Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Veterans receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most Amtrak trains.

Use the Fare Finder at the beginning of your search on www.amtrak.com and select ‘Military Veteran’ for each passenger as appropriate to receive the discount.


Military personnel save 10% and get ahead of the ticket line

With valid active-duty United States Armed Forces identification cards, active-duty U.S. military members, their spouses and their dependents are eligible to receive a 10% discount on the lowest available rail fare on most trains, including for travel on the Auto Train.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

An Amtrak train at Penn Station, NYC.

Just use the Fare Finder at the beginning of your search on www.amtrak.com and select ‘Military’ for each passenger as appropriate to receive the discount.

Additionally, Amtrak supports and thanks troops by welcoming uniformed military personnel to the head of the ticket line.

  • The veteran/military discount is not valid with Saver Fares or weekday Acela trains.
  • The veteran/military discount does not apply to non-Acela Business class, First class or sleeping accommodation. Veterans can upgrade upon payment of the full accommodation charges.
  • The veteran/military discount is not valid for travel on certain Amtrak Thruway connecting services or the Canadian portion of services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
  • The veteran/military discount may not be combined with other discount offers; refer to the terms and conditions for each offer.
  • Additional restrictions may apply.

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

Articles

Mattis says US still debating ‘big ideas’ on Afghan plan

The Trump administration is still sorting out “the big ideas” for a new Afghanistan strategy, beyond troop levels and other military details, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said July 21.


“We’re close,” he said in an impromptu exchange with reporters at the Pentagon one day after President Donald Trump met with him and his military chiefs for a broad discussion that aides said touched on Afghanistan and other issues.

The US has been fighting in Afghanistan for nearly 16 years, and as recently as June, Mattis said, “we are not winning.”

Mattis told Sen. John McCain at a hearing last month that he would have the Afghanistan strategy ready by mid-July. On July 21 he was asked what is holding it up.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo courtesy of the DoD

“It just takes time,” he said. “It wasn’t that past presidents were dumb or anything else. This is hard work, so you’ve got to get it right. That’s all there is to it.”

He also said it is vitally important to “get the big ideas right,” meaning to establish a consensus within the government on what problem Afghanistan poses and what policy goal is being pursued by committing US troops there. He called this “orders of magnitude” more difficult than deciding military tactics.

“It’s easy only for the people who criticize it from the outside and who don’t carry the responsibility for integrating it altogether,” he said, referring to making diplomatic and economic elements a part of the overall strategy.

Although Mattis did not mention him July 21, McCain is among the more vocal critics of the administration’s lack of an Afghan strategy.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
DoD photo by Chief Petty Officer James Foehl

On July 20, McCain mentioned his frustration on Afghanistan in a statement on the separate matter of the administration reportedly deciding to end a program to assist the Syrian opposition to President Bashar Assad.

“Six months into this administration, there is still no new strategy for victory in Afghanistan, either,” McCain said. “It is now mid-July, when the administration promised to deliver that strategy to Congress, and we are still waiting.”

In his remarks at the Pentagon, Mattis revealed no details of the ongoing administration debate.

He cast the Afghanistan problem in the context of past American wars, including those that did not end well — such as Vietnam — and those that still have not ended, such as Iraq. He said he wants to be sure there is administration agreement on the political goals as well as the military means.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

“I realize this probably looks easy, but it is not easy,” he said.

Mattis said a decision disclosed by the Pentagon on July 21 to withhold $50 million in “coalition support funds” for Pakistan — money it receives each year as reimbursement for logistical support for US combat operations — was separate from deliberations over a new Afghanistan strategy. Officials have said the US approach to Pakistan is an important part of the Afghan strategy debate, in part because a Taliban faction known as the Haqqani network enjoys sanctuary in Pakistan. US officials called the Haqqani network the most lethal element of the Taliban opposition in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon said in a statement July 21 that Mattis has informed congressional committees that he could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani network to deserve full reimbursement this year. Of $900 million in proposed reimbursement, Pakistan earlier received $550 million and Congress a few months ago withheld $300 million.

Mattis’ certification decision means the remaining $50 million also will be withheld.

The Pentagon chief said this was not a reflection of a new, tougher US policy toward Pakistan.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
A U.S. Army adviser from Task Force Forge conducts a room clearing drill with an Afghan trainee. (NATO photo by Kay M. Nissen)

“This is simply an assessment of the current state of play” with regard to suppressing the Haqqani threat. “It’s not a policy. It is the reality.”

Pakistan is authorized to receive up to another $900 million in support funds this coming year, of which $400 million is subject to Pentagon certification of sufficient Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network.

“In our discussions with Pakistani officials, we continue to stress that it is in the interest of Pakistan to eliminate all safe havens and reduce the operational capacity of all militant organizations that pose a threat to US and Pakistani interests as well as regional stability,” a Pentagon spokesman, Adam Stump, said.

