The history of the woobie and why they're so beloved - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

The poncho liner — the lightweight blanket used and loved by many — is one of the most well-known items issued in the military. Despite having been around for decades, it’s still one of the most popular items to date. But what is this thing? Why’s it called a woobie? And why do grown men get so emotional about them? Seriously, steal or damage a man’s woobie and you might fear for your life. 

Woobies are kept in families for generations, passed down from veterans to their children, adult males sleep with them nightly – even when not in the field – and there are countless stories about tearful reunions when a woobie is replaced. 

There’s just something about this piece that hits home and makes a connection with the soldiers who sleep underneath them. 

Take this journey down memory lane and gain some insight on why the woobie is such a big deal, and how its tenure came to be.

What’s a woobie, anyway?

A woobie is a pet name for the liner, wet weather, poncho, a lightweight, yet surprisingly warm blanket that comes standard issue to soldiers with their outdoor gear and sleep system. A poncho liner, as it’s more commonly called, is made to provide warmth and comfort in mild to moderate temperatures, as well as a cozy place to get some rest. 

But somewhere along the way, it added a personal touch to its existence. Soldiers, especially infantry men and women, became attached. A person’s woobie became an extension of themselves, and it made missions more comforting. Because not only did the liner add to a person’s physical warmth, it met them at their emotional needs.

The history of the poncho liner

The poncho liner was first introduced in the 1960s during the Vietnam war. It’s made of two layers of nylon, meant to remain light enough for soldiers while they were fighting and sleeping in the Vietnam jungle climate. It also dries quickly, adapting to a moist environment.

The liner is sewn to withstand the elements, with a hard seam stitch, and a distinctive pattern throughout the bulk of the fabric to keep pieces in place, despite rough conditions. 

What’s most interesting about the poncho liner is its engineering that somehow keeps in heat while keeping the cold at bay. Even when wet, the liner can keep a solider warm, all while drying quicker than their wool blanket. This is even more impressive considering they were first made from excess parachute material, in duck hunter camo, that was leftover from WWII. 

Originally, that’s why liners were released in a dated camo pattern. But even once the excess material was used, the use of tri-color camo continued. 

Various patterns of poncho liners have been issued throughout the years, including different styles from each military branch. 

Finally rounding out poncho liner specs: each model sits at 62 by 82 inches, and has tie cords so they can be attached to rain ponchos. Useful and ready on the go.

Why call it a “woobie”?

It wasn’t always called a woobie. For years, soldiers referred to the poncho liner by its official name. Then somewhere along the way, it gained a nickname; the most common explanation is that “woobie” comes from the 1983 film, Mr. Mom, in which a child refers to their blanket as “woobie.” Others say it’s a portmanteau of “would be,” as in, “You would be cold without it.” No one knows for sure which theory is correct, though history shows the nickname taking hold somewhere in the early 1990s.

woobie hoodie
People love the woobie so much, someone made a hoodie that looks like one.

Considering the resounding reviews it gets from soldiers, it’s no wonder the pet name stuck. Even for grown men, the comfort of a security blanket does wonders for morale. 

Here are a few of the woobie’s rave reviews: 

“I HAD MANY HAPPY MOMENTS IN THE FIELD WITH THIS BLANKET, LIKE LINUS ON PEANUTS.”

“If you were limited to just a few pieces of survival gear, this should be at the top of your list. Versatile, rugged, weighs next to nothing, hides you, keeps you warm as toast with your own body heat.”

“These are amazing. If you have not ever had the pleasure of wrapping up in a true, govt-issued poncho liner when it is cold, you are missing out. It is like they are magic. They warm you up in seconds with your own body heat just like an electric blanket would.”

“I’ve been out of the military since 2001 and I’ve slept with my woobie almost every night since basic [training]. When mine wore out I thought I might have to re-enlist to get another one in good shape. Luckily, I was able to purchase another one in near perfect condition for less than two years of Army pay.” 

These are just a few of the item’s shining reviews. Task and Purpose even published an article naming it, “The greatest military invention ever fielded.” 

And don’t worry, if you ETSd or lost yours, you can find them on Amazon. They have cheaper versions too, like the one below. How warm it’ll keep you is debatable, but the reviews aren’t terrible.

woobie
A cheaper version of the woobie, available here for about 20 bucks.

However, consensus agrees, most prefer to take the loss and pay for their woobie outright, rather than turn it in with their issued goods. 

After all, can you really put a price on personal security? Either way, we can all agree that the woobie is one of the most loved military items of all time.

