7 things to know about being a military veterinarian - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Humans in the military rely on doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to take care of them while they’re on the job. Military working dogs need someone to look after them, too. That job falls to military veterinarians. Military veterinarians provide medical and surgical care to all kinds of military working animals, but their responsibilities go far beyond that of a normal veterinarian. 

What the job entails

The primary role of Army veterinarians is to provide care for animals- both for working animals and for military family pets. While on active duty, however, their responsibilities vary from mission to mission. They are highly involved in supporting public health and humanitarian projects, like creating vaccines and developing strategies to prevent the spread of animal-borne diseases. 

They’re also in charge of inspecting food sold to service members to make sure it’s safe for consumption. They may even perform audits of major manufacturing plants to confirm that they’re following food safety protocols; think Coca-Cola and Ben & Jerry’s. 

Things to know before you try it

  1. After education, it’s basically an eight-year commitment.
    Most military veterinarians go through the Health Professionals Scholarship Program. The HPSP contract stipulates a minimum three year commitment to active duty, plus five years of reserve duty. While vets are rarely called upon during the five years on “inactive” duty, it’s always a possibility. 
  1. Veterinarians typically enlist as officers, not soldiers.
    When you become an Army veterinarian, you’re not signing up to fight. Instead of Basic Training, you attend a Basic Officer Leadership Course for a few months. It’s not as physically tough as the boot camp designed for soldiers, but you still have to be in decent shape. New veterinarian officers also attend a one-year internship program which doesn’t count toward your active-duty requirement.
  2. Being involved in combat is always a possibility. 
    While your job description is to care for animals and assist with humanitarian efforts, danger isn’t off the table. Most Army vets never see combat, but it has happened. If you’re sent to a combat zone, you will carry a weapon and should be prepared to fire it. Most missions are fairly low-risk, but veterinarians HAVE been wounded or killed on the job. Veterinarians are never assigned combat-related tasks, but if you’re in the vicinity of an unexpected attack, anything can happen. In other words, if you want a risk-free gig, this isn’t it. 
  1. Travel is part of the job description.
    Military veterinarians can be assigned to missions anywhere in the world. This is a pro and con in one. You get the opportunity to see amazing places. If you become a Special Forces vet, you can work on serious international animal health projects. The Navy’s marine mammal program is another option.

Regardless, you’re going to be moving around while on active duty. Family members and pets may be able to join you on some missions, but that’s not always an option. If you do have pets or children with you, you’ll need to make arrangements for their care while you’re working long shifts or overnight. If you’re on a combat mission, it’s important to have a network of friends and family to care for your pets while you’re away. 

  1. The options for advancement are appealing.
    If you’re considering a long-term career in the military, there’s a program for that. The Long-Term Health Education & Training program will cover the cost of veterinarians to continue their education in a number of specialties, like pathology, emergency/critical care, radiology, and surgery. After retiring from the military, veterinarians often start their own private practice or transition into teaching- all while receiving a hefty pension!
  2. The pay is nothing to laugh at.
    The pay and benefits are very good compared to our civilian veterinary colleagues. When I started out four years ago at an assignment in the U.S., I was making about $75,000 a year. Now while assigned in Europe I am making about $100,000 a year. It can be kind of tough to calculate the exact salary because of all the different types of special pay, housing/living allowances, etc, and that stuff changes depending on where you are located.
  3. You’re a veterinarian, but you’re also a military professional.
    This one bears repeating. While military veterinarians are there to care for animals, they’re also committing to serving the US Army. During your years of service, the army will decide where you work, when you work, and what your job entails. That might mean getting deployed to a combat zone even though you’d prefer to work on the home front. If you’re a leader who likes to carve your own path, you’ll probably be disappointed.

    If you’re passionate about animals and interested in serving your country, becoming an Army veterinarian is probably a great fit. The benefits don’t hurt, either! 

Steps to becoming a military vet

The U.S. Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program is usually the first step to becoming a military veterinarian. You’ll have to convince the military that you’re worth the investment, but if you get the scholarship, the program covers your tuition while you earn your D.V.M. Alternatively, the Health Professions Loan Repayment Program can help those who have already completed school. 
Your military committment doesn’t begin until you’re done with school. At that point, you complete Basic Officer Training and an internship before beginning active duty. After three years of service, you can join the Army Reserve. There, you’re welcome to run your own practice. To get started, learn more about the process here or contact a recruiter. If you want to hear a first account of what it’s like becoming an Army Veterinarian, Elliot Garber can tell you all about it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Navy SEAL will help you survive anything, anywhere

Retired Navy SEAL Clint Emerson spent decades serving American interests across the globe, doing dangerous work in dangerous places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he runs a company that helps people prepare for a crisis, and he wants to share some of his experience with you.


Retired Navy SEAL Explains How to Prepare for Dangerous Situations | Tradecraft | WIRED

www.youtube.com

The broad message of his video is something that will sound familiar to any veteran: plan and mentally rehearse.