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter determined the Pakistani effort against the Haqqani network was insufficient, and as a result, $300 million in support funds was withheld.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘Murphy’s Law’ gives context to a controversial veteran-turned-journalist

Jack Murphy is no stranger to controversy. In fact, you might even say that the former Army Ranger-turned-Green Beret-turned-journalist has sought it out, or at least had a laissez-faire attitude toward it over the course of his tenure as an investigative journalist. With the release of his memoir, he has given both fans and haters alike an inside look at how he sees the world — whether they like it or not.


Murphy has penned multiple fiction novels in the past, as well as a New York Times best-selling nonfiction report on the Benghazi consulate attack. But he’s gained the most notoriety as editor-in-chief of NEWSREP.com, formerly SOFREP.com. He’s established himself as a serious journalist by breaking stories that have made international news, but has also faced accusations of operational security violations and betraying the special operations community. Most recently, the release of helmet-cam footage from U.S. Army Special Forces operators killed during an ambush in Niger stoked the heated controversy swirling around the publication.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

“Murphy’s Law” was released on April 23.

(Photo courtesy of Jack Murphy)

Despite that, Simon and Schuster’s conservative nonfiction imprint, Threshold Editions, published “Murphy’s Law” on April 23. The memoir contains a brief background of Murphy’s upbringing in New York before diving into his military career and, later, the reporting exploits that took him around the world — often to arguably more dangerous corners than he faced while in uniform.

Writing a memoir wasn’t something he was interested in, despite the onslaught of special operations veterans who were publishing books around him. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity though; Murphy had made a habit of avoiding editors trying to convince him to pen his life story. At a book signing for “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” Kris Paranto’s editor approached him, and he once again politely declined.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Murphy in Iraq as a Special Forces NCO training Iraqi SWAT forces.

(Photo courtesy of Jack Murphy)

But the offer stuck with him, and he brought it up to his friend and mentor, Special Forces veteran Jim West. “I told him that I’ve written all these articles, in-depth pieces — that I’ve basically told everyone’s story but my own,” Murphy said in a phone interview. “He told me that I’m avoiding my past. That was the moment I said, ‘F*ck it, maybe I should confront some of these things.'”

And so he did. The book doesn’t paint a picture of the stereotypical war hero, nor does it show him as a PTSD-riddled veteran who struggles to cope with life after combat. His self-examination is as brutally honest as he aims to be in his reporting, often taking shots at himself in one paragraph before dispelling rumors in the next.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Murphy preparing for an aerial overwatch mission as a Ranger sniper in Afghanistan.

(Photo courtesy of Jack Murphy)

He doesn’t expect that the context this book provides will help quiet his detractors though. “I don’t really give a sh*t at the end of the day,” Murphy said, noting that he hopes the book tells the truth while cutting through rumors. “I said what I had to say, and I think the criticism and anger is part and parcel with the job, and if you can’t handle it, you need to find a different profession. I don’t think anyone is going to change their mind after reading this book.”

Indeed, the last chapter of the book is titled “Controversy and Upsets” and directly addresses many of the accusations that have been leveled in his direction. It comes after 100-some pages detailing years of doing a job that many misunderstand or flat-out disdain. For that reason alone, the book is worth the read: more Americans need to understand the great lengths and risk many journalists put themselves through in order to report the news.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Murphy in Kurdistan while working as an embedded journalist with Peshmerga forces during an offensive.

(Photo courtesy of Jack Murphy)

And that’s what Murphy will continue to do, which will likely continue ruffling feathers in the process. “Unfortunately, the military sexual trauma story has been something I’ve continued to work on,” Murphy said, before noting that he also plans to finish his fifth novel, which was pushed aside while writing his memoir. “I have a passion for writing, and I don’t think that’s something I’m ever going to stop doing.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why this Medal of Honor recipient fought his home owners association

Every day, retired Col. Van T. Barfoot treated the American flag with the respect accorded to it by tradition and by the U.S. flag code. He raised the flag to the top of the 21-foot flagpole in his front yard every morning and took it down again – careful not to let it touch the ground and folding it into a perfect triangle – in the evening. But his Virginia homeowner’s association hated the flagpole, saying it brought down the curb appeal of the neighborhood. They told Barfoot to take it down. When he didn’t, they took legal action.

They messed with the wrong Texan. He wasn’t about to cave for some HOA. But they didn’t know that.


Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Oops

.

Barfoot joined the Army infantry in 1940, well before the start of World War II for the United States. In 1944, with the war in full swing, Barfoot was in Italy, flanking a machine gun nest by himself in a battle near Carano. In order to save his men from the deadly fire raining death on them, Barfoot had to book it through a minefield to kill the enemy and knock out the machine gun. He did that and took out two more. He brought 17 prisoners back to friendly lines.

