Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America - We Are The Mighty
Mighty Moments

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America

Jeremy Butler is a successful CEO, Naval officer and husband. He’s also a Black man in America, a title that has impacted many pages of his story. 

“I had intended to go to college and never really gave the military a thought. During my junior year though, I was studying in Europe and it just really opened my eyes – not only to the world – but that I just didn’t want a traditional job,” Butler explained. Although he would look into the Peace Corps, he ultimately decided he wanted to be a sailor. 

The Navy recruiter continually asked him if he wanted to take the test to fly and be a pilot but Butler was adamant that he would be on a ship or nothing at all. He attended Officer Candidate School in 1999 and had full intentions of just doing four years and getting out. 

But then 9/11 happened. 

Butler was on a ship out of Washington on a counter-narcotics mission when America was attacked. “I was completely separated from the country for three months and really came back to this changed world — and it was jarring,” he shared. 

Soon, he was stationed on a new ship in Japan. Butler shared that when he joined the Navy, it was the one place he had always wanted to be stationed. It wasn’t long before his ship was joining the fleet for a counter-strike mission aimed at Iraq. He and his crew escorted ships in and provided defense for the carriers and ships launching tomahawks during the invasion. 

After finishing his deployment to Iraq and tour in Japan, Butler headed back stateside to teach at the Naval Academy. “It was a really incredible experience to teach those midshipmen about Navy life,” he said. He also got married and made the decision to come off active duty and go into the Navy Reserves. 

Butler became a defense contractor, doing work for the likes of the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security but wasn’t feeling the fulfillment that wearing the Navy uniform every day brought. “As a reservist, I ended up mobilizing a couple of times, going to places like the Philippines and West Africa,” he said. Butler also spent a few years working in the Pentagon for the Navy in between all of that. 

Black naval officer

When he and his wife were ready to leave Washington D.C. a few years later, they headed to New York City. It was there he began his work with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, in 2015. He moved up quickly within the organization, eventually becoming their COO and then, in 2019, their CEO. “It’s been an incredible journey and I found that it gave me that sense of fulfillment that I wasn’t getting in my previous civilian jobs,” Butler shared.  

A year later, Butler was successfully leading the organization when the murder of George Floyd sent shock waves across the world. “It really brought me to a reckoning about who I am and to become much more outspoken about how life has been for me as a Black man in America,” he said.

The notion of racism wasn’t a new concept for him. Butler grew up in rural Illinois in a predominately white town. “I was in schools where people would regularly use the n-word and then look at me and say, ‘Oh, but I’m not talking about you,'” he shared. He was also frequently followed around in stores and the clerks would regularly check his pockets before he could leave.

It also wasn’t uncommon for people to stop him while he was with his white mother to ask if he was adopted. They never asked when he was with his father, an Army veteran, who is Black. 

Despite these ongoing experiences, Butler thought everyone went through the same thing. It wouldn’t be until he was older that he would recognize it for what it was: racism. Though he knew it existed, he still attended good schools and had great opportunities. “I felt like I never had the right to be more outspoken about the struggles for Black people in America,” he said. Butler also noted that as a Black officer, he’s sure that his military experience was much different than that of an enlisted person of color.

IAVA struggled in the past to get legislation passed that targeted issues around race and gender, although it was always on their radar. After George Floyd’s murder, Butler was understandably angry. He felt strongly that he needed to use his voice and within the IAVA, the team encouraged him to do so – regardless of repercussions. The words he wrote were powerful. Here is a small excerpt from his statement posted to the IAVA website:

“When in uniform, I am thanked for my service. When in a suit, I’m treated respectfully as I walk into a store or restaurant, a customer worthy of gracious attention. But catch me on a weekend, two days behind on a shave, wearing a hoodie and I am now a threat. This is not me being sensitive. It is evident in the guarded reactions of fellow pedestrians rounding the corner and seeing me in their path. It is evident in the less accommodating reaction of the restaurant host when I walk in alone, hoping to catch a seat for a meal and a drink. It is evident in the expression of the department store clerk who sees me not as a possible sale but someone to be followed.”

