Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

A soldier didn’t let a recent mobilization stop him from delivering on a promise to elementary school students.

D.C. National Guard Sgt. Jacob Kohut was called to active orders after the insurrection attempt at the Capitol building earlier this month. That didn’t stop him from making time for his day job.

Kohut, who has served for 11 years, has been teaching music just as long. He said early on in his career, when he was completing student teaching requirements, it was suggested he explore the National Guard as a way to help with student loans. Even though his father is a Marine veteran who served during Vietnam, Kohut didn’t consider the military because he wanted to be a music teacher. Now, he has the best of both worlds.

What he didn’t think would happen is that he would be performing his teaching duties simultaneous to being on a mission.

Kohut is an elementary school teacher in Virginia that has gone virtual due to the pandemic. With his orders to protect the Capitol and White House for roughly 12 hour shifts, he still has a few hours each morning where he gets to be Dr. Kohut — band teacher.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

So, what did his students think when they saw him in full uniform during his first virtual class while deployed? Kohut says there was a lot of shock initially.

“They definitely had a lot of questions in the beginning but now they are fine with it,” he said with a laugh.

To be clear, he’s not walking around armed and while teaching band all day, either.

“I’m definitely not teaching all of the classes but the ones that I can I do,” Kohut explained.

He also shared that he appreciates the recent attention he’s gotten for it, but he isn’t the only one. Roughly 7,000 Guard soldiers and airmen remain on duty in D.C., according to the National Guard Bureau.

“I don’t feel like a hero. There are people out here that are definitely in touch with their civilian careers too. That’s the Guard though; you do have a foot in both places at the same time,” Kohut said.

Those serving in the National Guard have experienced a unprecedented number of activations across all 50 U.S. states, territories, and Washington, D.C. Missions have included aiding governors with the pandemic response, civil unrest, vaccination distribution, and more recently, an expanded presence for inauguration security.

“When I am in my civilian job, I am always thinking about national security. You are always keeping your finger on the pulse. I am a bandsman, I play an instrument in the Army band. But still, we know anything is possible and we are always paying attention to what we could get called for,” Kohut said. “It’s been a very active year for [the] Guard and reserve throughout the world.”

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Throughout his first years of teaching, he said on his drive into work he’d see all the monuments, the Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery. His drill weekends brought that same drive and each left him with a profound sense of gratefulness, every single day.

“I take great pride in what I do. I could have made more money teaching somewhere or something else and many soldiers could leave and do the same. You do all of this because you have a higher purpose,” Kohut shared.

That higher purpose means that he was on duty for the inauguration, missing his son’s third birthday. It’s things like this that many within the public may not realize impact those who serve in the National Guard. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is among a group of resources offered by the Defense Department to strengthen relationships between those in the reserve component and their civilian employers.

Kohut stated that it is important for guardsmen to be upfront with their supervisors and actively seek out support when needed. He said the school he teaches for has been more than supportive and they have loved watching their favorite band teacher go viral. And, it’s more than that.

“They like that connection and they think more of me,” Kohut said. “That’s not just me though, that’s anyone who’s serving or proud to serve … It is a benefit to that employer and it allows them to give back to their own community by being flexible while you are on orders.”

For those considering the National Guard as a path, Kohut adds there is a role for anybody.

“The Army is big enough that there is room for anybody who wants to serve to do so in the best capacity that they are fit to do,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha is a good dude

If you know one thing about U.S. Army veteran Clint Romesha, it’s that he earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009 during the Battle of Kamdesh. If you know another, it’s that he wrote a book, “Red Platoon,” about that battle. What most people don’t know — or at least what’s not obvious to the casual observer — is that Romesha doesn’t particularly like the spotlight that being a Medal of Honor recipient has put him in.

“I’ve always been a very quiet personality,” Romesha said during a recent phone interview with Coffee or Die. “I like to have one-on-one conversations with people and not be the center of attention in the middle of a crowd. It’s just not my personality. So that was very much a shock, something I’m still trying to get used to.”


Romesha grew up in a small town in Northern California, and his family has a history of military service. His grandfather served in World War II, his father in Vietnam, and two of his older brothers joined the service when they turned 18. “It wasn’t one of those ‘to be a Romesha, you had to do it,’ but it was just always encouraged,” he said.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

In 1999, Romesha enlisted in the Army, expecting to “just do three years, check the box, get the GI bill, grow up a little bit, come back home, have some silly stories of being too drunk in Germany and escaping the polizei or something like that.” He wasn’t going to make a career out of it — nor did he think his service would define his future.

