Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Everyone in the Marine Corps has a story. No one knows this better than does Sgt. Dana Beesley, who just earned the prestigious title of 2020 Photographer of the Year from the Military Visual Awards, an international competition showcasing the best of the best in military photography.

Beesley grew up in the small town of Lewiston, Idaho, the daughter of a local journalist. After watching All the President’s Men as a young child, she fell in love with investigative reporting. She fiddled with disposable cameras, took pictures on family camping trips, and pored with wonder over the hundreds of copies of National Geographic Magazine her mother had collected in the basement, looking at only the photos and captions.

After joining the Marine Corps as a combat photographer in 2015, Beesley got serious about photography.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
An instructor pushes his students to their limits as he corrects one student, who appears to be struggling, on the proper way to execute a rope climb during class physical training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 15, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“From there, the adventure began,” she told Coffee or Die Magazine, looking back on her decision to enlist after completing her freshman year at the University of Idaho.

Beesley is based at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where she chronicles the struggles and successes of the thousands of recruits who undergo recruit training there annually.

“Even though we go through the same training every week, the people themselves are all different,” she said. “They all experience emotions differently. They all experience pain differently. They all experience passion and drive and motivation differently.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Recruits with Alpha Company participate in the Crucible on Parris Island, S.C., June 14, 2019. The Crucible is a 54-hour culminating event that requires recruits to work as a team and overcome challenges in order to earn the title United States Marine. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

From the recruit who may be conquering a fear of heights to plunge off a high dive for the first time, to the one who has spent the last of his energy during the crucible, Beesley wants to capture every moment.

Beesley’s portfolio was one of more than 2,000 submissions from US and NATO military members around the world, according to the Military Visual Awards.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Marine Sgt. Dana Beesley is a combat photographer at MCRD Parris Island, S.C. She has been named the 2020 Military Visual Awards Photographer of the Year. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“One of the things that I think separates [Beesley] from a lot of people is there’s an emotional connection she has with a lot of her photos,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bobby Yarbrough said. “She gets that emotional connection with people, which makes them more comfortable in front of a camera, but also makes her imagery just stand out and pop.”

Yarbrough’s opinion carries a lot of weight. Like Beesley, he graduated from the Military Photojournalism Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, which is sometimes affectionately described as “the Top Gun” of military photojournalism. The Marines regularly shoot photos together on base, building a competitive camaraderie. Yarbrough was also the runner up in this year’s contest.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
A Marine Corps instructor of water survival (MCIWS) instructs recruits with Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, on proper breathing techniques before swim qualification training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Sept. 29, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing Sgt. Beesley actually beat me out in the competition,” Yarbrough said. “Being a leader in the Marine Corps, nothing is more humbling than seeing the people below you succeed. And her portfolio was definitely better than mine.”

Beesley herself is incredibly humble, though, crediting her fellow Marines with her success. She leads a 16-person team that specializes in all areas of public communication and digital engagement at MCRD Parris Island.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Recruits with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, complete the Obstacle Course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 12, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

“It’s because of the Marines underneath and above me that I’m here today,” she said. “I wish I could give this award to all the Marines at Parris Island. I don’t want to take it for myself.”

Beesley won’t run out of stories to tell on Parris Island anytime soon. In fact, there’s one very specific photo she’s trying to take.

“I’m still waiting for that moment where I capture that complete exhaustion on a drill instructor’s face behind a closed door,” she said.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos
Staff Sgt. Candace Luna, a drill instructor with Platoon 4032, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, inspects her platoon as they practice close-order drill movements in the squad bay June 26, 2019 on Parris Island, S.C. Photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.

Drill instructors are notoriously stoic, and even if their facade slips for a moment, it goes right back up the second they see Beesley’s lens.

“The things that these drill instructors do day in and day out for the betterment of the Marine Corps is absolutely astonishing,” she said. “I wish I could show that in my camera.”

See more of Beesley’s winning portfolio here, as well as powerful photos in other categories, such as news, feature, portrait, and more.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways enlisted Marines want to ‘disrupt’ the Corps

Hundreds of Marines who gathered here in July 2018 were given a risky mission: to challenge their leaders when they’re doing something that doesn’t make sense.