Though Butler’s challenging experiences as a Black man and veteran aren’t ones he wishes on anyone, he does see hope on the horizon. His message to those who hear his story? Shore up on empathy. 

“I think regardless of who you are personally, everyone should try a little harder to understand what it’s like for others,” Butler explained. “A rising tide raises all boats and I think that’s something a lot of people don’t understand. When we make things better for those who have the least, we are improving things for everyone.”

Mighty Moments

Living HERstory: Affirmations inspired by women heroes of our past

We all have heard the saying, ‘Empowered women, empower women.’ Many of us in the veteran space are seeing the manifestation of this mantra.  Women veterans are collaborating, celebrating and building a community to empower one another and those to come after us.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we pause to reflect on the legacy of women who have valiantly served this country. Two things women veterans should know: our history and our worth.  

We do that by remembering the women who paved the way, knowing what they accomplished and applying it into our hearts and minds.  Ladies, we have a brilliant, vibrant and strong foundation to emulate in our own stories.  We need to dig deeper past the traumas, setbacks and disappointments to see our worth.  

When we speak positively of ourselves, we discover our worth and we declare who we are. We are then empowered, so we can empower other women. Each of us has to make the choice to overcome, heal and thrive—so we too can leave our mark.

Here is a compilation of self-affirmations created from women military service women who left their mark on the world.  Affirmations are statements and positive reminders to motivate oneself or others.  Subconsciously one begins to believe a new truth of oneself in the world.  

Affirmations are key to helping one achieve goals, a healthy practice of positive thinking and establishing a growth mindset. Here are five incredible women of yesteryear with modern day affirmations to help you, sweet sister, reclaim your worth and smash your goals.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America

Kerri Jeter is the founder of Freedom Sisters Media, a place for content, connection and community for women beyond the uniform. She served in the Army for 12 years, exiting as a senior captain. www.freedomsisters.com

Mighty Moments

Paws of War reunites soldier with stray dog from rotation in Europe

US Army Sgt. Charity Webb was reunited with a puppy named Pup Pup that she had bonded with while stationed as a cook in Eastern Europe last fall, which was first reported by the New York Post. The almost impossible task was made possible by a nonprofit organization out of New York called Paws of War, and this isn’t the first time the group has accomplished such a mission. 

Robert Misseri, the founder of Paws of War, said the operation cost approximately $7,000 total, from finding Pup Pup, completing vaccines and any needed treatment through a local veterinarian, temporary foster care, travel costs, and many other factors. 

“When we arrive, the soldier can play a little role in locating their dog. We have to learn where that dog is [from the soldier]. We have to find that dog,” Misseri said, “and we have to get that dog safely to a veterinarian and then start the process to get that dog to America.”

Read Next: Fred the Afghan: How a Stray Dog Changed a Marine’s Life

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Pup Pup was out of a litter born in the area where Sgt. Charity Webb was stationed, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Photo courtesy of Paws of War.

Locating a dog that a soldier bonded with overseas is no easy task, especially with COVID-19 restrictions severely complicating transport, but Misseri said it’s all worth it. 

“The soldier will feel like a failure, thinking that ‘deployment is up’ and that this dog will think that this person abandoned it,” said Misseri. “And the soldier will always wonder whatever happened to that dog — it’s not like that dog’s going to go into a good home or someone’s going to take over caring for it. It’s going to go back to struggling. So it is so important for both soldier and dog to get back here and reunite.”

Misseri explained that reuniting a dog with a soldier can significantly help a soldier’s mental health when they get home. He said he’d been in touch with soldiers in the past who had to leave their dogs behind overseas, and “it was just something that they could not get out of their head.” The grief from leaving their dogs worsened some soldiers’ post-traumatic stress symptoms, he said, adding that some soldiers experienced nightmares about it. 