When three Nazi tanks came to retake the positions held by those machine gun nests, Barfoot took those out too. For his actions that day, he received the Medal of Honor. The man would later go on to fight in Korea and Vietnam before finally leaving the Army in 1974. By the time his HOA picked a fight with the old soldier, Barfoot was 90 years old.

“In the time I have left, I plan to fly the flag without interference,” he told the Associated Press.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Barfoot after receiving the Medal of Honor.

 

The HOA’s law firm even sent out a letter that ordered him to either remove the large flagpole from his property, or the firm would file a lawsuit to “enforce the covenants and restrictions against you.” But unlike the time he was running the minefields of Carano at a Nazi machine gun, Van Barfoot wasn’t alone this time. His story made national news. A heavy-hitting Richmond, Va. law firm offered to defend Barfoot for free, Virginia Senator Mark Warner offered his assistance, and even the 157th Infantry – Barfoot’s old unit – called to offer to help.

Not only did the HOA lose to Col. Barfoot like so many of his other fallen enemies, but the Virginia state legislature even introduced a bill that would prevent homeowners associations from banning flagpoles like Barfoots unless they could prove the harm it caused.

Barfoot died in 2012, two years after his row with the HOA. He will be remembered by many – especially the homeowner’s association.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Civil War re-enactors have their own POG-level slang

The life of a Civil War re-enactor is a very dedicated one. They’re dedicated to the history, the stories, and the lives of those who fought in The War Between the States. They take care in being as accurate as possible, representing the true history of the war down to the smallest details, from the things they carried to the food they ate all the way to their personal appearance. The America of some 150 years ago was a very different place.

Nylon-cotton blend uniforms give way to wool, the “woobie” gives way to old gum blankets, and MREs become a much more complicated process, handed over to a camp’s cook. These are just a few of the details in the mind of the re-enacting foot soldier. But not everyone who carries a .58-caliber Minié ball rifle onto historical battlefields has the same dedication to accuracy.

To the truly dedicated, those people are called farbs.’


Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Re-enactor memes are so dank.

Imagine spending all year practicing long-obsolete infantry drills with members of your unit just so you can execute them beautifully on oft-forgotten battlefields in the Spring and Summer months. Imagine the patience it takes to purchase (or, in some cases, build) infantry gear that hasn’t been necessary in over a century. Imagine the dedication required to sit in those wool uniforms in the dead of summer, swarmed by mosquitoes and plagued by the hot sun, only to have the FNG roll in, wearing sunscreen and insect repellent and playing with his iPhone.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Do not bring your camera, either.

The farb is someone who wants the glory of the job without putting in the work. It’s a judgmental term, one that, when used, ensures that the farb knows he’s not just factually wrong, but he’s also morally wrong. Their lame attempt (and acceptance of their subsequent failure) at authenticity is offensive. Like a civilian trying to pass themselves off as a Marine (aka “Stolen Valor”), farbs ruin the immersive experience of this kind of time travel — not just for the viewer, but for the re-enactors themselves.

It’s the worst thing you can call someone in these fields of dreams.

“That jacket is farby,” “his farbery is appalling,” and “can you believe the farbism he just dropped?” are all common lamentations of the truly dedicated.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Re-enacting battles of bygone eras isn’t strictly a Civil War pastime. History buffs in the north and south alike also re-enact the Revolutionary War (and, in some places, even World War I). Overseas, dedicated Europeans re-enact the Napoleonic Wars, especially the 1815 Battle of Waterloo in what is today Belgium. There is no limit to how far the dedicated will go to keep history alive — some battles date as far back as the Middle Ages, where fighting Mongols in Eastern Europe was the thing to do.

They’re keeping history alive and it’s a big job.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Wilson Freeman, an 18-year historical re-enactor, runs the blog “Historically Speaking: The Life and Times of a Historical Reenactor.” He says it’s not just an insult to the other re-enactors, it’s an insult to the people they’re working to portray.

There are several reasons that farbs are looked down upon in the reenacting hobby. One argument I’ve heard is that it’s an insult to the people we portray. Another is that it’s an insult to reenactors who actually take the time and effort to create a highly authentic impression. Yet another is that seeing something inauthentic on the field takes other reenactors “out of the moment” by reminding them that what they’re experiencing isn’t real.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US PsyOps lured an African warlord to defect using his mother’s voice

A team of Fort Bragg soldiers set their sights on one of the top officials within warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army late last year.


The soldiers, working with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, tracked down the family of the official — communications chief Michael Omona.

He played a key role in the Ugandan warlord’s cultish militant group, which was built on the backs of former child soldiers abducted from their homes in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Fort Bragg soldiers – part of a regional psychological operations team deployed to Africa – weren’t targeting Omona with firepower. Instead, it was a campaign fueled by facts and meant to counter the misinformation Kony spread across his force.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, Col. Bethany Aragon, the commander of the 4th Military Information Support Group at Fort Bragg, described what happened next.

