This charity helps troops beat Halo when they're not beating the Taliban - We Are The Mighty
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This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

Operation Supply Drop (OSD) is the kind of organization that sounds very simple at first. They collect donated video games, console systems, and cash to send gaming care packages to troops overseas and here in the United States. The nonprofit calls these care packages “supply drops.”


As anyone who’s been deployed can attest, the periods of excitement and fear are interspersed with long periods of monotony. OSD began in a garage with an Iraq War vet boxing up donations to help his peers enjoy the same hobby he loved: gaming.

From those humble roots, OSD has now grown into a charity that does a lot more. While they still generate care packages for deployed service members, they’ve expanded into creating unique experiences for veterans, fighting veteran joblessness, and other causes which affect warriors.

The expansion had some growing pains. The founder publicly split and created his own new organization. But the CEO, Glen Banton, is excited for all the ways OSD’s expanded mission has let them serve veterans.

“We’re in the business of helping veterans,” he said in an interview with WATM. “Unfortunately, the video game thing sometimes overshadows the other things we do. But essentially, it needs to be about putting veterans first. How can we keep supporting as many vets as possible. That’s while you’re deployed and need something to spend your time with, or when you get home and have other needs.”

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Photo: Courtesy Army Maj. Erik Johnson

OSD began by enlarging the supply drop program, and then adding on new programs.

“The supply drops increased in size and scope. We started going to bases themselves, rec centers, mess halls, day rooms, hospitals, events, Halloween and Christmas parties… Anywhere we can impact a lot of troops per day and have fun.”

In a recent supply drop at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, OSD worked with Army occupational therapist Maj. Eric Johnson who has used video games to help wounded warriors progress in their therapy. But the center had just an old Nintendo Wii with which to work.

Johnson gave a wish list to OSD who was able to get the medical center six new video game consoles and almost 100 games plus peripherals like steering wheels. It was OSD’s largest supply drop yet.

“Glen and his team, they came with OSD last week and, blew me away,” Johnson said. “Way more than I had asked for, way more than I anticipated.”

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Wounded warriors play video games at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas after a the Operation Supply Drops largest drop. Photo: Courtesy Operation Supply Drop

Then there are “Thank You Deployments,” where a veteran or a small group of veterans get to participate in a special event or outing, usually by working with corporate or non-profit partners.

“There are VIP outings, genuinely relevant to the veteran,” Banton said. “So, we might take them to a gaming conference or on a trip to a studio. But there might be other stuff.

“We’ve had race car experiences. We met a driver who worked for Forza and is a vet. He helps get them full access, a ride in the pace car, access to the lounge. It’s really amazing.

“And as the community grows, it continues to get broader and broader. It doesn’t take us away from gaming. It takes us to people who are gamers and do other stuff.”

OSD also has a “Teams” program. The teams encourage people to get locally connected with active duty service members and veterans so everyone can engage at the local level on big issues like veteran suicide, depression, homelessness, and unemployment.

“The Teams Program is the action arm of OSD,” Banton said. “They’re local chapters with veteran and civilian members who address things like veteran suicide or homelessness. Really, what we look at with the teams is, how do we create within Seattle, L.A., Muncie, Indiana, how do we engage in a way that helps?”

While it may seem like this is OSD straying from their roots as a gamer-veteran focused charity, Banton and his team don’t see it that way.

Glenn explained, “If someone asks, ‘Hey, OSD, I need some help and don’t know where to go. I think I can get this job but I don’t have the clothes,’ or ‘I don’t have the home base to do the interview,’ we can help with that.

“So we can, for a thousand dollars, get them housed for six months and get them help through this community, then they become a big part of the community.

“That individual doesn’t have space to enjoy an XBox if he wanted to. to us, it’s very clear and it’s easy. We know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing: Inspiring veterans and other civilian supporters to give back to those around them.”

For those interested in getting involved helping veterans through OSD, head to “The Teams” page, make a donation, or learn about the 8-bit Salute where gamers can play to raise money for future supply drops and other events.

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The new Titanfall trailer delivers a human look at robot combat

The video game “Titanfall” had a simple appeal. It was frontline combat in the future where humans, robots, and giant “titans” battled in a two-sided war.


Sure, there was a cool storyline and some bells and whistles, but the appeal was fighting battles in three-story metal juggernauts armed with rockets and cannons.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
(GIF: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

Now, a “Titanfall 2” trailer is drawing players to the sequel with a more human appeal. A rifleman in the game, J. Cooper, describes what it’s like to fight side-by-side with the player-controlled pilots.

The story highlights some of the game’s new gadgets for pilots, including grappling hooks and the ability to create holograms.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
(GIF: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

But it’s the narrative and great voice acting that really sells the experience. Check out the trailer below and prepare for titanfall.