That will be essential as the Marine Corps prepares to take on future adversaries, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told attendees here at the third-annual Innovation Symposium.

“We’ve got to go faster; we’ve got to be more willing to take risks,” he said. “The only thing we can’t accept is not being willing to change. We’ve got to change.”


Being innovative in an organization as steeped in tradition as the Marine Corps, which also lives by its rank structure, doesn’t come easy. Leaders might not like what their junior Marines have to say, Neller warned, but the Corps needs people willing to challenge the status quo.

Marines here spent a week doing just that, presenting their ideas in civilian clothes and without much reference to their ranks. The vibe was more TED Talks than your typical military PowerPoint briefs, and the ideas were briefed up to a team of general officers.

Here are five ways some of those rank-and-file leathernecks think they can shake up the service.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

A Marine yells orders to his squad members during an Integrated Training Exercise.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

1. Empowering the disruptors

Sgt. Ryan Reeder says it’s time for the Marine Corps to go through a culture shift. The infantry assaultman is getting ready to leave the service, and it’s not because his military occupational specialty is being phased out.

“No one incentivizes innovators,” said Reeder, an infantry assaultman who’s been studying computer science and will leave the Marine Corps in late 201 “… I can go get a six-figure job anywhere I want to. I want to stay in the Marine Corps, but innovation isn’t recognized.”

Reeder’s been serving with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s noncommissioned officer fellowship program, which allows corporals and sergeants to test concepts and gear before they hit the fleet. NCOs who are willing to speak up offer some vital insight, he said, and leaders should want them to become the next staff NCOs.

“A lot of people don’t like a sergeant coming up here and talking to a star or a colonel like I do,” he said. “But … it’s all about the ideas, not the rank that you wear.”

2. Crowdsourcing ideas

Marines face plenty of problems throughout their careers, and it can be tough to know if a solution already exists. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sean Flores, a utilities officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force, helped build Phase Zero, a platform where Marines can share their problems and solutions in real-time.

“Maybe you’re trying to deal with countering [unmanned aerial vehicles]. Somebody else might’ve already solved that problem,” Flores said. “So you source it out, and some subject-matter expert might chime in and say, ‘This is how we dealt with it’ or ‘We’re having the same problem, so let’s work on it together and collaborate.’ “

Phase Zero had its soft opening on the marines.mil website in early 2018. Now, Flores said, they’re looking for Marines willing to help edit, code and moderate the site

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, duck down for a deception breach during a company attack as part of Integrated Training Exercise 3-18 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, May 10, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Antonia E. Mercado)

3. “Flattening the battalion”

In order to prepare for the future, Neller said the Corps can’t just take legacy gear and make it a little bit better. “We’ve got to change the force,” he said.

Two officers with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines — 1st Lts. Christopher Mershon and Walker Mills — have ideas about what needs to change. They call it “flattening the battalion,” and they say it will move infantry units from the 20th century into the 21st.

Infantry units are set up in a pyramid structure and built for efficiency, Mershon said. Flattening them out by eliminating non-combat command billets would instead optimize them for adaptability. By integrating logistics and intelligence officers and analysts at the company level and sharing information from across the battlespace, Mershon said, it’ll allow commanders to make decisions faster.

“We’re making the correct relationships in our battalion because those relationships with our friends close our decision-making cycle,” he added.

Mills and Mershon also propose removing Marines performing administrative functions from the battalion, such as the headquarters and service or weapons platoon commanders. Those extra personnel could be moved into a training cadre, which Mills said would help relieve some of the strain on company commanders, and provide higher-quality training across the whole unit.

4. Improving training

Over the next decade, the Marine Corps’ maintenance depots will lose about 1,000 years of experience when officers and staff NCOs assigned to them retire. Those on their way out have come up with ways to get their replacements trained up quickly.