“If you can envision yourself walking through this dense jungle,” she said. “… As he’s walking through the jungle, he hears his mother’s voice begging him to come home.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Michael Omana, the communications chief for Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, walked for two weeks to defect after hearing his mothers voice piped through the jungles begging him to come home.

The voice came from a U.S. Army loudspeaker team, piping voices into the countryside.

A little while later, leaflets dropped from the sky. On them, images of Omona’s uncle, who raised him as a father, and his daughter; both pleading for Omona to turn himself in to authorities.

“We targeted him,” Aragon said. “And in January 2017… he walked for two weeks to defect.”

Omona’s defection gave authorities key information in the search for Kony and the LRA. He provided access to codes used by the group and inside information on the higher workings of the LRA.

It was one of the highest profile defections in the long-running effort to dismantle the LRA. And Aragon used the example to show the value psychological operations soldiers played in those efforts.

“For over two decades, they abducted over 60,000 children, massacred tens of thousands of civilians, displaced two million people and then really destabilized a region the size of California,” she said of the LRA.

Today, Aragon said the LRA has been rendered irrelevant. And a generation of stolen Uganda children have been returned to their homes as the LRA has dwindled from an army of thousands to less than 100 members.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Students walk in front of a recently constructed building before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. In October of 2002, regional instablitity forced the school’s students and faculty away from its current location in the village of Alanyi. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force, attacked civilians and attempted to seize control of villages throughout northern Uganda.

At AUSA, Aragon and other special operations leaders presented case studies on the value of their forces during a panel led by Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Often working with foreign partners, conventional forces and other government agencies, Tovo said the Army’s special operations forces provide a set of unique capabilities that can’t be easily reproduced.

They are complementary skills, Tovo said, that when mixed with other capabilities and forces form a “symbiotic whole” to fuel national objectives.

“To quasi-quote Tom Cruse in ‘Jerry Maguire,'” he said. “We complete each other.”

Tovo said there are about 4,300 special operations soldiers deployed around the world in 78 countries. That includes Special Forces, psychological operations, civil affairs, Army Rangers and other special operations troops.

While the more violent aspects of special operations tend to make the most headlines, Tovo’s panel largely focused on the more unheralded aspects of the force – what he called an “indigenous approach” to operations around the world.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Members of the Uganda People’s Defence Force and the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa stand for a class photo after the UPDF graduated from the third of a four-phase psychological operations training held at the Uganda Junior Command and Staff College, Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 15, 2017. The training was part of the U.S. mission of strengthening partner nation defense forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

“We live among, train with, advise and fight alongside people of foreign cultures,” Tovo said. “We think this indigenous approach provides a low-cost, high-impact option.”

Joining Tovo on the panel were Aragon; the former ambassador to Ukraine and current ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt; Brig. Gen. David Komar, director of the requirements integration directorate at the Army Capabilities Integration Center; 75th Ranger Regiment commander Col. Brandon Tegtmeier; and Lt. Col. Tom Craig, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

Tegtmeier discussed how the Rangers are working with Afghan partners. And Craig, who left Northern Syria about a week ago, discussed the task force comprised of Special Forces A-teams, special operations and conventional troops working to train and support Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State.

“The indigenous approach is absolutely working,” he said, explaining how special operations forces are uniquely suited to the ongoing fight against ISIS.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Hurst, 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) noncommissioned officer in charge, deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, serves as an observer, controller and trainer to members of the Uganda People’s Defense Force during a four-phase course that trains the UDPF to secure objectives through influencing attitude and behaviors. The training took place at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As the region continues to contend with multiple VEOs, a sustained international working relationship will only further efforts of global stability. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Craig said his Special Forces soldiers have language skills and cultural understanding built up over multiple deployments that allow them to have influence on the nation’s Syrian partners.

“In Syria, it’s important to note,” he said. “We are advising a partner who is in the lead.”

He said the relatively light footprint of U.S. forces in Syria allow them to be agile and flexible, while also providing important support.

Craig said troops are training, equipping, advising and providing air support and intelligence to their partnered forces.

Pyatt said that in a world of diffuse power and shifting threats, most challenges to American national security will happen in so-called “gray areas” between diplomacy and hard power.

Those are the areas in which special operations forces thrive, officials said.

Pyatt said the relationships between SOF and diplomats were critical.

“There’s a very, very high return on investments,” he said. “They don’t cost a lot of money, but they get a lot done.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Lance Cpl. Denis Nokrach and Capt. John Robert Mwonge, both Marines in the Uganda People’s Defence Force, review a psychological operations plan during training with the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) who are deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As a subordinate unit of U.S. Africa Command, CJTF-HOA uses the primary tool of military-to-military programs and operations, coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, to assist African nations strengthen their defense capabilities and build partnerships. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Komar said the conventional force was beginning to model some of its reforms after the SOF community, specifically with the creation of security force advise and assist brigades.

