjGM9l3Y3UOfMctkPFjccImQAj5Yq2UyFtJoy99GCBnHdDrn6ZuQix-mj1z__10QL79nHZiuSRsJY6G6j5WhPh-1ijde3SJF5mGT2cc49X0f0Qw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=831&h=9607e5e3d79adfcfc3ce4021ca0ee317bc962b77c4cc899582b37b949285bb33&size=980x&c=1101176466 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F4llgp4-srJzeeS7TlK5EWUmSlL9QxNd9V63CjGM9l3Y3UOfMctkPFjccImQAj5Yq2UyFtJoy99GCBnHdDrn6ZuQix-mj1z__10QL79nHZiuSRsJY6G6j5WhPh-1ijde3SJF5mGT2cc49X0f0Qw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D831%26h%3D9607e5e3d79adfcfc3ce4021ca0ee317bc962b77c4cc899582b37b949285bb33%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1101176466%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FA6Dm3WKaCbCWy_sbbrPcqy4Twp0cAB9yfvjk5oNRMpa48f7cq3kyAdsIUj_5At48F4YY5ChCjkPwtsPH6zgk5USDwXxboRWJ4S530X5I&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=667&h=0d63389fe6466df022b748a7767d6285ba6e6274b3c5fd9705a8ad2ddfa5652f&size=980x&c=3370988669 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FA6Dm3WKaCbCWy_sbbrPcqy4Twp0cAB9yfvjk5oNRMpa48f7cq3kyAdsIUj_5At48F4YY5ChCjkPwtsPH6zgk5USDwXxboRWJ4S530X5I%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D667%26h%3D0d63389fe6466df022b748a7767d6285ba6e6274b3c5fd9705a8ad2ddfa5652f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3370988669%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FGTYcx8-OYrumpO5QPTxc6DIj0hK7QPeGHzohxAC15pmJmFLRVKHpiW2R0pYkR6jL5t8ofYQKW6LEqYNaaXwmNXYOqvZjhDc8jigrdYrb43qWqK9ZXJAIoIo3DKQsas-UMI0XGW8k8qjVQvXY4w&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=725&h=38171765d57d804059d29ae6e66228f492e53f01e71782b95dd59a3fa0231221&size=980x&c=1538488349 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FGTYcx8-OYrumpO5QPTxc6DIj0hK7QPeGHzohxAC15pmJmFLRVKHpiW2R0pYkR6jL5t8ofYQKW6LEqYNaaXwmNXYOqvZjhDc8jigrdYrb43qWqK9ZXJAIoIo3DKQsas-UMI0XGW8k8qjVQvXY4w%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D725%26h%3D38171765d57d804059d29ae6e66228f492e53f01e71782b95dd59a3fa0231221%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1538488349%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FIA8OrZfbLAMjJ4FuHMXrey4JnmvCDzsdRLPmRBg2g85zp1JsYX_25OQ0O2ttqP8To4BAc6Dp78F1CqanaiNx1pCAG2OiVyRRYG2jhw9qukMkCpdIxkIMRkxak4tvQCZIkGYmEyUuLGDTNswdfQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=962&h=8a2eb8400043faa565a1d84928804576f47863f25e4d6e43133c11fd54d3a12c&size=980x&c=2196365507 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FIA8OrZfbLAMjJ4FuHMXrey4JnmvCDzsdRLPmRBg2g85zp1JsYX_25OQ0O2ttqP8To4BAc6Dp78F1CqanaiNx1pCAG2OiVyRRYG2jhw9qukMkCpdIxkIMRkxak4tvQCZIkGYmEyUuLGDTNswdfQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D962%26h%3D8a2eb8400043faa565a1d84928804576f47863f25e4d6e43133c11fd54d3a12c%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2196365507%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Beyond the Green Line: From British civilian to Israeli paratrooper

One of the great perks of this job is that sometimes things, which you had missed or had never heard of before, get tossed into your lap and you wind up with something special. Kind of like Christmas in July. So, when the SOFREP editors asked me if I would be interested in reviewing Marc Goldberg’s book, “Beyond the Green Line,” I accepted.

Goldberg’s story is a very interesting one. It takes him from his home in Britain to the ranks of the Israeli paratroopers during the Al Aqsa (Second) Intifada. Goldberg made his aliyah to Israel during a turbulent time.