Do you have a beloved woobie? Tell us about yours below.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why pilots love and hate ‘B-tchin’ Betty’

Believe it or not, movies usually get the alarms and alerts in fighter jets wrong. (I know, this is shocking information coming from a website that once specialized in identifying mistakes in movies like Basic, The Hunt for Red October, and The Marine.) The fact is, the worst alarms are rarely loud chimes or claxons. Setting off a bunch of horns in the cockpit while a pilot is already stressed would create more problems than it solved.


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Air Force)

 

Instead, the worst alarms are usually announced by a calm voice. And pilots often hate that voice.

So here, in a nutshell, is what’s going on. As engineers started making fourth-generation jet fighters, it became apparent that they needed too many alarms to do it all with lights and sounds. No, it would be much faster and more precise to have a human voice say the exact thing that the pilot needs to know.

And also, experiments had shown that pilots losing consciousness could respond to oral instructions for a longer period than they could understand other auditory or visual alarms.

But the last thing a pilot needs in the emotional roller coaster of a dog fight over Eastern Europe or an engine failure over the ocean is someone emotionally screaming at them through their controls. So jet manufacturers hired voice actors to do careful and calm voice recordings. The first was an actor named Kim Crow.

America opted for a female voice actor because they thought pilots would react much faster to a female voice because girlfriends exist. That’s not a joke, that’s how Kim Crow described it herself in this interview.

It was Crow’s job to warn pilots that they were about to crash into the ground, that a missile is in the air and hunting them, or that radar on the ground has a lock on them. In 1980, Leslie Shook became the voice of the F/A-18. 

So, pilots should love that little voice that calmly alerts them to an emergency, right?

Well, no. And for a few good reasons once you give it a good thought. First of all, these alarms usually go off when things are going very badly. No matter how calm the voice is, you’re going to have an emotional reaction to a voice you only hear when there’s a risk you’re about to die, crash, or accidentally destroy a multi-million dollar aircraft.

But, worse, pilots can’t always spare a hand to turn off the alarm when things are going wrong. Obviously, if you’re dodging Iraqi missiles in Desert Storm and get too close to the deck, you’re going to be too busy escaping the missiles and gaining altitude to toggle off an alarm. But that easily means that some of the most stressful three minutes of your life has a soundtrack, and it’s a woman saying, “Missile alert,” over and over even though you already know there’s a missile.

And so pilots started giving the voices in their planes nicknames, usually derogatory ones. America’s became known as “Bitchin’ Betty.” Britain is known for calling theirs “Nagging Nora.” And Australia reportedly uses “Hank the Yank” because their country apparently thought pilots could quite easily respond to a male voice.

Or maybe Hank is a female nickname in Australia. We’ve never been fighter pilots in Australia.

But while military pilots have mixed feelings toward the voices in their planes, they seem to work. And many of the same tactics are used in civilian planes and helicopters for the same role and for the same reasons.

But just imagine if Siri, Alexa or Cortana only spoke to you when everything was going horribly wrong and wouldn’t shut up during your crises. Yup, you wouldn’t like them much either.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This heroic working dog conducted 210 combat missions while deployed

Military Working Dog Gabe started his Army career in a rare way, escaping near-euthanasia in a Texas shelter before becoming a remarkably successful working dog and a celebrity loved by famous humans, like Betty White and Jay Leno.


2012 Hero Dog Awards Tribute – Gabe

youtu.be

Gabe is credited with going on 210 combat missions and finding 26 caches of weapons and explosives before retiring to live with his handler in 2009 as a sergeant first class. He passed away in his handler’s arms in 2013.

Most military working dogs are purchased from European breeders and raised from birth to work in military units or police agencies. But the U.S. was running short on good dogs, and it has always allowed the occasional stray into the ranks. Gabe was one of those strays.

He had been sitting in a shelter where he was reportedly a day away from euthanasia when the Southeast Texas Labrador Retriever Rescue Organization pulled him out. The Army found him then and tested him for potential as a military working dog. He passed and was assigned to Army Staff Sgt. Charles Shuck.

The team trained together as a Specialized Search Dog team, a then-new program that focused on entirely detecting IED and IED-making components. Dogs in the SSD program don’t search for drugs. They don’t search for cadavers. They don’t chase.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Gabe visits with actor Betty White.

(U.S. Army)

They find bombs. They find them in combat, in the burning desert, and sometimes under fire. Gabe finished a five-month training iteration and was the rock star of the class. After they graduated, Shuck’s commander asked if they could deploy to Iraq. They needed Gabe in the show.

And so he went, and Gabe and Shuck were quickly favorites with troops on the ground. They rolled out often, 210 times in a single deployment. Of those missions, 170 were combat patrols where they led columns of soldiers through dangerous areas, smelling for the tell-tale scents of IEDs.