(Video: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is building an amphibious assault ship for their Marines

Russia is looking to expand its amphibious assault capability by building two ships comparable to the large-deck, amphibious vessels common in Western navies.


According to a report by NavyRecognition.com, the first of these vessels will begin construction in 2020, the second in 2022. The plan is for both ships to be in service by 2026. While the exact details of the ships are not yet available, this isn’t the first time that Russia has sought to add powerful amphibious assault capability to their arsenal.

Russia had hoped to acquire two such vessels from France, which built three Mistral-class amphibious assault ships in the 2000s. However, the deal was canceled when the ships were nearly ready for delivery in the wake of Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Egyptians later bought the vessels with some help from the Saudis.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
One of the two Mistral-class amphibious assault carriers Russia had hoped to buy from France. The Egyptians now have them. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Ahmed XIV)

Most of these big-deck amphibious assault ships are capable of carrying a battalion of troops (usually marines) in addition to at least a dozen helicopters. In the case of the Russian vessels, the onboard helicopters will likely be a mix of Ka-52 Hokum attack helicopters as well as Ka-27 Helix anti-submarine helicopters, Ka-29 Helix troop-carrying helicopters, and Ka-31 Helix airborne early warning helicopters.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
An aerial starboard bow view of the Soviet amphibious assault transport ship Ivan Rogov underway. (U.S. Navy photo)

During the Cold War, Russia did develop three unique amphibious vessels. However, these ships, Ivan Rogov-class amphibious vessels, have since been removed from active service. GlobalSecurity.org notes that these vessels could carry a battalion of Russian Naval Infantry and 25 tanks. We expect the new ship to have equal, if not greater capacities.

Watch the video below to learn more about Russia’s planned amphibious ship:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VznhA32_ds
(New Update Defence | YouTube)
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13 best military memes for the week of Dec. 23

Look, if you’re not on Christmas block leave or libo or whatever your branch calls it by now, then you’re probably not going on it.


Let’s all just sit together with the funny military memes and try not to imagine what all those people with Christmas trees and matching pajamas are doing right now.

1. It’s the only dessert made up of 50 percent sadness (via Coast Guard Memes).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
The culinary specialists really know how to make it feel like home.

2. Gotta hit the ground running (via Air Force Memes Humor).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Welcome to the Air Force, with a vengeance.

3. That yellow bird is tired of your cadence calls (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
First, the mice. Then, the Corps!

ALSO READ: This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

4. Stay low on your pushups and avoid burpees (via The Salty Soldier).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Hopefully, the tall fellow will take the hit and absorb most of the blast.

5. Dig deep, everyone (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
The Air Force wants to at least get a laugh when you hurt their feelings.

6. Saving more Lincoln’s than a private box seat (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Just in time for Christmas, too.

7. Congrats on your restored ratings, Navy!

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Now, we are all one with the Rates.

8. Don’t necessarily want to fight another nation, but it would be super nice to have clear target identification (via Pop smoke).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

9. Remember to do some pushups between desserts over holiday leave (via The Salty Soldier).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Plus five burpees per present on Christmas morning.

10. If you think throwing up double birds when PCSing is fun, just wait till you ETS (via Lost in the Sauce).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
This one goes out to my first brigade CSM.

11. When you’re not about that Rack City life (via Sh-t my LPO says).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Not sure I can come up with 956 names.

12. In their defense, the table looks super stable (via Military World).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
I hope they were getting ready for a safety powerpoint.

13. Oooh, how will you survive?

(via Decelerate Your Life)

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Does the Air Force only use two fingers for their knife hands? It’s like a stiletto hand or something.

Secret bonus meme 1: My Coast Guard contacts have assured me that this is brilliant (via Coast Guard Memes).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

Secret bonus meme 2: Really, guys? This is literally an entire football field. Including the end zones (via Maintainer Humor).

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

MIGHTY CULTURE

Women join ranks of cavalry scouts

Every soldier in the Nebraska Army National Guard has a story: the reasons why they joined the military, picked their particular military occupational specialty (MOS) job, or serve in their military unit of choice.

For two soldiers serving in the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Troop B, 1-134th Cavalry, the stories are particularly different than those around them. That’s because Sgt. Nicole Havlovic and Sgt. Danielle Martin are two of only a very few women serving in the Nebraska cavalry squadron. In fact, the two Nebraskans are one of only a few women in the nation who have successfully graduated from the Army’s tough combat arms MOS school and earned the title of “cavalry scout.”

Havlovic originally joined the Nebraska Army National Guard as a water treatment specialist. However, after serving for six years, she decided to leave the Guard for a year. “I got out because I was bored,” Havlovic said. “I really didn’t have any guidance about what I could do or what the possibilities were. I wanted to do something different and fun and be out there training.”