“Is the workforce we’re going to hire going to adhere to paper manuals that stack four feet high?” asked Maj. Dan Whitt with the Marine Corps Logistics Command innovation cell. Instead, depot personnel pitched moving toward animated digital manuals that display on a pair of augmented-reality glasses.

“We have 400 pieces of equipment we work on,” Whitt said. “How great would it be to speed up our training requirements?”

Now, other commands, including Training and Education Command, want to see what they can do with augmented-reality manuals. That’s why it’s important for Marines who have innovative ideas that could revolutionize the Corps to share them so they don’t go unheard, Whitt said.

5. Finding the best approach

When Staff Sgt. Alex Long was a lance corporal, he learned about those risks the commandant mentioned about challenging your leaders. When one of Long’s NCOs asked his Marines what they thought about his plan, Long didn’t hold back when he replied that it was stupid.

“That resulted in some quick and effective counseling,” he said. When Long was asked by his sergeant during one of his counseling sessions to define “tact,” he realized his mistake. His leaders weren’t offended by his ideas, but by his approach. He decided to work on his delivery in order to make his voice heard.

“Data has no rank,” said Long, who would go on to win the Marine Corps’ 2016 Innovation Challenge for a lightweight wearable device that allows Marines to communicate and resupply quickly. “You just have to know how to present it.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Old Hickory vets celebrate 75th anniversary of liberation

North Carolina National Guard soldiers escorted four WWII veterans and their families to 75th-anniversary liberation celebrations Sept. 11-17, 2019.

The veterans served in the 30th Infantry Division, known as Old Hickory, and helped to liberate Belgium and the Netherlands from German occupation in September 1944.

Throughout the week, the Old Hickory veterans were honored with ceremonies, dinners, hugs, and a parade through Maastricht in the Limburg Province.

The soldiers and WWII veterans enjoyed the festivities, as well as the smaller, more personal moments.


“The most emotional part for me was when George Ham visited the spot where his battle buddy was killed,” said Maj. Kevin Hinton, deputy commander for the NCNG’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “George served in Charlie Company, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, and that’s who I served with in Iraq in 2004.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

WWII Veterans who served in the 30th Infantry Division, and North Carolina National Guard soldiers visit the graves of 30th Inf. Div. soldiers buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands on Sept. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

Hinton, vice president of the 30th Infantry Division Association, said he felt a connection to what the WWII veteran was going through.

“Part of George’s emotion is that he was supposed to be that guy, but he switched positions,” Hinton said. “There’s probably some survivor’s guilt on his part, and I’ve been there. I understand that feeling.”

The N.C. Guard soldiers were all veterans of the same unit, having served in Iraq with the now reorganized 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, and acted as representatives of the Guard and the 30th Infantry Division Association, a membership group for veterans of the unit.

The trip affected not only the 30th Infantry Division veterans but also currently serving soldiers who were part of the liberation celebrations.

“It gives value to my own sense of service and what I’m doing now by serving,” said Col. Wes Morrison, the North Carolina Army National Guard chief of staff. “I see that folks appreciate, across the world, what the United States Army has done for the world at different times. Your service means something and it means something to not just Americans, but people across the world.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

WWII Veterans who served with the 30th Infantry Division were honored with a ceremony and parade through the City of Maastricht in the Limburg Province of the Netherlands that ended in a festival on Sept. 14, 2019, in celebration of 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Limburg Provence by 30th Inf. Div. soldiers in September of 1944.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

The group was able to visit the same places where the 30th Infantry Division fought back the German occupation and other places where they were able to rest after almost 90 days of being on the front lines.

One of those places was the Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade, a rest center for soldiers after the liberation. While there, some of the current Soldiers took a photo in the same courtyard where a formation of Old Hickory soldiers took a photo 75 years ago.

Hinton hoped this trip would help build a bond between the new generation of Old Hickory veterans and the people of the Limburg province to continue the tradition.

