Who knew the word to be used most often in 2020 would be quarantine? With travel being restricted, social isolation being encouraged – plus states closing down schools and offices; it’s leaving many feeling anxious about the uncertainty of the days ahead. Freud suggested that humor is one of the highest forms of defense and he knows a thing or two about the human mind.
So, without further ado – let’s dive into the 10 most epic songs to make you laugh through your quarantine.
Destiny’s Child – Survivor (Official Music Video) ft. Da Brat
As the world is increasingly self-quarantining or “socially isolating” to prevent community spread; the lyrics to this one are epically funny: “Now that you’re outta my life, I’m so much better, You thought that I’d be weak without ya, but I’m stronger.” This one is sure to be a fun anthem for your whole family. Especially with words like: “Long as I’m still breathin’, not leavin’ for no reason.”
Elvis Presley – Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Official Audio)
This amazing classic is the perfect anthem as you continue to stress over the increasingly chaotic world. “I will survive. Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive,” let these lyrics calm your nervousness, you got this. Pandemic-smandemic.
Slightly dramatic, but still epic just the same. “I’m locked up; they won’t let me out. No, they won’t let me out” should give you a chuckle. No, none of us are really locked up in our homes, but it’s sure going to feel that way over the coming weeks. Take a breath, fire this one up, and know it could be worse. You could literally be in jail. Their food is terrible, and I bet they actually run out of toilet paper.
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) [Official Video]
Press play on this powerhouse of a song and feel that endorphin rush! Lyrics like: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stronger; Just me, myself and I” should empower you! Embrace the suck of social isolating with this one.
In the mood to sing moodily into your hairbrush? This is the perfect quarantine ballad for you. The lyrics will speak to your socially isolated heart:
Oceans apart day after day And I slowly go insane I hear your voice on the line But it doesn’t stop the pain If I see you next to never How can we say forever Wherever you go Whatever you do I will be right here waiting for you
If this one doesn’t make you almost spit your quarantini drink in laughter, you need a better sense of humor. With lyrics like: “I told you homeboy u can’t touch this, yeah that’s how we’re livin’,” how can you not laugh? Never mind that the chorus being epically perfect for this pandemic: “You can’t touch this”! Go ahead, laugh. You know you want to!
Hours, days, weeks, months and even years of training have prepared two airmen for one moment — four explosive seconds at the top of a winding icy track in a city that once hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Early days of sprinting, heavy lifting, box jumps and squats have faded into late nights of sanding runners, making countless adjustments and pushing through frustrations to shave off hundredths of a second pushing a 500-pound sled 60 meters.
The goal? A chance to make a team in four years. A chance for a medal. A chance to represent their nation and the Air Force. A chance.
Two airmen within Air Force Special Operations Command were selected to compete with the USA Bobsled team. Capt. Dakota Lynch, a 34th Special Operations Squadron U-28A pilot, and Capt. Chris Walsh, a 24th Special Operations Wing special tactics officer, are push athletes who are ultimately competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2022.
“If you want it bad enough, you’re going to do whatever it takes to be successful … that’s the grit of this sport,” said Walsh. “It takes four years of commitment to make yourself better with every opportunity and even then you’re never really quite there … you have to keep grinding.”
As push athletes, both airmen train vigorously on sprinting and strength to accelerate a bobsled up to 24 miles per hour in close to four seconds while the pilot focuses on navigating hairpin turns in a choreographed chaos down the ice.
Capt. Dakota Lynch, a U-28 pilot with the 34th Special Operations Squadron, performs sprints at The Fieldhouse on Nov. 16, 2018, in Park City, Utah.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)
“It’s a metal and carbon fiber bullet rifling down an ice track at speeds of 85-95 miles per hour,” Lynch said. “It’s like a fast-moving jet with a monkey at the controls while getting in a fight with Mike Tyson … it can be incredibly violent.”
Preceding the countless hours in the gym and on the track, the ride begins with a dream to succeed at the highest athletic level. For Walsh, it was an article in a magazine and for Lynch, it was a challenge from friends while deployed to Africa. For both, it would begin a journey of bruises, scrapes and exasperation that would lead them to Park City, Utah, for the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation North American Cup.
The first steps of their journey was a gauntlet of tryouts and selection beginning with an open combine. From there, standout athletes were invited to rookie camp and then push championships in Lake Placid, New York. Then, both Lynch and Walsh were invited to national team trials to continue to the next phase — competition.
“It relates pretty closely to the job because there’s days where you know it’s going to be tough,” said Walsh. “Every workout, every time I’m in the garage with the team, every step I take is either taking me closer or further away from my goal. If I’m lazy and I decide to slack one day … that workout may mean the difference between me making the Olympic team or not.”
Both airmen attribute their time in AFSOC to their success on their bobsled journey. Walsh is a member of Air Force special tactics, which is a special operations ground force comprised of highly trained airmen who solve air to ground problems across the spectrum of conflict and crisis.
