Ebony Anglers reel in success - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY LIFESTYLE

Ebony Anglers reel in success

The Ebony Anglers, a group of five African-American women, are turning heads and reeling in success in the world of competitive deep-sea fishing. Based in North Carolina, they are fulfilling their passions out on the water and making inroads in the predominately male and Caucasian world of angling.

The minute you meet the group’s members, Gia Peebles, Lesleigh Mausi, Glenda Turner, Tiana Davis and Bobbiette Palmer, you instantly feel the comradery and affection they have for one another. All five are small business owners, friends, and mothers — collectively they have 19 children and step-children among them.

The group started in the summer of 2020 and was the brain child of Peebles, who is called “T-Cap,” short for team captain. While watching competitors at the Big Rock Fishing Tournament, Peebles couldn’t shake the idea that she could do this.

“These people were coming off their boats with huge fish and they looked like they were having fun and I thought, ‘okay I can do that.’ Okay, who is crazy enough to do this with me?” she said. 

Peebles first called Mausi, a long-time friend, about collaborating. Mausi’s father was a professional angler who had recently passed away, and the thought of joining a team gave her goose bumps. Right before the group’s first big tournament, Mausi cut off the tip of her pointer finger, and now she’s affectionately known as the “Pointer Sister,” the group said over laughs. 

Next came Davis, who is married to a disabled Navy veteran. She had fishing experience and is called “Princess Tiana.” Turner, who is the mother of three children — including an Army veteran — and has eight grandkids, came to the team next. She is affectionately known as the “Regulator” for her stern but loving grandmotherly persona. 

When Peebles called Palmer to be the fifth and last person to round out the team, everyone initially laughed as her motion sickness is legendary among the group. When the laughter subsided and Palmer realized this was a serious request, she agreed, deciding that she wanted to get out of isolation during the pandemic and try something new. 

Ebony Anglers reel in success

On their first outing, Palmer “chummed the waters” with sea sickness and requested space to curl up and get into the fetal position on the boat. Recounting that story, the ladies all crack up. Peebles said that Palmer’s determination is legendary.

“She said, ‘As long as I can get in the fetal position, I can come back’ and she comes back every time . . . and she ‘thugs’ it out, every time,” Peebles said.

As you can guess, Palmer’s now referred to as “Thug It Out,” the group said through laughter. 

More than just laughter, nicknames and comradery, the group is achieving professional success and building something broader. In July 2020, the Ebony Anglers took first place in the Spanish Mackerel & Dolphin Tournament in Morehead City, North Carolina after reeling in a 48 lb. king mackerel. 

“It was beyond exciting and that’s just not a good enough word to describe the moment when we pulled it on to the boat,” Davis said. Pulling into the dock, the group learned that they were to receive a citation from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 

“‘Ugh! Y’all, they are giving us a citation!’ I said, ‘We need to protect our fish!’” Mausi recalled.

She hurriedly attempted to get the fish and crew off the dock and back on the boat out of sight of state officials. Only then, did she learn that a citation recognizes anglers for their outstanding recreational catches. “We were lucky enough to receive one,” Mausi said chuckling. 

Ebony Anglers reel in success

Out on the waters, the group feels that they are both building something for themselves and serving as role models for others. Mausi says they do get interesting stares from other anglers but she marvels that it is often a conversation opener among people.

“I definitely feel like we are trail blazers in some respects,” Peebles said, agreeing. “Not necessarily that we are the first African American females to fish. . . we are bringing a new face to the industry of angling. While we haven’t been met with resistance, we’ve been met with a series of responses, emotion and curiosity because it is something different that people aren’t accustom to seeing.”

The Ebony Anglers have started two non-profit organizations, Black Girls Fish and Black Boys Boat, designed to encourage children to explore deep-sea fishing.

“It’s a lifestyle we want to expose children to,” Palmer said. For her, it’s a great way to teach life and survival skills. “You can use a compass. You can use radar. You can fish your own food, and there is power in that,” she said. 

When asked why the story of the Ebony Anglers should matter to young women, the group agrees that their story shows that anything is possible. 

“I want girls to understand that no matter what, you can find the strength in you to do something as interesting and as different as deep-sea angling and competitive fishing, where you look different and you also are unexpected,” Mausi said. “That’s a good place to step in. It takes a certain kind of strength and fortitude to blaze trails and to do something different and have the confidence to stand in that space and be excellent at it.” 

For more information about the Ebony Anglers or their non-profits, visit www.ebonyanglers.com

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 reasons vets who never served together still make great friends

It’s a bitter-sweet day when troops leave the service. It’s fantastic because one book closes and another opens. Yet saying goodbye to the gang you served with is hard. Vets always keep in contact with their guys, but it’s not the same when they’re half way around the country.


Instead, vets have to make new friends in the civilian world. Sure, we make friends with people who’ve never met a veteran before, but we will almost always spot another vet and spark some sort of friendship.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock

They get our jokes

Put just plain and simply, vets generally have a pretty messed-up sense of humor. The jokes that used to reduce everyone to tears now get gasps and accusations that we’re monsters.

There’s also years of inside jokes that are service wide that civilians just wouldn’t get.

They can relate to our pain

No one leaves the service without having their body aged rapidly. Your “fresh out the dealership” body now has a few dings in it before heading to college.

Civilian classmates just don’t get how lucky they are to have pristine knees and lower back.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

They side-eye weakness with us

Military service has taught us to depend on one another in a life or death situation. If you can’t lift something like a sandbag on your own, your weakness will endanger others. If you can’t run a minimum of two miles without tiring, your weakness will endanger others.