At the same time, he said the days of deconflicting between SOF and conventional forces were largely over. Instead, the Army has embraced and integration between the two types of units.

In addition to ongoing operations and recent case studies, the panelists discussed ways the special operations community was preparing for future fights.

Tovo said each special operations specialty has different skillsets, but complement one another.

Whether serving as a crisis response force or working alongside State Department personnel, special operations forces are able to provide unique perspectives and insight.

“When bad things happen in any part of the world and we’ve got SOF there,” he said. “… We provide the nation a suite of tools applicable across the full range of military operations.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
A force reconnaissance Marine goes over threat detection methods with a group of Ugandan soldiers, Feb. 28. Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12 sent a small team of Marines into Uganda, Feb. 3, to train Ugandan forces for the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia and the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s resistance army.

Aragon said the campaign against the LRA was the most effective psychological operations campaign in Africa to date.

She said the groundwork was laid in 2011, when a team of just four psyops soldiers from Fort Bragg deployed to the continent.

Aragon said Omona and other members of the LRA lived in dense jungle and worked for an unhinged leader. Most, like Omona himself, were former child soldiers abducted from their homes years ago.

“He’s susceptible,” she said. And so were others within the LRA.

The goal was to use radio, leaflets and area loudspeakers to reach disaffected members of the group.

Key to those efforts were buy-in from the Ugandan government, which offered amnesty for defectors, she said.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Students sit in a classroom during a music a rehearsal before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. The project provided two new student dormitories to house 300 students, a staff house, new latrines, three water-harvesting tanks, and new solar panels for a computer laboratory.

Early successes gave the psyops team additional weaponry – the voices and stories of former LRA members who could speak to the fair treatment they received.

The first mass defection came in 2013, Aragon said, when 19 combatants defected.

Omona’s name came up in latter conversations, identified through a nonprofit group dedicated to the reintegration of former child soldiers in Africa called Pathways to Peace.

Omona had been kidnapped by the LRA when he was 12. Twenty-three years later, he was personally in charge of Kony’s communications.

Aragon said soldiers enlisted the aid of Omona’s family. His defection helped the soldiers end their mission against the LRA earlier this year.

But for the next fight, potentially against a more advanced enemy force, Aragon said officials must begin their efforts now.

“We cannot wait until the deployment to find the next Michael Omona,” she said. “We have to be doing that persistently if we are to be ready and relevant.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

VA Clinic renamed in honor of two World War II Veterans

The beat of the Native American drums reverberated through the halls of the clinic as Crow Nation drummers proudly sang a war song. The ceremony began with a Crow Nation prayer and the presentation of colors.

Hundreds were on hand to witness the long-awaited renaming ceremony of the Billings clinics for World War II Veterans Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last member of the Crow Tribe to become a war chief, and Benjamin Steele.

The Community Based Outpatient Clinic was renamed in honor of Medicine Crow and the Community Based Specialty Clinic was renamed in honor of Steele at the ceremony in February.


Honored heroes

Shirley Steele beamed with pride while talking about her late husband. He was born and raised in Roundup, Mont., and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940. He was a Bataan Death March survivor and prisoner of war for more than three years. He died in September 2016 at the age of 98.

Tiara Medicine Crow, granddaughter of Joseph Medicine Crow, a Bronze Star holder, talked about her love of her grandfather and all that he meant to the Crow Nation.

A.J. Not Afraid, grandson-in-law of Joseph Medicine Crow and chairman of the Crow Nation, spoke to his history and accomplishments.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

A.J. Not Afraid and a child performer attended the ceremony in traditional Crow Nation dress.

www.blogs.va.gov

Joseph Medicine Crow was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1939. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attain that level of education. Medicine Crow joined the U.S. Army in 1943. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service. He died in April of 2016 at the age of 102.

The photo at the top of this story is of Not Afraid and Shirley Steele.

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

Articles

India gets into the global nuke game with test of Agni V ICBM

While North Korea is in the headlines over Kim Jong Un’s push for intercontinental ballistic missiles, India has quietly carried out its own arms race and is building a very solid nuclear triad for strategic deterrence.


According to a report from Bloomberg News, India’s efforts are bearing fruit — a marked contrast to those of the North Koreans, which apparently drove Kim Jong Un to get blackout drunk and demand apologies from his generals.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Agni missile. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The missile India tested was the Agni V, which GlobalSecurity.org notes has a range of about 2,700 nautical miles. This would allow the missile to hit most of the People’s Republic of China.

An Arms Control Association fact sheet estimates India has about 110 nuclear warheads, but a November 2015 report from the Institute for Science and International Security claimed India could have enough plutonium to make up to 230 nuclear weapons.