And Gabe was able to find the goods. In one case, he hit on 36 mortar rounds stashed by insurgents. Mortar rounds are popular tools for bomb makers because their explosives are reliable and powerful. Recovering them saves lives. Gabe also visited soldiers during his deployment, improving morale.

Gabe would eventually garner three Army Commendation Medals, an Army Achievement Medal, and dozens of military coins and other awards. In 2008, he received the Heroic Military Working Dog Award Medal from the American Kennel Club.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Gabe visiting with children in a school.

(U.S. Army)

But Gabe was senior and needed to retire soon after the deployment, something he did in 2009. The Army allowed Shuck, Gabe’s only handler, to adopt him. He visited schools and hospitals and became a celebrity, appearing in photos with Betty White and Jay Leno.

The heroic dog enjoyed almost four years of retirement, but cancer had stealthily crept through his liver and spleen. It was discovered in February 2013, but it was far too late to operate.

Shuck made the decision to have Gabe put to sleep and cradled him as he passed.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 12th

There was a study conducted recently by the CDC and the Delphi Behavioral Health Group that concluded that the U.S. Military beats out literally every other profession in days per year spent drinking. If you roughly equal out the days spent with the total number of troops, that puts us at 130 days on average, compared to the 91 day average for every other profession.

And, I mean, it makes absolute sense. No other profession has a culture around drinking like the military. It’s not “drunk like an interior designer” or “drunk like a software developer.” Toss a bunch of them into a barracks with nothing to do but drink after a long and stressful day, and you’ll see their numbers rise too.

So raise a glass, folks! I’m damn sure we’ve managed to keep that number one position since 1775 and won’t let go of it until the end of time!


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via United States Veteran’s Network)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales, meme by Justin Swarb)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via ASMDSS)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Private News Network)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme by Pop Smoke)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons Okinawa is an awesome deployment

Whether you believe Okinawa is a real deployment or not, it’s a great place to get sent for six months. We get it; a lot of us infantry Marines who joined in the post-9/11 era did so for one thing — to see some action — and getting sent to Okinawa means we aren’t going to. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a Debbie Downer about it.

Okinawa, Japan, is a key piece of real estate for the United States Military, which is why we saw it necessary to fight over it back in 1945. It’s close to places like the Korean peninsula, and offers us an easy launching point if things ever get hot. But aside from the strategy, it’s actually a great place to spend six months of your life — if your command will allow you to enjoy it, that is.

Here’s why Okinawa is a great deployment.


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
But be cautious about how you act, since you’re essentially an ambassador. Put forward a positive image for the rest of us Americans.
(U.S. Marine Photo by Cpl. Natalie M. Rostran)

There’s a lot to do

The United States has had a military presence on the island for a long time now, which means one thing: plenty of tattoo parlors and local watering holes for one to enjoy on the weekends. Aside from that, you can go diving, fishing; hell, you can even play tourist for a day and check out some of the local attractions.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
You might get to see where this photo was taken.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

Battlefield tours

Remember the battle that took place on the island back in 1945? Well, you might get the opportunity to tour some of the major points of friction and see where your Marine ancestors spilled some blood. If you’re into history, which you should be, this is an awesome thing to do.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
These mess halls rival the ones stateside.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)

The mess halls are awesome

If there’s one thing you’ll remember about Okinawa, it’ll probably be that the on-base dining facilities were fantastic. There are people who are stationed there long-term, and having great food available helps keep everyone happy.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
It’s basically a business trip.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)
 

You’re being paid to be there

Wait — you’re complaining that you’re on an all-expenses-paid trip to an island in Asia? Seriously? Your command straight-up told you that you’re going there because the DOD saw it fit to send you there. This means that tons of taxpayer money went into paying for your plane (or boat) ride, your lodging, and your food.

Oh, yeah, and you’re still getting paid while you’re there.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
Would you rather be this guy?
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nik S. Phongsisattanak)

 

You’re not stuck stateside

There are Marines in the Corps who spend their entire career without ever leaving the country. Who joins to do that? Would you rather be doing that? Probably not.

Sure, it’s not Afghanistan or Iraq, but it’s better than never getting out.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force sustains operations amid COVID-19 pandemic

Message from the top

On March 18, 2020, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein emphasized the importance of protecting the force from COVID-19 while maintaining the ability to conduct global missions.

“We’ve got fighters, bombers, and maintainers deployed working to keep America safe,” Goldfein said during a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon. “We’re still flying global mobility missions and conducting global space operations. So, the global missions we as an Air Force support in the joint force, all those missions continue.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the U.S. Air Force’s core missions remain unimpeded.