It was that desire to do something different that drove Havlovic to join the Nebraska Army Guard cavalry squadron. “I felt like it would be a really good fit. I’m pretty outdoorsy and this — being out in the field — doesn’t bother me at all,” Havlovic said.

Sgt. Danielle Martin’s route to being a cavalry scout was not a direct one, either.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

Sgt. Danielle Martin approaches the finish of a ruck march during the 1-134th Cavalry Squadron’s spur ride during annual training in the Republic of Korea June 18, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anna Pongo)

“I’ve always wanted to go into combat arms,” Martin said. “It really was a year before joining the military that I knew combat arms was what I wanted to do. However, I was still junior enlisted and so I really couldn’t do much about it.”

The last restrictions against women serving in combat roles were lifted in 2013. However, Army regulations specified that units were first required to have two female cavalry scouts in leadership positions before other female soldiers would be allowed to join their ranks. This made integrating junior-ranking women into the units all that much more difficult.

So, Martin began her career in the Nebraska Army National Guard as an automated logistical specialist before joining a military police unit. After rising to the rank of sergeant, Martin said she finally saw a way to reach her combat arms goal.

“It was already on my radar that I had just gotten my E-5 [sergeant] and I wanted to go to 19-Delta [cavalry scout] school,” Martin said.

Both Sergeants attended a cavalry scout reclassification school, an Army school designed to train soldiers from other MOS in the skills needed to become operational cavalry scouts. Martin attended the November reclassification course in Boise, Idaho. After completing the course, she reported to the Mead, Nebraska-based Troop B this past January.

Martin said the reception she received from her new unit let her know that they respected her newly-earned skills. It wasn’t about changing who anyone was, she said, but having a mutual respect between soldiers.

“They don’t treat me any differently just because I’m female,” said Martin. “I’m one of the guys and I think it needs to be that way… I’m not coming in here to change them. I’m coming in here because I know I can physically and mentally handle it, and I want to do the job.”

Havlovic attended the cavalry scout transition course in Smyrna, Tennessee, and reported to Troop B in April 2019. She said her fellow soldiers don’t treat her differently than any other member of the unit.

“They really don’t treat me any differently,” Havlovic said. “I don’t expect them to…I expect them to believe that they can trust me with the mission and what we have to do and be able to keep up and be trustworthy and dependable…Everyone has actually been really welcoming to me.”

With Havlovic and Martin completing their transition courses, Nebraska National Guard’s 1-134th Cavalry Squadron became the ninth Army National Guard unit, fourth Cavalry Troop and second Infantry Brigade Combat Team Cavalry Troop to be opened for junior enlisted female cavalry scouts.

1st Sgt. Andrew Filips, Troop B’s senior enlisted soldier, has spent 15 years in the squadron. He said the change of policy wasn’t an issue.

“What it really comes down to is that we’re a combat arms unit and there’s only one standard,” Filips said. “You either perform or you leave. You either make the cut or there are other units for you to go to.”

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban

Nebraska National Guard Soldiers with the 1-134th Cavalry Squadron receive certificates and silver spurs after successful completion of a spur ride during annual training in the Republic of Korea June 21, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anna Pongo)

1st Sgt. Christopher Marcello of Grand Island’s Troop A, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron, is a 22-year veteran of the cavalry squadron. He has also been a member of the Grand Island Police Department for six years. He echoed Filips’ thoughts.

“I work with women every day as a police officer and that’s a tough job where you can get punched in the face, or shot or beat up and you have women doing that every day. So combat arms isn’t any different,” Marcello said. “You have to have the right fit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. It doesn’t matter. You have to be the right kind of person to be a scout.”

The Nebraska Army National Guard’s 1-134th Cavalry Squadron is part of the larger 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which is headquartered in Arkansas. The brigade is responsible for providing training and readiness oversight of its subordinate units. According to Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory White, the 39th IBCT senior enlisted leader, the way the brigade finds the right soldiers for their difficult job has changed from looking at who can physically do it to those who want to do it.

White also said that women who hold a combat arms MOS are the best representatives to recruit other women into the field.

White spoke with Martin during a visit to B Troop’s recent annual training in the Republic of Korea. They both agreed the focus should be on reaching out to women who want the challenge of serving in combat arms positions, and once they do, give them the tools they need to become advocates.

“Having her [Martin] talk to them is going to be so much better than a guy who has been in for 30 years,” White said. “A 50-year-old man talking to these young women just is not going to reach them in the same way as when she talks to them.”

Filips says the physical demands are not the only aspect of combat arms that new recruits need to consider. The relatively demanding training pace also makes combat arms units different. Troop B regularly trains in the field and spends most drill weekends training throughout the night. That is often one of the bigger reasons why some soldiers eventually choose to transfer into the squadron.