The people we meet in the civilian world never got that memo. Together, we’ll cull the herd the best way we know how as veterans — through ridicule. Something only other vets appreciate.

They can keep partying at our level

If there is one constant across all branches, it’s that we all know how to spend our weekends doing crazy, over-the-top things with little to no repercussion.

Civilians just can’t hang with us after we’ve downed a bottle of Jack and they’re sipping shots.

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Image by Jair Frank from Pixabay

They share our “ride or die” mentality

Veterans don’t really care about pesky things like “norms” if one of our own gets slighted in any way. Some civilian starts talking trash at a bar? Vets are the first to thrown down. Some piece of garbage lays a hand on one of our own? Vets’ fists will be bloodier.

All jokes aside about scuffing up some tool, this doesn’t just lend itself as an outlet for unbridled rage. Back in the service, we all swore to watch each other’s backs on an emotional level too. Your vet friend will always answer the call at three AM if you just can’t sleep.

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5 tips for coming up with a good nickname for your fellow troops

Nicknames and the military are a tradition as old as war itself. Many military legends have nicknames such as General “Mad Dog” Mattis because of his fearlessness. Others such as Lt. General Lewis “Chesty” Puller had his nickname because of his posture and large chest. Nicknames can be cool or they can be aggravating to the bestowed. Regardless, they’re a tradition that isn’t going anywhere. So, one may as well come up with good ones. Here are some tips for coming up with good nicknames for your fellow troops.

They can’t like it

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Story time: When I was a junior Marine and hit the fleet, one of my seniors was sitting around waiting for our turn to shoot on the range. He said “We need to give you a nickname,” and in true Marine Corps fashion, everyone threw in their two cents. “Mexi-Cano” (I’m not Mexican) and some variations of the first part of my last name were tossed around. They didn’t quite fit.

Then he simply asked how to say “The Kid” in Spanish. I replied, “Niño” without thinking, and I could see it click on everyone’s face.

No, please, not that one.

“That’s the one. Niño.” I hated it at first and they could tell, which is why it stuck. I knew if they knew how much it really bothered me it would definitely be my name for my entire career. Everyone liked it but me, so, there was nothing I could do. I was the “Niño.”

Fast forward two deployments and a workup later, I was the Niño no more. New unit, new me. It was bittersweet because I knew I finally shook it off but the ones who called me that were no longer around. Some got out, some others passed away. Once in a blue moon, I’ll talk to my old platoon and I’ll hear my old moniker. In hindsight, I ended up liking it because it was like being called “Billy the Kid,” the most famous outlaw to have lived.

Not “Alphabet”

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Some people have long last names. Although the pronunciation may be simple, some people just can’t deal. At some point when someone reaches E6, they just stop trying. The nickname ‘Alphabet’ is one that is thrown out there for those with a long last name. When dealing with a large list of people, let’s say the rifle range, you are bound to run into many people’s last names that will be hard to say. So, steer clear from this one because it will get confusing and no one is going to respond to it anyway.

We had a troop named Rzonca, pretty simple to say. However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, E6s and above couldn’t say it. He was nicknamed ‘Bazooka’ instead. Which turned out to be a cool name since he also had an M203 grenade launcher on his issued weapon. Anything is better than calling someone “alphabet.”

Shorten their name with a twist

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Marzbanian, my former machine gunner on my first deployment, ended up with nickname “Mars.” The letter Z must be SNCO repellent because they would always pull some sort of nickname for people with one. Then there was Humphreys who had “Hump” or “J Hump.” Shortening a troop’s name is the quick get of jail card because everyone will know who you’re talking about. It’s not much but it’s a good place holder until you come up with something else.

They can be built upon

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That’s not a free pass to start calling people NJP-able nicknames. Part of the joke with mine is that I am short and Latino, thus “el Niño.” It’s right on the line without crossing it. It’s racial without being racist, it’s fun to say, and most importantly, it pissed me off. To be on the safe side, avoid race-based names. Peacetime is a lot more politically correct than during the Surge. Once on post duty in Afghanistan, the Corporal of the Guard was looking for someone and asked for specifics on the radio. “Second tent on the left when you’re looking at the generators. His rack is five Niños up on the right hand side.” Apparently, I had also become a unit of measurement. It also became an inside joke for our platoon — until the lieutenant used it… and killed it.

Lieutenants are not in on the joke

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Nicknames are for the guys, not the leadership. That is until that leader has earned everyone’s trust. It just sounds weird to have superiors and subordinates referring to each other by their nicknames when they’re not even on a first name basis yet. It’s a two way street, and no matter what direction the traffic is going, it’s going to sound unprofessional.

A year a half later, we had a new lieutenant who, as is usually the case for a butter bar, was disliked. He called me by my nickname once and everybody gave him a “Dude… no,” look. I didn’t know it at the moment, but it really touched a nerve with a lot people. When I asked why it bothered them more than it did me, my friends and seniors replied, “He’s not one of us. Only we f*** with us.” If you want to kill a nickname have your leadership use it. It’s a like a boomer saying “woke.” Gross.

Feature image:  U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock

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These veterans-turned-models have 100 combined years of service

Throughout the pandemic, award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups For Vets has continued to serve hospitalized veterans and deployed troops with medical equipment and morale-boosting care packages. 