Capt. Chris Walsh, a Special Tactics officer with the 24th Special Operations Wing, taps Hunter Church, bobsled pilot for Team USA, at the finish of their second four-man run at the Utah Olympic Park on Nov. 17, 2018, in Park City, Utah.
“The qualities that special tactics fosters in individuals translates very well to bobsledding,” said Walsh. “ST operators are mature, responsible and disciplined and need to be squared away as individuals. If they’re not, the team as a whole is weak … so having that grit and determination to see the mission through is a big piece of what makes me successful here.”
For Lynch, the team mentality of a four-man bobsled loosely correlates to responsibilities of piloting an aircraft. The U-28A aircraft Lynch flies provides an on-call capability for improved tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces.
“In AFSOC, I am responsible for the aircraft, the men and the women on that aircraft and ensuring the mission is executed properly, safely and precisely,” said Lynch. “Things aren’t going to get handed to you — conditions are going to suck, you’re going to get your crap punched in, but you’re going to have to have the strength and resiliency to drive through it and press forward.”
As active-duty airmen, both Lynch and Walsh have had to negotiate service commitments with leadership support. Both have been granted permissive temporary duty by their respective commanders to vie for a chance at being accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program.
WCAP provides active duty, National Guard and reserve service members the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic team while maintaining a professional military career.
“I wouldn’t be here without my squadron and group commanders taking a chance on me and giving me a shot,” said Walsh. “It makes me want to do really well to represent my country, the Air Force and AFSOC in a good light.”
Professional photographer David Jay knows a picture is worth a thousand words.
To comprehend the news he would hear about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Jay visited Walter Reed Hospital to meet with wounded veterans. The visit had such a profound effect on him that he spent 3 years photographing wounded servicemen and women capturing an unadulterated look at their traumatic wounds for his series “Unknown Soldier.”
“We hear about ‘this number of men were killed’ and ‘this many were injured,'” Jay said in a recent interview with NPR. “And we think of them — maybe they got shot — or we don’t really picture what these injured men look like.”
The images are so visually powerful they have been acquired by the Library of Congress to be used as part its Iraq and Afghanistan wars visual documentation.
“You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, ‘Don’t look. Don’t stare at him. That’s rude.’ I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we’re not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them.”
Jay gave WATM permission to use some of his photos below, but you can see his full gallery here.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Henline. Bobby’s transport was incinerated by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the lone survivor.
Army Spc. Jerral Hancock. Jerral was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. It is believed that Jerral was trapped under the wreckage for half an hour.
Robert was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body
Maj. Matt Smith, US Army. On June 8, 2013 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, Matt was shot along with five others by a member of the Afghan National Army. The bullet severed his femoral artery, resulting in the amputation of his leg.
Marine Cpl. Michael Fox. On November 15, 2011 Michael was on foot patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when he was injured by an improvised explosive device.
1st Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army. On November 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan.
“The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend,” Vogt said. “We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn’t ‘in the cards’. Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left.”
Cpl. Christian Brown, USMC
On Dec. 13, 2011, Christian was leading his squad on foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Both of his legs were blown off- one above the knee, the other below the hip. Just four days prior, under heavy enemy fire, Christian had carried a mortally wounded Marine almost 1,000 feet to a hovering helicopter — an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Silver Star.
Spc. Marissa Strock. She was injured when her vehicle was struck by an IED buried in the road. She was 20 years old.
Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris. Shilo was severely burned on February 19th, 2007 by a roadside bomb estimated at 700 lbs. He lost three men out of a crew of five. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast.
To view the entire Unknown Soldier collection by David Jay, visit his website here.
The military is a tough act to follow and finding the right job takes effort and focus. And just like life in the fleet, having a battle buddy or a wingman to help get it right is important. So to get you thinking right, here are 13 tips from transition experts, recruiters whose job is to get you a job.
1. Approach the job like long-term relationship, not a rebound
The question I most often am asked is “How much am I going to make?”. That question is a natural reaction because people are nervous when transitioning, but statistically many leave their first transition job within nine months because they jumped at the first dollar amount that met their requirements. To avoid this, you need to be thinking long-term. Look deeper than the paycheck and ask about a company’s growth potential. Research their culture and values. Where you start within a company is not where you’re going to finish.
Don’t self-select out of job descriptions that say you must have corporate experience or degree. Look for ways to circumvent or meet those requirements. The military is one of the largest corporations in America, and you worked for it. If a job requires a master’s degree, start pursing your masters and indicate that on your resume.
LinkedIn offers premium membership to veterans so you can find geo-specific job opportunities and obtain certifications. You can find a list of veteran friendly companies on Hiring our Heroes’ website.