“If you want to come into the Guard and feel like this is what I want to do; (that) I want to… be awesome and be the baddest dudes and wear the cool hats and do all that, then yes go for it,” said Filips. “But if you are ‘I want to try this because it would be neat’, there’s other places to be neat. Come here because this is what you always wanted to do in life. You have to want it.”

Marcello seconded those comments, adding that Troop A is willing to let soldiers — male or female — try being a cavalry scout for their drill weekend.

“We’re more than happy to let people come in, try it out and if it doesn’t work for you, we get it,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with gender, doesn’t have anything to do with sex; it has to do with can you do the job.”

Both Havlovic and Martin said they realize they are now mentors and role models for those around them. They are also quick to encourage other soldiers to give it a try.

“It’s definitely something I would sit down, explain to them and educate them on,” said Havlovic, who now works for the state recruiting office.

“It’s not for everybody. It really isn’t. I don’t believe that just because combat arms has been opened up to females mean that all females belong here. But if you can do it, then do it.”

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

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Air Force data breach exposes Channing Tatum

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” star Channing Tatum is among over 4,000 people who may have had personal information exposed on an unsecured backup drive owned by an unidentified lieutenant colonel.


According to a report by the International Business Times, the information exposed on the unsecured drive, which was able to be accessed via an internet connection, included passport numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers, security clearance levels, and completed SF86 applications for security clearances.

The drive was secured with a password when the leak was discovered by a researcher.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
(Photo: Capt. Kyle Key)

The information contained is considered the “holy grail” by some experts in the field of national security, the website noted. Former government officials told ZDNet that the information could be used for blackmail purposes.

SF86 forms contain information that is used to determine what sort of classified material an individual can have access to. That information includes convictions, financial information, personal or business relationships with foreign nationals, mental health history and similar information. The data breach puts the individuals at risk for identity theft and financial fraud.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Romanian hacker “Guccifer”, who is known for many cyber intrusions against the United States. (NBC News screenshot.)

The materials on the drive included the spreadsheet that had information on Tatum gathered prior to a six-day tour the actor took in Afghanistan. Other unidentified celebrities also had their contact information compromised.

Information on various probes of American officials was also compromised in the hack. Some of those probes involved allegations of abuse of power. Bank information was also on the compromised disk, as well as years of e-mails.

Both ZDNet and the International Business Times noted that the device was accessible to anyone and searchable, so it may be impossible to determine who has accessed the drive.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia might allow U.K investigators to question alleged spies

The Kremlin says it will study any British request to question the two men London suspects of trying to murder a former spy, in strict accordance with Russian law.

But spokesman Dmitry Peskov said no such request has been received so far.

Britain has charged two men, Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov, with attempting to murder former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

British authorities accuse them of spraying a military-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on Skripal’s front door in Salisbury in March 2018.


Peskov on Septe. 14, 2018, reiterated that the Kremlin denied any Russian state involvement in the poisoning.

Peskov’s comments come a day after the two men appeared in an interview on Kremlin-funded RT television station to proclaim their innocence.

The two denied they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU and said they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London.

“Our friends had been suggesting for quite a long time that we visit this wonderful city,” Petrov said in the interview.

“They have a famous cathedral there,” Boshirov said, adding: “It is famous for its 123-meter spire.”

James Slack, spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May, derided their claims as “lies and blatant fabrications.

“More importantly, they are deeply offensive to the victims and loved ones of this horrific attack,” he said.

British officials have accused the suspects of smuggling Novichok into Britain in a fake perfume bottle and smearing some of it on the front door of Skripal’s home in Salisbury, where the former intelligence officer settled after being sent to the West in a Cold War-style spy swap in 2010.

The attack left Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, 34, in critical condition, but both have recovered after weeks in the hospital.

The men interviewed by RT denied carrying the fake women’s perfume bottle with them.

“Isn’t it silly for decent lads to have women’s perfume?” one of the two men was quoted as saying by the Kremlin-funded RT.

“The customs are checking everything.They would have questions as to why men have women’s perfume in their luggage. We didn’t have it.”

They also said they stayed less than one hour in Salisbury due to poor weather.

“We went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere,” one of the two men said, referring to local landmarks.

In a statement, the British government said the interview reflected more “obfuscation and lies” by Moscow.

“The government is clear these men are officers of the Russian military intelligence service — the GRU — who used a devastatingly toxic, illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country,” it said.

“We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March,” the statement also said. “Today — just as we have seen throughout — they have responded with obfuscation and lies.”

The RT interview was aired a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country had identified the men Britain suspects of poisoning Skripal and his daughter, but claimed they were civilians.

“They are civilians, of course,” Putin said on Sept. 12, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the A-10 is in trouble again

The Air Force may be backtracking from its stated plan to keep the A-10 Thunderbolt II flying until 2030.

During a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land subcommittee hearing on April 12, 2018, Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, the service’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans, and requirements, said as a platform, the A-10, beloved among ground troops and attack pilots alike, will remain until roughly that time period.