Now the organization is releasing its 16th annual calendar that will continue to raise funding to support its various initiatives for the military community. Featuring twelve outstanding female vets, the 2022 Pin-Ups For Vets calendar includes medics, a Navy JAG, a Blackhawk pilot, a radiology technician, avionics technicians and more. 

Their distinguished military service is varied but one thing they all have in common is a deep pride in having served their country as they look forward to continuing their service to veterans and troops as Pin-Ups For Vets volunteer Ambassadors.

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Vanessa Dance, United States Army (Pin-Ups for Vets 2022 calendar image)

Calendar model Vanessa Dance reflected on her service then and now explaining, “I was in the Army for eight years. As a physician in the Army, I experienced an environment of providing excellent care with compassion and a level of camaraderie like no other. I had the honor of serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 3rd Infantry Division’s Medical Support Battalion. I will always remember all the brave soldiers that we cared for while in Kuwait and Iraq. I am excited about giving back to our Veterans through the Pin-Ups For Vets organization.”

Many of the veteran ambassadors have shared their desire to embody the notion of “service after service” while also connecting with community again, something that many vets struggle with after transitioning to civilian life.

Dance shared, “Through this organization I have met some outstanding fellow female veterans and it is so satisfying to see them thriving in their civilian careers. These women are mothers, wives, attorneys, cyber security experts, actors and physicians, to name a few careers. They are using the skills they learned in the military to make this a better world. I look forward to being a Pin-Ups For Vets Ambassador and bringing a smile to our hospitalized Veterans.”

The organization, inspired by classic pin-up nose art on World War II aircraft, takes pride in bringing bright colors and smiles to dull hospital rooms while also helping female vets reconnect with their femininity. 

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Tes Sabine, United States Air Force (Pin-Ups for Vets 2022 calendar image)

U.S. Air Force radiology technician Tes Sabine observed that balancing act well. “Pin-Ups For Vets is an organization that amplifies the femininity and diversity of female veterans. Our femininity is often swallowed whole by the image of a service member blending into a uniformed group with purpose. We served and faced adversity, hardship and fear. Women are capable of so many complex talents forged in the face of difficulty. Pin-Ups For Vets takes us as women and gives us personality, beauty and fun which seemingly juxtaposes our military grit each one of us embody.“

Pin-Ups For Vets has donated over $80,000 to help hospitals purchase new rehabilitation equipment and to provide financial assistance for veterans’ health care program expansion across the U.S. The nonprofit is usually in the middle of a 50-State VA Hospital Tour but due to the pandemic, Pin-Ups For Vets is now shipping out care packages enclosed with gifts of appreciation to hospitalized veterans around the country and continues to ship morale-boosting care packages to deployed U.S. troops around the globe.

The 2022 calendar can be purchased online or by check to: 

Pin-Ups For Vets
PO Box 33
Claremont, CA 91711.

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Bea Arthur was a Marine before starring on Golden Girls

Thank you for being a friend … and a MARINE! Yes, the very same Bea Arthur that we know and love as Dorothy Zbornak from the “Golden Girls” and Maude from “All in the Family” served in the U.S. military. 

Arthur, who passed away in 2009 of lung cancer, was originally named Bernice Frankel. She later changed her first name, and used an alternate spelling of her former husband’s last name, Aurthur. 

In 1943, the Marines became the last military branch to accept women into their ranks. They announced a call for enlistments with the marketing slogan, “Be a Marine … Free a Man to Fight.” With the addition of women into their force for administrative and behind-the-scenes work, men who were previously performing those jobs were able to head to the frontlines. 

Just five days later, Arthur enlisted. However, not yet 21 (the age required to enlist at the time) she had to obtain permission from her parents. All of this, and more, is listed on her Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), which is available to this day via the National Archives. 

It’s worth noting that, because the Marines had just begun accepting women, they hadn’t even provided paperwork to do so. Therefore, Arthur, and hundreds of others, were processed into the Marines through Navy paperwork and exam schedules. 

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USMC photo

In one of her incoming interviews, a processing worker wrote comments like “frank and open,” “argumentative,” “over aggressive,” and “probably a good worker if she has her own way!”

She joined the military during World War II, in February of 1943, when she served for two years before being honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant in September of 1945. She was one of the first women to enlist with the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. She worked as a typist in Washington, D.C., before requesting to attend the Motor Transport School. She then worked as a dispatcher and truck driver. Throughout her career, she was stationed between Washington, D.C. and two bases in North Carolina. 

After her discharge, Arthur went to school to become a lab tech, even interning at a hospital. However, she didn’t enjoy the work and left to attend drama school in 1947. By the late ’40s, she was performing in off-Broadway shows. She went on to perform on Broadway, winning a Tony for her performance as Vera Charles in “Mame”, before transitioning to television, where she was one of the most famous actresses throughout the ’70s and ’80s. 

It’s worth noting that Arthur publicly denied her time in the Marines throughout her acting career; she also did so blatantly, on-the-record, in a 2001 interview. Her military records were made public a year after her death, in 2010, proving her enlistment. It’s unknown why she denied her involvement as a Marine. Though one running theory is that it was to hide a misconduct report, when Arthur was written up for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The stint left her “incapacitated for duty” for five weeks, for which she received a cut in pay. 

However, at the time of joining, records show her as eager and “willing to do her part” to help with the war. 