“It’s a part of the history of the 30th and the North Carolina National Guard,” Hinton said. “We need to educate our young soldiers on the history of what the 30th has done. When the WWII veterans are long gone, the U.S. and the Netherlands will still exist, and we have to maintain this and remember what they did. Like someone said in one of the speeches, the beginnings of the European Union started with the liberation and the desire for Europe to never go through that again.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

WWII Veterans who served with the 30th Infantry Division, visit the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium on Sept. 15, 2019, where more than 300 Old Hickory soldiers who died during WWII are buried.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell)

As the soldiers, veterans, and their families prepared to travel home, many were heard to say “see you in five years,” anticipating the 80th anniversary of the liberation.

Even though the WWII veterans may no longer be able to make the trip, Morrison thought it was important the tradition continues.

“If we honor the veterans of the past, we bring more value to the service that we have today,” Morrison said. “You wear the uniform in the current unit, you’re wearing Old Hickory. You now have the responsibility of that lineage and history of that unit on your back. We can’t let them down. The history they created here, the high bar, high standard for performance of duty and what they did here, 75 years ago is something we have to keep in the back of our minds all the time.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 big reasons why the military should do a battle royale event

The branch rivalry can be mind-numbing at times. Each branch believes they’re the best while each has a unique role, making it impossible to objectively determine which is truly king. That’s where a battle royale comes in.

If you’re not living under a digital rock, then you know that “battle royales” are extremely popular in video games right now. In short, these types of games pit several players (or teams of players) against one another in a fight to scavenge, survive, and outlast the competition. And it got us thinking – what if the military hosted its own?

Imagine this: Each branch puts forth a five-person team (including a medic or corpsman) to compete against each other in a large, miserable training area. The teams must survive and fight against each other in a battle to earn the ultimate bragging rights for their respective branch.


Keep in mind, this is not a squad competition — each team would be given a certain amount of time, an area of operations, a number of MREs (with the ability to find resupply points), and either blanks or sesam rounds. There would be referees following or monitoring teams to keep battles fair.

But enough about the finer points, here’s why it should happen:

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

There could even be an award for the winning branch.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman Cameron Lewis)

Determine the best branch

The most obvious reason we should do this is because it would finally silence the pissing content. One branch would beat the others in competition, fair and square. Each branch put forth a team on a level playing field with an equal chance at winning — there’d be no room for excuses. Better luck next year.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Things like this build unique bonds.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kate Thornton)

Cohesion

It goes without saying that the members of a unit would form stronger bonds. But even in defeat, you can respect your opponent’s strengths. An activity like this would give each branch a chance to see the skills of each. Seeing what each branch is capable of could really help us acknowledge each other’s strengths.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

This would bring everyone together in a way that is fun and interesting.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes)

Friendly competition

In the Marine Corps, you build unit cohesion by having teams or squads compete against each other. No matter the activity, the real goal is to bring your troops closer together so they can build mutual trust. This would be the same idea — but on a much larger scale.

As it stands now, branches don’t really trust one another — mostly because they’re not sure if the others are as tough.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

You can bring those lessons back to your unit so everyone can learn something.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Hailey D. Clay)

It could have great training value

When you’re forced into a situation, you have to improvise, adapt, and overcome. In learning how to best compete, you’ll learn about yourself.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch R. Lee Ermey laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

The United States Marine Corps gave its final goodbye to one of its most famous and most revered alums, actor and Vietnam veteran R. Lee Ermey, on Jan. 18, 2018 as his remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The revered Gunny died on Apr. 15, 2018 at age 74 from complications during pneumonia treatment.

His body was cremated after death, and his ashes were buried with full military honors.


Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Ermey as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

There was more to R. Lee Ermey’s life than just the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film that made his career while defining the image of the Marine Corps Drill Instructor. He was the living embodiment of a Marine who never gives up, being forced into the military, working a bar and brothel after leaving the service, and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

Read On: 5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military’s favorite Gunny

The man we know as “Gunny” was medically discharged in 1972, and didn’t even make the rank of Gunnery Sgt. until after his military career. That’s how important his image is to the Corps. Even though his Hollywood career began to flag as he aged, he was always a vocal supporter of the military and the troops who comprise it.