But even as the “Warthog” got funding for brand-new wings in the $1.3 trillion omnibus budget, that doesn’t necessarily mean every one of them will be flying until 2030, Harris said.

“We will have to get back to you on the groundings per year, per airplanes,” Harris said in response to Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona and former Air Force A-10 pilot.

“We are not confident we are flying all of the airplanes we currently possess through 2025,” Harris said.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
An A-10 Thunderbolt II flies a combat sortie Jan. 7, 2014, over northeast Afghanistan.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)

In their written testimony, both Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, and Harris said, “The new wing program will aim to avoid any further groundings beyond 2025, and will ensure a minimum of six combat squadrons remain in service until 2032. In addition to re-winging efforts, the Air Force is exploring ways to augment the A-10 fleet.”

The Air Force in January 2018, said it began searching for a new company to rebuild wings on the A-10 after ending an arrangement with Boeing Co.

The following month, it released a request draft for proposal for companies to start envisioning their petitions to re-wing the 109 remaining aircraft in the inventory which need the upgrades.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
An A-10A/C Thunderbolt II.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force officials have said the service can commit to maintaining wings for six of its nine A-10 combat squadrons through roughly 2030.

McSally, said she understood the A-10’s need is based on operational tempo, but pressed officials on what Congress needs to do in order for the Air Force to “smooth out” A-10 retirement issues and re-winging efforts past 2025.

Even if the A-10s don’t fly, Harris said the service will preserve portions of the A-10 as it rotates some into backup inventory, or BAI, status. Harris did not elaborate how many A-10s that could apply to.

“We’re not going to make a further commitment [on additional wingsets] until we know where we’re going with both the A-10 and the F-35,” Harris said, referring to the further Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) testing between the two aircraft.

A “fly-off” between the two, part of the IOT&E testing, is expected in the near future.

The requirement that the two aircraft go up against each other was included as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 amid congressional concerns over plans to retire the A-10, and replace it with the F-35. McSally was one of the architects of the bill’s language.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
An A-10C Thunderbolt II with the 188th Fighter Wing, Arkansas Air National Guard conduct close-air support training Nov. 21, 2013, near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Jim Haseltine)

“As we are looking at our [combat Air Force] roadmap and where we’re going with our modification program, our intent is not to have a grounding that impacts the fleet,” Harris said April 12, 2018. “We’ll make sure we re-wing enough of the aircraft to have that capability and capacity.”

McSally said the need was for nine full squadrons — not the six the Air Force has suggested.

“With them being south of the DMZ, deployed to Afghanistan, just coming back from schwacking ISIS, and working with our NATO allies and all that we have on our plate, three active-duty and six Guard and Reserve squadrons for a total of nine, that’s already stretching it,” she said.

“How can we provide that capability to the combatant commanders with only six? I just don’t see it,” she said.

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’22 Pushup Challenge’ official calls Air Force ban ‘disgraceful’

You’d think Air Force brass, who struggle with suicides and overweight airmen, would welcome any incentive its troops could have to raise morale and get in a few extra pushups for their fellow veterans.


Not so.

The service warned airmen against joining hundreds of other service members and veterans in 22Kill’s 22 Pushup Challenge while in uniform or on duty. That didn’t sit well with Matthew Nelson, the Executive Director of 22Kill’s Boston office.

“I think it’s disgraceful,” said Nelson. “Heaven forbid you get some extra PT in raising awareness for an issue that affects the warrior class of society. The Air Force has a history of this weak-minded mentality.”

22Kill is intended to raise awareness for veteran mental health issues — including the infamous 22-per-day-suicide rate — as well as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury issues.

 

The challenge is to do 22 pushups in honor of a person or for a cause and to upload a video of you doing it to social media. Airmen from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida are uploading photos and videos doing their part for the cause.

Even soldiers from the UK are showing their support.

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Airmen from Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado participate in 22Kill’s 22 Pushup Challenge. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force, however, doesn’t want troops to make it seem like the service is endorsing one private charity over another, officials say.

“Airmen may participate in non-profit organizations, including fundraising for non-profits, so long as they do so in their personal capacity, not in uniform,” Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis told WATM.

“That is a passive cop out and they know it,” says Nelson.

The Air Force, with its high ops tempo and historically low manpower, struggles with an airman suicide rate that it can’t control.

“We just don’t have a good track record with it,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said at last year’s Air Force Association Air and Space Conference. “What we have is a track record of pushing people beyond what’s reasonable and sustainable. We’re going to lose our best people if we don’t get this right.”

Air Force spokesman Lewis reinforced the service’s dedication to suicide prevention, mentioning Air Force participation in the DoD’s own #BeThere campaign.