Feature image: National WWII History Museum

MIGHTY LIFESTYLE

Two sets of twins leave Coastie couple seeing double

Charlie and Tae Willis found each other in the most unexpected place. Both active duty in the Coast Guard, Tae was lost at her new duty station in Hawaii — like, literally lost. Charlie, being the gentleman that he was, helped her get where she was going. The rest is history. They were married not long after.

Both are operations specialists who say they love their jobs. Their roles require them to provide around the clock command, control, communications, planning, and response to emergent events like search and rescue, pollution, or other serious maritime incidents.

Their Coast Guard careers brought them to Virginia after they were married, and they say they held off on having children right away.

“We wanted to wait, love on each other, and travel a bit first,” Tae said.

A few years later, when they were ready to add a child to the mix, they got two.

The first set of Willis twins, Aria and Bryson, were born on December 12, 2019. Though it was a surprise for them, it wasn’t completely unexpected.

“Twins do run in our families. I have an aunt and uncle who are twins,” Charlie explained.

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Charlie Willis with the couple’s oldest twins. Courtesy photo.

He jokingly blamed Tae for the multitude of babies because she kept telling him she wanted to have two children before they left Virginia for a new duty station.

“I told her you weren’t specific in your prayer,” Charlie laughed, adding he takes some of the blame too because he always wanted four children in all. “I guess I wasn’t specific enough in my prayers either. I’m just going to stop saying anything at all.”

This is because three months after their babies were born, they found themselves pregnant again. Charlie shared that they were watching Netflix when he noticed his wife with a peculiar look on her face. He asked her what was wrong and she said “I’m late.”

“I said late for what? You aren’t working right now,” he said, laughing.

Tae was still on maternity leave from having Bryson and Aria. She was too scared to look at the home pregnancy test they took a little bit later, so he did.

“I was like, oh we are good. There’s a solid line and a faint line and she said, ‘wait, what?’ So, I looked at the box and realized what it meant and said are you kidding me!”

The shock and awe would keep coming when they made their way to the ultrasound room a month later. Two heartbeats were blinking back at them on that screen.

“The shock is funny. People would ask me when I was pregnant what I was having, and I’d say two boys. Then they’d say what did you have last time, and I’d tell them a boy and a girl. Their response is always ‘wait … what,’” Tae said through laughter.

She gets a lot of ‘wait, whats’ and ‘are you serious’ from most people she encounters.

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Tae Willis with the couple’s newest additions. Courtesy photo.

One of the first things the Willises did was upgrade their car to a van. Cayden and Dakari, the second set of twins, were born on Nov. 18, 2020 — 11 months after their brother and sister. The babies’ names go in the order of the alphabet — yes, that was definitely on purpose.

“Life is tiresome — we don’t know the meaning of sleep anymore. But life is good,” Tae said. “We are new parents and doing it all over again … it’s been a little hectic in the house.”

Thankfully, the Willises said they have a lot of support from their friends and family. Both shared that the command and team they work with at their units have also been a big help as well.

So, what do the older siblings think of their new baby brothers? Not a whole lot, just yet.

“They mostly just stare at them and then they go on and play,” Tae said. Right after their new brothers were born, Bryson and Aria learned to walk.

Both Charlie and Tae will soon be returning to work. This will pose a bit of a challenge for the family in terms of childcare costs. The teams at both of their units realized this immediately and put their heads together to see how they could help the family. The U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association stepped in to do a fundraiser, and an Amazon wishlist was also created for those looking to support the family in any way. One thing always in need: diapers. Mountains of diapers.

While the couple said they aren’t positive another Coastie family doesn’t have double twins, they are pretty sure they win the award as the only dual-enlisted couple with double the love. Despite the challenges and lack of sleep, the Willis family counts their blessings — all four of them — every single day.

Looking for a way to help this new, growing family? Click here to visit a curated Amazon list for the Willis family.

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

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Why women should be allowed – and required – to register for the Selective Service

Women have been part of our all-volunteer service since the Revolutionary War when females worked as nurses in camps and dressed up as male soldiers. While nearly 2 million men were drafted to serve during Vietnam, more than 265,000 American women served during this time, and 11,000 served in Vietnam. Around 90% of women who served were volunteer nurses.

The role of women in the military has grown and evolved with new opportunities. Today, women have the ability to serve in all jobs within the U.S. military. Because of the increasing role of women in the military, there has been talk of requiring women to register for the Selective Service alongside men, as well. A U.S. Senate Committee has approved legislation that would accomplish exactly that, giving the potential for women to be drafted for the first time in the nation’s history.

Although women have been officially serving in the military for over 100 years, there are some who find this proposal as being a step too far.  As a veteran who advocates for young women considering military service, I believe this change is necessary. When I joined the military in 2007, although women were “welcomed” to join, there were still a number of limitations and an underlying culture that women didn’t belong.

While the military has a place for women, the culture of the U.S. still creates and provides for a gender bias toward women. As a woman veteran I regularly have to defend my service, even though I deployed to Afghanistan with the Army and received an Air Force Combat Action Medal. Women face an uphill battle while they serve and they often find more challenges than their male counterparts when they take off their uniform.

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U.S. Army photo

It may seem that changing the Selective Service registration requirement for women is not related to how women are treated both in and out of the military. However, just as the underlying issue of sexism toward civilian male military spouses is having an effect on women rising to the top, so is the underlying stigma that women don’t belong because their military service is not regarded as equal to a male’s. If a draft was implemented, women would be perceived as being unaffected and kept out of harm’s way.