India made news earlier this year when it commissioned the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant. This submarine, capable of carrying four K-4 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, puts India into the “boomer club” with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
INS Arihant. (YouTube screenshot)

Bloomberg News reported that the Agni V missile was launched from a Road Mobile Launcher. The Federation of American Scientists notes that the Soviet Union’s SS-25 Sickle (later taken over by the Russian Federation) was also designed as a road-mobile system.

According to Designation-Systems.net, the United States planned to use the MGM-134 Midgetman as a road-mobile system, but it was cancelled at the end of the Cold War.

The Indian Air Force has a number of aircraft that could carry nuclear weapons, including the MiG-27, the Jaguar, and GlobalSecurity.org reports that Indian Tu-142 “Bear F” anti-submarine escorts have been wired to accept air-launched cruise missiles.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A day in the life of a military working dog

From detecting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan to being on the front lines during World War I, military working dogs have been used to help service members win battles for generations. The same holds true today, as Cpl. Cody Hebert, military working dog handler, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion and his military working dog, Ziggy, give us a look into their everyday lives.

“We start our daily duties when we come in every morning,” Hebert said. “Those duties include cleaning out the kennels and doing any tasks like preparing for any type of training that we might be doing that day.”

When it comes to training, there can be different variations that can influence the handlers and the dogs in order to become mission ready.


“Just like us, the dogs have training jackets for everything that they learn,” Herbert said. “This includes commands they know, training they have done, what they are good and bad at and even which handlers had them in the past.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Casey Deskins, with the Military Police Department at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, plays with Ronnie, his military working dog partner.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young)

For a MWD handler, it is important to know the history of who and what the dog knows and how they are currently performing. Each handler creates a special bond with their dog to instill confidence in both the dog and themselves.
“When you and your dog deploy, there should be confidence in everything you do,” Herbert said. “If you’re on patrol with an explosive detector dog, not only do you have to trust to follow him, but the unit also has to be able to trust you and your dog because they are going to follow every step that you take.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Cpl. Sean Grady, a dog handler and pointman with Echo Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and Ace, an improvised explosive device detection dog, pause for a break while sweeping a chokepoint during a patrol.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez)

Training can take on different types of aspects between the dogs and their handlers. Training can involve doing an agility course to recreate real life situations, practicing commands for listening and direction and physical training to build strength and stamina.

“We have the opportunity to spend time with the dogs after hours almost anytime,” Hebert said. “We’re given the chance to build a bond and reward the dogs for all that they do. If we are willing to do that, the dogs are willing to work with us by listening to the commands while working for longer periods of time as well.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Lance Cpl. Jeremy D. Angenend, combat tracker handler, Military Police, III Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Okinawa, Japan, and his dog Fito play around at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.

The best way for the dogs to learn is to let them know that they are getting rewarded by either a ball or positivity and sometimes even belly rubs from their handlers.

“These dogs get taken care of like us,” Hebert said. “They get attention, exercise, training and medical care. As handlers, we’re trained to know the information just like how the dogs know what they are looking and listening for.”
A MWD’s average military career is eight years before it can retire.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Lance Cpl. Joseph Nunez from Burbank, Calif., interacts with Viky, a U.S. Marine Corps improvised explosive device detection dog, after searching a compound while conducting counter-insurgency operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 17, 2013.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

“It just depends on the dog for when it retires,” Hebert said. “Most of the time they retire because of medical reasons. Going full speed and biting constantly puts a lot of strain on their bodies. Just like us, as the dogs get older their bodies aren’t able to do as much.”

Whenever a dog retires from the service, they have a chance to be adopted by their handlers.

Whether a MWD is spending time with its handler or training to protect Marines, they will always be rewarded for doing their job in every clime and place.

MIGHTY MOVIES

4 reasons why ‘Black Hawk Down’ should have been about Hoot

In 1993, U.S. forces consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos stormed into Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and key members of his militia.


During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 Americans were killed, and 73 were wounded.

Director Ridley Scott brought the heroic story to the big screen in 2001’s Black Hawk Down, which portrays the power of human will and brotherly bonds between soldiers in the fight.

Although the film follows Sgt. Eversmann, did you ever wonder how different the film would have been if Hoot was the star?

We did, and here are four reasons why:

Related: 7 reasons ‘Top Gun’ should have been about Iceman

4. Hoot’s backstory

We first meet the brave Delta Force operator as he’s undercover, lurking around the city of Mogadishu with his eyes fixed on potential targets, gathering info. That’s a pretty badass thing to do and take a lot of balls in our opinion.

The only backstory we get from the film is that Hoot uses his trigger finger as his safety.

Maybe that’s all we need.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

3. There would have been more aerial target practice

Remember when that Black Hawk helicopter picked up Hoot in the middle of the desert and then he shot that wild pig looking thing off-screen? That was awesome!

Well, we bet that if Hoot were the star, that scene would have been a set up for a dope aerial-to-ground shootout with the Somali militia — just sayin’.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

2. He’s the most interesting character in the film

We understand that film is based on the real raids that took place, but take a step back from that, and we bet everyone can agree that we all felt like Hoot was always cool and calm even though the troops faced an uncertain future.