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America

Webb told the Post that while deployed, she was missing her other dog back home and her family. Pup Pup helped her through all of that. 

“You miss your family, you’re missing Christmas, Thanksgiving, all of that, so it was good to have her occupy my time and my mind and not think about my time away and stuff, so she really did help with that,” Webb told the Post.

Misseri said they have located dogs in areas where locals and/or authorities will shoot them, or capture them and then put them down, or just outright mistreat them in abusive ways. 

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America

“For the puppies, they just kill them off because there’s so many strays,” Webb told the Post. “So we didn’t want them to get the puppies because we knew they’d kill them — there was no doubt about it.”

According to the Post, a fellow soldier told Webb about Paws of War, and she reached out for help. A financing issue was preventing them from getting Pup Pup back, but after the Post published the initial story, Misseri said they accomplished their goal of getting Pup Pup back in Webb’s hands on Feb. 24. The dog and the sergeant reunited at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Webb is stationed. Enough donations came in that there was enough to get a second dog to another soldier.

Misseri said Paws of War has reunited more than 100 soldiers with dogs that they had to leave behind when returning to the states.

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

Mighty Moments

Love and duty: Army Sergeants Major marry – virtually – after meeting at Academy

This April, sitting in front of their respective work emails, Joe and Jenn McAuliffe were pronounced man and wife. In separate states, distant Army bases and during work hours, their life as a married couple began.

This was possible due to a Montana regulation that allows for double-proxy weddings – where neither party has to be present in order to be married. Both are represented by fill-ins. This was a plan they put into place due to the ongoing saga that is COVID-19.

After their Memorial Day weekend wedding plans had been pushed to the right, and with no clear feasible date in mind, the pair decided to make their own path.

“I said, ‘What if we get married on paper, because if something happens to one of us – we’re not married – the other couldn’t get leave [and travel];” Joe, who works in TRADOC, said.

He added that, while five states allow for marriage by proxy, only one allows for a double-proxy union. So it was decided: they would file in Montana, choose their anniversary date and time, and continue the day as usual.

“We were both literally at work in our offices. We got an email that said, ‘Congratulations you’re married,’” Jenn, working in INSCOM said.

The wedding came three years after the couple first emailed – a nod to their future – as upcoming classmates in the Army Sergeant Major Academy. Each was searching for roommates among their respective peers, and they, along with others, moved under a single roof.

Months into the school the pair started dating, then after two years as an item, they became engaged.  

It was happenstance, they said. Not expecting to meet “the one,” both McAuliffes were caught off guard.

“I actually think we were very fortunate in the amount of time that we were able to spend together, even with him deploying,” Jenn said. Citing quick flights and four-day weekends, the couple averaged a visit together every six weeks, except for Joe’s stint overseas.

After years of long-distance dating, they were married. Joe popped the question after returning stateside.

But with the pandemic in play, their time together became nonexistent – they didn’t see each other for six months. After rendezvousing over President’s Day weekend in 2020, they wouldn’t meet again in person until they were legally wed.

With military travel regulations and restrictions at their respective bases, visits were simply not an option.

In fact, the reason they ended up getting multiple visits together, once bases allowed, was due to Jenn’s shoulder surgeries. Joe traveled there for her treatments and she was able to travel with him to recover.

“Our recent time together, it’s kind of funny, it was from convalescent leave,” she said.

All-in-all, however, the McAuliffes are dedicated to making their union joyful, even if they got a non-traditional start. Eventually, that will mean a shared home with acreage and distant from big cities. But for now, it means traveling when their jobs allow and sharing their best moments through smiles and playful banter. Jenn, from her rented house that she shares with a roommate. And Joe, from his stationary camper slot, with Jenn’s rescue dog, Roxy.

The rest? They’ll figure it out as they go. With the last two-plus decades planned for them, there’s time to plan. Joe, who’s coming up on his 27th year in the Army, says he always knew he wanted to join the military.