His internment at Arlington was delayed due to the backlog of funeral services there. The backlog for eligible veterans to be buried there is so great that even a veteran of Ermey’s stature – a Vietnam War-era Marine who served in aviation and training – must wait several months before the services can be performed.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Holiday coffee cocktail: The Skrewy Espresso Martini

The holidays are rolling in fast. The time for gift giving, massive meals, and too many parties and get-togethers. The perfect drink to keep you going while still catching a nice buzz is the Espresso Martini.

The Espresso Martini as we know it was created in 1983 by Dick Bradsell at the SOHO Brasserie in London. The cocktail was originally called the Vodka Espresso and consisted of a generous shot of vodka, two types of coffee liqueur — his choices being Kahlua and Tia Maria — and a shot of espresso. But as the 1980s came into full swing, Bradsell rebranded the Vodka Espresso as the trendier Espresso Martini, and the rest is history.


But we’re going to turn that cocktail on its head by throwing out the vodka and coffee liqueur entirely. If we have to deal with our extended family, we’re going straight to whiskey. So we’ve opted to use Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and an Irish cream liqueur — our preference is Five Farms, but any Irish cream will do. The result is a nutty and sweet cocktail with a tinge of smotky bitterness from the espresso.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Recipe by Tim Becker/Coffee or Die. Photo by Lacey Whitehouse/Coffee or Die. Graphic by Erik Campbell/Coffee or Die.)

11 Questions & A Cup of Coffee: Fox News Correspondent Katie Pavlich

www.youtube.com

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

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

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

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

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


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

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

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Engagements on the first floor.

(U.S. Army)

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

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

Engagements on the second floor.

(U.S. Army)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy vet and hip hop artist B. Taylor has a new music video with a message of unity and love

Before he became a No.1 Billboard-charted artist, B. Taylor found success in sports and the military. The Peoria native played football and basketball at the University of Missouri and served in the Navy with distinction. His athleticism persisted into his Navy career and he played on the All Navy and Military Team USA basketball teams. He was later awarded special duty and given an honorary discharge by the Secretary of the Navy in order to pursue his interests in the NFL and music professionally.

B was discovered by the late Pete Moore of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles fame. “I call B. Taylor the ‘Stevie Wonder of Hip Hop’ because of his musicianship and it reminded me of when we, ‘The Miracles,’ discovered Stevie Wonder and brought him to Motown,” said the Motown legend. “B is my swan song.” In addition to Moore and The Miracles, B has been endorsed by The Temptations, The Marvelettes, The Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Gordy Family and even the Cash Family for his musicality and talents as an artist, producer, and songwriter. He has performed for President Bush’s family and President and First Lady Obama. B has also opened for notable entertainers like Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, and Ray J.

B earned two Grammy Nomination Considerations in 2012 for his hit single “Fire In Your Eyes.” The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles Sales Chart. The music video for the song features actress Pauley Perrette of NCIS fame. The two met on the show’s set when B was invited to visit by a friend who serves as an adviser to the series. B and Perrette hit it off and Perrette invited him to her church. “She was just so charismatic and had a great spirit,” B said. The time they spent together inspired B to write “Fire In Your Eyes.”

“We were just hanging out afterward at church, playing piano and messing together,” Perrette recalled. The two artists collaborated on the song and music video. “I love his positivity,” Perrette said of B.

B has gone on to find success with appearances on ESPN, Extra and The Insider/Entertainment Tonight. He has been featured in Billboard and Black Radio Exclusive Magazine and wrote a chapter for the best-selling book Professional Performance 360 Special Edition: Success 2nd Edition. His chapter, “1 Life, 1 Miracle,” details his determination to pursue success throughout his athletic, military and music careers.

Though he has found great success as an artist, producer and songwriter, B has not forgotten about his brothers and sisters in uniform. He maintains an active presence in the military community as a Global Ambassador of Music and Entertainment for service members, veterans, first responders and their families. He is also a part of the 1 Life Organization, a nonprofit whose mission is to combat veteran and first responder ailments like PTSD, suicide, homelessness and depression. They do this through a variety of alternative healing therapies like music, arts, sports, and animal therapy programs.