Goldberg came to Israel from London. Despite speaking poor Hebrew, he joined an elite reconnaissance unit (Orev) of the Israeli paratroopers. The book recounts his relationships with his fellow military members and his tour of duty which mainly consisted of counter-insurgency operations in the West Bank.

The Al-Aqsa Intifada stretched from September 2000 to February 2005 and was marked by as many, if not more, civilian deaths as combatant deaths. It began when Palestinians unleashed waves of suicide bombers against Israel after the 2000 Camp David Summit failed to reach a final agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in July 2000.

What makes Goldberg’s case and his service unique is that he was a Briton, but being born in Jew in the U.K., he “felt like an outcast.” He hated life in the U.K., as a young man. He had dreams of grandeur, of making the Aliyah to the birthplace of his people and becoming an elite Israeli paratrooper and an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

He thought that Israel was the answer to all of the questions that troubled him. It would be the reason he existed and would erase the centuries of powerlessness that he felt his people and he had keenly suffered from.

Despite his language barrier, Goldberg passed the selection course for the IDF paratroopers, went through his training, and joined the ranks of the unit. His parents traveled from Britain to see him be awarded his maroon beret and silver paratrooper wings. He did so well in his training that his NCO gave him his own beret at his graduation and his commander gave him a watch.

His service in the IDF during the counter-insurgency campaign in Nablus is much like any operation in any military in the world. Hours upon hours of preparation and sheer boredom interspersed with brief periods of adrenaline rush. Intermingled in with the boredom were moments of head-scratching ridiculousness that mark many veterans’ career in Special Operations.

During one rock-throwing incident, where Palestinian youths climbed onto a roof of an apartment building and were throwing everything they could get their hands on, one older Palestinian man was intermittently yelling at the youths and the Israeli soldiers. He was upset that the youths broke into his apartment and were tossing all of his possessions, including the man’s washing machine, off the roof and onto the armored car the paratroopers were riding in.

One uncomfortable episode takes place in an apartment that the paratroopers are occupying to hunt for a wanted terrorist. Goldberg had to watch over a Palestinian family as well as leftist “volunteers” from the United States and the U.K.

But like many other veterans involved in a counter-insurgency campaign, Goldberg grew disillusioned with his job, the mission, and their reason for being there. He even grew disillusioned with the very terrorists they were hunting. One wanted terrorist, who was responsible for the deaths of an untold amount of Israelis and Palestinians, was trapped in a house with a boatload of ammunition. But rather than shoot it out and die a martyr’s death, as he preached to so many others, he surrendered sobbing and crying while pleading for his life.

He later fell into depression and had a classic case of PTSD, not able to interact with the civilians in Israel, while he was off-duty, anymore than he could back in England. This was despite not seeing the type of pitched combat that many of his contemporaries did.

In the end, Goldberg realized that Israel isn’t the land of milk and honey where everything is perfect and all of his questions would be answered. It is a land as troubled as anywhere else.

“Now I had seen the truth, Israel was just as beset with problems as anywhere else and the people who lived there were exactly the same as everyone else. The best were wonderful, the worst were awful, and the majority somewhere in between.”

The IDF had given him so much but also took a big piece out of him. Things got worse upon his return to England. Like many ex-servicemen, the mundane life awaiting him left him, he felt, with no challenge. He hit rock bottom and briefly contemplated suicide. But he entered therapy and ever so slowly made his way back.

In 2010, Goldberg returned to Israel, not “to a paradise, a place of milk and honey, or some kind of holy place the Messiah was imminently arriving to. I was going back to the land and country of my people. Dirty, dusty, imperfect but ours.”

He never experienced the war that he pictured in his boyhood; the war that would make him a Jewish war hero like he read and dreamed about. But he did his duty to his country and his people. He’s at peace with that. Now he’s married and living in the place he belonged all along.

Goldberg’s book is an easy, outstanding read. His style is such that while reading it, the reader has the feeling that the author is talking to you in a quiet bar and telling his story. This makes it a great page-turner and instantly hooks you; the pages will turn faster than you could imagine.

Make this book part of your counter-insurgency collection.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force Wounded Warrior program partners with Ukrainian vets to find healing in war-torn country

Exercise and adaptive sports have been proven to build resiliency among wounded veterans. Through new purpose, unwavering support, rekindled determination, and a focus on ability and not disability, these warriors can heal. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that 13,000 people had been killed in the Ukraine conflict as of 2019. Upward of 30,000 soldiers have been badly wounded since the war began in 2014.