“Once I hit year 11 I said, ‘Ok I’m staying in,’” he said, also citing his daughters as reasons for finding success.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America

Lauren, 24 and daughter, Izabella, 6, top left. Shania, 23, top right, Katelynn, 21 bottom left, and Roxy, 11.

Meanwhile, Jenn just hit 25 years of service, giving credit to her father for serving as her inspiration. However, it was never a life goal to stay in until retirement.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in for any longer but I did,” she said. “Something that Joe and I talk about, we were meant to go to the academy and meet each other, that’s why I stayed in.”

“Not necessarily for the Army or aspirations to be a Sergeant Major, but I was meant to meet Joe at the academy.”

Mighty Moments

Watch this Marine get pinned by his 3-year-old son

Being promoted within the US military’s noncommissioned officer rank is a special occasion in a service member’s career, after which they are entrusted by their commanders to lead junior enlisted service members and are assigned more responsibilities.


One Marine marked the special occasion with what appeared to be his 3-year-old son.

Also read: 80 famous military brats

In a video posted online last year, a newly minted Marine sergeant marches to the front of a formation for his promotion ceremony, standing at attention as a senior Marine reads out a commander’s order outlining his new responsibilities.

“As a sergeant of Marines, you must set the example for others to emulate,” the senior Marine says. “You are responsible for the accomplishment of your assigned mission, and for the safety, professional development, and well-being of the Marines of your charge.”

After the order was read out, a child approaches the formation and says, quietly, “good afternoon, gentlemen,” before the promoted Marine kneels so the child can remove his chevrons and pin on the emblems of his new rank.

The two share an embrace before the son scurries away.

Watch the clip:

 

Articles

New monument will honor Vietnam helicopter crews

A new monument at Arlington National Cemetery, near the U.S. capital, will honor American helicopter crews who flew during the Vietnam War.


The Military Times reports Congress has approved the monument, which will be near the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
(Photo from Wikimedia)

Spearheading the memorial campaign is retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Hesselbein, who flew AH-1 Cobra gunships in Vietnam. Hesselbein says Arlington has the greatest concentration of helicopter-crew casualties from the war.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says the monument will create a “teachable moment” for people to understand the story of pilots and crew members. The U.S. relied heavily on helicopters to transport troops and provide support to ground forces near enemy soldiers in Vietnam.

The nonprofit Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association is paying for the monument.

Articles

Nepal was hit by a huge aftershock — these photos show the US military response

A major aftershock hit Nepal on Tuesday, bringing further damage to a country already devastated from a 7.8 earthquake that hit on April 25.


U.S. service members were already on the ground rendering aid, and Marine photographers took these amazing images in the hours after the 7.3 aftershock. Each photo’s description comes from the Marine who took the photo.

U.S. Marines help a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Marine helps carry a Nepalese man to a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

A U.S. Airman, Nepalese soldier and search and rescuemen from Fairfax County, Virginia, help a Nepalese man in a triage at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Thor J. Larson

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen prepare for a search and rescue mission out of the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 13. A UH-1Y Huey helicopter assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, went missing while conducting humanitarian assistance after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake May 12.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

A Nepalese soldier carries a young earthquake victim from a U.S Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom helicopter assigned to Joint Task Force 505 to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Service members from Joint Task Force 505 unload casualties from a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

U.S. Marine Sergeant  A. B. Manning from Joint Task Force 505 carries a young earthquake victim to a medical triage area at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Photo: US Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ricardo Morales

NOW: The US military took these amazing photos in just one week-long period

OR: Team Rubicon is on the ground in Nepal

MIGHTY HISTORY

This forgotten soldier survived 4 months in Dunkirk by himself

In 1940, the evacuation of allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk commenced as approximately 338,000 troops were loaded into small boats over the course the rescue.