Look, no one can be truly “prepared” during their first active shooter situation, their first kidnapping, or massive natural disaster. Most of us will never face one of those situations (thankfully). But, precisely because those types of events are so rare, most of us have never given much thought to how to survive something like that.

And that can be a mistake. The second worst time to figure out how to survive in a crisis is during a crisis. The only worse moment is to figure it out after it’s too late to survive.

The best time is whenever you’re calm, when you have a few minutes. Since you’re reading an internet article, we’re going to assume that’s right now.

This is the best time because you can apply your rational, calm mind to the planning, so you make the best decisions possible.

And once you’re in planning mode, Emerson has all sorts of tips to help you out. For instance, always figure out your exits. For anywhere you go often, like work and home, plan out escape routes, know the dead ends where you could be trapped, figure out what areas provide cover from attackers or high winds. For anywhere else, mark the doors and windows when you enter.

And be sure to have at least one or two exit options that aren’t the obvious one, if possible.

He also has tips to specific situations, like trusting your eyes instead of ears when looking for a shooter or heading to the stairs during a fire in order to get fresh air. You can jump from about three stories and likely survive in a crisis if you have to. And try to avoid going above the 12th floor in a building if possible, because rescue trucks can usually only extend ladders 120 feet.

Check out the video above to get a lot more tips from Emerson.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 10 most popular US states for off-the-grid living, according to HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor has identified the 10 most popular US states for living off the grid.

The home improvement site used an algorithm to comb through Instagram posts tagged #offgridliving, focusing on posts with location data, to identify where off-gridders are congregating.

Off-grid living involves disconnecting from the electric grid and pursuing an independent lifestyle without relying on municipal services like water supply.


Not all off-gridders are showcasing their life on social media, HomeAdvisor acknowledges, but the #offgridliving hashtag is a good place to go “hunting for signs of life” in the off-grid community, the company said.

Motivations of casual off-gridders vary but generally include wanting to “get away from it all for a while” and lead an “eco-conscious life,” HomeAdvisor wrote.

Here, in ascending order, are the 10 most popular US states for off-grid living, according to HomeAdvisor.

Editor’s note: The legality of living off-grid can vary by county within a given state, so be sure to check local laws if you’re thinking of going off-grid.

10. New York

ercentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.46%

Off-grid tip: Diane Vuković, an author and writer for the blog Primal Survivor who regularly updates a list of off-grid laws relating to water, electric, and waste in each of the 50 states, deemed New York “one of the strictest” when it comes to regulations.

“However, this does not mean it is impossible to go off-grid in New York,” she said. “It just means that you will likely have to do a lot more research to find a place where off-grid living is allowed and get numerous permits, licenses, and inspections.”

Source: HomeAdvisor

9. New Mexico

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.71%

Off-grid tip: The Earthship Biotecture in Taos, New Mexico, is an off-grid community that has made headlines over the years for its eye-catching designs. Founded by Michael Reynolds in the 1970s, it consists of self-sufficient, solar-powered homes and buildings made with upcycled material like car tires and glass.

Source: HomeAdvisor

8. Utah

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 3.73%

Off-grid tip: Utah Homestead Properties, a brokerage specializing in self-sufficient homes, highlights Utah’s vast wilderness, affordable real estate prices, and “independent, self-sufficient mindset” as reasons why the state is a great place to set up an off-grid life. The arid climate and extreme temperatures require off-gridders to get creative about heating and cooling, but there are “lots” of builders in the state that understand how to work around these challenges, the company writes on its website.

Source: HomeAdvisor

7. Alaska

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.14%

Off-grid tip: Alaska’s microgrid laws are “very progressive,” Vuković wrote for Primal Survivor. “However, off-grid solar may not be feasible in many areas of the state where there isn’t much daylight during winter,” she added.

Source: HomeAdvisor

6. Florida

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.24%

Off-grid tip: Reports of a woman who was evicted from her off-grid home in Cape Coral, Florida, back in 2016 have contributed to the belief that off-grid living is illegal in Florida, according to Vuković and the blog Off Grid World.

“Many people have exaggerated on a story going around the internet that Florida doesn’t allow off grid living, but the story is completely false,” Off Grid World wrote in a recently updated post.

In reality, living off-grid in Florida is legal: Residents can set up off-grid solar power systems, collect rainwater, and with permission, install compost toilets, Vuković wrote.

Source: HomeAdvisor

5. Hawaii

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 4.46%

Off-grid tip: “Although unplugging from public utilities isn’t practical everywhere, the mild temperatures; abundance of sunshine, wind, and rain; and fertile soil make Hawaii an attractive place to go off grid,” LiAnne Yu wrote for Hawaii Business magazine in November 2017.

The Big Island, or Hawaii Island, is home to several established off-grid communities. “Living off the land here is a way of life,” Sean Jennings wrote of the Big Island on his blog Homesteadin’ Hawaii.