These injured soldiers come back with burns covering much of their bodies, extensive brain damage, and chronic phantom pains from amputations. Around half of them are also suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Once home, their new war is just beginning.

The Ukrainian government struggles to provide basic care for these veterans, with private non-profits often stepping in to pay for things like prosthetics. Seeking help for mental health illnesses, like PTSD, carries a strong stigma for Ukrainian society. Psychologists and non-profit wounded warrior programs in Ukraine have been working hard to change that.

In 2015, Col. (Dr.) Vsevolod Stebliuk introduced the first complex psychological and physical program for the rehabilitation of war veterans at Irpin Military Hospital in Ukraine. It’s there that veterans are introduced to things like exercise therapy to build resiliency. Wounded Warrior Ukraine also teaches PTSD workshops, deep breathing and exercise therapy to Ukrainian veterans.

In 2017 the Ukraine team made its debut at the Invictus Games. This was monumental for these veterans who were struggling with devastating visible and invisible wounds from war. The Invictus Games helped them by not only building a community of support, but by giving them purpose and passion through adaptive sports. The word “Invictus” is Latin for unconquered – implying that although forever changed by war, they will not be overcome.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

Marsha Gonzales, a retired United States Air Force veteran and current Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Branch Chief for Warrior Care Support, is the manager of Team US for the 2020 Invictus Games. While at a meeting for the games, she met the manager for Team Ukraine, Oksana Horbach. Horbach shared with Gonzales her concern for her team, as Ukraine did not have the same access to financial resources as other countries. Gonzales decided to help.

When discussing different options of support, Gonzales remembered that AFW2 had equipment that was to be recycled. It was at this moment that AFW2 helped establish Team Ukraine’s first-ever wheelchair basketball team to compete in the 2020 Invictus Games.

Ten specialized wheelchairs were delivered to Ukraine in February, and with them came two AFW2 coaches and five sports ambassadors to not only train the Ukrainians with sport-specific knowledge, but also directly engage with local veterans. The AFW2 group visited the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and engaged with local media to share stories of resilience through adaptive sports.

According to Gonzales, many tears were shed during the visits with veterans. She shared that while visiting veterans in one local hospital, it was hard not to be overcome by their stories. American Veterans who came on the trip with AFW2 also felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the care and support they receive in the United States. All involved wished there was more they could do for these incredible Ukrainian veterans.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

One Ukrainian veteran shared during a visit that they had just received word of increased fighting, and that some of their friends had been killed. Gonzales said it was hard to remain unemotional, knowing that not far away, more Ukrainian soldiers were dying in the conflict.

While providing wheelchairs and giving their time might not seem like much to some, to the Ukrainians it was everything. “We are giving these veterans hope for their future,” Gonzales said.

Team US co-captain, retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Smith, was one of the ambassadors on the international trip. He made a Facebook post on Feb. 22 sharing that the visit was a humbling and profound experience for him and others taking part.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

“Letting other wounded, ill, and injured service members/disabled veterans know that we can adapt, overcome, and persevere with absolute resiliency in the face of challenges, obstacles, and trials we suffer due to military service for our countries,” he wrote.

Smith said that they went into this trip with Team Ukraine appearing very unsure of why they were there to help. However, by the time AFW2 left, Ukrainian veterans were referring to them as “our Americans.”

It was no longer Team US and Team Ukraine – it was “Our Team.”

To see all of the things AFW2 is doing to support wounded warriors, click here. Also, check out Team Ukraine’s Invictus Team page.

Articles

How Green Berets earned the nickname ‘snake eaters’ and how it helped them in Vietnam

The U.S. Army’s Special Forces soldiers are some of the most capable troops in the world. They might even be the most capable people. Putting on the coveted green beret means being able to handle yourself in almost any situation at any time, and coming out on top. 

For those working in Special Forces, it comes with varying degrees of difficulty. Today’s Special Forces soldier works in counterterrorism, counter-narcotics, hostage rescue and other potentially classified operations. But the primary mission of those who wear the green beret is to wage unconventional warfare against a hostile, possibly occupied nation. 