COVID-19 response

Air Mobility Command continued rapid global mobility operations on March 17, when U.S. Airmen transported a shipment of 500,000 COVID-19 testing swabs from Aviano Air Base, Italy, to Memphis, Tennessee. The mission, which was headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, utilized Air Force active duty, Reserve and National Guard components to ensure timely delivery of the supplies.

To aid the Italian response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a Ramstein Air Base C-130J Super Hercules delivered a life-saving medical capability, the En-Route Patient Staging System, to the Italian Ministry of Defense. The vital medical capability was transported to Aviano AB via an 86th Airlift Wing C-130J Super Hercules out of Ramstein AB, Germany, on March 20.

The ERPSS is a flexible, modular patient staging system able to operate across a spectrum of scenarios such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. The modular system provides 10 patient staging beds inside two tents, can support up to 40 patients in 24 hours, comes with seven days of medical supplies and can achieve initial operating capability within one hour of notification.

Also, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Airmen assigned to the 56th Medical Group helped minimize the spread of COVID-19 by staffing a drive-thru COVID-19 testing station on March 23.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Airmen assigned to the 56th Medical Group conduct COVID-19 tests March 23, 2020, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, the 56th MDG is utilizing drive-thru services to conduct tests. The 56th MDG is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and working closely with Arizona health officials to decrease the impact of COVID-19 at Luke AFB.

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // SENIOR AIRMAN ALEXANDER COOK

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are being called upon to assist state and local governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York, guardsmen are providing logistical and administrative support to state and local governments, staffing two call centers, assisting three drive-thru COVID-19 testing stations, cleaning public buildings, warehousing and delivering bulk supplies of New York State sanitizer to local governments and helping schools deliver meals to students at home.

The New Jersey National Guard also assisted a COVID-19 Community Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, March 23, 2020. The testing site, which was established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, New Jersey State Police, and New Jersey National Guard.

Strengthening joint partnerships

The Air Force’s European Bomber Task Force regularly deploys bomber aircraft to the European theater of operations to conduct joint training with allied nations. The task force continues to train with U.S. partners to strengthen relationships and ensure the sovereignty of allied airspace.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Trevon Gardner, assigned to the 5th Security Forces Squadron at Minot Air Base, North Dakota, poses for a portrait in front of a B-2 Spirit on March 19, 2020, at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom. Gardner deployed to RAF Fairford in support of Bomber Task Force Europe operations, which tests the readiness of the Airmen and equipment that support it, as well as their collective ability to operate at forward locations.

U.S. AIR NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO // TECH. SGT. COLTON ELLIOTT

One example of the task force’s continued operations tempo is the recent Icelandic Air Policing mission conducted March 16. The mission involved two U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit aircraft from RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, as well as Norwegian F-35 Lightning IIs and U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle aircraft.

The Bomber Task Force achieved a new milestone over the North Sea on March 18, when two U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers successfully conducted a fifth generation integration flight with Norwegian and Dutch F-35 Lightning IIs.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

A B-2A Spirit bomber assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Royal Netherlands air force F-35A and U.S. F-15C Eagle assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing conduct aerial operations in support of Bomber Task Force Europe 20-2 over the North Sea March 18, 2020. Bomber missions provide opportunities to train and work with NATO allies and theater partners in combined and joint operations and exercises.

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // MASTER SGT. MATTHEW PLEW

“The world expects that NATO and the U.S. continue to execute our mission with decisiveness, regardless of any external challenge,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “Missions like these provide us an opportunity to assure our allies while sending a clear message to any adversary that no matter the challenge, we are ready.”

Sustaining the training pipeline

A formal memorandum released by Air Education and Training Command on March 18 detailed the command’s designation as a mission essential function of the U.S. Air Force during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Donald Weaver, 320th Training Squadron military training instructor, leads his flight with a salute during an Air Force BMT graduation Mar. 19, 2020, held at the 320th Training Squadron’s Airman Training Complex on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Due to current world events, the 37th Training Wing has implemented social distancing by graduating 668 Airmen during four different ceremonies at different Airman Training Complexes. The graduation ceremonies will be closed to the public until further notice for the safety and security of the newly accessioned Airmen and their family members due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC, stated that the command will continue to “recruit and access Airmen; train candidates and enlistees in Officer Training School, ROTC and basic military training; develop Airmen in technical and flying training; and deliver advanced academic education such as the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.”

Prior to attending basic military training, potential recruits are required to undergo processing at a Military Entrance Processing Station. MEPS members have virus protocol procedures to observe and take the temperatures of all individuals entering MEPS facilities. Additionally, Air Force recruiters complete a medical prescreen of all applicants which covers all medical concerns including COVID-19.