The first sign that things wouldn’t be as cut and dry as he expected was the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Romesha was doing maneuvers in Germany when his unit was called into formation in the early afternoon and briefed on the situation. No one had been watching television or knew what was happening.

“We got there and formed up, and our colonel came out,” Romesha recalled. “He gave us a little pep talk like, ‘Hey, they flew planes into the towers there in New York, and everything from this day forward is going to change.'”

Romesha deployed four times during his nearly 12-year career as an armor crewman and cavalry scout. His final deployment was to Afghanistan in 2009, which would be his second sign that his military service would have a bigger impact on his life than he planned. That deployment is where he would earn the highest U.S. military award for valor. However, when asked about the most significant part of his military service, he doesn’t mention the Battle of Kamdesh — he talks about leadership.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Romesha with his unit.

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“It was always pursuing that mentality to just be a good leader,” Romesha said, “to have those young kids look up to you just like when I was a brand-new private coming in, looking up to guys like Sergeant [Joseph] Garyantes, those NCOs. I was like, ‘Man, if I could be half the man those guys were, I’d be a fairly decent leader.’ And that really was the significance of staying in and really building my career throughout 10 years leading into Afghanistan.”

That leadership mentality is also part of what made it difficult for Romesha to accept that he was being awarded the Medal of Honor.

“I’ll be honest — part of it was embarrassment,” he said of his initial feelings about the award. “The fact that you sit there, and you’re about to get nationally recognized for ultimately what’s a really shitty day. And part of that embarrassment came from — I know I did a decent job that day, but we also lost eight guys. They never get to come home anymore. They never get to spend time with their families. They never get to have any more birthdays or Christmases or Thanksgivings. I’m still here. That just weighs on you — why am I getting all this attention when I got to come home and those guys didn’t?

“So, initially, it was, like I said, just a deep down sense of embarrassment because as a leader, as good as you think you are or you feel you are,” he continued, trailing off. “They say I saved a lot of guys that day, which I don’t doubt I did. But I feel as a leader, you almost feel like a failure any time you lose anybody, no matter how hard you try and how good the plan was.”

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Romesha wrote about his experiences in ‘Red Platoon’.

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha/Facebook.)

When he got the call about the award, Romesha had been out of the Army for almost two years and was working in the oil fields in North Dakota. He managed a smooth transition from military to civilian life by keeping in touch with his Army buddies and throwing himself into a demanding job.

“I think a lot of things are about timing,” he said. “And the [oil] boom [in North Dakota] was going on, and I fell into a job where I worked 42 days straight before my first day off. We were working 12- to 16-hour days, and I never had that low time of, ‘Oh, man. I’ve just left my entire known adult life behind and all those guys behind.’ I just rolled right into work that gave me a sense of purpose, a direction, and kept me super busy enough not to get caught in that reflection.”

Romesha also took advantage of his 76-mile commutes to and from work to call his battle buddies and catch up.

“Even though I didn’t get to see them every day […] I got to talk to at least one of them,” Romesha said. “And still having that connection was just powerful — to still feel part of that group, even though we were hundreds if not thousands of miles apart.”

He was told his life would change after receiving the Medal of Honor, but he wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Romesha worked through his unease and natural quietness by continuing to shift the focus away from himself and onto the men who lost their lives during the battle.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“For me, Oct. 3, 2009, was just a date that I knew when I talked to my buddies I was there with, and we’d reminisce about it. But the rest of the world never really knew about October 3 until Feb. 12, 2013, the day I received the medal. And then almost overnight, on a national level, everybody knew what happened that day. And now you’re sharing that day with everybody,” Romesha said.

“And because sitting there talking to the guys and talking to the Gold Star families, it was also an opportunity to make sure, ‘Look, if I’m getting this attention, well, I can use it for good. I can make sure those guys — Gallegos, Scusa, Kirk, Mace, Hardt, Martin, Griffin, Thomson — those guys will never be forgotten. I can talk about them again. And even though they’re not here, they’re going to always be with us. And that’s what really got me over the embarrassment.”