Allowing women to be part of the Selective Service registration changes everything — and changes nothing. We haven’t implemented the draft since Vietnam, but this change will have an increasing impact on women who serve in the next generation. Being a service woman won’t be something they won’t consider just because they do not have to register for the draft. It will help normalize the role of women and their place in the military, and it will surely have an impact on how women who are veterans are viewed in future generations.

The more we adapt to an equal role for women in the military and normalize within our culture, the more equal the playing field will be. For example, new legislation authored by the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., suggests we remove any reference to “male” in current law. 

An equal playing field

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan G. Wright

Without this change, women continue to be told their value is less than men’s. Our current system of a male-only draft tells women: You are not going to be relied on if the nation needs your service. It’s a system that discounts the value women provide and one that forgets that men sometimes are just as likely as women to not fit the mold of what military service requires.

President Biden said it best: “The United States does not need a larger military, and we don’t need a draft at this time…I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts.” Opening the door to having women registering for the Selective Service is an open door to equality — something women have long since earned, but are still fighting for. 

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5 types of military suck that everyone loves to hate

Life in the military isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. It’s a place where, if you have a problem, you’re most likely to get told by a salty, senior NCO to “suck it up, buttercup” while whatever problem you had is kinda just brushed under the rug.

Now, don’t get this twisted: The military was one of the best things to happen in my life and the lives of many others. But there are plenty of things that seemed like minor inconveniences while in the service that would make heads roll in the civilian world. Everyone agrees that the following are objectively bad things, but they’re almost always met with a casual, “meh. It happens.”


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This is mission-critical stuff going on here. Gotta make sure someone will answer the phone at all hours of the year. (U.S. Army)

 

Terrible work hours

This may come as a shock to many of the troops who’ve served since they were fresh out of high school but, apparently, people in the civilian world get paid something called “overtime” if they work beyond the regular 8 hours. You even get paid more for working on holidays. You get paid even more if you work for over 8 hours on a holiday.

The only reward you’re going to get in the military for working on a holiday is if your buddy is really desperate to get out of staff duty on Thanksgiving and he’s willing to slip you something under under the table to take it for him.

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“Oh? A quarter doesn’t bounce off your linens? Pathetic…” (U.S. Air Force)

 

Disgusting living accommodations

Any fault you find in your apartment in the civilian world can be brought to the attention of your landlord and they’ll send a guy to fix it. Basically everything else is your call. Sure, it’s not recommended that you toss our beer cans without emptying them because it’ll stink up the place, but hey, that’s your choice.

The military barracks system is a sort of paradox. You’ll get your ass chewed out for how “unhygienic” your room is when you forget to dust the lint off the door frame while simultaneously being told that the black mold seeping through the walls just adds character.

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On the brightside, it does earn you more respect from your peers. So there’s that. (U.S. Army)

 

Grueling physical effort doesn’t mean extra pay

Realistically, most jobs you do in the civilian world pay out according to the effort you put in. Not to knock office drones, but there’s a reason people working on oil rigs get paid much better. It’s a hard, dirty, disgusting job that requires you to put your entire body at risk for the company.

The military, on the other hand, works on a pay grade system. For the most part, it properly pays troops of higher ranks, rewarding them for having more time in service and more responsibilities. But if you’re busting your ass off every single day to get something done for the unit, your bank account won’t reflect your effort. You’re still making just as much as the other guys in your same pay grade — even if they just sit in an office.

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Technically speaking, you can get a bad conduct discharge that could follow you for the rest of your life for using “indecent language.” Yep… (U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Multiple layers of rules

Civilians have just two concise rules of law that they must follow: state laws and federal laws. You mess up and it’s a singular court system that takes you in. Making simple mistakes at work, as long as you didn’t break any of those previously mentioned laws, are met with just a reprimand from a civilian employer (or you get fired).

The military justice system, conversely, is incredibly convoluted. Obviously, you’re not exempt from any state or federal laws, but now you tack on the Uniform Code of Military Justice — which covers most of the same thing but adds military-specific laws. Then, your chain of command also has their own interpretations for what constitutes “good order and discipline” and can sentence their own punishments accordingly.

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Technically speaking, getting 181 on a PT (earning 60 points in two events and a 61 in the other) is exceeding the standard. (U.S. Army)

 

A promotion system that never really made much sense

The civilian world is kind of built on the “biggest dog” mentality. Everyone needs to eat each other to get to the top of whatever industry they’re working within. For the most part, if you earned it — you got it.

Did you know that civilians get promoted according to their own personal merit and not some arbitrary system that determines your merit in completely unrelated fields by looking at, in part, your PT test score and your ability to shoot well? Freaking mind blowing, man.

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Common military injuries: Myths & treatments

Those suffering from injuries will do and try just about anything to relieve pain. With musculoskeletal injuries being a top health problem for the U.S. Armed Forces, it’s time to prioritize better treatments and solutions. 

A recent report by Walter Reed and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences found that 3/4 of medically non-deployable service members are sidelined due to musculoskeletal injuries, and 68,000 service members fall into that category each year. Studies suggest that non-combat musculoskeletal injuries could account for nearly 60% of soldiers’ limited duty days and 65% of soldiers who cannot deploy for medical reasons. 

Throughout my five years working with the military, currently with units from every branch, including Special Operations Command and the Reserve Component, the most common musculoskeletal injuries I see our service members suffer from are lower back pain and lower leg issues, with the former being at the top of the list for the warfighter. Lower leg issues are a close second, with those injuries ranging from shin splints and stress reactions to stress fractures.