Source: HomeAdvisor

4. Oregon

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 7.37%

Off-grid tip: One of Oregon’s notable off-grid communities is the gated Three Rivers Recreation Area. Spanning 4,000 acres near the Metolius River arm of Lake Billy Chinook, it comes with its own marina and airstrip. It is home to 600 properties and between 75 and 80 full-time residents, according to Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty.

Source: HomeAdvisor

3. Arizona

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 8.64%

Off-grid tip: In 2019, early retirees Steve and Courtney Adcock settled down at an off-grid home in the Arizona desert powered by solar. “Residential solar energy systems aren’t cheap, but they are game-changers,” Steve wrote in a blog post. “Solar power systems save money in the long run, include a tax credit in the US and, of course, it’s clean energy. We love not having an electric bill.”

Source: HomeAdvisor

2. Colorado

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 9.57%

Off-grid tip: A popular Colorado destination that draws a steady steam of novice and veteran off-gridders is San Luis Valley in Alamosa County, Tom McGhee reported for The Denver Post. “Mountains carve the sky in all directions, and the promise of cheap land and life beyond the confines of civilization lures many. It is dream land beyond the reach of electricity and other infrastructure considered necessary by most,” he wrote.

Source: HomeAdvisor

1. California

Percentage of #offgridliving posts: 12.91%

“If you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego, you may well have an off-gridding Instagram-user right next door,” HomeAdvisor wrote of the most popular state for off-grid living, according to its report.

HomeAdvisor describes the #offgridliving asethetic as a happy medium between a plugged-in life and homesteading. “You’ll still find baskets of eggs, but they’re surrounded by bushcraft knives, off-road vehicles, and ornate water filtration systems,” the company said.

Source: HomeAdvisor

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

How to avoid 3 scams that target US service members

Nowadays, you have to be cautious of everything you do online. Scammers are always trying to get money, goods or services out of unsuspecting people — and military members are often targets.

Here are some scams that have recently been affecting service members, Defense Department employees and their families.


7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Even the most innocuous data posted to a social media feed can be married up with other publicly available information to provide online criminals the tools they need to exploit members of the military or general public, an Army special agent said.

(Photo by Mark Herlihy)

1. Romance scams

In April 2019, Army Criminal Investigation Command put out a warning about romance scams in which online predators go on dating sites claiming to be deployed active-duty soldiers. It’s a problem that’s affecting all branches of service — not just the Army.

CID said there have been hundreds of claims each month from people who said they’ve been scammed on legitimate dating apps and social media sites. According to the alleged victims, the scammers have asked for money for fake service-related needs such as transportation, communications fees, processing and medical fees — even marriage. CID said many of the victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars and likely won’t get that money back.

Remember: Service members and government employees DO NOT PAY to go on leave, have their personal effects sent home or fly back to the US from an overseas assignment. Scammers will sometimes provide false paperwork to make their case, but real service members make their own requests for time off. Also, any official military or government emails will end in .mil or .gov — not .com — so be suspicious if you get a message claiming to be from the military or government that doesn’t have one of those addresses.

If you’re worried about being scammed, know what red flags to look for. If you think you’ve been a victim, contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.

DOD officials said task forces are working to deal with the growing problem, but the scammers are often from African nations and are using cyber cafes with untraceable email addresses, then routing their accounts across the world to make them incredibly difficult to trace. So be vigilant!

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

A US cavalry soldiers keeps watch in a rural area near Nangarhar, Afghanistan Jan. 6, 2015.

(US Army photo)

2. ‘Sextortion’

Sexual extortion — known as “sextortion” — is when a service member is seduced into sexual activities online that are unknowingly recorded and used against them for money or goods. Often, if a victim caves on a demand, the scammer will just likely demand more.

Service members are attractive targets for these scammers for a few reasons:

• They’re often young men who are away from home and have an online presence.

• They have a steady income and are often more financially stable than civilians.

• Because of their careers, they’re held to a higher standard of conduct.

• Military members have security clearances and know things that might be of interest to adversaries.

To avoid falling victim to sextortion, don’t post or exchange compromising photos or videos with ANYONE online, and make sure your social media privacy settings limit the information outsiders can see — this includes advertising your affiliation with the military or government. Be careful when you’re communicating with anyone you don’t personally know online, and trust your instincts. If people seem suspicious, stop communicating with them.

DOD officials said sextortion often goes unreported because many victims are embarrassed they fell for it. But it happens worldwide and across all ranks and services. Here’s what you should do about it if it happens to you:

• Stop communicating with the scammer.

• Contact your command and your local CID office.

• Do NOT pay the perpetrator.

• Save all communications you had with that person.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

US soldiers dislodge their M-777 155 mm howitzer from the 3-foot hole it dug itself into after firing several rocket-assisted projectiles.