Romesha applied that same reasoning when he decided to write “Red Platoon.” He didn’t want it to be the Clint Romesha story. So he talked to his platoonmates and the Gold Star families, making sure that they were on board to share their stories, too. For two years, he travelled the country, reconnecting with and interviewing those he served with.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“A lot of these guys hadn’t even talked about that day before with anybody,” Romesha said. “And it was capturing their perspective, and it was, at first, a very scary thing — how is this going to be received? I don’t even know what to expect from going out and doing this — and how are these guys going to react? At the end of the process, though, it was almost therapeutic.”

“Red Platoon” was optioned for a film the year it was released in 2016; however, there hasn’t been any significant momentum on that project. While he’s waiting for that call, Romesha currently spends his time “totally underemployed or overemployed, depending” on the day, with speaking engagements.

“I don’t want to be a career speaker my entire life, but it’s what pays the bills and gives me the flexibility right now to do a lot with veteran outreach and nonprofits,” he said. “Someday I’m going to have to grow up and figure out what my new occupational life’s going to be — but for right now, that’s what’s filling that spot.”

Whatever that next step is for Romesha, he credits the Army for instilling in him the work ethic and value system to get there. From a “check the box” enlistment to Medal of Honor recipient, Romesha has stepped outside of his comfort zone to be a voice not only for the soldiers he lost in Afghanistan, but for the veteran community as a whole.

“We can never forget about our service,” he said. “We can’t let it control us or dictate the rest of our lives, but we can never forget what we’ve been through and what we’ve experienced. It’s all about that follow-on mission and what we can do next and what we can accomplish going forward.”

Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2

www.youtube.com

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

We remember 9/11. Here’s why we must never forget 9/10.

When my daughter asked if she could interview me about where I was on September, 11, 2001, I didn’t hesitate with my answers. Like the rest of the country, I remember in vivid detail where I was when I heard a rogue plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

My grandfather had died just days before, and I was sleeping on an air mattress at my grandma’s house when an aunt rushed in the front door, imploring us to turn on the television. I remember exactly how I felt, watching the second plane, on live TV, careen into the South Tower. I so vividly remember the pause — the disbelief, the horror, of the news anchor, clamoring for words while the world realized we were under attack.


Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing
File:UA Flight 175 hits WTC south tower 9-11 edit.jpeg – Wikimedia …File:UA Flight 175 hits WTC south tower 9-11 edit.jpeg – Wikimedia …

I can still feel the hot tears on my cheeks as the towers fell, thinking of the thousands of people trapped inside, waiting for a rescue that wouldn’t come. Nineteen years later, I can still hear the recordings of the phone calls from UA93 with messages of love and hope, sadness and resolve.

For so many of our military families, we remember with almost a painstaking detail the moments, hours, days and weeks that followed – the start of 19 years of war. Our operational tempo hasn’t slowed since, and while we may be weary, our commitment to service hasn’t faltered.

We all remember exactly where we were when we heard the news of a terrorist attack on that beautiful, clear Tuesday morning in September.

But what I can’t remember is the night before. I don’t remember September 10, 2001. Who I called. What I said. How I spoke to or treated the people I love the most. I can’t remember how I felt that night, or how I made others feel. While the rest of the world will remember 9/11 – as we all should – I seem to always spend more time reflecting about 9/10.

I’ll spend today and tonight in deep reflection — hoping that the mommies made time for one more story, the daddies had patience for one more hug. I pray that couples went to sleep holding hands instead of onto arguments or petty fights. I’ll hope that friends found words of forgiveness and that the children too busy to call their parents made time.

Today, I think of the hundreds of people who packed suitcases, briefcases, even diaper bags thinking that “tomorrow” would be just another day. Today, I’ll spend a little extra time practicing gratitude, being intentional with my children and offering more words of support, tenderness and empathy. I hope you’ll join me.

In a time of such great divisiveness of our country, let us take today to remember that we are better United. We are stronger as humans, as brothers and sisters, and as Americans, when we can find tolerance, kindness, mercy and love.

Let the heroes of 9/11 — and their unfinished stories on 9/10 — remind us that tomorrow is never “just another day.”

Tessa Robinson serves as Managing Editor for We Are The Mighty and she loves showcasing military spouse and veteran voices. Email her at tessa.robinson@wearethemighty.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing
Tribute In Light 9 11 Memorial Nyc – Free photo on PixabayTribute In Light 9 11 Memorial Nyc – Free photo on Pixabay
MIGHTY CULTURE

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

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

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


Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(Photo by Spc. Alicia Clark)

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(US Army photo by Amber Osei)

You’ll eventually meet with a recruiter.