Seeing the division and strife in America today, B decided to use his musical talents to deliver a message of unity and love. His new single, “We Are One, Love Is All We Need,” focuses on bringing people together on common ground like service and support. The music video was an immense collaboration that included organizations and agencies like the DoD, DHS, VA, Tampa Warriors and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to name a few. Thanks to the outpouring of support from so many communities, the video features first responders, service members, veterans and civilian community members united to deliver the message that we are one … and love is all we need.

MIGHTY CULTURE

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

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

  1. Exercise more
new years resolutions

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

2. Diet

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

3. Stop procrastinating

new years resolutions

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

4. Reduce stress

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

5. Travel more

new years resolutions

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

6. Eat more at home

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

7. Learn something new

new years resolutions

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

8. Reduce smart-phone time

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

9. Get more sleep

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

10. Save money

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

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

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Butterfly garden acts as ‘spiritual refuge’ for vets

Veteran James Petersen noticed five unused planting beds on the grounds of the PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Clinic in Colorado Springs. He realized they would be perfect for a butterfly garden.

Petersen is a social worker for the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System (VAECHS). He and his “Butterfly Brigade” filled the planters with soil and flowers. The brigade includes VAECHS volunteers and patients.

“The beds hadn’t been touched in years,” said Peterson. But he welcomed the challenge. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to engage our veterans, as well as create a place for them to socialize between appointments.”


The garden features perennial and annual flowers. It also contains milkweed, the only food eaten by the monarch caterpillar.

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

The garden is an official monarch waystation.

A painted lady butterfly stops at the garden.

“The monarch butterfly is endangered, declining almost 90% over the past 20 years,” Petersen noted. Because of their efforts, the garden now is an official monarch butterfly migration pathway station.

Petersen has planted flowers to attract butterflies before. When he returned from five years in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said he “found a lot of therapeutic value in gardening.” As a result, Petersen went through the master gardener program at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

“When I worked at the St. Louis VA last summer, I planted a monarch butterfly garden,” he said. “Several of the veterans on my caseload worked with me in planting the garden. They loved it.”

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

A painted lady butterfly stops at the garden.

Place of change for butterflies and veterans

“This is a place to meditate, minimize stress, socialize and observe the many changes butterflies encounter, much like our own lives,” said clinic director Kim Hoge. She further called the garden a “spiritual refuge” and thanked clinic employees for donating their time, money and resources to build it.

Peterson said just as caterpillars become butterflies, veterans change when they transition to civilian life.

“This garden will do our part for conservation. It will also create a therapeutic place for veterans to hang out,” he said. “They will appreciate the symbolism of transformation and metamorphosis. Especially those who are dealing with traumatic histories.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of December 21st

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. After saving up all of those leave days, you can finally enjoy yourself and take some time off to do whatever you’d like. Well, not whatever you’d like; you’ll have to take a piss test the day you come back, so, keep that in mind.

Regardless, you’re finally going to see all of your civilian family and friends! Sure, they’re probably doing the exact same thing as they were when you enlisted. And, yes, even though you’re only in town for a little while, your friends probably won’t want to make the 20-minute drive up to your parent’s place to see you. But hey, maybe you can sleep in and you don’t have to shave for two weeks. So, there’s that.

Anyways. Here’re some memes to help you get through the stress of dealing with everyone on leave.


Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme by WATM)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via 1st Meme Division)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via Ranger Up)

Marine sergeant wins international photography competition with stunning photos

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

MIGHTY CULTURE

After years of vigilant service, veterans must remain vigilant online

The internet is a powerful tool for veterans. It allows them to keep up with friends, access their hard-earned benefits and shop for the things they need. Unfortunately, former service members are more likely than civilians to be targeted by online scammers while doing these things. Veterans are twice as likely to lose money to fraud because of identity theft, phishing, impostor scams, and investment, loan, or donation deceptions.


Many of these scammers target Veterans to alter or access their government-provided aid, swindling them out of the money or benefits they have earned. This is a widespread issue. Nearly 80% of Veterans say they have been targeted by scams due to their service, according to an AARP survey. These scams are diverse and range from phishing attempts to solicitations for fraudulent Veteran-focused charities.