(US Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

3. Service member impersonation scams

Scammers love to impersonate people of authority, and that includes service members.

These people often steal the identity or profile images of a service member and use them to ask for money or make claims that involve the sale of vehicles, house rentals or other big-ticket items. These scammers often send the victim bogus information about the advertised product and ask for a wire transfer through a third party to finish the purchase, but there’s no product at the end of the transaction.

Lately, fake profiles of high-ranking American military officials have been popping up on social media websites using photos and biographical information obtained from the internet. Scammers often replicate recent social media posts from official DOD accounts and interact with official accounts to increase the appearance of legitimacy. As an example, there are impersonator accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

These accounts are also interacting with Joint Staff account followers in an effort to gain trust and elicit information. The only Joint Staff leader with an official social media presence is Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, who is listed as @SEAC.JCS on Facebook and @SEAC_Troxell on Twitter.

Scammers are making these profiles to defraud potential victims. They claim to be high-ranking or well-placed government/military officials or the surviving spouse of former government leaders, then they promise big profits in exchange for help in moving large sums of money, oil or some other commodity. They offer to transfer significant amounts of money into the victim’s bank account in exchange for a small fee. Scammers that receive payment are never heard from again.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

A US soldier and a US Army interpreter look over a map with an Iraqi soldier before starting a cordon and search of the Ninewa Forest in Mosul, Iraq, June 8, 2008.

(US Army photo by Pfc. Sarah De Boise)

Here are some ways to lower the chances of you being impersonated or duped by a scammer:

• To avoid having your personal data and photos stolen from your social media pages, limit the details you provide on them and don’t post photos that include your name tag, unit patch and rank.

• If an alleged official messages you with a request or demand, look closely at their social media page. Often, official accounts will be verified, meaning they have a blue circle with a checkmark right beside their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram name. General and flag officers will not message anyone directly requesting to connect or asking for money.

• Search for yourself online — both your name and images you’ve posted — to see if someone else is trying to use your identity. If you do find a false profile, contact that social media platform and report it.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

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

Hope you guys enjoyed your block leave. It’s always nice to go back home, relax, grow that pathetic excuse of a two-week beard, and not have to think about anything military-related until that inevitable flight back to your installation.

Hope nothing big happened in those two weeks… Oh… F*ck… Nevermind… Literally everything went to sh*t while you were trying to hook up with your old high school fling because it’s time to get your packing list in order.

Now would be a good time for you to smoke one if you got one because the sh*t hit the fan big time. Unless you’re under 21. We can’t have law-breaking juveniles in our ranks while we’re about to head into another major conflict.


And this entire vacation, I was just waiting to make a joke about the Space Force finally being a thing but noooOOOooo. Anyways, here are some memes.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via 1st Civ Div)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

Real talk: If we go to Iran, it would be a separate conflict from the GWOT as it’s nation vs nation instead of fighting terrorism. So that would mean we’d realistically get to add a star to our CIBs/CABs/CMBs, right?

That may weigh heavily on my decision to reenlist…

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Call for Fire)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Not CID)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

There’s building character and then there’s risking your troop’s health and lively to appease an antiquated version of what the “military was like back in your day.” 

Don’t let anyone fool you. The sweatpants we wore with our PTs back in the BDU era were the comfiest things ever.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch this woman destroy the Army PT test without training

Alright, we’ll grant you that fitness personalities don’t need to train up for simple tests. And the Army’s current PT test is a very simple challenge. A quick test of upper body strength and endurance, a quick test of abdominal endurance, and a quick two-miler. All pretty commonly used muscles, all movements with little need for special training.


I took the US Army Fitness Test without practice

www.youtube.com

But still, Natacha Océane did a pretty great job while taking the APFT. Sure, she flubs her number 5 sit-up during the test, but she also doesn’t count it, and she uses a poop emoji on the counter. And she does 82 others (Airborne!), which is enough to max the sit-ups. And her two-mile time is enough for 100 points as well. Her 42 push-ups only get her 94 points on the female scale, but that’s still a very respectable 294 total.

That’s enough for a fitness badge, and enough to raise your platoon’s average score if you’re serving anywhere outside of special operations (and a few places in spec ops). In fact, those 42 push-ups would be enough to get her into Airborne school as a male.

Which is good, because the Army is switching to a gender-neutral physical training test. And her push-up and run scores drop precipitously once you switch to the men’s scoring table. Still, she outperformed most of the POGs that I served with, even setting aside gendered standards.

But before recruiters start lining up to bring her in, if you listen to the audio at the start of the video, she’s a British citizen who lives in Britain. And, also, the Army probably doesn’t offer enough money to put her off of YouTubing. This video has over 2 million views in less than five months, meaning she probably makes a hunk of change already.