Also known as “Operation Dynamo,” German forces conducted hellish air raids killing the numerous troops that attempted to flee the area.

In the mix of all that chaos was 20-year-old Bill Lacey, a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. Reportedly, Bill had already boarded a relief boat but decided to give up his seat to make room for a wounded man and leaped off the vessel.

Back on land, Bill turned around to see that the boat he had exited from was now well underway — without him.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
The British Army evacuation underway in Dunkirk (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

He quickly located a raft and thought he could use it to rejoin the boat that was sailing off in the distance. As he took hold of it, he realized the raft was useless as it had two bullet holes poked through it.

As gunfire erupted in all directions, Bill witnessed German troops rounding up British stragglers taking them prisoner. Unsure of what the future held, he decided to make a run for it and take his chances surviving on his own.

Headed in the opposite direction as the armed Germans, he maneuvered south, hoping to run into other British troops.

Bill made his way into the woods and traveled deep into the hostile countryside not knowing how he was ever going to make it home.

His mission was to stay out of sight, as German patrols were consistently roaming the area.

He got rid of his issued uniform, hid his weapon, and donned clothes he had stolen from nearby washing lines to help blend into the local population. Bill was forced to drink from streams and eat handfuls of straw dipped in margarine.

“I had to learn to stay alive in the same way a wild animal would,” Bill states in an interview. “My only thought was to survive from one day to the next.”

Since he didn’t speak French, he nodded to locals if they attempted to interact with him. Then, one day after four long months of surviving on scraps, Bill finally saw an opportunity to make it home.

Bill spotted a fishing boat that was tied down to a small pier and began to format a plan in his head. After the sun went down that evening, he carefully made his way to the small vessel, slipped off the moorings, quieting boarded, and steered off toward the English coast.

The forgotten soldier arrived at the shoreline near Dover, England, weak with hunger and clad in ratty clothes. Soon after, he was arrested and transported to an Army base where intelligence officers interrogated him — they didn’t believe his traumatic story.

Luckily, they checked many French newspapers and found articles about a British soldier reportedly on the run who stole food from farmhouses. There was also a report about a fishing boat from the pier that went missing.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Bill Lacey takes a moment for a quick photo op. (Source: Mirror UK)

After proving himself, Bill was recruited into the British special operation division and completed several more years of service — finally retiring in his early fifties.

Sadly, the hero and survival expert passed away at the age of 91, but his Dunkirk legacy will live on forever.

Articles

This video shows rare footage from an actual Vietcong ambush

A former first lieutenant with the 221st Signal Company in Vietnam, Paul Berkowitz, created a website to help former unit members connect. And one day, he was surprised to receive an audio tape from former member Rick Ekstrand. It was the audio portion of film shot on Hill 724 in Vietnam where a pitched battle followed a highly successful Vietnam ambush in November 1967.


Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team fighting on Hill 823 during the Battle of Dak To. (Photo: U.S. Army)

During the Battle of Dak To, U.S. troops maneuvered against a series of hills covered with thick jungle vegetation, including Hill 724. In this footage from Nov. 7, two American companies attempted to maneuver on the hill and were ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army Regiment.

Alpha Company, the lead regiment, was pinned down and the two companies were outnumbered 10 to 1. Rockets, mortars, artillery, and machine gun fire rained down on the men as the camera operator narrated and filmed. Check out the amazing footage below from the American Heroes Channel:

Intel

Watch a soldier return from Afghanistan to surprise a total stranger

We’ve all seen the military homecoming videos, with a service member returning from overseas to surprise their loved ones.


But what happens when a soldier comes home and surprises a total stranger? Well, not to worry, because the satirical website ClickHole has you covered.

“I think he’s going to be very surprised, because he has no idea that I’m finally back from Afghanistan,” says “Sgt. Luke Brundage,” in the video produced by the one-year-old offshoot of The Onion.