— Charles “Chuck” Hodges, Hiring our Heroes, Senior Director for Events and Programs
2. Use your spouse as an asset
Greatest assets a transitioning service member has is their military spouse. So when they are in their final stages of transition, if we are empowering spouses with jobs and employment, it allows the service member to be more selective in their selection and oftentimes a spouse has flexibility – if they need to move ahead to wherever they have decided to retire (from the military) to, they have that option and flexibility.
Military, military spouses and veterans can sign up for a free account at Hiring Our Heroes Dashboard for resume building tools, job listings, and more.
— Elizabeth O’Brien, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Director of Military Spouse Program
3. Leverage your military status
Be confident. Military applicants hold a stronger position in the hiring process than ever before. You’re a valuable asset. There are companies that offer mentorship programs for transitioning servicemen and women. They are prepared to assist you in you fine-tuning your resume and can help you tell your story in civilian terms. Start identifying those companies six months before you transition, they will want to see a first draft of your resume, so be ready for that.
Military, military spouses and veterans looking for a job in the transportation industry can check out Trucking Track.
— Stan Hampton, VP Driver Personnel, J.B. Hunt Transport
(Click here to find career opportunities at JB Hunt.)
4. Tailor your resume for each submission
A common mistake that veterans make is they will generate a generic resume that applies to everything and they use they same resume for every job they apply for. Instead, take your time, read the job description and really highlight your skills as it relates to that role that they are applying to.
— Michael A. Alexander, Military Recruiting and Engagement Lead, Comcast NBCUniversal
Click here to find career opportunities at Comcast NBCUniversal.)
5. Answer interview questions like a S.T.A.R.
Most organizations tend to use behavioral based interview questions. When answering your interviewer’s questions, try to use the ‘S.T.A.R.’ format: Situation, Task, Action and Result. This will help differentiate yourself from other candidates.
— Afsheen Saatchi, Military Recruiter, Starbucks
(Click here to find career opportunities at Starbucks.)
6. Spouses, own the gap in your resume
I encourage military spouses to indicate somewhere on their resume that they are a military spouse. Some are nervous to do that because they think companies may discriminate against them, but I tell them – you don’t want to work for a company with that kind of culture anyway. There are companies that do look out for military spouse resumes, and will overlook those gaps and take their volunteer experience into consideration.
— Lauren Bacon, Hilton Worldwide, Manager of Military Programs
(Check this site to find military spouse friendly companies: MSEP Jobs.)
(Click here to find career opportunities within Hilton Worldwide.)
7. Look for a company that provides a path
You need a process that allows you to transition and progress. Many companies are inviting veterans to apply, but make sure they are able to do more than just hire you. When you’re speaking with company representatives be looking for them to provide a path for you – a detailed timeline that provides a clear sequence to a meaningful career. Avoid companies that are unable or unwilling to do this.
— Dave Harrison, Military Program Management, J. B. Hunt Transport
(Click here to find career opportunities at JB Hunt.)
8. Find a career coach
As a recruiter, many approach me a job fairs and say: “Here’s my resume, what do you have?” Transition is a time where military service members have a choice to make. They can work for the government or get defense contracting job, or move to an entirely different industry, at which point they don’t have the expertise to move into a lateral position. It’s good to have a career coach, they can rely on their MOS, and can also reach out to others who have transitioned and begin a dialogue.
Here’s an online resource for transitioning military and veterans to find an industry-specific virtual mentor: ACP AdvisorNet
— Abie Chong, Military and Veteran Recruiter, Hilton Worldwide
(Click here to find career opportunities within Hilton Worldwide.)
9. Start the application process a year before you get out
Understand no employer will wait for you, but the more you apply, the more practice you get, and the more confident you will become. You may even get a few pre-screening interviews, do them for practice, it will take out the nerves out of the whole ordeal. Applying for jobs sooner than later will also help you gather information on what skills are needed in the field you’re looking to transition to, and will give you ideas on how to fine-tune your resume.
Jonathan Morales, Production Standards Training Specialist, Lufthansa Technik
(Click here to find career opportunities within Lufthansa Technik.)
10. Explore industries you may never have considered
Expose yourself to different industries, because you may have a preconception about a particular industry and when you delve into it, you may be surprised on how many different career paths and jobs there are. For instance, running a hotel is like running an Army base where all different departments that come together to make it operational. Military personnel can really translate what they do currently into any operations position when they transition. It’s all logistics.
— Melissa Stirling, Director of Military Programs, Hilton Worldwide
(Click here to find career opportunities within Hilton Worldwide.)
11. Lead with your leadership experience
Think beyond your MOS, AFSC, or whatever. Whether you’re getting out after two years or a thirty-five year career, be able to break down how you lead and how you manage. For example, if you’re a cook, explain what you do in that role because recruiters who don’t have military experience may not know what that job really entails – you handle food safety, quality control, acquisitions, and leadership management of a time-pressed, no-fail team. Military are able to plan and analyze future threats and opportunities, showcase that on your resume and talk about it in interviews.