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

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

You have no obligations until you sign a contract.

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

You’ll eventually need to pass a medical exam.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(Army photo by D. Myles Cullen)

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

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

Basic Combat Training, has three phases.

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

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

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(US Army photo by Michelle Eberhart)

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

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

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(US Army photo)

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

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

(US National Guard photo by Maj. Matt Baldwin)

Officer Candidate School (OCS).

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

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

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 7th

Seventy-five years ago yesterday, troops crossed the English Channel and disembarked onto the shores of Normandy to send the Nazis scum back to where they came from. Countless American, British, and Canadian lives were lost within moments of landing and many more died to secure the beach. It was a feat few higher-up believed would work, but they did the impossible.

This week, many troops gathered on this hallowed ground to pay respects to those lost and ceremonies were held in their honor. They were beautiful and heart-warming, seeing the younger troops helping the older WWII vets.

Now, logically speaking, all of the troops and veterans should still be in the area before going back to their respective bases or homes. I’m just saying, the ceremonies were fantastic. But veterans never change, and the WWII vets could still probably out-drink most of us. If you’re a young soldier in the area, buy the older gents a beer. They deserve it!


The ceremonies may have one, more polite, version of how it went down. Get them a round, and you’ll learn that the fire in them is still burning seventy-five years later.

Enjoy this week’s memes.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Not CID)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Disgruntled Decks)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Four myths about war

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley is a firm believer that a strong military is key in a whole-of-government approach to national security issues.

Still, he cautions, there are Americans who believe some myths about the military.

Here are his four “Myths of War”:


Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan in the general’s tent.

(Library of Congress)

1. The ‘Short War’ Myth.

This is a very prominent myth and one that recurs throughout history, Milley said.

President Abraham Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion in 1861. He was so sure it would be a quick war that he only called for 90-day enlistments. Both the French and Germans in 1914 believed the conflict would be short, but World War I lasted four years and took millions of lives.

“War takes on a life of its own,” Milley said. “It zigs and zags. More often than not, war is much longer, much more expensive, much bloodier, much more horrific than anyone thought at the beginning. It is important that the decision-makers assess the use of force and apply the logic we’ve learned over the years. War should always be the last resort.”

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Gen. Mark Milley, then Army chief of staff, at the 2019 Army Birthday Ball, in honor of the 244 Army Birthday, at the Hilton in Washington, DC, June 15, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke)

2. The ‘Win From Afar’ Myth.

Americans’ belief in technology encourages this myth. At its heart is that wars can be won from afar, without getting troops on the ground. Whether it is the strategic bombing during World War II or launching cruise missiles, there are those who believe that will be enough to defeat an enemy.

“These allow you to shape battlefields and set the conditions for battle, but the probability of getting a decisive outcome in a war from launching missiles from afar has yet to be proven in history,” Milley said.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Troops of the US Army 2nd Infantry Division.

(U.S. Army photo)

3. The ‘Force Generation’ Myth.

This is the idea that it is possible to quickly generate forces in the event of need.

In World War I, it took more than a year for American forces to make a significant contribution on the battlefields of France after the United States declared war in April 1917. In World War II, the US Army fought on a shoestring for the first year.

War has only become more complicated since then, Milley said, and it will take even longer for forces to generate. “I think for us to maintain strength and keep national credibility, we need a sizable ground force, and I have advocated for that,” he said.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Milley at the Anakonda 16 opening ceremony at the National Defense University in Warsaw.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Betty Boomer)

4. The ‘Armies Go to War’ Myth.

“Armies or navies or air forces don’t go to war. Nations go to war,” Milley said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 gifts you get from having military parents

Who knew that folding clothes the “navy way” and putting on sheets so tight that you could bounce a quarter off of them would have such a profound affect on my life.

I grew up in Virginia Beach, where most students came from military families and knew what it was like to have military parents. They knew the struggle of parents who had to leave for months at a time, the amount of discipline that was applied to daily chores and homework, and of course the expectation to succeed at anything you do.


Fast forward nearly 20 years and I find that there were many small things instilled in me from my military parents that shape much of the person, husband, and father I am today. Most of what my military parents taught me stemmed from three mandatory rules that I now realize weren’t rules at all, but were actually gifts that have changed my life.