With the look and feel of many familiar homecoming videos, the video hilariously illustrates a very awkward meeting, if something like this ever did occur. Interestingly enough, the actor who portrays Brundage is a Marine veteran, according to The Marine Times.

And while it does have some technical errors (using “soldier” instead of Marine, for instance), it’s still funny as hell. And the actor, Jonah Saesan, had little to do with pointing those out.

“A few people want to focus on the detail,” Saesan told The Times. “I don’t think they understand how little I had to do with the creative process.”

Now watch the video:

NOW: The hilarious ‘Awesome Sh-t my Drill Sergeant Said’ is now in book form

Articles

Here’s the history behind ‘Reveille’

We’ve all heard the familiar tune being blared over the intercom or performed live bright and early as the American flag is raised for the beginning of the day.


For other troops stationed on a military base, it’s the bugle call that made them dash for cover so they wouldn’t have to stand outside and salute on a cold morning or throw your pillow at the window in your barracks like it’s going to get the signal to stop — you get the point.

But the motivation behind the “Reveille” tune isn’t to just wake us up, but instead is to remind us of those who have served in remembrance.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Airmen salute the flag during reveille at the Eglin Professional Development Center. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Jasmin Taylor)

Reveille comes from the French word “réveiller” or in English to “to wake up.

In 1812, U.S. forces designated the iconic melody to call service members to muster up for roll call to start the work day.

It appears there is no official composer of the tune, which is used by about six countries like Denmark, Ireland, and Sweden to mark the start of the day.

The notes for each country do vary and they all have written different lyrics as well.

“Reveille” lyrics

“Out on a hike all day, dear

Part of the army grind

Weary and long the way, dear

But really I don’t mind

I’m getting tired so I can sleep

I want to sleep so I can dream

I want to dream so I can be with you

I’ve got your picture by my bed

‘Twill soon be placed beneath my head

To keep me company the whole night through

For a little while, whatever befalls

I will see your smile till reveille calls

I hope you’re tired enough to sleep

And please sleep long enough to dream

And look for me for I’ll be dreaming too”

Click play on the video below and try to sing along.

(United States Air Force Band – Topic, YouTube)Fun fact: Reveille is also the official name of the Texas A&M mascot in the ROTC program — a dog. That is all.
Articles

This Yazidi boy survived three years of ISIS captivity

Among the Iraqis freed in the US-led coalition’s liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State this month was Emad Mshko Tamo, a Yazidi who was separated from his family and trained as a soldier by the terrorist army for the past three years.


Wounded from shrapnel and covered in dust, the emaciated former captive shook hands with the Iraqi soldiers who freed him. He accepted a bottle of water and held it in his lap, sitting in the front seat of a truck that was to take him to a hospital for treatment.

Emad is 12 years old.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Yazidi refugees. (UK DFID photo by Rachel Unkovic)

While the Iraqi government celebrates its victory over the Islamic State in Mosul, aid organizations report that hundreds of civilians remain trapped in the Old City and the humanitarian crisis in Iraq continues to mount, with 3 million refugees and almost 1 million displaced people from Mosul.

“In the last week of fighting, 12,000 civilians were evacuated, [and] their condition was the worst of the entire war,” Lise Grande, the lead coordinator of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, said July 17 during a press conference.

“Many were elderly, disabled. There were separated children. They clearly did not have sufficient water, they hadn’t had sufficient food, and the overwhelming majority of the civilians who came out were unable, even on their own, to cross the front line to safety. They had to be helped,” said Ms. Grande, adding that the levels of trauma in Mosul are among the highest anywhere.

The Iraqi army next will move to liberate the cities of Tal Afar, Hawija, and western Anbar province, and humanitarian organizations are preparing for an even larger crisis.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Women and children wait at a processing station for internally displaced people prior to boarding buses to refugee camps near Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 03, 2017. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

Among the concerns are those for orphaned children and those separated from their families. Ms. Grande was unable to provide estimates but said the numbers are large and will require specialized care for months and even years to come.