— Dave Gualin, Director, Military Veteran Affairs, Comcast NBCUniversal
(Click here to find career opportunities at Comcast NBCUniversal.)
12. Focus on companies that have committed to hiring veterans
There are companies who have committed to hiring a certain number of veterans a year, so make sure your service is in the objective (top section) of your resume so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
— Grant Johnston, VP Business Development, Airsteams Renewables, Inc.
(Click here to find career opportunities at Airstreams Renewables.)
13. Take the time today to plan for tomorrow
You 16 hours or more a day, but planning for your transition is essential in ensuring your success. As you get closer to retirement from the service, let your friends and family know that you’re looking, they can be a great asset for you. Set a timer for thirty minutes a day to focus on what you’re going to do when you get out of the military. Purpose to apply for one job a day.
Jeff Duff, President, Airstreams Renewables, Inc.
14. Remember, you’re not alone
There are resources out there for all the challenges you face during your transition and beyond. Find them and don’t be afraid to call on them. For example, the American Legion is the nation’s largest veteran’s organization and has a presence in each community with over 14,000 posts across the country. If you’re about to transition into a new community, find the post nearest to where you will be and let them know you’re coming. They are there to help. We are more than a banquet hall, we are a community resource.
— Verna Jones, Executive Director, American Legion
(Click here to find career opportunities and other resources through the American Legion.)
The following is an Op/Ed written by Ken Falke. The opinions expressed are his own.
There’s an important day of commemoration on March 29th — or in some U.S. States, March 30th — that goes unnoticed until the nightly evening news or a stumble on social media. This very special day is Vietnam Veterans Day, or in some states, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”
In 1974, President Nixon established this commemoration to recognize the contributions of the men and women who served during this unpopular war and tumultuous time in our history.
Vietnam War memorial. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons | InSapphoWeTrust)
While many will rightly mark the day with speeches, tributes, and celebrations fitting for this great generation, there is a more meaningful way to honor our Vietnam veterans and all veterans. That honor is to provide them new and innovative ways to improve their mental wellness and reintegration into their communities.
Approximately 2.7 million young men and women served in Vietnam — about the same number that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001. While all serving since 9/11 volunteered, few realize that almost two-thirds of Vietnam veterans volunteered to serve as well.
Even though Vietnam was an unpopular war, 91 percent of Vietnam Veterans said they were glad they served in the war, and one-quarter said they would do it again. What these numbers show is the incredible commitment to service that our Vietnam-era veterans share with the post-9/11 veteran generation.
But there are disturbing similarities as well. The current veteran suicide rate of 20+ per day is well publicized; though that the average age of the veteran is 55 years old is less known. PTSD rates from both generations hover around 30 percent.
Additionally, Vietnam veterans struggled — and many still do — with the same challenges that today’s veterans face: PTSD, anxiety, drug, and alcohol dependency, and family and work stability. By a percentage comparison, of the 591 Vietnam prisoners of war (POWs) only 4 percent had symptoms of PTSD.
So why did POWs who experience what would be considered the most traumatic experiences seem to fare so well?
Many suggest the leadership of Admiral James Stockdale while a POW in the “Hanoi Hilton.” His leadership provided purpose, mission, and direction as a team to “return with honor.”
Often, the sense of purpose provided by leadership during transitions facilitates growth to occur. While the DOD, the VA, and other organizations work hard to care for our veterans, the element of leadership seems to be lost after service and veterans fall into a “no-man’s land” that lacks wellness, a clear mission, and renewed purpose.
Why have we made so little progress in mental wellness for our returning warriors?
Many experts, including the Journal of American Medical Association, suggest that our reactive approach to combat related stress such as PTSD doesn’t work. Indicators show that our current approach has made little progress since the Vietnam War, and some suggest since World War I.
We are repeating minimally effective practices where veterans are offered medication, which largely attacks symptoms and leaves them as diminished versions of themselves, or talk-therapy provided by well-intended but often ill-equipped therapists, and cased in stigma.
Though the VA has announced plans to hire 1,000 additional mental health professionals, more therapists will not fix the inadequacies of the current approaches.
How can we do better?
First, expand public-private partnerships. The private sector and nonprofit organizations have developed new approaches to veteran wellness and reintegration that could be expanded. These approaches leverage training (which is compatible with military personnel and veteran culture) and new technology that could “triage” veterans and provide skills to facilitate Post-traumatic Growth before the need for medication or therapy.
Second, we need to recognize and address the stigma associated with therapy. While veterans — and civilians — can gain some benefit from talk-therapy and medication, one can only grow by learning the skills associated with growth. This requires a holistic training approach that veterans understand and allows them to thrive, not just survive.
Finally, innovation costs money. The President’s proposed budget has a 6 percent increase to the VA’s budget; much of it to focus on health care. While this is positive, we need to use new funds to create innovative solutions, not further outdated practices. While the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue and future threats remain, veteran mental health issues will likely worsen.