This often means turning a population or oppressed minority against its occupiers. They often find themselves training an undermanned, underequipped fighting force. In Vietnam, where the Green Berets cut their teeth, this often meant surviving in the jungles for long periods of time.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie
U.S. Army

In Vietnam, the Military Assistance Command – Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a joint CIA-Army operation used to collect intelligence and fight the covert war happening in the dense jungles of the country. The oppressed minority in this case were the Vietnamese tribes of Montagnards.

The Montagnards’ name comes from the French for “mountaineers” and though they live in Vietnam, they are ethnically and culturally different from the Vietnamese. The 30 tribes of Montagnards live off of the land, growing food and hunting for survival. They were looked down upon by the Vietnamese and didn’t trust either the north or the south. Eventually, they cast their lots with the south – and the reason for that was the Green Berets.

Army Special Forces soldiers worked with the Montagnards (called “Yards” for short) to form a kind of quick reaction force (QRF) that would defend southern villages from attacking bands of Viet Cong (VC). The highland areas occupied by the Yards were prime real estate for moving men and material to the war zones. Isolated villages were easy pickings for the VC. The Green Berets moved in to advise the Yards.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie
U.S. Army photo

By the end of 1963, the Yards were organized into a real fighting force of 43,000 men and an 18,000 strong QRF. The Green Berets and the Montagnards gelled instantly. The Yard appreciated the Army’s finest for their help and the green berets appreciated the honest, primal toughness of the Yards – and their resolve to defend what was theirs. 

They were a lot alike in that their ways seemed odd to everyone else. The Montagnards would often find food that seemed unwholesome or unsavory to others. The Special Forces knew what that was like. After displaying their survival skills to President Kennedy, skills where they caught and ate snakes, they were stuck with the moniker “snake eaters.” 

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie
National Archives

To the rest of Vietnam, the Montagnards were called savages. The similarities didn’t stop there. The U.S. soldiers loved the Yards prowess in combat. They were natural soldiers, brave and trustworthy. They knew they could count on the Montagnards to watch their flanks. 

All good things must come to an end, however. When the United States was forced to leave South Vietnam to its own defense, things didn’t fare so well. The Montagnards fought well, but they couldn’t defend the whole country on their own. When the South Vietnamese government fell, they accepted the result.

But they didn’t fare well. The North Vietnamese did not forget the Montagnards’ work with the U.S. Army Special Forces and the communists made life especially hard for the mountain tribes in the years to come.


Feature image: U.S. Army

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Master fitness trainers help soldiers prepare for combat

Master Fitness Training instructors work tirelessly to coach soldiers from across the Army in developing new ways to prepare them for combat, while in the process, helping increase readiness and lowering profiles up to 40%, says the fitness school NCOIC.

Wanting to better understand the effectiveness of the fitness program, Master Sgt. Joseph Komes, U.S. Army Physical Fitness School noncommissioned officer in charge, used a roster based on thousands of soldiers, all previously certified at the school, and sent a questionnaire to understand the school’s effectiveness.

Shortly after, the responses started pouring in.


“What I started seeing was that trainers were increasing their unit readiness,” he said. “The way I measured unit readiness was only by PT scores and profile rates, because, I’m just one guy in an office trying to figure out if what we’re doing is working.”

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

Komes also determined individual units, armed with certified fitness trainers, decreased their profile rates by close to 40%. However, Komes added, “I don’t know if those individuals were on a two-week profile and they just ended up falling off during the training program or what.”

That said, the responses were useful and answered his question. In addition, it gave fitness instructors at the school a better understanding of how worthwhile their program is, and with the Army Combat Fitness Test in its second phase of implementation, the timing couldn’t be better, he said.

Scheduled to be the test of record in October 2020, the ACFT is the Army’s largest physical fitness overhaul in nearly four decades. Like physical readiness training, something the instructors are experts in, the ACFT is part of a larger “reset” to build a more combat-ready force.

To meet the demands of the six-event ACFT, instructors from the school have already certified thousands of soldiers from around the Army to develop physical programs to bring back to their units. In addition, the selected soldiers are trained on a variety of skills vital to the ACFT, including how to set up the testing field, as well as supervising and grading the test.