Although they may be a little quieter, Air Force Basic Military Training graduations will continue to press on at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Graduation ceremonies have been closed to the public until further notice while social distancing procedures have been implemented to further protect the health and safety of Airmen.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

U.S. Air Force basic military training graduates stand at attention during an Air Force BMT graduation Mar. 19, 2020, held at the 320th Training Squadron’s Airman Training Complex on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Due to current world events, the 37th Training Wing has implemented social distancing by graduating 668 Airmen during four different ceremonies at different Airman Training Complexes. The graduation ceremonies will be closed to the public until further notice for the safety and security of the newly accessioned Airmen and their family members due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO

On March 19, the 37th Training Wing implemented social distancing procedures by graduating 668 Airmen using four separate ceremonies at four different Airman Training Complexes. Although the events were closed to the public, provisions were made to live stream the Air Force graduation ceremonies through the USAF Basic Military Training Facebook page.

Remaining ready on the homefront

To prevent the spread of viruses, the Air Force is urging its personnel and their families to continue practicing proper hygiene. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with those who are sick. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces should also be done for good measure.

For the Airmen on the flight line, social distancing procedures are rigorously enforced. Additionally, aircrews are having their temperatures taken to ensure aircraft maintain a clean environment that’s safe for their fellow Airmen.

For the latest and most reliable information regarding COVID-19, visit https://www.af.mil/News/Coronavirus-Disease-2019/.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Bakery serves up more than pastries for military-affiliated entrepreneurs

Dog Tag Bakery is justly renowned for its butterscotch blondies and buttery cinnamon buns. But the Washington, D.C., shop has a mission that goes far beyond turning out stellar baked goods. In partnership with nearby Georgetown University, Dog Tag runs a nonprofit fellowship program that operates as a living business school for post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as for military spouses and caregivers.

Twice a year, between 14 and 16 fellows go through the five-month program, which combines academics and hands-on small business experience. Fellows take seven courses that cover business basics, including finance, strategy, marketing, management and communications. Those courses are taught by Georgetown faculty in a classroom above the bakery. Meanwhile, on the floor of the bakery itself, fellows learn a wide range of practical skills, like how to decorate a cake, interact with customers, and manage a budget. For their capstone project, fellows are required to create and present a fully-vetted business plan, complete with operations, marketing, logistics, and financial projections, to help solidify the value of an entrepreneurial mindset.


Wellness is a cornerstone of the fellowships with daily workshops in mindfulness, journaling, nutrition and yoga. And, to relieve financial barriers to participating in the program, fellows receive a $1,400 monthly stipend, as well as a laptop for use during the program.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Claire Witko. Photo by Richie Downs Photography.

Claire Witko, Dog Tag’s director of programs, says the fellowship is designed to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. “That includes,” she says, “understanding that failure is an unavoidable part of forging a successful path forward, and that learning how to rebound and find creative solutions to challenges are essential skills.”

The aim of the program, however, isn’t to groom the next Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey.

“We don’t define success,” Witko said. “Our fellows discover their own definition of success. It’s about finding purpose and voice.”

Fellows who complete the program earn a Certificate of Business Administration from Georgetown. Many find themselves transformed.

“Alumni often emerge completely different people,” Witko said. “They have new confidence; they know what they want and how to pursue it.”

That was certainly the case for Adela Wilson, a 2019 Dog Tag fellow. The wife of an Air Force veteran who was medically retired in 2007, the 51-year-old mother of three sons had resettled her family in several cities in the Middle East and Europe during her husband’s 15-year military career. In each new city, she’d forged a career for herself in sales. But back home in Virginia, acting as her husband’s full-time caretaker, she felt she’d lost her sense of identity and, she says, her “edge.”

“Getting accepted into the fellowship was lifechanging,” Wilson said. “The program is like drinking through a firehose. It’s so intense and fast-paced.”

She loved every minute of it, from the improv workshops and a visit to Capitol Hill where the Dog Tag fellows had meetings with Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senator Mark Warner of Indiana, to “living labs” where executives from corporations like Boeing, Nestle and Capital One mentor fellows on soft skills like delivering an elevator pitch or understanding your personality style.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Today, Wilson works as a career transitions specialist at the Wounded Warrior Project, helping veterans overcome barriers to employment.

“I feel like I’m really making a difference and I absolutely love my job,” she said.

A favorite word at Dog Tag, Wilson says, is “pivot”— fellows are encouraged to be flexible and open to new goals as their circumstances and passions change. When COVID-19 struck, the organization had to do some pivoting of its own, taking the fellowship classes and workshops virtual.

“We’ve learned how to bring the experience of being in the kitchen to Zoom,” Witko said. “The fall fellowship will be completely virtual and we’re beginning to explore hybrid models — a combination of in-person and remote elements — for the post-COVID world.”