This March 29th and 30th we will stop to honor and welcome home our Vietnam veterans. While speeches, ceremonies, and commemorations will recognize their sacrifice, to truly honor their service — and the service of those that follow — we should facilitate growth and purposeful lives they truly deserve and welcomes them home.
Visiting France for the first time as an 18-year-old from the Midwest was a trip I will always treasure. After spending several days in and around London. I was ready to put my high school French to the test, and immerse myself in the French culture. I traveled by train from London to the southern coast to board a ferry to Northern France.
As the ferry got further away from the English coastline, the gray skies began to clear and I could see France in the distance. There was a subtle breeze blowing across the English Channel, which created a serine feeling. When the ferry slowed, signaling the final moments of the ride. I gazed at the beauty before my eyes. The lush green fields and trees on top of the slopes leading onto the beaches looked like a slice of heaven.
My first few steps in France were ushered in by the smell of freshly cut flowers being sold on the street. It was only a matter of minutes before the pastel hues of the flowers and landscape revealed their inspiration for the birthplace of Impressionism. For a moment, I felt I had been transported into a Manet painting.
Turning back around to look at the English Channel, I was overcome with an eerie stillness. It had been 55 years since Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, known as D-Day.
There were two contrasting French coasts viewed by an 18-year-old in 1999, and an 18-year-old in June of 1944. In those waters off the French coast, thousands of Americans boarded transporters that resembled an open-air commercial sized dumpster on water. There were young men from every corner of the country, split between the transport boats. On some of those small boats there were 18-year-old boys, who had never traveled far from home until that moment.
It’s likely they weren’t focused on the beautiful scenery they were about to disembark upon. Their final thoughts before stepping down the ramp into the choppy waters of the Channel weren’t of eager anticipation to sample the French cuisine, or leisurely strolls through street markets of small French villages. They were of their families back home, who were unaware of the impending horror their loved ones were about to endure, or unaware that by the end of the day, history would change course. Within hours, thousands of American families would be forever changed. Sons, brothers, husbands and fathers would meet their destiny on the shores of Northern France.
At the top of those slopes leading to the beach, Nazi forces opened fire on the thousands of Allied forces storming the beaches. Suddenly, dreams of owning a home or business paled in comparison to the hope of surviving long enough to feel the grass beneath their feet as they continued the bloody campaign inland.
For the American GI’s lucky enough to survive long enough to reach the sandy beaches. The water washing ashore was bright red. It became impossible to tell if the blood shed by Allied forces had overtaken the waters of the Channel.
If a famous Impressionist artist like Cezanne were to capture the moment in a painting, the landscape in the artwork would be void of any gentle pastels. Instead, grey, brown and red would capture the ominousness of the harrowing invasion.
Before the horror besieging the shores, the dark, early morning sky was littered with planes depositing thousands of American paratroopers scattered throughout Normandy. Many planes were shot from the sky as paratroopers leaped from them. Some blasts were so violent they knocked weapons out of the paratroopers’ possession. For those who landed safely on the ground, many found themselves alone in a foreign and hostile land. As they dodged German fighters, paratroopers began to link up to form a stronger offensive force.
The invasion took years to plan, and careful coordination between American, British and Canadian forces comprised of over 150,000 troops. Among the 150,000 troops, 14 Comanche “code-talkers” relayed critical messages in their Native American tongue, which German forces were unable to translate.
By the end of June 6,1944, the Germans had been bombarded by air, land and sea from Allied forces. The Atlantic theater began to shift from Nazi control of Europe to a liberated Western Europe. More than 4,000 Allied troops lost their lives in the D-Day invasion.
The success of D-Day was the turning point, and beginning of the end for the Nazis.
In the 76 years since D-Day, millions of people have blissfully explored the rich history, beauty and diverse cultures of Europe. It was the bravery and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of Allied forces on D-Day that helped save the world.
I was privileged to experience all the beauty Europe offers as an 18-year-old, because thousands of 18-year-olds on June 6, 1944 had the courage to face evil directly in the face.
Winston Churchill summarized it best, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
The start date of the offensive to oust Islamic State fighters from the city of Raqqa and end the terror group’s state-building project has been announced several times in the past few months, often with great fanfare by commanders in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the United States’ ground ally in northern Syria.
The last announcement came in March when Kurdish commanders said an assault on the city would begin April 1.
Two weeks later that start date, like many others, has come and gone, prompting the months-long question: when will the U.S.-backed SDF offensive shift gears from isolating Raqqa, which is hemmed in on three sides now, to mounting an assault to retake the capital of the jihadists’ self-styled caliphate?
Over the weekend, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the French news agency AFP he would support whomever wants to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa, but mocked the delay in an assault on the city, which U.S. officials believe is being defended by around 4,000 IS fighters.