1. Finish what you started.

Baseball was everything for my family. Attending practices, winning games, and playing tournaments were some of my earliest memories. While my father was in love with the sport, that same passion didn’t come naturally for me. I remember wanting to quit right in the middle of a season, only to be denied by parents that “didn’t raise quitters.”

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing
Army Capt. Ben Russell, carries his son Todd, 18-months-old, on his shoulders.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

The rule of “finish what you started” applied to everything in our lives including baseball. It was those moments when I wasn’t allowed to give up that led to many high school awards, graduating college, marrying my wife, and living unafraid to step through life’s open doors. I can even trace my career success that has lead me to my dream job, back to this foundational rule.

2. Treat others with respect.

If my dad was the source of inspiration for my dreams, my mother was the source of discipline to see them become a reality. She never missed a moment or opportunity for me to treat others with respect because she knew that it would set me apart in life.

I’m not quite sure, but I’m pretty sure “yes ma’am” were my very first words. I’ll never forget the time when my mother suspected that I had disrespected an older gentlemen in public. As we were driving home, my mother could sense something was wrong with me. She prompted me to tell her the truth, and believing I was in the wrong, she turned the car around. I was forced to face the man once again and apologize for being out of line with my comments. As a kid, I thought this was absolutely ridiculous and a waste of time. As an adult, I am thankful because my military mother instilled in me the importance of respecting people no matter who they are or where they come from.

I can honestly attribute living a life of treating others with respect to helping me win more clients, close more deals, gain promotions, and winning the heart of my wife. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t be who I am without a mother that championed the rule of treating others with respect.

3. Being a military kid is an asset.

My parents had traveled the world in the name of protecting and serving others. The pride they took in being a part of the military was evident in everything we did as a family. They held my sister and I to a standard that we didn’t realize was different, but it would end up making all the difference. We were challenged to be leaders on our sports team, in the classroom, and even when hanging out with friends.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago)

They made sure that we knew that we were different (not better), than others, to help make a difference wherever we were. My sister and I witnessed this many times as they volunteered, helped those who were less fortunate, and never apologized for the lifestyle they lived because of serving in the military. Today, the most rewarding moments of my life have come from the foundation of making a difference instilled by my military parents. It has lead me to help build water wells in remote countries, prioritize time to volunteer on a monthly basis, and living with a sense of direction.

What my parents set as rules for our household, ended up being gifts that grounded me. Most of what I have and who I am are built upon the foundation of finishing what you start, respecting others, and not being afraid to be different. I am thankful for military parents that were intentional about making sure I knew the value of serving and living beyond myself. I can only hope that my daughter will one day realize these same rules, will be gifts given to her that will make her better like they did me.

Tyler Medina is the Brand Operations Manager at Simplr, a startup specializing in customer service outsourcing. He’s the son of two Navy veterans that served multiple tours overseas, and like most military kids, grew up all over the U.S. He currently lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Sabrina and 2-year old daughter Audrey.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

We have to talk about this week’s ‘SEAL Team’ death

WARNING: This post contains spoilers from Season 2 Episode 19.

This week, SEAL Team tackled one of the most dangerous threats to military veterans: suicide.

U.S. veterans have a higher suicide rate than civilians — and the number is staggeringly higher among female veterans. According to a 2016 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs, on average 20.8 service members commit suicide every day; of those, 16.8 were veterans and 3.8 were active duty, guardsmen, or reservists.

Since 2001, the total number of fatal casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan is 6,995.

There were more than 6000 veteran suicides each year from 2008-2016 alone.

It’s a critical threat, one that must be acknowledged and addressed — which is why it’s important that shows like SEAL Team tell their stories.

According to ‘former frogman’ and SEAL Team writer Mark Semos, the suicide in the episode ‘Medicate and Isolate’ was inspired by the death of a real U.S. Navy SEAL.


[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwr-5VXnzA3/ expand=1]Mark Semos on Instagram: “For those of you who tuned into last night’s episode of @sealteamcbs: Brett Swann’s character was based on Ryan Larkin, a former SEAL who…”

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In the episode, Brett Swann (played perfectly by Tony Curran) struggles with many issues that are common among veterans — and he’s lucky enough to have a buddy helping him navigate the labyrinth of the VA system: long waits, over-taxed doctors, and confusing procedures are among the basics of what can be expected.