Meanwhile, the bakery itself has reopened for business. Featured on the menu is a specialty created by some recent fellows as their capstone project: freshly baked bread pudding topped with homemade caramel and a drizzle of chocolate. Success, as the saying goes, is sweet.

For more information on Dog Tag Inc., including how to apply for the fellowship program, visit https://www.dogtaginc.org/fellowship.

By the numbers
Since it began its fellowship program in 2014, Dog Tag Inc. has enrolled 148 Fellows across 12 cohorts, or classes. Here’s a look at who these fellows are:
Age (at time of enrollment)
18-24: 3%
25-31: 24%
32-38: 24%
39-45: 22%
46-52: 22%
53 and older: 5%
Gender
Male: 41%
Female: 59%

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things you had to have known before joining the military

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

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

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

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


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

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

If you match your branch of service

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

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

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

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

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

If you match your MOS

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

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Air Force PT in a nutshell.

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

The fitness requirements are (usually) demanding

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

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

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

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

Boot camp and basic training suck

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

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

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

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

Real-life experiences may vary

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

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

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

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

Recruitment tactics are tactical

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

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Veterans and songwriters will come together for live PBS taping in Nashville

Award-winning songwriters, veterans, and service members will come together to share music at the Songwriting With Soldiers concert on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium.

The concert will feature musicians performing original songs shared by nonprofit organization Songwriting With Soldiers. Performers include Bonnie Bishop, Gary Burr, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Radney Foster, Mary Gauthier, James House, Will Kimbrough, Georgia Middleman, Gary Nicholson, Maia Sharp and Darden Smith.

Their songs have been recorded by the likes of Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Emmylou Harris, Fleetwood Mac, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, John Prine and Ringo Starr.


This performance shines a light on two important things – the power of music to help us connect, and the need to listen to today’s veterans and military families. These are the war stories of our times, and they have much to teach us,” said Songwriting With Soldiers co-founder Mary Judd.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Photo courtesy of Stacy Powell.

Many veterans struggle with reintegration. Songwriting With Soldiers holds weekend retreats across the country, pairing service members with professional songwriters to craft songs about their experiences in combat and coming home. The creative songwriting process is life-changing for participants as it offers a unique outlet to tell their stories, rebuild trust, release pain and forge new bonds.

The one-hour television special, “Songwriting With Soldiers,” will premiere nationally in prime time on PBS on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, at 10 p.m. (check local listings).

The program, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will be taped for national broadcast on PBS this fall.

Tickets are on sale now for to the general public and are free to active military, veterans and their families. Tickets are available only at www.songwritingwithsoldiers.org/pbsconcert/.

This collaboration of Songwriting With Soldiers, PBS and WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS is produced by Todd Jarrell Productions and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with additional underwriting from Sweetwater Music Instruments and Pro Audio.

The information contained on this page is provided only as general information. The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement or support of any of the linked information, services, products, or providers.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways your service never really ends after you leave the military

All good things, inevitably, come to an end. Whether you were counting down the days until you had your DD-214 in your hands or you stubbornly got your retirement paperwork after giving everything you had to Uncle Sam, there eventually comes a time for you to lace up your boots for the very last time.

That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing — it’s just a thing. But your time in uniform has forever changed you. What life has in store for you after service is no one’s guess, but wherever you find yourself, know that you’ve still got a fire inside of you that will never die.


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

Being in the military really teaches you that motivating others isn’t always a matter of throwing a flashy office party. It can be something as small as a well-timed “good job” or expressing interest in someone’s well-being.

You’ll still conduct yourself like the troops

The Marines have a saying: “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” There’s a lot to that statement, but in one sense, it can be applied to everyone who served in the Armed Forces. There are a lot of things that you pick up in whichever branch you served that just won’t ever fully go away.

You’d be amazed at how far punctuality, polite greetings of the day, and standing up straight will take you. Shy of your ability to do whatever job, employers want someone who’s going to work well with a team, communicate effectively with others, be willing to take charge, and have the guts to make impromptu decisions that will benefit others and the company.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Villarreal)

No pressure, but your guys are all crossing their fingers for your success. Don’t let them down.

Your passion and drive comes from within

It really doesn’t matter what you end up doing for a living after you’ve transitioned back to civilian life. You could get a job doing pretty much the same thing you were doing on the green side, you could use the GI Bill to learn a trade you always wanted to pick up, you could even try your hand at something artistic. It’s your life, and you’ve earned the right to pursue whatever you’re passionate about.