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No one takes shin splints seriously until they’ve had them.

These two injuries are the most common across the force, but each branch exhibits certain types more than others. For example, the Air Force tends to suffer from lower back injuries because Airmen are sitting in cramped areas for an extended period. Additionally, they are at an increased risk for spinal injuries, neck, and back. The neck becomes an issue because jets are faster and helmets have more tech, making them heavier. Confined spaces, faster jets, and heavier helmets make a great recipe for spinal injuries.

However, the Army is the best example of lower leg injuries because they tend to cover the most mileage on rugged terrain over long distances. 

Although these two branches stand out for certain types of injuries, nearly every service member will suffer from some musculoskeletal injury during their career and seek the best solution for recovery and pain relief.

Whether information is found on the internet or received from a doctor, it is typically seen as the magic cure by the patient seeking help.

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“If I hear one more ‘I read on WebMD’ I’m just gonna snap…”(U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kimberly A. Yearyean-Siers)

While there are certainly good doctors and sound advice online, each injury and individual require specific, personalized treatment. As an expert in using Force Plate Machine Learning™ (FPML™) to identify, prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries, I encourage military leaders to seek out programs that focus on the individual warfighter’s health and fitness needs. Solutions like FPML™ will allow for early identification of musculoskeletal weakness and help create individualized training programs to prevent future injury.

Practices that utilize evidence-based, individualized solutions are best for preventing injuries and correctly training the body but understanding that this technology is not yet widely used by the Service, I will share some generic at-home remedies for common service member injuries, as well as dispel myths about well-known treatments.

The easiest way to make an injured area feel better is to stimulate or contract the opposite area. For example, if suffering from back pain, a solution can be working your abdominals with exercises like the plank. This is because the human body has antagonistic relaxation – meaning when one muscle group fires, the other is inhibited. Therefore, activating the abdominal muscles will, in turn, relax the back muscles and provide relief. 

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Planks: Tricking tough guys into doing Pilates for decades (U.S. Marine Corps)

The quick and easy treatment used by traditional doctors reluctant to adopt more complex solutions is RICE. We’ve all heard it: rest, ice, compression, elevation. Sure, ice is great as an anesthetic (a numbing agent) for short-term pain relief immediately after injury. It will hide the pain and help with performance for about 5-60 minutes post-injury. But after that, ice and RICE will significantly prolong the healing process.

Both RICE and ibuprofen (Advil) actually delay the healing process and can be harmful to the body’s recovery. Many doctors still prescribe the nifty acronym because it’s easy to remember for the physician who is still operating in the 1980s.

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Or football coaches… (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rusty Frank/Released)

RICE exemplifies the power of simplification and reinforces the idea that people will try just about anything – opioids, RICE, or over-the-counter painkillers when in pain. 

In reality, movement is the best medicine, with data-driven, individualized movement plans being effective solutions that can help reduce chronic pain and injuries.


Dr. Phil Wagner is a physician, strength & conditioning coach, and expert on using force plates and machine learning to prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries. He is the founder and CEO of Sparta Science.

Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Moore

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Why cops love doughnuts — an origin story

Cops love doughnuts. That’s the stereotype at least. Being caught in uniform with one of the delicious but unhealthy confections has long carried a certain stigma, but the real history behind the close relationship cops have with doughnuts is much more interesting and complex than the negative caricatures often put forth in American media.   

In some places, the cop-doughnut relationship was symbiotic. In others, it was necessary. But the reason cops and doughnuts are like peas and carrots in our collective cultural memory is because the doughnut shop was the only game in town. 

Cops have a lot to do during their shifts, no matter how long those shifts might be. When not actively responding to calls, patrolling their areas of responsibility, or doing the myriad things cops have to do during a typical 10-hour shift, police officers have to find a place to do the bulk of police work: writing reports. 

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Those are some nice doughnuts you’ve got there. Be a shame if somebody ate them all. Photo by Diogo Palhais on Unsplash.

To outsiders, police work has always been about walking the beat — the daily business of protecting and serving. For actual police officers, writing reports is a duty as old as walking any beat. And back in the day, cops didn’t have a lot of options for where they could post up and get some paperwork done. 

Even by the late 1970s, the idea of a 24-hour convenience store seemed insane to most people. Gas stations didn’t always have stores and weren’t as ubiquitous as they are today. They also closed at a decent hour. The same goes for grocery stores. Outside of major cities, all-night diners were rare, and even in the 1960s, only 10% of restaurants were open all night, catering mainly to truckers.

If a police officer’s beat wasn’t near one of these small handfuls of all-night spots, they were out of luck. But there was one place a tired, hungry peace officer could go to grab a cup of coffee, some food, and maybe get some work done — the good ol’ doughnut shop.

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A box of (police) performance-enhancing drugs (maybe?). Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash.

What was good for the police was also good for the doughnut shop. Being open late in small cities and towns meant they were a target for criminals looking for an easy payday. Having the local police force using your doughnut shop as a staging area meant built-in security as you got up in the early morning hours to make doughnuts. 

The symbiotic relationship spread all over the country, even as more and more establishments began to stay open late. When the interstate highway system ramped up construction in the 1960s and 1970s, the country became more connected, and some rural areas became significantly less rural. 

Doughnut shops even became late-night chains such as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts. The cop-doughnut relationship held fast, and some stores set aside space for police officers to get their work done. Dunkin’ Donuts even had a companywide policy of catering to police. Its founder, William Rosenberg, credited the relationship with the company’s early success in his autobiography.