“What we hear is only allegations about liberating Raqqa. We’ve been hearing that for nearly a year now, or less than a year, but nothing happened on the ground,” he said. “It’s not clear who is going to liberate Raqqa…It’s not clear yet.”
The Turkish defense minister again complicated the U.S. effort to choreograph an agreement among multiple local and international players about a Raqqa offensive by pressing Ankara’s long-standing demand for the U.S. to end its alliance with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, whose fighters dominate the ranks of the SDF.
There were no signs that the Turkish request made persistently by Ankara in recent months, and relayed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a February phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, will be heeded.
U.S. officials say they envisage the Raqqa battle will resemble the fight in neighboring Iraq, where local indigenous forces have been waging the struggle to retake the northern city of Mosul, the last IS major urban stronghold in that country.
Some 500 U.S. special forces soldiers deployed in northern Syria are helping to train and advise SDF units.
Mattis later said at a press conference the U.S. remains in solidarity with Ankara when it comes to fighting Islamic State militants and Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, but he made no mention of discontinuing the alliance with the YPG, the armed wing of Syria’s Democratic Union Party, or PYD.
The Turks, who fear the emergence of a Kurdish state in north Syria, maintain there’s no real distinction between the PYD and the PKK, which has been waging an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)
Mattis cited the long security relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, dating back to 1952 when Turkey joined NATO; but, in the wake of the April 16 constitutional referendum that greatly enhances the Turkish president’s powers, analysts say it is unclear how much Erdogan values his country’s alliance with the West, and whether his slim victory will embolden him to disrupt a Raqqa assault by the SDF.
Earlier in April, Erdogan ramped up the pressure on Washington, saying his government is planning new offensives in northern Syria this spring against groups deemed terrorist organizations by Ankara, including IS and the PYD’s militia.
In March, Turkish forces escalated attacks on the YPG in northern Syria, forcing the U.S. to deploy a small number of forces in and around the town of Manbij to the northwest of Raqqa to “deter” Turkish-SDF clashes and ensure the focus remains on Islamic State.
Local anti-IS activists say the air raids fail to distinguish between military and non-military targets; however, with IS fighters seeded throughout the city and surrounding villages, being able to draw a distinction is become increasingly challenging, say U.S. officials.
“Civilians are now [caught] between the criminal terrorists on one side and the international coalition’s indiscriminate bombing on the other side,” said Hamoud Almousa, a founding member of the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which is opposed to an assault on the city being led by the YPG.
“Liberating [Raqqa] does not come by burning it and destroying it over its people who have suffered a lot from the terrorist group’s violations,” he added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group that relies on a network of activists for its information, said that four civilians — two women and two children — were killed April 17 in an airstrike believed to have been carried out by coalition warplanes on the Teshreen Farmarea north of Raqqa.
The Observatory says between March 1 and April 10, airstrikes killed 224 civilians. They included 38 children under the age of 18, and 37 women.
Another mainly Arab anti-IS activist network, Eye on the Homeland, complains at the lack of international condemnation about the civilian casualties from the airstrikes, arguing civilians caught in the conflict are being treated inhumanely.
“We assert that the liberation of civilians from all forms of terrorism requires that military forces acting in the area avoid civilian killing, displacement, and the destruction of their properties whenever possible,” the network said recently on its website.
It warned the deaths will “be used to by terrorist organizations in their propaganda to convince civilians that these military forces do not have their interests at heart” and will “only further fuel radicalization.”
In terms of physique goals, many men are looking to lean out everywhere while adding bulk to their arms to fill out their sleeves. It’s what a lot of us like to call, “having tickets to the gun show.”
The biceps are composed of two muscles: the long and short heads. To bulk them up fully, you’ll also need to include some work on the triceps as well. This vital muscle group is made up of the lateral, medial, and long heads.
Now, we all know that using dumbbells is a great way to add size your arms, but your body will adjust to those same exercises after a time, and you’ll notice your results start to plateau. So, many gym professional move over to the cable machines to mix things up and continue to grow those massive arms.
If you’re ready to bulk up those biceps and triceps, here’re a few cable exercises you should try.
While facing the cable machine’s pulley system, grip the straight bar with your palms facing down. Next, take a step backward while keeping your back straight. Your elbows should remain close to your body throughout the movement.
Once you’re ready, use your triceps to push the bar downward until your arms are fully extended, but don’t lock your elbows. Hold at the peak of the rep and feel the tension in your triceps for a brief moment before slowly raising the bar back up.
While facing the cable machine, pick up and grip the EZ-curl bar with your palms facing up. Keeping your elbows down by your side, lift against the resistance in a curling motion, pulling the bar toward your chest while squeezing your biceps. At the peak of the movement, hold that squeeze for a second before slowly lowering the bar.
While facing away from the cable machine, hold the ends of the rope in your hands above your head and keep your elbows pointed upward. As you begin the rep, move the rope ends outward as you extend your triceps. Stop the rep just locking out your elbows, hold weight in place for a moment, and then return the rope to its starting point.