But, worst of all, she’s already taken the Marine Corps test as well, and she scored a 300 on it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Service Academy athletes can now go pro after graduation

When Chad Hennings won the top award for College Football’s best inside lineman in 1987, it significantly raised his stock for the NFL draft. He would need it. Despite being the best in the game in his day, he still wasn’t drafted until the 11th round. The reason is that Hennings played football at the Air Force Academy, and would have to serve four years in the military before he could pursue his NFL dreams.

He wouldn’t have to do that today. Defense Secretary Mark Esper just signed a new memo, laying out the guidelines newly-graduated academy athletes need to pursue professional sports careers instead of entering the military.


7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Go Chad!

Hennings spent four years as a pilot and would actually get his last four years waived by the Air Force. By the time he got to the Dallas Cowboys, he was already 27 years old – almost elderly by NFL standards. Luckily for Hennings, he really was one of the best linemen ever to play the game. After his first start in 1992, he went on to win three Super Bowls and snag 27.5 sacks before retiring after the 2000 season. But other athletes weren’t so lucky.

The issue of letting service members who can play at a professional level attempt that dream has been hotly debated by both pro sports fans and policymakers in Washington. The NCAA is big business now, and the NFL is even bigger, generating 5 million and .1 billion in annual revenues, respectively. The pressure to maintain popular talent is definitely on, but the service academies mean more than just big bucks for big-time athletes. They’re supposed to, anyway. There are many who are against the idea.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

One in particular.

Before the Obama Administration, academy athletes were required to fulfill their service obligations. The Obama Administration allowed academy athletes to defer their service if they were good enough to be drafted by the NFL. Shortly after Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was allowed to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, the Pentagon rescinded that policy. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believed the academies “exist to develop future officers,” and those trained officers should fulfill the expectations of their education.

President Trump stepped in in June 2019, saying there was such a short window of talent between their college career and potential professional sports careers, that academy athletes should be allowed to try and take advantage. On Nov. 15, 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a memo that dictates what the athletes must do to try and take advantage – which includes getting permission from the SECDEF and either serving their commitment or paying the government back for their education.

These days, academy grads usually owe the military five years of service after graduation. Under the new athletics policy, once permission is obtained from the Secretary of Defense, the athlete must agree to return to the military and serve those five years. The waiver is then reviewed by the DoD every year while the athlete is in his pro sports position. If they can’t pass the medical standards when they get to the military, they’ll serve five years in a civilian job. If they don’t do either of those, they’ll be charged for their education.

It’s not impossible for service academy grads to serve first and then join the NFL. In addition to the Cowboys’ Chad Hennings, Navy’s Roger Staubach, Mike Wahle, and Phil McConkey as well Army’s Glenn Davis and Alejandro Villanueva all had successful NFL careers after serving their obligations.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Finding civilian friends is harder than I thought

Making friends has never been a challenge for me. Among my siblings, they call me the “outgoing one who always ends up with a new friend.” So why should now — after transitioning back to civilian life — be any different?

Well, it’s been 13 months since my husband retired and we relocated back to our hometown. I am still struggling to make connections. Most of my previous friends have moved away, but that’s not the main issue. It’s finding people who share commonalities and a similar lifestyle.

The military community gave me that!


There’s a pattern to moving to a new duty station. First you sulk a bit because of the friends you left behind. Next you get your goods and do your best to make your new living space feel like home. Then you find out about the surrounding areas and activities nearby. Finally, you find someone awesome who you can join up with to explore those activities. You find your person(s).

Now I’m back home. But I have NO pattern to follow.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez)

Returning home does have many other benefits. Home means Florida sunshine, frequent gatherings with our extended family, reuniting with homegrown friendships, and putting down new roots. It means settling…finally!

But something is definitely missing, and it’s a sense of belonging.

Being a military spouse put us in the trenches together. Basically saying, “My husband is working and I’m lonely. Be my friend!” Now my conversations are more like,

“Babe, I have NO FRIENDS! Everybody is busy and has their regularly scheduled programs to attend. I miss my military home girls,” (Insert sad face and whiny voice).

I want fuzzy socks and belly laughs! Don’t we all deserve that?

For some people, having a j-o-b fixes the need to belong. For others, they are lucky enough to find friends who are in a similar phase of life. And some people are introverts who ache at the thought of having to put themselves out there…again.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

(Photo by Ben Duchac)

No matter what I’ve done so far, no one has hit the sweet friendship spot! I’ve chatted with neighbors, joined a church, gone on lunch dates, collaborated with other women in my field of expertise, but NADA!

One thing I WILL NOT do, is force a friendship. If it clicks, then go with it. If not, it was nice to meet you, bye.

I have decided to take my time and focus on my family while making our new life cozy. My husband and I work together on establishing our business, and I’m adjusting and getting better at being me, minus the constant life interruption that comes with uprooting over and over again.

So, yea…I’ve flipped it to see the glowing opportunity while knowing that I will find my person one day. OR, one of my military persons will retire to my hometown (HAPPY DANCE).