“Help the Vets” is one example of a fraudulent charity targeting Veterans. It claimed to fund medical care and mental health services for Veterans. An investigation found that “Help the Vets” spent 95% of donations on administrative costs and compensation for its founder. Just 5% of proceeds were actually used to benefit Veterans.

Scammers and identity thieves also target financially stressed Veterans with promising investment opportunities. Recently, a man defrauded about 2,600 people—many of whom are pension-holding Veterans—in a Ponzi scheme. The investor told these pension holders to make monthly payments and disguised them as cash flows.

Identity thieves have developed both low-tech and high-tech ways to steal Veterans’ data, like shoulder surfing and skimming. Shoulder surfing requires that someone physically look over your shoulder to steal your password, PIN, or credit card number. Skimming utilizes a device that fits onto regular credit card machines, allowing scammers to steal your credit card information.

How to protect your information

Veterans can take simple actions to better protect their information:

  • Use unique passwords for your online accounts. Re-using passwords increases the risk of cyber theft.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This combines more than one authenticator type based on information users know and information users receive. It also adds another level of security when Veterans log in to access and manage VA services and benefits.

VA works hard to prevent Veteran identity theft. VA delivers cybersecurity awareness training for all VA employees. It ended the use of Social Security numbers in its business processes. Lastly, VA gives free credit monitoring to Veterans and beneficiaries whose data was compromised by a VA breach. Veterans or beneficiaries of identity theft not caused by a VA breach can contact the toll-free Identity Theft Help Line at 1-855-578-5492 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Veterans can also find additional information on protecting their identity and what VA is doing to help by visiting the More Than a Number website.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 20

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

It’s time to be real. The world isn’t looking so great at the moment. That’s just the cold hard reality. The coronavirus is spreading and everyone’s losing their minds. But there’s always a bright side to everything. Us veterans should already understand exactly what to do.

Stuck in your house without any way to make money? That’s just like a 45 & 45. Having to make do with just what little bit of toilet paper you had before the panic hoarding? Time to conserve like you’re in the field. Bored out of your mind with absolutely nothing to do? Tell yourself you’re going to start doing online classes before procrastinating to go play video games!

And hey! Another bright side is, from what I’ve seen, people are focusing on buying out all of the foods and leaving all of the beer and liquor! So, just kick back, enjoy your unofficial Quarters slip, and get down on some much-needed you time until this all blows over in… Oh… Eight weeks? Sh*t…


Anyway, here’s another dose of your regularly scheduled memes – delivered to you from a “Socially distant” appropriate distance.[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FHvDYL4BquK3qRR2UwpO5n40evb1nyE0OylUsFQ_p6pHgq22M9-AmiSxQljk6ZowiZu3phEX7kmZGKA7AUy6QzhZ6UPzYVvRluCdp4_TK&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=765&h=34b3bcbb7e7c5d344d0f4f80b3583d6e4e2a3beed72c4b5ab2fe8db376fddc73&size=980x&c=1819453376 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FHvDYL4BquK3qRR2UwpO5n40evb1nyE0OylUsFQ_p6pHgq22M9-AmiSxQljk6ZowiZu3phEX7kmZGKA7AUy6QzhZ6UPzYVvRluCdp4_TK%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D765%26h%3D34b3bcbb7e7c5d344d0f4f80b3583d6e4e2a3beed72c4b5ab2fe8db376fddc73%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1819453376%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

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(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