According to Komes, in the past, physical training programs “lost touch” with combat readiness. Regarding PT, soldiers were forced to “run four days out of the week and ruck on the fifth,” which led to injuries and an overall decrease in a soldier’s lethality.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers conduct a sunrise run during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 11, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. William Carraway)

He added, “That’s just the way PT was always done, and it’s our job is to help soldiers sit down and strategically assess their mission, and prevent injuries from happening. [They should think] Okay, I have a training event nine weeks from now — where we’re going to enter a building and clear room — how do we physically, and safely prepare for this?”

That’s where the master fitness trainer comes in, he said.

“These days, we have better knowledge to increase overall unit performance during a deployment,” he said. “[Master Fitness Training instructors] are doing their best to implement that [knowledge] and shape the future for the Army.”

When fitness instructors certify trainers, they’re thinking of each individual soldier and the unique needs required to be successful — even at that basic level, he said.

“We’re looking at them as individuals and not just as just a big mass,” Komes said. “I think with the ACFT around the corner, it seems like that’s the mindset that’s important, because every person has their own requirements.”

Komes added, it’s vital for trainers to know their soldiers and know what they need to be successful on the ACFT.

“Our trainers understand that we have to physically prepare individuals to complete the Army’s mission,” he added. “It’s very humbling for us to give soldiers, from all three components of the Army, the tools to succeed because the folks who leave here go back to those individual soldiers.”

“Everyone is different,” he said. “Some soldiers could be attached to National Guard units, and implementing a PT program once a month is challenging, or they could be military police and work odd shifts.”

Being able to “crack the code and see the challenges from different perspectives” is a daily task the trainers and instructors grapple with, he said, adding, that “having a fitness trainer all the way down to the platoon level” would be ideal. However, the trainers who leave the fitness school only reach the company level, for active duty.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gonzalez, Recruiting and Retention Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, carries two 40-pound kettlebells during the Army Combat Fitness Test

(New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)

“We already know each individual is different, but each individual platoon is different, too,” he said. “Each platoon is training for a different goal.”

That’s also where certified master fitness trainers come in, he added. “Certified trainers are able to go to their units with a wealth of knowledge, and look at essential task list and identify the most daunting task and develop a physical fitness program based on those tasks to increase the overall performance.”

When Komes first arrived at the fitness school in 2012, the ACFT wasn’t a thought on anyone’s mind. Today, it seems to be everyone’s first thought, he said.

This change leaves the instructors with a large responsibility on their backs — to ensure the force is ready. But, it’s a responsibility they carry with pride, he said.

“When we conduct MFT training, we ensure each certified trainer has a plan for their unit,” he said, adding thousands of certified trainers are among the force already.

“They’re out there, they’re already in units, and hopefully commanders understand what they bring to the fight,” Komes said.

For soldiers uneasy with the ACFT, Komes recommends they reach out to their local master fitness trainer, or identify who it is through their chain of command.

The Master Fitness Training Course is broken into two phases — a self-paced, 60-hour online phase and a two-week, 76-hour in-residence phase. The curriculum covers everything from exercise science, PT program design, leadership, physical fitness assessment and unit physical readiness programs, aligned with current Army doctrine and regulations.

After graduating from the course, soldiers are equipped to advise units on physical readiness issues and monitor unit and individual physical readiness programs.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The hidden truth: military families face financial insecurity

Military life brings enough stress. How you’re going to put food on the table shouldn’t be one of them.


Today’s military is a much more diverse population and also more likely to be married, unlike those who served a generation or two ago. According to a 2018 White House report, 74% of military families have children, and 42% of those children are between the ages of 0 and 5 years old.
7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

According to a 2018 study completed by the Military Family Advisory Network, 13% of military families experience food insecurity. That same study reported that as many as 24% of military families skip meals or buy cheaper, less healthy meals to make do.

Currently, many junior military families do not qualify for food assistance even though they are in desperate need of it.

The United States Department of Agriculture did a survey that same year, which found that only 11.1% of American homes were experiencing food insecurity. This could indicate that junior military families may be experiencing higher rates of food insecurity than the average American family.

Lack of Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) in notoriously high-cost areas is another issue affecting the financial wellness of military families. The Department of Defense released its rates for 2020, with a decrease of id=”listicle-2645192734″.9 million dollars. With such high rates of financial insecurity affecting military families, it is unknown why the DOD made the decision to implement a reduction.

Reports have shown different numbers; some say one in four military families are utilizing food banks; others showcase that million in SNAP benefits aren’t really accounted for.

While the image of our uniformed service members in line at a food bank or using SNAP benefits is an uncomfortable one, it is a reality for many military families.