Swann is certain he has an undiagnosed TBI (traumatic brain injury) but the VA doctor is unable to treat it because there’s no proof that it is service-connected. A 45-minute episode isn’t long enough to get into the details of Swann’s options, so the writers deftly cut to the finish: Swann wasn’t going to get the treatment he desperately needed. Certainly not right away.

I can’t communicate strongly enough how disorienting and discouraging it is to finally seek help only to be turned away, especially for veterans, who were trained by the military to “suck it up.”

Some get lucky and find advocates (I highly recommend the DAV, a non-profit that, among other initiatives, helps veterans with disability claims), some patiently wade through the murky system, but others…

…well, it’s becoming painfully clear that others give up hope.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bwp5pE8n0L0/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “It’s hard to promote tonight’s episode as it’s about a subject that is sadly more truth than fiction. Rather than entertain I hope that it…”

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Just this month, two more veterans died by suicide at VA facilities. So while the Department of Veterans Affairs does provide treatment for millions of veterans, the truth is that it isn’t enough.

For a country that spends more on its defense budget than the next seven countries combined (China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan), it reflects the DOD’s priorities when VA hospitals and facilities don’t have the funds to meet the staffing and medical needs of its veterans.

There is hope

I have seen a trend where veterans are coming together to support each other, to maintain the strong community we had during service. As more and more veterans lose friends, the fear of talking about suicide is diminishing.

This is critical because veterans have to know where to turn for help.

There is a crisis hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (or anyone in need can send a text message to 838255)

There are organizations like 22KILL, which raises awareness and combats suicide by empowering veterans, first responders, and their families through traditional and non-traditional therapies.

And there are shows and films depicting these stories, raising awareness, and removing the stigma of unseen injuries and mental health.

There are many who are wary of sending the message that veterans are all traumatized or unstable; if anything, this episode is further proof of the opposite. SEAL Team employs a lot of veterans who are professionals in the entertainment industry.

Who better to tell the story of those among us who need our help?

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 business lessons learned from the attack at Pearl Harbor

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

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

6 business lessons learned from the attack at Pearl Harbor

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

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

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

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing
The USS Arizona (BB39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7 1941. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

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

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

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


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

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This new approach to health is changing the lives of veterans

Here’s a question that could change your life: What matters most to you in your life? The answer can start you on the path to Whole Health.

Whole Health puts the focus of health care on the veteran rather than just the veteran’s illnesses and symptoms. It’s a patient-centered approach that considers the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that can influence your health. Veterans examine these areas of their lives and set goals based on what matters most to them. In turn, those goals drive the health planning decisions they make with their VA care team.

All VA medical centers and clinics now offer training in Whole Health and personal health planning, as well as a range of well-being programs.


MIGHTY CULTURE

Study claims VA wait times are now shorter than private clinics

Wait times at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics have gone down significantly from recent years and are now shorter on average than those in private-sector health care, at least in big cities, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Critics of the study pointed out that main contributors to the JAMA report were current and former VA executives, including Dr. David Shulkin, who was fired as VA secretary in 2018 by President Donald Trump.


In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the JAMA report published Jan. 18, 2019, showed that the VA “has made a concerted, transparent effort to improve access to care” since 2014, when wait-times scandals and doctored records led to the resignation of former VA Secretary and retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki.

“This study affirms that VA has made notable progress in improving access in primary care, and other key specialty care areas,” Wilkie said.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

The cross-sectional JAMA study of wait-time data from VA facilities and private-sector hospitals focused on primary care, dermatology, cardiology and orthopedics in 15 major metropolitan areas.

The findings were that “there was no statistically significant difference between private sector and VA mean wait times in 2014” and, in 2017, “mean wait times were statistically significantly shorter for the VA,” the JAMA report said.

“In 2014 the average wait time in VA hospitals was 22.5 days, compared with 18.7 in the private sector,” the study said, but in 2017, “mean wait time at VA hospitals had gone down to 17.7 days, while rising to 29.8 for private practitioners.”

The study, titled “Comparison of Wait Times for New Patients Between the Private Sector and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers,” relied on wait-time data provided by the VA and calculated private-sector data from a survey conducted by a physicians’ search firm, Merritt Hawkins, using the so-called “secret shopper” method in nearly 2,000 medical offices in metropolitan areas.