Shout out to the cast and crew for making this character so compelling.

Also Read: This is what the Marines from ‘Heartbreak Ridge’ are doing today

1. Why he does it

In the last scene where we see Hoot, he talks to Sgt. Eversmann about how he responds when people ask him “why we do it.”

Although his answer is epic and on point, if the film was about him, we’re freakin’ positive that would have seen that scene take place somewhere in the movie.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts

Articles

This lawsuit may spell the end of government torture

A settlement has been reached in a landmark lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union brought against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA’s harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror.


The deal announced August 17 marked the first time the CIA or its private contractors have been held accountable for the torture program, which began as a result of the attacks on September 11, said professor Deborah Pearlstein of the Cardozo Law School in New York.

“This sends a signal to those who might consider doing this in the future,” Pearlstein said. “There are consequences for torture.”

Also read: It turns out that bringing a flag to Arlington Cemetery can get you a year in jail

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed August 17. The deal avoided a civil jury trial that had been set for September 5 in federal court in Spokane, Washington.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Image from in-training.org

Pearlstein said the settlement also makes it unlikely the CIA will pursue torture again in the war on terror. “This puts an exclamation mark at the end of torture,” she said.

“We certainly hope this opens the door for further lawsuits,” said Sarah Dougherty, an anti-torture activist for Physicians for Human Rights.

The ACLU sued James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen on behalf of three former detainees, including one who died in custody, who contended they were tortured at secret CIA prisons overseas. Mitchell and Jessen were under contract with the federal government following the September 11 terror attacks.

The lawsuit claimed they designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program. The techniques they developed included waterboarding, slamming the three men into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them, and keeping them awake for days, the ACLU said.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Photo from Flickr user Val Kerry.

“This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable,” said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU. “It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity.”

James T. Smith, lead defense attorney, said the psychologists were public servants whose interrogation methods were authorized by the government.

“The facts would have borne out that while the plaintiffs suffered mistreatment by some of their captors, none of that mistreatment was conducted, condoned, or caused by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen,” Smith said.

Jessen said in a statement that he and Mitchell “served our country at a time when freedom and safety hung in the balance.”

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
The torture program began as a result of the attacks on September 11. USCG photo by PA3 Tom Sperduto.

Mitchell also defended their work, saying, “I am confident that our efforts were necessary, legal, and helped save countless lives.”

But the group Physicians for Human Rights said the case shows that health professionals who participate in torture will be held accountable.

“These two psychologists had a fundamental ethical obligation to do no harm, which they perverted to inflict severe pain and suffering on human beings in captivity,” said Donna McKay, executive director of the group.

The lawsuit sought unspecified monetary damages from the psychologists on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the estate of Gul Rahman.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Gul Rahman. Photo from Dr. Ghairat Baheer.

Rahman, an Afghan, was taken from his home in Pakistan in 2002 to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. He died of hypothermia several weeks later after being shackled to a floor in near-freezing conditions.

According to the lawsuit, Salim and Ben Soud both were subjected to waterboarding, daily beatings, and sleep deprivation in secret CIA sites. Salim, a Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, a Libyan, were later released after officials determined they posed no threat.

A US Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen’s techniques produced no useful intelligence. They were paid $81 million for their work. President Barack Obama terminated the contract in 2009.

Mitchell and Jessen previously worked at the Air Force survival school at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane, where they trained pilots to avoid capture and resist interrogation and torture. The CIA hired them to reverse-engineer their methods to break terrorism suspects.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
Demonstration of waterboarding at a street protest during a visit by Condoleezza Rice to Iceland, May 2008. Photo by Flickr user Karl Gunnarsson.

The ACLU said it was the first civil lawsuit involving the CIA’s torture program that was not dismissed at the initial stages. The Justice Department got involved to keep classified information secret but did not try to block it.

Though there was no trial, the psychologists and several CIA officials underwent lengthy questioning in video depositions. Some documents that had been secret were declassified.

The ACLU issued a joint statement from the surviving plaintiffs, who said they achieved their goals.

Related: This vet group says the Pentagon is disclosing private data on millions of troops

“We were able to tell the world about horrific torture, the CIA had to release secret records, and the psychologists and high-level CIA officials were forced to answer our lawyer’s questions,” the statement said.

The lawsuit was brought under a law allowing foreign citizens to have access to US courts to seek justice for violations of their rights.

MIGHTY FIT

4 reasons why veterans make the best fitness trainers

Walking into the gym for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Everywhere you look, there are people lifting massive weights with muscles so defined it seems like they were born doing bicep curls. It can be overwhelming to see all the huge variety of gym equipment spread throughout the fitness center — and you’ve got no idea which machine is for which body part.