“It is commendable that Airmen desire to participate in, and support, organizations to raise awareness or funding for suicide prevention in their personal capacity,” said Lewis. “We just want to make sure airmen are aware of what they can and can’t do in uniform according to established regulations.”

Meanwhile, a recent Military Times story called the Air Force out as a “close second” to being the most overweight service in the U.S. military, with the Army taking the top slot, according to data the paper obtained during an investigation.

While the Army doesn’t allow soldiers to participate in the Pushup Challenge, it told Air Force Times it never felt the need to issue a statement on the issue. The Navy and Marines have not issued a statement either.

 

“All DoD employees must abide by the Joint Ethics Regulation, which is clear concerning such activities,” Navy spokesman Ensign Marc Rockwellpate told Air Force Times. The Navy hasn’t specifically advised sailors as the Air Force has, but Rockwellpate mentioned that sailors are required to abide by Joint Ethics Regulation 3-209, which says:

“Endorsement of a non-federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise may be neither stated nor implied by DoD or DoD employees in their official capacities. [T]itles, positions, or organization names may not be used to suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment of any non-federal entity except those specifically listed.”

This charity helps troops beat Halo when they’re not beating the Taliban
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz)

Endorsement or fundraising is not the intent of the 22Kill effort, Nelson said. The original intent was a combined effort to pushup 22 million times “to raise awareness to veteran suicide prevention through education and empowerment,” according to 22Kill’s pushup page.

“While [airmen] are allowed to participate in activities to honor fallen airmen or bring awareness to issues like suicide, if these activities are associated with any type of nonprofit, non-federal entity, or fundraising or membership campaign, it cannot be done in an official capacity,” the Air Force said without mentioning the 22Kill program by name.

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Celebrities like John Krasinski, Candace Cameron Bure, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, and The Rock also participated in the challenge.

“The military is synonymous with pushups and the challenge is to spread the word about our organization,” 22Kill’s Nelson says. “22Kill helps our warrior class through camaraderie, support, empowerment, and brings light to the small amount of people that defend this nation.”

The counter currently reads 227,880,412 pushups.

“Maybe whoever made that decision should spend some more time in Arlington,” Nelson says, “thinking about what’s important, what is petty, and what causes harm or discriminates against another.”

Articles

This is everything you ever wanted to know about US desert uniforms

Thanks to the generosity of military members who literally gave up the uniforms they wore on their backs, Alexander Barnes and Kevin Born have successfully authored a new book that is educating readers on the nuances of desert uniforms.


After more than two years, their 344-page hardcover reference book “Desert Uniforms, Patches and Insignia of the U.S. Armed Forces” was published in late 2016. It features more than 1,000 mostly color photos with detailed descriptions of a variety of uniforms, different unit patches and insignia and more. They had lots of willing help tracking these down – locally and around the globe.

To handle the massive project, they set up a small studio in Born’s house and spend nights and weekends photographing and scanning several hundred donated and loaned uniforms, patches and insignia worn by U.S. Armed Forces.

Barnes, a former Marine and National Guardsman, and Kevin Born, chief of the Collective Training Development Division in theCASCOM G-3/5/7, and retired Army major, often just needed to walk around CASCOM for help.

“Working in a building with so many military veterans,” said Born “one is bound to run into some who had served during the desert period. Retired Col. Charles (Charlie) Brown, director of the Battle Lab, gave me his 6-colored uniform from Desert Storm and 3-colored Desert Combat Uniform from Afghanistan. And on the day he retired, he loaned me his Army Combat Uniform off his back, which is in the book illustrating the transition to the ACU uniform.”

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This Coast Guard Desert Combat Uniform represents a Chief Petty Officer assigned to the 307th Port Security in Clearwater, Fla. The uniform is among the hardest to find since only a few few thousand Coast Guardsmen deployed. This unit saw deployments to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Photo: U.S. Military)

Born said, “In another example, one day I walked out of my office in the CASCOM G-3 area and 10 feet away in Jason Aleo’s cubicle was hanging a rare desert Close Combat Uniform from his service as a field artillery captain with a Stryker Brigade Combat Team. I asked to borrow it as well as photos of him wearing it in Northern Iraq. It’s included on two pages in the book.

Barnes, who retired as a CASCOM logistics management supervisor in 2015, has similar accounts of those assisting with the book.

“I sent an email to Lt. Gen. (Mitchell) Stevenson (in England), a former CASCOM commander, and asked if he could share a photo of his service. He replied a day later, ‘What do you need, and how soon?'” said Barnes. “He was in a civilian job, but he stepped forward and sent us a great picture of him in the desert.”

Born continued, “I walked by Chaplain (Maj.) Stanton Trotter’s office one day, and saw a set of framed photos from his service with the 10th Mountain Division very early in Afghanistan in 2001. He kindly loaned several for us to scan. These appear in the book with Trotter praying next to a Soldier.”