Want to open up an auto shop in your old hometown? Open it and give it your all every single day. Are you gifted in computer work after being a computer guy in the Army? It’s a damn fine job, and you’ll be great at it. Heard the jokes about the LT getting a degree in underwater basket-weaving and want to give it a shot? You will be the best damn underwater basket-weaver the world has ever seen.

Why? Because your leaders instilled in you a mission-oriented mindset. That’s what separates you from the “I might” or the “I could” people of the world. Your NCO made you into an “I will” kinda person.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew Parks)

What seems like simply reaching out your hand to someone will make a world of difference to everyone else.

You’ll never lose that will to help others

Where life takes you still doesn’t really matter. Wherever you find yourself, you’re still going to go out of your way to selflessly impact the life of another person. It doesn’t matter if you open a veteran-owned nonprofit to help the troops or you’re just taking care of the grandkids in your cabin hidden in the woods. You’re always going to strive for something bigger than yourself.

This is because veterans have always been taught to think of “one team, one fight.” Everyone may be fighting to reach the top, but you’ve got to help out your squad if they’re not able to reach the goal.

Whether your metaphorical squad in the outside becomes your coworkers, your family, or the entire veteran community as a whole, you’re always going to fight to help bring them up.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

You’ll always find someone new to share a laugh with. Hell, even just telling civilians about some of the funny stuff we did is a great way to break the ice.

Your brotherhood with your fellow troops will last forever

Everyone you’ve ever met, from your squad mates to that admin clerk you occasionally bumped into before formation, will stay with you always. Even if they are no longer with us, the good times you had together will keep bringing a smile to your face whenever you’re alone in the sometimes-unforgiving civilian world.

When times got rough in the military, your brothers and sisters were always just a knock on a barrack’s room door away. Now they’re on, what seems like, the other side of the world. But are they really? It doesn’t matter if it’s been years, we all have someone we served with that we can call at a moment’s notice to talk to. We all swore to give our lives to protect our brothers and sisters in arms — answering a phone call is leagues easier.

Nearly every other veteran will embrace you as their own if you’re in need of a hand. Even civilians can occasionally earn that level of trust and respect if you let them into your new “squad.”

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron Henson)

Stay the course, my friends.

You’re always going to be the flag bearer for the Armed Forces

Fewer people are enlisting in the Armed Forces than ever before. Fewer people have relatives that served, and it’s astounding how many people have never interacted with a veteran. That sucks for Uncle Sam trying to fill out the formations, but that gives you the advantage.

There’s no denying it. Finding your place in the civilian world will be hard, and there’s no road-map to follow. It will get lonely at times. Just keep holding onto that flag and others will see you for your true worth. Just as the flag-bearer in wars of old inspired the troops, you will, too. It will also help other vets find you in hopes of rekindling the camaraderie we all once had in the barracks.

You’re not the first person to ever leave military service, and you’re not going to be the last. Let it be your guide, even if you don’t know where you’re going.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The relatable joys of having back pain under 30​

Back pain is something that 80% of adults are expected to experience at some point in their life. For some, it comes much, much earlier — and the advantages are endless!

It’s no secret that those who engage in manual labor from a young age are more susceptible to back pain. It makes sense then, that young vets are oh-so-lucky enough to be some of the chosen few with significant back pain while barely being young enough to crack open a cold one (legally).

Here are some of the fun benefits young back pain sufferers all experience!


The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

You know what kinda day it’s gonna be the night before!

Most people have to spill coffee on themselves or pour a bowl of cereal before realizing they don’t have milk before they know they’re going to have an awful day. With chronic back pain, there’s no need to wait until 7am to figure that out — you’ll know by 2am at the latest! Your unending nightmare of discomfort will let you know that tomorrow will, in fact, suck.

What a treat to know in advance!

You’ll accrue advanced stretching knowledge!

Most under-30-year-olds know how to touch their toes. Maybe they’ll occasionally grab a foot and stretch out their quads before a run. Not those with chronic back pain! Those lucky sons of guns have advanced knowledge of stretches so intricate and strange-looking it would make the author of the Kama Sutra blush.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

You’ll never need another excuse to avoid helping your friend move!

This one goes without saying. Gone are the days of saying, “Oh, uh, actually dude, I have to pickup my uncle from the airport” or “I would, but I actually told my girlfriend I would take her to shop for potted plants” or the vintage classic move of waiting until the day after and hitting them with, “I JUST got this text — still need help?” Nope. Now you can just tell them straight up you can’t help. Not you “won’t.” You physically cannot.

You get a desirable “dad bod” without even trying!

Okay so there’s not a lot of people that try to have a “dad bod.” But for those who do — it can be difficult. Luckily, with chronic back pain, you can get a dad bod before you even have children! Spend hours not being able to get out of your rolly chair. Be unable to go on light jogs without immediately experiencing immobilizing muscle spasms. Then, eat away your feelings through endless bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. It’s like having the opposite of your own personal Hollywood trainer.