Emad’s story is a bright spot in an otherwise dark saga, said Dlo Yaseen, an Iraqi-Kurdish translator who helped the 12-year-old while he was being transferred between hospitals from Mosul to Irbil.

Terrorists kidnapped Emad in the summer of 2014 from his village near Sinjar. He was one of thousands of victims of the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide against the Yazidi people — a Kurdish minority whose religious tradition, which mixes aspects of Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, is regarded as apostasy by the Islamic State.

The militants reportedly executed thousands of Yazidi men and boys and at least 86 women, and kidnapped and sold Yazidi women into sex slavery — among other crimes against humanity. An independent survey and analysis of survivors, family members, and civilians estimates that 3,700 Yazidis were slain or died during the summer assault, and that of the 6,800 who were kidnapped, 2,500 are still missing.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
An ISOF APC among the rubble in Mosul, Iraq. (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

In Mosul, when the Iraqi soldiers realized that Emad was Yazidi, they called the only Yazidi soldier in their unit, Mr. Yaseen said. The soldier recognized Emad’s family name and was able to locate his relatives in Dohuk, a Kurdish city in northwestern Iraq.

Shrapnel from Iraqi army mortar fire had wounded Emad. Although Islamic State captors tried to treat him, he was still suffering. Personnel at a field hospital decided that he would be transferred to a larger hospital in Irbil for surgery.

In the meantime, five of Emad’s uncles traveled the few hours’ drive from Dohuk to Irbil for the reunion. They also brought news of Emad’s mother, who had traveled to Canada a few months earlier with two of his siblings. Emad and his mother were able to talk via Facebook chat.

Yazda, an international Yazidi aid organization, corroborated Emad’s story, saying his mother was resettled in Canada with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees after the government’s decision to take in Yazidi survivors.

Naval Officer and IAVA CEO shares story of being Black in America
Emad Mshko Tamo. (Photo from Dlo Yaseen via Facebook)

Shortly after Emad’s rescue, Mr. Yaseen posted a photo of him on Facebook: “A Yazidi boy rescued under ISIS and rejoined his relative.”

The photo is striking — Emad is composed, sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, his face turned toward the camera. He is covered in grime — a large and dirty blue T-shirt is the only clothing covering his twig-like frame. His blond hair sticks up at all ends, his face is covered in white dust, but his lips are red and stained with blood. His expression is calm, a slight furrow to his brows as they arch upward.

“I asked him, ‘How do you feel now that you are rescued?'” said Mr. Yaseen. “He said, ‘I’m happy. I’m going to go to my house, my family. I will be happy.'”
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5 Times When Jon Stewart Made A Difference For America’s Veterans

Jon Stewart is leaving “The Daily Show” after 16 years.


A cursory look at the show archives yields an impressive listing of military-related segments over the years, from an absolutely hilarious segment from Rob Riggle at the protests of Marine recruiters in Berkeley, California to Stewart’s fascinating interview with a soldier on what it takes to get through Ranger school.

But you may not know that Stewart has been an advocate for troops throughout his tenure, and has used his show on occasion to advocate for veterans and veteran-related causes. Here are five times in recent years he tried to make a difference:

When he brought on Eric Greitens, CEO and Founder of The Mission Continues, to discuss how returning veterans could transition into service and leadership roles in the civilian world.

When he sent out Samantha Bee to investigate an Iraq war veteran’s benefit claim — stuck in the 900,000 case backlog at the VA — in a segment called Zero Dark 900,000.

When he spoke with war correspondent Sebastian Junger about his film “Korengal,” and how soldiers could positively impact society after they return from war.

When Jason Jones was sent out to speak with Vietnam veterans who were dishonorably discharged due to PTSD who can’t get treatment because they were dishonorably discharged due to PTSD.

The time he blasted President Obama over the VA backlog scandal in an ongoing series called “The Red Tape Diaries.”

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