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the Certificate of Appreciation is a slap in the face to troops

Troops always like feeling appreciated. A simple “good job” at the right time can go a long way in improving the morale of a unit. You can even take it a step further by expressing your gratitude to troops in many different ways: by releasing them early, taking them out for chow, going a little easier on them throughout the work week — you name it.

Then, there’s the Certificate of Appreciation. Given its name, it may seem like a good thing, but if you’re the type of leader that puts a troop in for one of these after they’ve worked their ass off for an extended period of time, well, you might as well just tell them they’re garbage.


Keep in mind, the Certificate of Appreciation is different from a Certificate of Achievement. They look exactly alike, have the same acronym, and they’re often treated the same way at ceremonies — but the one for achievement is actually worth something: Five promotion points each, to be exact, for a maximum of 20 points. It’s not huge, but it’s something.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

2nd Lts. handing them out is fine, because it’s the best they can do and they’re at least trying to do something nice. Company commanders and above who can argue for higher have no excuse.

(Air Force photo by Ron Fair)

The other key difference between these two certificates is the approving authority involved. A Certificate of Achievement has to go through the battalion commander for approval. The Certificate of Appreciation, on the other hand, can be signed by literally anyone in the unit because all it tells a troop is that someone appreciates them. Despite that, if you look at who most often hands them out, it’s Lieutenant Colonels in battalion commander positions.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

If that troop royally f*cked up, fine. But there’s nothing more discouraging than seeing everyone else get something better while you’re stuck with a CoA.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric Provost, Task Force Patriot PAO)

Don’t get this twisted — not every action warrants official recognition. If a troop did something great or put forth a little extra effort, but it’s still well within the scope of their normal duties — like if a commo soldier brought the NIPR net back up at a critical moment — then it’s the right amount of reward. You can even make it a huge thing and officially let the unit know that you appreciate the hard work that a certain soldier put forth at the right moment.

This becomes a problem when the act was actually deserving of an award — like what happens to the many troops who “earn” one as an end-of-tour award. Troops who put heart into what they do get burnt out because they’ve earned far better than what they’re being given. Certificates of Appreciations like that are what sour it for the entire military. If you’re going to go through that extra effort to congratulate them, then make it actually matter.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

It’s also costs the same amount of money on behalf of the unit, since the troops have to go out and buy the damn medal themselves after the ceremony.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Thomas Duval)

If you actually want to show a troop they’re appreciated, let them know. Hell, you can even keep the exact same format— bring the troop in front of the formation and personally thank them for what they did. Just replace the “military’s version of a high five” with an actual high five.

But when that exact same level of effort on the leadership’s part that could be put toward something that actually matters? Please don’t insult your troops like that. Hell, an Army Achievement Medal is also approved at a battalion commander-level and that could actually make a difference on a troop’s morale by appearing on their uniform — if they’ve done something worthy of it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Men who lied about military service ordered by judge to wear ‘I am a liar’ signs

Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t a headline at The Onion. In what seems like a fever dream cross between “The Scarlett Letter” and a Tom Clancy novel, two Montana men were ordered, by a judge, to wear “I am a liar” signs. Here’s the catch: that’s not the only creative punishment in store for the duplicitous men.


7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Judge Greg Pinski holds up the text for the “I am a liar” signs.

(CBS News)

Judge Greg Pinski, of Cascade County District Montana, delivered the unorthodox sentence two weeks ago. The two men on the receiving end of the punishment, Ryan Patrick Morris (28) and Troy Allan Nelson (33), were also instructed to wear signs saying “I am a liar. I am not a veteran. I stole valor. I have dishonored all veterans” at the Montana Veterans Memorial. According to The Great Falls Tribune, they were also ordered to write down the names of Americans killed in the line of duty.

The two men had recent prior convictions from the same judge: Morris with a felony burglary charge, and Nelson with a felony possession charge. However, the two were ordered back to court for violating the conditions of their release. According to The Military Times, the two men lied about their military involvement in order to have their cases moved to a veterans court. Morris falsely claimed that he had done multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was afflicted with PTSD from an IED that supposedly exploded and injured him. While Nelson was falsely enrolled in a Veterans Treatment Court.

It was then that Judge Pinski offered them early parole, if and only if they cooperated with a slew of stipulations. Pinski stipulated that every year, during the suspended portions of their sentences, they were to wear the signs about their necks, and stand for 8 hours on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day at the Montana Veteran’s Memorial.

Pinksi cited a Montana Supreme Court case that he said gives him jurisdiction for his unconventional punishment on account of his justified suspicion of stolen valor.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Judge Greg Pinski at the Montana Veterans Memorial on Veteran’s Day, 2015.

(Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)

In addition, both men were required to hand-write the names of all 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as write out the obituaries of the 40 fallen soldiers from Montana.