To make these first moments easier, gym-going hopefuls hire physical trainers to quickly learn the ropes. However, if you’re looking to take this route, you shouldn’t just hire the first trainer you see. Trainers are varied — each has a unique background, education, and specialty. One trainer might focus on yoga while another specializes in bodybuilding.

So, meet with few a potential trainers. Learn about their background — because if they don’t have military in their history, you might not be getting the most bang for your buck. Here’s why:


Also Read: 6 arm exercises that will get you ready for the beach

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FxT5LMUjzNTzPEK9SOQ.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=942&h=c4c30dfea8a5f279d7428173dfb84bd78d26e579492b890a1759943cfb05183d&size=980x&c=3925646421 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FxT5LMUjzNTzPEK9SOQ.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D942%26h%3Dc4c30dfea8a5f279d7428173dfb84bd78d26e579492b890a1759943cfb05183d%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3925646421%22%7D” expand=1]

They know how to yell at you — respectfully.

A recruit that enters boot camp is yelled at from day one until the day they graduate. Then, when they transfer to their first unit or squadron, the yelling continues. In the military, yelling is used as a harsh tool to discipline and motivate troops. It helps them push beyond their limits and succeed at levels they never expected.

If you’re really looking to get into shape, veterans can motivate you. They’ll use the stern discipline they learned by being pushed beyond their own limits once upon a time. They won’t often cross the line but, if they do, it’s undoubtedly to try and push you harder.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FBFGpGdnIwdius.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=266&h=f7b800d2e9ae9a3c1644501f06b0e579374587145b530529bc6e781fdf275245&size=980x&c=1246507896 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FBFGpGdnIwdius.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D266%26h%3Df7b800d2e9ae9a3c1644501f06b0e579374587145b530529bc6e781fdf275245%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1246507896%22%7D” expand=1]Giphy

They’ve been put through a lot worse

Most veterans have been tested, both physically and mentally, throughout their military careers. So, keep this in mind when you’re searching for a trainer. Whatever hardcore exercise program they want to put you through, rest assured that they’ve been pushed through a lot worse in order to survive.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FAEZRpIb7lz4MU.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=305&h=ec22d4990a33974a859f5666542c32f31566c6cc5e24caa58b8e10c7aee98015&size=980x&c=4211310788 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FAEZRpIb7lz4MU.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D305%26h%3Dec22d4990a33974a859f5666542c32f31566c6cc5e24caa58b8e10c7aee98015%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4211310788%22%7D” expand=1]

They’ll have a crazy work ethic

It’s a well-known fact that the military instills in its troops an insane work ethic. It’s rare for a veteran to quit on anyone. Sure, they might give up on themselves from time-to-time, but never on their team. A veteran trainer will do everything in their power to help you reach your physique and health goals, as long the client puts in 100 percent effort.

They usually have crazy, cool stories

Most veterans have been around the world and seen a thing or two. Their remarkable stories will help distract you from the intense physical stress of those last few reps. Their tales will inspire you to get through that list minute or two of cardio.

We’re not suggesting that civilian trainers don’t have cool stories, too, but we doubt that they can top a first-hand account of a real-world combat scenario.

MIGHTY TRENDING

South Korea scrambles to intercept Chinese fighters

South Korea scrambled fighter jets after five Chinese military aircraft entered the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or KADIZ, on Dec. 18.


The deployment of two Chinese bombers, two fighters jets, and a reconnaissance plane follows South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said the Chinese planes entered Korea-claimed airspace from the southwest — and also flew into Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or JADIZ, South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported.

Amtrak is offering veteran and military member discounts
An armed Chinese fighter jet flies near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft over the South China Sea about 135 miles east of Hainan Island in international airspace. (U.S. Navy Photo)

“After our military noticed the aircraft approaching the KADIZ from the west, we used a hotline with the Chinese military to confirm whether or not it was Chinese military aircraft, and to take countermeasures,” the South Korean official said.

South Korea scrambled F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets in response to the incoming flights — two Chinese H-6 fighter jets, two J-11 fighters, and one TU-154 reconnaissance aircraft.

Chinese aircraft last flew in Korea-claimed airspace on Jan. 9, when they deployed six H-6K bombers, a KJ-200, a propeller airborne early warning and control aircraft, and a Y-9 reconnaissance plane.

Also Read: China’s version of the F-15 Strike Eagle is a huge ripoff

The Chinese flights came as Beijing’s foreign ministry said the summit between Xi and Moon was a “success,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the two sides agreed to “improve and develop the relationship” and to “respect the interests of our neighbors.”

The summit in Beijing was eclipsed by brutal beatings of South Korean photojournalists, which were met with protests in Seoul.

“Chinese security guards kicked Korean journalists in the face and engaged in a group attack,” protesters said Dec. 15. “It is a barbarous act, and it is hard to believe it could happen in a civilized country.”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information