These are similar to dumbbells hammer curls. Grab onto the ends of the extension rope, stand up straight, and take a small step backward. Next, do a controlled hammer curl up and, as always, squeeze those biceps at the peak of the rep before slowly lowering the rope back to the original position.
This is a slightly unconventional arm-strengthening exercise. Unlike the others, you lay flat on your back with your feet positioned on the floor for extra stability. So, grab on to the straight or EZ-curl bar with your palms facing up and carefully move into a lying position.
Keeping your elbows down by your side, lift the resistance in a curling motion toward your chest, making sure to squeeze your biceps for maximum effect. As always, you’ll want to pause for brief moment at the peak of the movement before slowly lowering the EZ-curl bar back to the starting position.
The Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform has found quite the new suitor, and his name is U.S. Air Force. The Air Force has become completely smitten with the OCP and has made no secret of its affection for the green- and desert-shaded garb and intends to adopt the uniform branch-wide in the coming years.
But when that change is finally made, airmen are sure to be happy. The OCP has some clear-cut advantages over the ABU; here are five of them.
5. Color and functionality
Green is better than blue (or grey or whichever color it may be classified as) for most military operations, especially overseas operations. There are very few arenas that favor a blue-and-grey mix over the natural blending of greens and browns. Also, it comes with glorious pockets.
Nothing says military quite like a uniform. Specifically, we’re talking about the uniformity of uniforms. With the proposed dismissal of the morale shirt (final-f*cking-ly), it’ll automatically become easier for units to maintain true uniformity.
Having one uniform saves the Air Force money. Removing the uniform swaps that take place during deployments or permanent changes of duty station means buying fewer uniforms, which means saving cash. That’s a lot of funds that can now be better spent — glow belts, anyone?
So, we just got $100,000 to buy new glow belts, guys! (USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Collon)
The ABU’s predecessor, the BDU, was the official duty uniform (one that we shared with all our brother services) for nearly three decades. The ABU lasted for less than a decade. Maybe getting back in line with our brother services will lead to a longer lifespan for this next uniform iteration.
Another week of quarantine, another round of memes. The Tiger King references are slowing down since 99% of the population has already seen it, made fun of it and determined Carol Baskin is actually THE WORST. But the rest of the problems in the world are still very much being leveraged for a little dark humor.
Hope you and your families are staying safe, washing your hands and have plenty of liquor and TP.
1. Stop the throwbacks
I’m sure them seeing you smiling right after your senior prom before you got to graduate with all of your friends is making them feel super supported. Whatever, we still like seeing who is clearly doing the botox and who had hair way back when.
2. Truth bomb
Turns out there is a right way to load the dishwasher, Steve.
3. Stimulus check
Nothing to see here, nothing to see.
We’re okay without the anarchy but the zombies would have at least given us some sports.
5. Make your decision now
You shouldn’t be sick of any of the local places.
6. Natural beauty
The mascara down to your cheeks look is the new smoky-eye.
7. Part of your world
Even Michael Scott knows the rules.
8. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
The good old days.
9. Princess Bride
Another great movie in case you haven’t finished Netflix yet.
10. Sweet Forrest
Life is like a box of chocolates and a dangerous one at that, especially if you share that with someone who is right next to you.
11. The walls are closing in
It’s about to be Thunderdome in here.
12. What day is it?
Best part, neither one of them have on pants. #spiritanimal
13. Prime time
You’d better chlorox her too!
14. Romeo & Juliet would have been fine
Well, up until they weren’t.
15. Snow White knows
Grumpy is spot on these days.
16. Must be nice
There is no try. Only do or do not.
We’ll never drink a corona the same again
18. Those coupons!
It’s all a marketing ploy to get more customers in the TP deficit.
19. Casual Friday
Might protect your face but it’s so hard to type with those tiny little t-rex arms!
20. Nature is healing
This one quacked us up. You’re welcome.
21. Desperate times
It’s like being in a carwash, for dishes.
22. Groundhog Day
Even the super heroes are restless.
Really Homer, we know you aren’t putting pants on to go downstairs.
And feed myself pancakes in bed.
25. Live footage
She’s gonna need a whole lotta time at the spa.
26. What a relief
As long as they don’t sneeze, you’re good.
27. My precious
That rocks. (See what we did there?)
28. Double meaning
Not like you were going to get together anyhow…
This hand sanitizer is so moisturizing, said no one ever.
30. Largest piece of the pie
Did I always touch it this much?
31. Even the celebrities are alone
Hopefully he’ll use this time to write something amazing for us.
32. Never let go Jack
It’s your time to shine and provide comfort.
33. I only had one drink
Wonder what skills she’ll find out she has after that beverage?
34. Cruise ship
Samesies. Except not at all.
35. Zoom progression
We call this developing to our surroundings. Also, breaking.