The buck didn’t stop there. Judge Pinski also ordered the men to hand-write out their admissions of guilt and apologize in letters to: American Legion, AMVETS, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, The Vietnam Veterans of America, and The Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The buck didn’t even stop there. In addition to all of the aforementioned tasks, the men were also required to perform 441 hours of community service each—one hour for each Montana citizen who died in conflict since the Korean War.

The men agreed to the terms, and if they complete all of the given tasks, they will be eligible for early release.

Morris was sentenced to 10 years with three years suspended in Montana State Prison, and Nelson was sentenced to five years, two years suspended.

According to The Military Times, Judge Pinksi was quoted saying “I want to make sure that my message is received loud and clear by these two defendants […] You’ve been nothing but disrespectful in your conduct. You certainly have not respected the Army. You’ve not respected the veterans. You’ve not respected the court. And you haven’t respected yourselves.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army veterinarians help wounded dog after suicide blast

Military Working Dogs, or MWDs, play a huge role in the defense of the United States — and when one of them is injured, the Veterinary Medical Center Europe plays a huge role in getting them back in the fight.

Recently, while on patrol with his handler in Afghanistan, MWD Alex, assigned to the 8th MWD Detachment, 91st Military Police Battalion, Fort Drum, New York, was injured in an attack by a suicide bomber. Following care in Bagram, Afghanistan, Alex was medically evacuated to VMCE for further treatment.


Like many of their human counterparts, when an MWD is injured while deployed, they are often medically evacuated to Germany. Service members are transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for care, and MWDs are transported to VMCE for comprehensive veterinary care.

According to Maj. Renee Krebs, VMCE deputy director and veterinary surgeon, when Alex arrived in Germany, he had a fractured left tibia, shrapnel wounds, and multiple other fractures below and above his shin bone.

On the day he arrived, Krebs performed surgery to stabilize Alex’s leg, “which worked pretty well,” she said. “But his other wound, particularly the one over his ankle, started to get worse and worse every day despite appropriate medical therapy and pain management.”

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Maj Renee Krebs, Veterinary Medical Center Europe Deputy Director and Veterinary Surgeon, greets Alex, Military Working Dog from the 91st Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, prior to surgery.

(U.S. Army photo by Ashley Patoka )

Alex’s wound over his ankle was getting so bad that it would likely require up to six months of reconstructive and orthopedic surgery. And because of bone and tissue loss, he was also at a very high risk for infection.

In addition to this, Krebs said that Alex was “not using the limb as well as he had been the first week or so after surgery — it was getting more painful. And he began to develop some behavioral problems, centered on some of the things we had to do when we were treating him.”

Krebs said some of the behavioral problems included aggression and snapping when the team would move him to the table to do treatments.

“I spoke to a behaviorist about it and she thought he was having some post-traumatic stress disorder-type acute episodes,” Krebs said. “So we changed the way we were managing him, but he was still getting worse, so in the interest of allowing him to move on with his life and improve his quality of life, we went with amputation.”

Krebs said that had they not performed the amputation, it was likely that Alex would have still ended up losing his leg if they had gone with the option of three to six months’ of wound management.

“The risk was very high. It was a very guarded prognosis to begin with that he would ever have normal return of function to the leg, and I knew if I amputated his leg he would be functional as a pet or regular dog probably within a week — so it seemed like the best option for him.”

Alex was described as relatively calm by Krebs, and during his time at the VMCE, the staff learned more about him, enabling them to cater to his needs and ensure he was comfortable.

“MWDs run the gamut from very high strung, very nervous and needing to be restrained because they have so much energy and are so anxious, to being very mellow,” Krebs said. “Alex was sort of a strange combination — he was relatively calm, but there were things that you knew if you did them he was going to get angry, like touching his tail.”

At Alex’s home unit, Sgt. First Class David Harrison, kennel master for the 8th MWD detachment at Fort Drum, said Alex always felt like an old soul to him.

“[Alex has] the experience of a career soldier, and always carried himself in a way which always made trainers and handlers just believe he was focused on the mission at hand,” Harrison said. “He carries the ability to simply be a fun-loving dog who values his rapport with his handler as much as he enjoys executing his duties.”

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Military Working Dog Alex is recovering well following leg amputation surgery, after suffering extensive wounds in a suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army photo by Ashley Patoka )

Even while recovering from his injury and going through surgery, Alex was teaching those around him some important lessons.

“It’s tragic what happened,” said Spc. Landon DeFonde, MWD handler with the 8th MWD detachment at Fort Drum, who has been with Alex for his recovery in Germany. “But it just goes to show how selfless and resilient these animals are. For him to go through that blast and still be as strong as he is and kind and gentle towards people, it really amazes me that what they are capable of living through and surviving through. It definitely teaches me resiliency.”

But these lessons don’t just come when an injury happens, as the relationship between MWD and handler is one that both benefit from over the course of their pairing.