Barnes and Born together have more than 50 years of military service and share a long history and avid passion for military collecting. Barnes has a master’s in anthropology, grew up in a military family and has co-authored three other books on military history as well as writing many articles on the subject.

Born has a bachelor’s in history and education and has authored numerous articles on military insignia collecting, an area he has focused on for more than 40 years. While they worked at CASCOM for a number of years, they did not know each other until the August 2011 earthquake in Central Virginia.

”Al and I are both members of the U.S. Militaria Forum and he commented about the earthquake on the forum that night,” said Born. “I saw his post and realized there was another military collector one floor above me. I reached out to him through the forum.”

Barnes said, “the earthquake was the catalyst.”

They soon discovered like-minded military collectors on Fort Lee who included Richard Killblane, the Transportation School historian, and then Lt. Col. (now Col.) Robert Nay, the former deputy installation chaplain.

“We met periodically at lunch to talk about our collecting interests,” Born said. “The seeds for the book came out of these discussions.”

They also collaborated on several articles in Military Trader Magazine that allowed them to get used to each other’s writing styles and served as practice for writing the book.

However, there were no plans yet for a book.

Barnes continued, “We started having lunches with others who had the same interest. After several, we decided to have a military swap meet at Fort Lee.”

Three annual gatherings took place and there was a huge interest, Barnes said.

“After one of these, we said, ‘We need to do something about all these desert uniforms. If we don’t, it will be hard to do it in 20 years.'”

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A soldier enjoys breakfast in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 wearing the so-called “chocolate chip” desert camo uniform. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Cisneros via Flickr)

The two were unsure of any interest in a book about desert uniforms. “It was such a short period of military history,” noted Barnes. Others at Lee changed their minds.

“It was one of these serendipity things,” said Barnes as they began asking veterans about their desert tours. “So, you were there too. I’ll be darned. Would you have any pictures? And they would say ‘sure.'”

Barnes added, “most were surprised anyone cared. ‘You’re kidding. You really want pictures of me in Iraq. Sure – anything I have, you can have.'”

The original project was smaller in scale. “We thought it would be kind of an Army patch book – showing the variations of these with a couple pictures of uniforms,” said Barnes. “But it kept growing as we felt it important to add all services.”

Schiffer Publishing – the publisher of three other books by Barnes – quickly gave the go-ahead. Both were surprised to get a positive response. They were given nearly a year to pull it together – write the chapters and captions, gather the content, take photos and more.

After 10 months of gathering content and expanding the book, they submitted their package in August 2015. In December, they began receiving sections of the book from Schiffer. After receiving proofs, both saw areas where more details were needed, and they started a Facebook page to help in this process.

“We got more interest from around the world,” said Barnes.

In preparation for the book, they accumulated more than 1,000 government and theater-made desert patches and over 300 uniforms. A large number are in it. These came from numerous veterans and collectors.

Others at Fort Lee (some retired or at other bases now) who were helpful include retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeffie Moore, formerly with the CASCOM Proponency office; Maj Mike Bethea, an Enterprise Systems Directorate officer in CASCOM; Dr. Milt Smith, a dentist at Bull clinic; and Capt. (now Maj.) Vance Zemke, a former instructor at ALU.

Born added, “I found out two weeks before Maj. Zemke was to PCS to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., that he had a huge collection of theater-made patches acquired in his deployments. He kindly loaned them to me with the provision I get them back in a few days’ time for him to pack them up for the movers. I spent day-and-night scanning them. They can be found throughout the book.”

The book foreword is by retired Maj. Gen. Ken Bowra, a former Special Forces officer, a friend of Barnes and Born.

“He not only wrote the foreword, but he allowed us to take pictures of his personal uniforms and shared many photographs as well,” said Barnes. “He served in the entire desert uniform period, wore these uniforms and patches in Desert Storm/Somalia/Operation Enduring Freedom and many other places. Most importantly, he always had a great respect for all the men and women who served during this era.”

Bowra also is a military history writer and author of two Osprey Vietnam-era books.

There were some hard-to-get uniforms and patches, notably CASCOM patches.

“Most collectors do not have these,” noted Born. “These units are not normally in the desert environment, and fewer people were deployed from the schools. I only had a loose copy of the patch. But Al beat the bushes with all of his contacts to find a photograph of one being worn in theater, which are both in the book.”

They completed their final review in August 2016 and were pleased to receive finished copies in late December.

Born said, “writing the book was about two things for us – recognizing the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the armed forces who wore the desert uniform as well as advancing this area of military collecting. Whenever a reference like this is published, there is an increased interest among collectors.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

US government warns Americans not to travel to Venezuela

The US Department of State issued a level-four travel warning for Venezuela on March 14, 2019, to tell Americans “do not travel” to the chaos-stricken country, and that all Americans in the country should leave. It’s the highest travel warning that the department issues.