You get the best seat in the house to watch your friends have fun!

You’re playing basketball with your friends, you drive in for a layup, nobody touches you, and then wham: your back completely locks up on you for no reason whatsoever. Now you can’t walk, let alone play. Sucks, right? Wrong.

Now you get to sit and watch all your friends air ball uncontested 3s — from the front row! Sound too good to be true? Don’t worry, it’ll happen plenty more times!

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

You can do a perfect impression of the AT-ATs from ‘Star Wars!’

Impressions are hard. Star Wars impressions are especially hard. Don’t believe me? Ask literally anyone to do an impression of Yoda. It will be terrible.

But with insane chronic back pain, you can constantly walk like an AT-AT! The lumbering, stiff, slow movement will wow all your friends. You’ll get the posture of C3P0 for free, too.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

Oh my goodness.

MIGHTY CULTURE

That time the Louisiana National Guard celebrated ‘Saudi Gras’ in Desert Storm

Everyone who deploys during a holiday makes a special effort to feel as if they aren’t really missing it. No matter how short the war is, no one wants to miss one of those crucial days. Even if the entire buildup and fighting lasted just a few months, you still want that piece of home. The Louisiana National Guard was no different in the Gulf War. No way were they going to miss Mardi Gras.


So the celebration may not have been as raucous as it is on Bourbon Street. Nor was it a family affair as it is in other wards and and cities in Louisiana. Still, it was important to the men and women who deployed to Saudi Arabia during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Mardi Gras isn’t something to be casually missed, so the unit threw their own version: Saudi Gras.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait, sparking off a huge U.S. military buildup in Saudi Arabia call Operation Desert Shield as a bulwark against further Iraqi aggression. It was part of a larger plan to go on the offensive and expel Iraq from Kuwait in an operation known as Desert Storm. The forces required to execute Desert Storm and secure Saudi Arabia took a while to arrive. From August 1990 to January 1991, American and Coalition troops began arriving in the Saudi Kingdom.

One of those units called to action was the Louisiana National Guard, who arrived in late January and early February. Their only problem was that Mardi Gras began on Feb. 12 that year.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Louisiana National Guard)

Mardi Gras is a Christian tradition, a celebration that begins on the Feast of the Epiphany and runs through Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. While Mardi Gras may not be a big deal in the rest of the United States, for the French-descended people of Louisiana, it is. For them, it’s more than beads on Bourbon Street – it’s a time of celebration, good food, parades, and family. Some 8,000 miles away from the French Quarter, the members of Lousiana’s National Guard deployed to Saudi Arabia decided they wouldn’t let the holiday pass them by.

Saudi Arabia saw its first-ever Mardi Gras celebration, dubbed “Saudi Gras” by those who were a part of it.

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Louisiana National Guard)

The beer was non-alcoholic (by necessity and general order), the parade queen was a Lt. Col. who volunteered to dress in drag, and the Saudi Gras King, a member of the 926th Tactical Fighter Group and native of New Orleans, was given the title “King Scud.” Elsewhere, Louisianans formed ad-hoc krewes, those celebrating Mardi Gras with the pledge to form a group that hosts a party, builds parade floats, and attends social events all year long.

You can take the troops out of Louisiana, but you can’t take Louisiana out of the troops.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of May 3rd

The Marines and Aussie Airmen recently made the news because of a misunderstanding in local dialect and cultural differences. The story then got blown out of proportion, as was reported by LADBible, that the Aussies were ‘banned’ from using their slang. Sure, on the surface, it sounds like a funny headline but when you look a bit deeper into it – the entire situation isn’t as dumb as people are making it out to be.

One of the slang terms to get axed was “nah, yeah.” Anyone who’s ever talked to someone from the Midwest who also says it, knows that just means “yeah.” Another one was “lucked out.” Which isn’t a problem at all if you figure out the context clues to know that it was used either literally or sarcastically.

Aussie slang isn’t really all that difficult to understand. The only one that could actually cause confusion is their slang for sandals – which is ‘thongs.’ Having personally seen an Aussie compound while on deployment, it’s a little jarring to read the signs outside their showers reading “must wear thongs before entering” and expecting everyone to be rocking a Borat man-kini.


Anyways – here are some memes.

There’s an Avengers: Endgame reference in the third meme – so if you don’t care about a minor throwaway joke from early in the film that has since been used in the post-release trailers…

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme by WATM)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via ASMDSS)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Private News Network)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Military Memes)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

The history of the woobie and why they’re so beloved

(Meme via Dank MP Memes)

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