“For the secret shoppers method, the research associates at MH [Merritt Hawkins] called physicians’ offices asking to be told the first available time for a new-patient appointment,” the JAMA study said.

“This earliest availability was recorded as the wait time. However, the VA data record scheduled wait times, which may not reflect the earliest available appointment,” the study said.

The JAMA report also noted that rural areas and follow-on care were excluded from the analysis and said that “follow-up studies are critical to analyze access to the entirety of VA health care,” since nearly one-quarter of veterans live in rural areas.

The overall conclusion of the report was that “access to care within VA facilities appears to have improved between 2014 and 2017 and appears to have surpassed access in the private sector for 3 of the 4 specialties evaluated,” with the exception of orthopedics.

In 2014, the VA was rocked by wait-time scandals and allegations of manipulated data at the VA medical center in Phoenix, Arizona. “This incident damaged the VA’s credibility and created a public perception regarding the VA health care system’s inability to see patients in a timely manner,” the JAMA report said.

The VA has since worked to improve access and reduce wait times.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

“There is evidence suggesting that these efforts have improved access to care, including reports that 22% of VA patients are now seen on the same day as the requested appointment,” the report said. However, “Despite, these efforts, the adequacy of access to VA care remains unclear.”

As a result of the 2014 scandals, the VA initiated the Choice program to expand private-care options for veterans. Last year, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the VA Mission Act to consolidate and streamline the Choice program, which has been riddled with inefficiencies.

In June 2018, the Government Accountability Office issued a report stating that many veterans who opted for the Choice program to avoid wait times still faced delays that could stretch for months before seeing a doctor.

In response to the JAMA report, a posting on the Disabled American Veterans website came under the heading: “Veterans Affairs Spins ‘JAMA Study’ It Authored On VA Wait Times.”

In addition to Shulkin, the posting noted that another contributor to the JAMA study was Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the former acting head of the Veterans Health Administration. She was replaced in July by Dr. Richard Stone as acting head of the VHA and has now taken the position at the VA of deputy under secretary for discovery, education and affiliate networks.

Stone, the former deputy surgeon general of the Army, has yet to receive Senate confirmation. The VHA has not had a permanent head since Shulkin left the position in January 2017 to become VA secretary.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

New study suggests Loch Ness Monster may actually be a giant eel

The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster dates all the way back to 565 A.D. when a writer named Adomnan recounted a tale about Saint Columba coming upon local residents burying a man near River Ness. According to the tale Adomnan recounted, the man had died as a result of being attacked by a “water beast” from the loch. Later, in the 1870s, the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was reported by a man named D. Mackenzie, though his report wouldn’t see publication until decades later.


The Loch Ness Monster really grew to fame in the 1930s, with multiple sightings popping up throughout the decade, culminating in what is perhaps the most famous image of the supposed monster to date, the famed “Surgeon’s Photograph.”

This image was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson (who was actually a gynecologist, but newspapers probably didn’t want to print a “Gynecologist’s Photograph”). For decades, the image served as proof of “Nessie’s” existence, that is, until the mid-1990s when analysis of the image all but confirmed that it was a fake.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

Robert Kenneth Wilson’s 1934 photograph fooled the world for decades.

(WikiMedia Commons)

Despite the most famous bit of evidence likely being a forgery, there have still been countless sightings of what locals believe could be a living dinosaur in their loch, and the waterway’s size and extreme depth would allow for a population of aquatic wildlife to go largely unseen. But a dinosaur?

That’s what a new team of scientists and researchers hoped to find out over this past year, combing the loch for traces of hair, feces, scales, and anything else they could gather for DNA analysis. Their intent was to find evidence of an as-yet-unidentified species of animal living in the area, and in a strange twist, that may be exactly what they found. It just wasn’t the monster most people were looking for.

“There is a very significant amount of eel DNA,” Professor Neil Gemmell, a geneticist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said in a press release. “Our data doesn’t reveal their size, but the sheer quantity of the material says that we can’t discount the possibility that there may be giant eels in Loch Ness.”

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

There may also be a Photoshop monster lurking beneath those waves.

(WikiMedia Commons)

The idea that the Loch Ness Monster may, in fact, be a giant eel has been proposed repeatedly over the years, with some suggesting that it was feasible as far back as the 1930s. To date, no giant eels have been caught in the loch, making them something of a mystery themselves, but despite the lack of official confirmation, Loch Ness has also been the sight of many eel sightings.