In 2017, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to address their food assistance needs, but it was never brought to a vote. A second bill named the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, made it through the House but was never called for a vote in the Senate.

How could the needs of those who would sacrifice their lives for this country be ignored?

The National Military Family Association is a non-profit organization that has championed bills like the Military Family Basic Needs Allowance, which they fought to have included in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Despite it not being included, their website indicates that they will continue advocating for military families and ensuring they receive what they need to serve this country without fear of food insecurity.

The Department of Defense objected to the second bill, with part of their reasoning being that the service member receives a basic allowance for subsistence (BAS). However, it can be argued that BAS is only intended for the service member. It does not account for the military spouse and children that service member most likely has. This leaves families couponing, utilizing food banks, and seeking financial support services through faith-based agencies.

Blue Star Families conducted a survey in 2018, and 70% of military families reported that having two incomes as being something vital for well-being. With well-documented rates of high unemployment for military spouses and a lack of quality childcare, it demonstrates why two-thirds of military families report stress due to their current financial situations. This was the first time the Blue Star Family annual survey had financial insecurity as a top stressor.

There are many pieces of recent legislation that have been signed and are aimed at increasing gainful employment opportunities for military spouses, leading to less financial stress on the military family. While this appears to be a step in the right direction for increasing rates of employment among military spouses, it doesn’t address the many other barriers.

The United States is approaching twenty years at war, its longest in recorded history. Without a current end in sight, operational tempo remains high, and with that comes additional stressors placed on our military. With higher than average rates of suicide and a 65% increase of mental health issues affecting our military – they are paying the high price for this war.

Our servicemen and women willingly carry unavoidable stressors because of their commitment to serve this country. It’s time that we take being able to feed their families off their shoulders.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Thoughts on how to be a badass military spouse

Being in the military is hard. I served in the military for 13 long years, and I know how demanding and exhausting that job is. But, do you guys want to know what’s hard too?

Being a military spouse.

Being a military spouse comes without a title, without a rank, without the specialized training, and most of all, without the brotherhood that accompanies the life of an armed forces member and that, my friends, is not easy. Out of all the jobs that I have done in my life, and believe me when I say that I have had my share of challenging and insanely stressful jobs, being a military spouse has been, by far, the most difficult one.


I still remember when I became a military spouse 21 years ago. By the time I became Mrs. Morales, I was already a hard-core soldier. A soldier that had been trained to go to war, trained to kill, trained to survive in the most difficult situations, but also trained to save lives. Yes, I was trained to be a combat medic in the Army, a job that I enjoyed doing with all my heart, but one thing the Army never trained me for was becoming a military spouse, which I became when I was just a 20 year old kid.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

U.S. Army Spc. Leo Leroy gets a kiss from Regina Leroy and a bow-wow welcome from dogs Yoshi and Bruiser at a homecoming ceremony on Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 28, 2009.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sharla Lewis)

My friend, the spouse of a Foreign Service Officer, asked me once how it felt to be a military spouse, especially during war time. When she asked me that, I realized that, as much as I wanted to tell her how it felt, I didn’t have the words to express all I wanted to say, so I froze, and after a while, she changed the topic and I never got the chance to give her an answer to her difficult question. But, now that I think about it, I do have an answer.

Military spouses come from all backgrounds, and all of us characterize ourselves as strong individuals who are not only capable of running a household by ourselves, but who are also experts at making miracles out of nothing. I’m sure that most military spouses out there will agree with me. But, those of you who are not military spouses may be thinking, what’s wrong with that? Well, let me tell you.

Have you ever been in a position where being strong is the only choice you have even when your entire world is collapsing on top of you? Well, that’s what military spouses do every single day, and the difference between our service members and us is that, we don’t get trained for such challenging job. We are just expected to perform the job and move on.

As a soldier, I had many great and challenging experiences, but nothing could ever compare to living at home as a military spouse. There were many times when my husband was overseas when I questioned my commitment to the military, and no, I don’t mean my commitment as a soldier, I questioned my commitment as a military spouse.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

Capt. Lucas Frokjer, officer in charge of the flightline for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, reunites with his family after returning from a seven-month deployment with HMH-463.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber)

I still remember the time when my husband was sent to West Africa for 18 months. Those 18 months were the longest 18 months of my life. At that time, I was not only serving in the military myself, but I immediately became the sole caregiver of three children, who needed my full attention and my full support, but three children who also used to go to bed, every single day, crying because they didn’t know when or if their father was going to come home again.