The advisory pointed to “crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens.”

The announcement aligns with a top-level warning that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in May 2018. That warning said outbreaks of measles, malaria, diphtheria, and other infectious diseases are contributing to “an increasing humanitarian crisis affecting much of the country.”


The Department of State noted on March 14, 2019, that, throughout Venezuela, “there are shortages of food, water, electricity, medicine, and medical supplies.”

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(Flickr photo by Anyul Rivas)

Political rallies and demonstrations occur with little notice, the warning said. And these rallies attract a strong police response with “tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism.”

“Security forces have arbitrarily detained US citizens for long periods,” the warning said. “The US Department of State may not be notified of the detention of a US citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”

After this warning was issued, American Airlines announced on March 15, 2019, that they would suspend flights into Caracas and Maracaibo. “Our corporate security team has a collaborative partnership with all of our union leaders and we will continue to do so to evaluate the situation in Venezuela,” the airline said in a statement.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA offers mental health care for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made mental health care treatment available to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges through two new programs.

One service, initiated in 2017, is specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.

The department’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers are prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who arrive at the facility with a mental health need.


Former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.

During this time, VHA and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.

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A second initiative focuses on the implementation of Public Law 115-141. With this implementation, VA notified former service members of the mental and behavioral health care they may now be eligible for and sent out over 475,000 letters to inform former service members about this care.

The letters (sample follows) explained what they may be eligible for, how long they may be able to receive care and how they can get started.

You are receiving this notification because you may be eligible for services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Congress recently passed legislation that allows VA to provide ongoing mental and behavioral health care to certain former service members with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges, including those who

  1. Were on active duty for more than 100 days and served in a combat role, or
  2. Experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault while serving.

The rate of death by suicide among veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than veterans who use VA care; according to agency mental health officials. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. VA will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.

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In 2018, 1,818 individuals with an OTH discharge received mental health treatment, three times more than the 648 treated in 2017.

There was a total of 2,580 former service members with an OTH discharge that received care in 2018 in VHA. Of these, 1,818 received treatment in Mental Health Services. Of the 2,580 service members with OTH discharge, 1,076 had a mental health diagnosis.

Additionally, VA may be able to treat a mental illness presumed to be related to military service. When VA is unable to provide care, VA will work with partner agencies and will assist in making referrals for additional care as needed.

You can call or visit a VA medical center or Vet Center and let them know that you are a former service member with an OTH discharge who is interested in receiving mental health care.

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Everything you need to know about the Army’s new drone school

Army instructors at Fort Benning, Georgia recently opened a new drone training school to teach young soldiers to become as familiar with these tiny flying devices as they are handling M4 carbines.

The 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, 316th Cavalry Brigade opened its new small unmanned aerial system, or SUAS, course facility June 11, 2018, and recently began giving classes to basic trainees “so they can become familiar with drones before they show up to their units,” Sgt. 1st Class Hilario Dominguez, the lead instructor for the class, said in a recent Defense Department news release.


Students at the SUAS course showed basic trainees how the drones fly and how to describe them if they see one flying over their formation.

Capt. Sean Minton, commander of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment, said his recruits learn how to fill out a seven-line report when they spot a drone and send the information to higher headquarters by radio.

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A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle.
(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

Trainees also learn how to hide from an enemy drone and disperse to avoid heavy casualties from drone-directed field artillery.

“Our enemies have drones now,” Minton said. “And we don’t always own the air.”

Instructors teach Raven and Puma fixed-wing remote-controlled drones and a variety of helicopters, including the tiny InstantEye copter, which flies as quietly as a humming bird, according to the release.

The students who attend the SUAS course are typically infantry soldiers and cavalry scouts who go back to their units to be brigade or battalion-level master trainers, Dominguez said.

Having trained and certified experts from the course builds trust among company and troop-level commanders so they worry less about losing drones because they distrust their drone pilots’ skills, Dominguez said.

Staff Sgt. Arturo Saucedo teaches precision flying at the course. He tells his students to think of the small helicopters as a way to chase down armed enemy soldiers.

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RQ-11B Raven

“Instead of chasing him through a booby hole, you just track him,” he said. “Now you have a grid of his location, and you can do what you need to do.”

The new drone schoolhouse was created inside a former convenience store.

“This building represents an incredible new opportunity to the small unmanned aerial system course,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Barta, 3-16 commander, during the SUAS building opening event.

“For several years now it was operating in small, cramped classrooms insufficient to meet program instruction requirements. Thanks to the work many on the squadron staff, the 316th Brigade S4 shop, and the garrison Directorate of Public Works and Network Enterprise Center, we were able to turn the vacant structure into a vibrant classroom, training leaders to make the Army better.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

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