“Divers have claimed that they’ve seen eels as thick as their legs in the loch,” Gemmell pointed out before adding that an eel that thick would likely be in the neighborhood of 13 feet long — longer than giant eels are supposed to be able to get.

Many of the sightings and pictures of the Loch Ness Monster do look as though they could be the result of a large eel. The supposed long neck of the monster could actually be the eel’s body, and because giant eels aren’t known to live in the loch, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake a 15-foot eel for a sea monster. In fact, that’s exactly what such an eel really would be.

Soldier caught in uniform doing the most noble thing

It can be easy to see how an eel could be mistaken for the neck of a plesiosaur.

(Michael Hicks on Flickr)

This study doesn’t definitely close the case, of course. Despite an abundance of eel DNA found in many of the 250 studied samples, no giant eels have been caught or even cleanly observed in the area. Until giant eels are confirmed to reside in Loch Ness, believers will undoubtedly keep looking for the long neck of a plesiosaur peeking out of the dark waters of the loch.

“Is it a giant eel? I don’t know, but it is something that we can test further,” Gemmell concluded.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Wild Gang is a group of seven fiancées who have lost their military partners, and they’re fighting for more awareness

Kathleen Bourque’s life with her fiancée Marine 1st Lt. Conor McDowell, was cut tragically short following a vehicle rollover accident that killed McDowell. Now, Bourque is channeling her grief into awareness about military vehicle rollovers.  

In May 2019, Bourque’s fiancée was killed in a military training accident, days after being promoted, and just three months before their planned September wedding. Her life with her intended was cut tragically short after the accident that happened at Camp Pendleton. 

McDowell and his crew set out on a route reconnaissance exercise with an order to recon Canyon Road at Camp Pendleton in preparation for a division-sized movement. Then McDowell made the decision to move the LAV off-road and drive it into tall vegetation, which isn’t unusual for cover and concealment. Light armored recon Marines are routinely taught that roads are dangerous and should be avoided to eliminate dust signatures. 

The LAV that McDowell and his crew were operating crept slowly into six-foot-tall vegetation, which obstructed the driver’s vision. A corporal stood up and yelled for the driver to halt, but it was too late. The Marines inside never saw the ditch. The LAV plummeted down a 15-foot washout and rolled upside down. A command investigation obtained by the Marine Corps Times detailed that McDowell used his last moments alive to alert his crew that the vehicle was about to roll, actions that might’ve spared others more serious injury. Several of McDowell’s crew were injured. 

The couple met in 2018 after connecting on a dating app, Hinge. McDowell had just graduated from the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course in Virginia and was headed to Camp Pendleton for his next assignment. But before heading out west, McDowell took an 800-mile detour and went to visit Bourque in her North Carolina home. They spent just four days together before making the decision that Bourque would move with McDowell to California. Friends and family balked at the choice, but the couple was steadfast that it was the right thing to do.

The couple settled into life as much as they could. As a military girlfriend, Bourque had limited access to on-base resources. She couldn’t shop at the commissary, access fitness facilities, go to the MCX or check out books in the library. In the military, you’re either married or you’re single – there is no in-between. So when McDowell died, Bourque found herself and her status in limbo. She had to fight with McDowell’s chain of command to have her dead fiancé’s things shipped back across the country because she wasn’t listed as the next of kin on McDowell’s paperwork. At his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Bourque was told to “stand back” because she wasn’t considered, in the eyes of the military, “immediate family.”

Now she’s banded together with six other military fiancés who have lost their partners to military accidents, and she’s lobbying for change. As a group, they fight for their relationships to be considered valid in the eyes of the military. Because none of the Wild Gang was married, they don’t receive any Gold Star benefits and are largely forgotten by the larger military community.

Bourque thinks the accident should never have happened and has been reaching out to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to act on military vehicle rollover accidents. McDowell was one of four marines who died in a military vehicle rollover during training exercises in 2019. His death represents a slight uptick in non-combat-related tactical vehicle deaths for the Marine Corps. However, data from the Naval Safety Center shows that Marine tactical vehicle mishaps are at a ten-year low.

That disconnect is part of what Bourque is fighting for. Recognition as a military widow and the fact that some vehicle deaths might go unreported keeps her fighting for McDowell’s memory. She maintains that widows, no matter their official marriage status, should be treated unequivocally with the same level of respect across all branches of the military.

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