36. Sweet ride
Making teachers everywhere proud of your newfound independence brought to you by day-drinking during homeschool.
37. Can’t touch this
We know someone will eventually cave for that.
38. Even the emojis are sick
But do the animals have on masks too?
39. Suntan lines
Cruise this time of year: . Mask lines: priceless
40. Thieves oil please
Sell it all to me!
41. Bring your own lighter
It’s much easier to judge people from a perch.
Is that you, Rona?
43. Pass the tacos
It’s hard to be in quarantine.
44. Smocked and bows
No, we don’t know where you can buy this.
45. The forbidden flower
Its magic is dying.
46. Sums it up
Everything is fine!
47. Slap your face
Too bad you can’t see your mom to ask her.
Time to find a new goal, kids.
49. But tickets were so cheap
Not worth the risk buddy.
Well, at least you don’t have to search COVID-19 memes, because we have the best ones right here. Stay safe!
While Hurricane Michael created catastrophic devastation to most of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, the relief efforts were a reminder of the symbiotic relationship between military branches.
In the days following the storm, the Air Force came in droves to provide support, with the Navy and Army not far behind. Engineers from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, Gulfport, Mississippi, and the 46th Engineer Battalion, Fort Polk, Louisiana, hit the ground running.
They traveled in convoys bringing with them construction vehicles and equipment. Unable to bring everything they would need, they also arranged to have contracted vehicles meet them at Tyndall AFB.
In teams, totaling more than 130 personnel, they worked to clear trees and debris.
“We are going full force getting trees removed, so we can help people access their buildings,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Zachary Bunter, MNCB 133. “Our main focus is 30 feet around buildings and roads.”
Navy Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Vance Winecke, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, from Gulfport Miss., cuts branches off of trees as they are cleared away from buildings.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)
His team was successful in clearing the area around the base clinic.
“We are hoping to clear up enough that when the permanent party are returning it may be less of a shock,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Klein, 46th Engineer Battalion commander. “We want to restore hope that the base is going to come alive again.”
The Army has also taken on clearing out Fam Camp, which will be used as a staging area for rebuild efforts.
“We are all here to take care of each other,” said Klein. “We take care of our brothers and sisters on our right and left and that is what this mission is. I told (the Soldiers) to remember that they are helping their own and that is what is most important.”
For many, it is also about putting their training to work.
“For some of them, this is their first time seeing a disaster like this and doing first response,” said Bunter. “These type of missions, humanitarian and disaster recovery, are what we really shine at – being able to go out and help people whether it is here in the U.S. or overseas.”
Sailors from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, from Gulfport Miss., work clearing trees away from buildings.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)
Klein echoes his sentiment.
“We have stood up to do hurricane response three times in the past two years and this is the first time we have actually been called out to help,” he said. “The soldiers are getting to experience what the Army does, what the military does and what the Department of Defense does.”
At the end of the day, the Army and Navy have the same end goal – to return normalcy to the base and surrounding community.
“Contractors have thanked us for helping because the base is a huge source of revenue for the local community,” said Bunter. “Hopefully this base recovers and hopefully what we do is a big help to everything.”
Getting the mission up and running is also a priority.
“We have to get it right so they are able to go out continue what their mission is,” said Klein. “They run a very important mission out of this base, so it is important for the nation and DoD to get it up and running as quick as possible.”
The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System is seeking a contractor to offer on-site contracted residential services for approximately one hundred homeless veterans per day. The Contractor shall rapidly stabilize veterans of the program through treatment, addressing mental health, physical health, substance abuse and other psychosocial problems.
Vets Advocacy, a non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Campus, is helping to amplify the search for a contractor to help provide services.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there are 3,878 veterans who lack a “fixed, regular, or adequate place to sleep” on any given night in Los Angeles County. While the number of homeless people in L.A. has been on the rise in the past year, the good news is that the number of homeless veterans “stayed essentially flat” (and even declined in the year before.
The reason for this trend is credited largely to financial assistance from the government.
“In the past, homelessness was largely viewed as an economic problem,” Dr. Jack Tsai, an Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist at Yale University, told The Defense Post. “But due to deinstitutionalization of those with severe mental illness and the increasing visibility of homelessness in large cities, homelessness really has become a public health problem and one closely related to mental illness.”
The Defense Post goes on to say, “Veterans are more likely than civilians to experience homelessness due to combat-related injury or illness, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, or sexual trauma while in service, according to the National Coalition to End Homelessness. These traumas, if untreated, can result in substance abuse which affects a person’s ability to earn a stable income and increases the risk of homelessness.”
This contract will provide services to 100 veterans who may be of the following eligible homeless veteran populations: males, over the age of 55, or high priority veterans with acutely elevated suicide risk factors.
Offers are due Dec. 23, 2019. The contract will be for a base and three one-year option periods beginning on or about March 1, 2020. Anyone interested can view the complete solicitation here.