How did I survive those 18 months under those circumstances, you may ask? Well, let me tell you; I became a functional zombie. A zombie who was able to keep three children alive, keep a household running while serving in the military herself, but most important of all, able to stay strong amid all the challenges that came into her life during those 18 months. Challenges that I had zero control over them, but that I knew I had to overcome not only for the well-being of my children, but also for the sake of my marriage. And again, that’s a job I was never trained for.

The bottom-line is, Marielys the soldier was a very strong individual, but Marielys the military spouse had to be even stronger. I wasn’t trained for this job, but I did it proudly so that my husband could go and serve his country without having to worry about anything other than the mission he was assigned to do. And for that, I can proudly say that I am not only an Army veteran, but I was also A Badass Military Spouse.

Marielys Camacho-Reyes formerly served for 13 years in the US Army, first as a Combat Medic and later on as a Human Resources Manager. She also served in the US Army for 21 years as a Badass Army Wife. She is currently a stay home mom and a member of the Vet Voices Program in Central FL.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of September 20th

Just like many memers, I woke up to nothing exciting this morning. Not a single person out of the millions who clicked “going” on the “Storm Area 51, The Can’t Stop All of Us” raid did a damn thing. I expected nothing and yet I’m still disappointed.

No one Naruto ran onto the compound. No one got to test their new alien weaponry. And no alien cheeks were clapped. The music festival that was supposed to take its place didn’t even go anywhere because no one thought to do even the slightest amount of logistics.


Well. I think we all kind of saw this coming. Anyways, here are some memes.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Call for Fire)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Anyone else notice that kids these days have much cooler toys than we did, but all they’ll ever do is just play on the iPad their parents gave them? 

I feel rather insulted that we just got the dinky ass Nerf guns and a handful of Legos and they don’t even appreciate this bad boy.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via On The Minute Memes)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Marine pens book for military kids experiencing separation

When Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Padgy Soltis experienced her first separation from her son, Michael, in 2016, he was only 8 months old. Working away from him for two months at such a young age was incredibly difficult for the new mom. In her downtime, she poured her emotions into writing a poem about the separation, a reminder for herself and her young son that they would soon be reunited.

The poem has now become a children’s picture book that was released in April during Month of the Military Child. “I Will Come Back” reassures military kids and their caregivers that separations – whether they be for deployments, work trips, or evenings with a babysitter – are temporary, and that the bond of love families share cannot be broken by distance.

After that first trip, Soltis also completed a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan while her son was small.

“The hardest part was feeling like I was missing out on such an important time in his life,” Soltis said of that deployment. “My son turned 3 when I was deployed and it hurt more than I thought to be away on his birthday.”

Coming home again was also difficult, as her son readjusted and they rebuilt their connection. Soltis credits technology like FaceTime and USO recordings of her reading bedtime stories with keeping their bond strong through the separations.

“Knowing that my husband was taking care of our son,” she says, also made it easier.

7 reasons you need a MilSpouse bestie
The Soltis family is a dual military household navigating the challenges of parenting while deployed. Courtesy photo.

In their dual military family, both parents have deployed at different times.

“Children are a lot stronger and resilient than we think,” Soltis said. “Being a dual military family has been tough, but my son hasn’t missed a beat.”

“I Will Come Back,” available for sale now, is a bilingual picture book told through rhythmic language and beautifully illustrated. Each page showcases the bond between child and parent through simple connections like jumping in puddles or bedtime pillow fights.

“I wanted to incorporate things that would resonate not only with my child but also with children around the world,” Soltis said.

Telling the story in both English and Spanish was also important to her.

“I was raised bilingually and it is important to me to pass down the language of my family to my children,” she said. “Books have been such a great resource on our bilingual journey and we simply need more of them out in the world.”

Most of all, Soltis hopes “I Will Come Back” serves as a reminder for kids, and their parents, that their bonds can withstand time apart.

“I hope my book helps families (especially children) cope with periods of separation: whether it is a couple of hours, a week, or months,” Soltis said. “Families will benefit by reading this book to children before their departure and during their time away.”

“I Will Come Back” by Padgy Soltis is now available for purchase on Amazon

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information