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The late-night doughnut shop: an American institution. Photo by Third Serving on Unsplash.

A doughnut is a decent snack for a graveyard shift. It’s a fresh, easily obtained source of calories that a busy officer might need for a night of busting punks. When the action dies down, coffee offers a burst of caffeinated energy to help cops get through their shifts. And coffee and doughnuts are relatively cheap, which is great for anyone working as a city or state employee. 

Despite the rotund appearance of police Chief Clancy Wiggum on The Simpsons, doughnuts aren’t to blame for the image of the overweight cop. In The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin, author Michael Krondl interviews police officers who recall their sweet treats giving them just the right amount of food needed to do the job.

“You got out there, walked around, rolled in the streets with criminals [and burned] the calories off,” Frank Rizzo, former Philadelphia police chief, told Krondl.  

Somewhere along the way, American popular culture began to notice, and the image of the local police officer began to shift into a caricature, fueled by the cop-doughnut relationship. Cops in film and television became less Andy Griffith and more Chief Wiggum. 

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New York police on patrol, looking like they could use some doughnuts. Photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash.

What started with a wholesome beginning eventually became derogatory. Everyone from stand-up comics to punk bands and rappers began to make fun of the cop-doughnut dynamic. For some, there’s nothing worse than being caught with one of those sweet fried treats or being seen parked at a Krispy Kreme. 

Today, cops can generally post up anywhere to catch up on paperwork. Police cruisers have come a long way and have everything an officer needs during a shift. If they need a meal or a break, there are often many options open to them. 

But doughnuts and coffee still provide excellent fuel for the thin blue line, and late-night and early morning bakers appreciate the added security of having cops around. So the next time you see a cruiser parked at Dunkin’, cut your local police force a break and don’t cast shade. If you were in that uniform, you might be right there with them.


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

Feature image: Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine/Images from Unsplash.

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Navy veteran finds new purpose in an unlikely venture: Socks

Retired Navy Lt. Commander Anthony Cosby knows all about chasing purpose. He just never expected to find it in socks. 

Growing up in rural Alabama, Cosby’s first job was working the cotton fields for a family that was enslaved just a few generations before he was born. He did it every summer for five years before enlisting.

“I always say that the hardest day in the Navy was never as hard as one day working in those fields,” he said with a laugh. “I started as a Seaman Enlisted Recruit back in 1990. But I had an urge to do more even coming in at 17 years old.”

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For Cosby, joining the Navy was a way to see the world. “It took me to Charleston and eventually to an opportunity to earn my officer’s commission,” he said. 

After leaving the Naval Academy, Cosby was stationed in Texas as a recruiter. It was a unique challenge for the self-described introvert.

“I needed to do something to put me out there and force me to take down any walls I had,” Cosby explained. “Recruiting was an opportunity where I thought I could help change lives because I knew what the Navy had done for that 17-year-old kid from Alabama.”

He became one of the top Navy recruiters in the nation. 

It wasn’t all good for Cosby, though. A swimming accident caused him to break his neck in eight places. Miraculously, he wasn’t paralyzed and survived. “I was laid up in bed for five months to heal up. It was a big time of reflection for me. It was when I knew there was a bigger picture and bigger calling than what I was doing outside of the Navy,” he said.  

Cosby retired from the Navy after 21 years of service in 2012, not long after getting married and having a little girl.

“For us it was like life starting all over again in our 40s. It was really cool,” he said. 

But with the good came some surprising challenges. Cosby said his transition was much harder than he had anticipated or was prepared for. Eventually, he was led into roles mentoring student veterans which he enjoyed, and thrived.

After attending his first VET Edge event and spending five minutes with Matthew Griffin, who founded Combat Flip Flops while deployed to Afghanistan, Cosby was motivated to make a change and do something new. “Entrepreneurship is so rewarding and just really fills your heart. I think that’s why I fell in love with it. It has so much that can be offered,” he shared. 

While maintaining his role at Syracuse University within the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Cosby eventually co-founded STZY. “It doesn’t stand for anything but really means you have elegance with your style and with your fitness,” he said with a smile. The company was focused on one product: socks. 

The reasoning, Cosby said, was to simplify things and go all in on one thing he believed in. With a passion for fitness, socks made sense. The goal was to create a high quality product geared toward athletes. “We came up with STZY and it took about eight months to get it ready to go to market and we launched on March 21, 2021,” he said. 

STZY sold out of the product within months of launching.

The company is now a certified pending B Corporation and remains committed to giving back. Each month the team chooses a new school or student athlete to sponsor. 

When he looks back on his early years and Navy service it’s now hard to fathom how far he’s come. “The family that I worked with in Alabama was a Black family and have owned those cotton fields since 1856,” Cosby explained. 

The original owner had purchased it all from his former slave owner and father. Now five generations strong, it’s his hope to bring everything full circle and use cotton from those Alabama fields for STZY socks. 

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Anthony Cosby and Kyle Bridgeforth (Partner at Bridgeforth and Sons)

His advice for the veteran or military spouse thinking about starting a business is simple: do it with passion and then pay it forward, too. 

“Don’t be afraid to go chase something that’s five years away but the work you are putting in now is going to help you obtain that dream or goal. It’s okay. You can’t make Admiral overnight but as an entrepreneur you can become a CEO overnight,” Cosby said. “Always go back and help someone else — that’s how we are going to build thriving entrepreneurship opportunities as veterans and military family members.”