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(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fhce1gUPbbc_6jK2bMRytSu_D1W0rdIf1UjeAJxDquApacQ-9Wsr43SW2lpEVQ7fs64UI_iNqHcdQXfWV2YwNl8va_NESmK0ft9QrJTei&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=507&h=afd4439313bd2a0a8032151ceeb376f327d4841b2541c06f2c7f5bb4655fb05b&size=980x&c=3752483614 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fhce1gUPbbc_6jK2bMRytSu_D1W0rdIf1UjeAJxDquApacQ-9Wsr43SW2lpEVQ7fs64UI_iNqHcdQXfWV2YwNl8va_NESmK0ft9QrJTei%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D507%26h%3Dafd4439313bd2a0a8032151ceeb376f327d4841b2541c06f2c7f5bb4655fb05b%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3752483614%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Not CID)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FWYawr5nHNppLrPEgLeZJmCiIOQ4pKPkpTomur7psfqzeYjEexHtqTJQ6iuV5GGvILmh9lv6406E1z3F78eha49vF0c_K1Gkr6NIWwisj&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=809&h=62fd738a649904b3e84151b2f1ac84eb489adf9bda3ee724fcb51ff6198f7650&size=980x&c=3990062764 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FWYawr5nHNppLrPEgLeZJmCiIOQ4pKPkpTomur7psfqzeYjEexHtqTJQ6iuV5GGvILmh9lv6406E1z3F78eha49vF0c_K1Gkr6NIWwisj%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D809%26h%3D62fd738a649904b3e84151b2f1ac84eb489adf9bda3ee724fcb51ff6198f7650%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3990062764%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FV7J93V1Hxgq3THXjdzSlFDeWFnTuhMR41eUpSGZNBidvIhVsRcV5loImlwa3-ajfDLjIo4sNrM7r2bfm9e5Q0BtoUDzh9LJNfGkL0tH9qasQr9c3GWzt7fnifHTONTPmuyNb2Q32VQviKmlgIg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=950&h=1dda1c51a73a25ed817e86eba25f7316a99f6c59af87185a531b7afb73ad33ee&size=980x&c=3590051098 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FV7J93V1Hxgq3THXjdzSlFDeWFnTuhMR41eUpSGZNBidvIhVsRcV5loImlwa3-ajfDLjIo4sNrM7r2bfm9e5Q0BtoUDzh9LJNfGkL0tH9qasQr9c3GWzt7fnifHTONTPmuyNb2Q32VQviKmlgIg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D950%26h%3D1dda1c51a73a25ed817e86eba25f7316a99f6c59af87185a531b7afb73ad33ee%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3590051098%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F2T87Ln3WM-D_YLja9XWYsv1ZVNX8zlnhoABCoiXJ1OvpKXN0mdFwaDumlDsZ1_Pqo0uBKwZQ-rn3MjoYanJ24EObQKGrwywmGvHus9_hLdiqubiwFJnTnjpewKI200DU5UMA6P_42doKi1Htlw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=46&h=d45113e1f6508473d6778ba4bfcd23b37435144ea167624d568c985c4f10a409&size=980x&c=725525187 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F2T87Ln3WM-D_YLja9XWYsv1ZVNX8zlnhoABCoiXJ1OvpKXN0mdFwaDumlDsZ1_Pqo0uBKwZQ-rn3MjoYanJ24EObQKGrwywmGvHus9_hLdiqubiwFJnTnjpewKI200DU5UMA6P_42doKi1Htlw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D46%26h%3Dd45113e1f6508473d6778ba4bfcd23b37435144ea167624d568c985c4f10a409%26size%3D980x%26c%3D725525187%22%7D” expand=1]

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FD_twYa6aSG4ObKHe6-iV3U-KXO_fLuzfmDXFhKFLfM8ToZc4fchjht6SLOKQYRdo3DygHK34X9QHhpN5Qp_9zGyTByii0m7yurXNyxPn&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=938&h=716ef1b01618eb20a03a3b1810de3b7020da82fcd1c31f613a763216dc017a03&size=980x&c=770316026 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FD_twYa6aSG4ObKHe6-iV3U-KXO_fLuzfmDXFhKFLfM8ToZc4fchjht6SLOKQYRdo3DygHK34X9QHhpN5Qp_9zGyTByii0m7yurXNyxPn%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D938%26h%3D716ef1b01618eb20a03a3b1810de3b7020da82fcd1c31f613a763216dc017a03%26size%3D980x%26c%3D770316026%22%7D” expand=1]

(Tweet via @Pop_Smoke7)

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(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

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(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

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(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

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