“The relationship between handlers and their partners is a relationship I’ve always found difficult to put into words,” Harrison said. “It’s a familial bond, but it almost goes deeper in some ways. The co-dependent nature of the business puts handlers in a position where they have to give more trust to their canine than most put in fellow humans. It’s not always a comfortable or easy process, but once they reach the point where they independently trust each other while working in tandem, the connection the team develops is unparalleled.”

DeFonde, who has been a MWD handler for three years, shares similar sentiments.

“It is truly incredible how selfless one can be and I think it shows the true side and caring side of humans — how much compassion and care we can show another living being — it is really special,” said DeFonde. “It is really amazing how we interact and how we can combine to create such a strong and powerful team.”

Alex will head back to the states at the end of August 2018 where he will continue his recovery. Due to his injury, his home station kennel will submit a medical disposition packet to allow Alex to retire and be adopted.

“I’ve built a bond with Alex—- not as deep as his handler’s,” DeFonde said. “But it is always hard to say goodbye. Dogs do come and go — that is part of the job, but I am just really happy I was able to come over here and help him recover and then get him back to the states and get him to see his handler.

“I’ve always heard the saying, humans don’t deserve dogs because of how kind they are, and I 100 percent agree. You could not ask for a more selfless companion.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why Chris Kyle wore a ball cap instead of a helmet

A user on Quora asked the following question: “Do some troops really wear ball caps and berets into combat instead of helmets? Why?” It might sound surprising, but the answer is actually yes, yes sometimes they do.

It seems counterintuitive, given that a helmet is worn to protect against bullets, collisions, and shrapnel while a ball cap is…not, but enough troops weighed in with their own experiences to confirm this activity.

The reasons varied, but legendary sniper Chris Kyle probably gave the most honest answer:


7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Bradley Cooper portraying Chris Kyle in the film ‘American Sniper.’

(Warner Bros.)

“Why a ball cap? Ninety percent of being cool is looking cool. And you look so much cooler wearing a ball cap,” Kyle wrote in his autobiography American Sniper.

The late Navy SEAL is credited with 255 kills, making him America’s top sniper. He also remains spoken highly of as a leader and as a family man and friend.

He really didn’t need the ball cap to be cool. He just was.

Also read: Chris Kyle’s 10 most definitive American weapons of all time

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

Before Kyle’s death, ‘American Sniper’ screenwriter Jason Hall had the opportunity to work closely with him to maintain the authenticity of the film. Here, Bradley Cooper plays Kyle in a close-quarters scenario.

(Warner Bros.)

Other vets have said that helmets limit their agility and visibility — they accept the risk in removing the helmet to gain mobility. To mitigate this, the military is developing new lightweight protection systems.

But one of the most important reasons service members will don a ball cap or beret in lieu of the helmet is to appear less intimidating to the local population. When dealing with low level insurgencies, appearing more friendly can help reduce tension and “win the hearts and minds” of civilians.

Still, at the end of the day make no mistake, in combat a protective helmet is the best protection against traumatic brain injuries and death.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Everything you need to know about the Air Force’s navy

Anyone who’s been hip to military media for the past few years probably knows the second largest air force in the world is the U.S. Navy’s air forces. What people may not know about is the old fleet of United States ships floating around out there with the prefix USAF instead of USS.

The U.S. Air Force has its own navy – but no, it is not the second largest navy in the world. The U.S. Navy isn’t even the second largest, by the way. More on that some other time.


7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

“Bigger” doesn’t translate into “better” by any means.

Now, does the Air Force field anything that could actually rival the naval forces of another country? No, of course not. The Air Force Navy is a very specific fleet with very specific missions. For example the USAF Rising Star is the air service’s lone tugboat, used for the two months of the year that ships near Greenland’s Thule Air Force Base can access the port there – 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Thule is the northernmost deepwater port in the world.

The tugboat is needed during the critical summer resupply period on Greenland, aligning huge cargo ships, moving tankers into position, and helping pump fuel to the base. It also pushed icebergs away from the area in which these big ships operate.

7 things to know about being a military veterinarian

The USAF Rising Star tugboat.

The rest of the USAF’s current fleet operates in the Gulf of Mexico out of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Tyndall is home to the 82d Aerial Targets Squadron, a unit that still flies the F-4E Phantom fighter plane. Only these converted F-4s have a special mission. Flying in groups of three, one acts as a chase plane and another two, unmanned drone planes flying with advanced countermeasures. These two are actually converted into drones and destined to be full-scale aerial targets for the Air Force. That’s where the ships of the USAF “Tyndall Navy” come in.

Tyndall’s three 120-foot drone recovery vessels are used in the Gulf of Mexico to recover the wrecks and assorted bits and pieces from the waters below the Air Force’s “Combat Archer” aerial target practice training area. At its peak, the USAF had a dozen or so ships in the water, each with a designated role in supporting Air Force operations. At one point, the Air Force had so many ships, the Coast Guard might have been envious.