To learn more about STZY, click here.

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Former SEAL uses life lessons to mentor at-risk youth

“It’s really hard for me to quit anything … I expect to have bad days. I expect to make mistakes and have setbacks. It’s just second nature for me to keep moving.”

Writer, producer and former Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke doesn’t fit into molds. His life has been filled with a gamut of opportunities for which he didn’t qualify. But with help from a recruiter and the voice of his mom in his mind reminding him of excellence, he proved that he would overcome the bad choices he’d made as an at-risk youth to master his future.

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Now, he’s passionate about motivating young people of the same background to know what they can accomplish beyond the limitations society has put on them based on their race or what area they’re from.

Adeleke didn’t grow up with hopes of becoming a Navy SEAL. He’d never seen one in person or thought about becoming a member of the highly-trained elite team of special operations forces. They were just the intriguing cool guys in the movies.

His father died when he was a young boy, and his mom was left alone to care for him and his brother Bayo. So, she moved her family from Africa to the Bronx in New York City. Unfortunately, inner-city communities like the Bronx are plagued with crime, high unemployment, inadequate educational opportunities, and extreme poverty, and Adeleke became a product of his surroundings. He was selling drugs and getting into other illegal activities. By the time he tried to join the military, he had two warrants out for his arrest. But Adeleke had an unexpected supporter that changed his life. His recruiter, Tianna Reyes, was a fellow Bronx native who understood his environment and went to bat for him because she knew no one else would give him a chance.

“She really believed in me,” he said. As a result, his record was expunged, and on July 2, 2002, he was sworn into the U.S. Navy.

Adeleke’s first time learning about special operations forces was in boot camp, and he was hooked.

“My mom always preached excellence to me … and to me, being a SEAL was excellence personified,” he said.

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But once again, he didn’t fit the bill.

“I was totally unqualified to go to BUD/S (basic underwater demolition SEAL training) because I didn’t have the academic scores. My ASVAB scores weren’t high enough. I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t run. I was super skinny, and I was not in shape for the program,” Adeleke explained.

But during his first command at Camp Pendleton, he took matters into his own hands.

“I created a regimen and started training. I would run three miles to the pool, jump in the shallow end, and try to figure it out. Over time I began to get better, and I would run three miles back to my barracks,” he said.

He also purchased the book “ASVAB for Dummies” and eventually retook the test.

Adeleke then went even further and asked his leading petty officer to give him a split shift schedule so he could train harder. He qualified for SEAL training within six months, but this still didn’t seal the deal for him. After a year of being in SEAL training, he had failed his aquatic test so many times that he was kicked out.

“I failed a dive test four times and ultimately got kicked out of school,” he added.

Still, he refused to quit after being sent back to the fleet. Adeleke trained for a-year-and-half with the Marines and went back to SEAL training and became a SEAL.

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In his book “Transformed,” he documents his life, the challenges he’s faced, and the lessons he’s learned. His driving force now is giving back to communities like the one he grew up in. Acting in a major film — “Transformers: The Last Knight” — and now working as a screenwriter and director aren’t enough if he can’t share the lessons. He attributes this to one thing — his faith.

“This is not about me. It’s about people. How can I serve people? How can I bless people?” he said.

Adeleke emphasizes a desire to expose Black youths to the Navy SEALs, as he was the only Black graduate in his class of SEALs. Since 2012, the U.S. Navy has stated it is actively looking for minority SEALs, yet less than 1% of them are Black. Adeleke says part of the blame goes to Hollywood for the lack of positive Black images they put in the world.

“You don’t see a Black James Bond … A lot of white kids see themselves every time they turn on a TV or every time they watch a movie.”

The idea that white people can do anything is normalized and reinforced by Hollywood, while Black children rarely see themselves in strong, affluent roles.

Exposure to proper education is another mission. Not only are the kids not exposed to SEALs, but urban schools also lack essential tools required to join, like access to pools to learn to swim.

“You don’t see educators allowing top tier military professionals such as special operators, pilots, or doctors into their inner-city schools to say you can do this too,” he explained.

To add to the lack of representation, Adeleke has received layers of pushback from inner-city schools and prisons when his team asks if he can speak to the inmates or students.

“The schools that give me the hardest time to get into [to speak] are inner-city, predominantly African American schools,” he said.

His frustration is palpable. The root of the problem is that predominantly white schools are financially backed with an outpouring of community support to expand and better their students’ opportunities. In contrast, minority community schools, which mostly receive funding from property taxes, still fall victim to the American system’s discrimination.

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Read Remi’s story on page 10 of the February issue of the Military Influencer Magazine.

“You’ve got to go through all this red tape. But when you go to these schools in suburbia, it’s, ‘Hey, you want to come speak? Come!’ I’ve got an open-door policy to so many schools in suburban areas, but I don’t in urban areas,” Adeleke shared.

And when asking the reason, he is told it’s the city officials and their rules. But Adeleke has a knack for breaking down barriers.

“Overcoming adversity has become second nature to me,” he said. “I kind of learned that through osmosis by living with my mother.”

During 2020, as big brands claimed they would actively diversify and seek out Black creators, one major studio stuck to their word and sought Adeleke out to produce a show.

“In the Hollywood side, I have seen some things change,” he said.

As his weight in Hollywood grows, Adeleke hopes to help give minority youth more exposure and experiences through the imprint of his future television and film work.

To purchase a copy of “Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds,” visit any major book retailer including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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