What it's really like for military families when troops are deployed - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

#WWIII, #NoWarWithIran, and other trending Twitter hashtags from the past week reveal the anxiety people across the globe are feeling amid near-boiling-point tensions between the US and Iran.

The US is sending 3,500 Army paratroopers to the Middle East, reports Tuesday revealed, adding more uncertainty — especially for military families.

To add to that distress, those being deployed have been told to leave their cellphones at home.


Eighteen-year old Melissa Morales is one of those family members caught off guard. Her twin sister, Cristina, is scheduled to leave Wednesday, she said in an interview with CNN.

“As her twin sister, it kind of hurts. It stings,” she told the outlet.

Research shows deployment can have a very real psychological impact on family members, particularly military spouses and children.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sean Mathis)

Among a range of feelings, studies have shown that families of deployed military personnel experience a range of challenging emotions.

Learning of a spouse’s deployment can mean “emotional chaos.”

A qualitative study of 11 women married to deployed Army Reserve military members had a heart-wrenching finding.

Nearly all of the women described the moment they learned their husband would have to deploy fell into a category researchers call “emotional chaos,” or experiencing a range of emotions — like stress, disbelief, and sadness — all at once.

Partners of those deployed report higher levels of anxiety and stress.

One study of 130 US military spouses (68 spouses of non-deployed servicemen and 62 spouses of servicemen deployed to a combat zone) took a close look at stress.

Spouses of deployed servicemen had markedly higher stress scores than spouses of non-deployed service members, the study found. Additionally, anxiety levels were “significantly higher in spouses of deployed versus non deployed servicemen,” the researchers found.

Spouses are at an increased risk for substance abuse.

UK-based King’s Centre for Military Health Research collected data from 405 women in military families with at least one child.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

Shared routines, rituals and set rules help keep members feeling stable and grounded.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

These women reported higher rates of binge drinking than women in the general population, 9.7% compared to 8.9%, respectively. They also reported higher rates of depression, 7% compared to 3%.

For parents, there’s often no room for self-care.

When spouses deploy, many partners are left to take care of their families by themselves.

One 2018 study found that spouses report not having enough time to take care of themselves. As one participant said, when it comes to taking care of themselves, “Everything else comes first.” Time to go to the gym and money to buy healthy food is nonexistent, they said.

Children are at a higher risk for depression and other psychosocial issues.

Kids with a deployed parent show higher incidents of lashing out, sadness, worry, and depression, a meta analysis of several studies shows.

Toddlers of deployed parents can experience confusion and separation anxiety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics writes on its blog that toddlers “may not understand why mom or dad isn’t there for bedtime” and that school-aged children “may worry mom or dad will be hurt.”

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brad Mincey

A 2014 research analysis supports this finding, with author Dr. Suzannah Creech, a research psychologist with Veterans Affairs and a professor at Brown University writing, “For children, deployment-separation can bring a sense of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and absence.”

Trouble sleeping and poor academic performance can weigh on kids.

A 2009 study that looked at children ages 5-12 with a deployed parent found that 56% had trouble sleeping and 14% had school-related issues.

Social support and therapy are proven to help spouses and children.

While these findings paint a grim picture, there is help out there for military families.

Studies show that factors such as increased social support and cognitive behavioral therapy, where people learn to challenge their patterns of thought, can greatly help families during and after a loved one’s deployment.

Within military families individually, maintaining shared routines, rituals and set rules help keep members feeling stable and grounded. And regular family meetings before, during, and after deployment can be helpful, researchers report.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling, please call the US National Suicide Prevention Helpline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Remington Arms has filed for bankruptcy…again

On July 28, 2020, the Remington Arms Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an Alabama federal court. Seeking to restructure amid legal and financial hardships, this is the second time since 2018 that Remington has filed for bankruptcy.

At 204 years old, Remington bills itself as America’s oldest gun maker and claims to be America’s oldest factory that still makes its original product. Remington has also developed and adopted more cartridges than any other firearm or ammunition manufacturer in the world.


During its long history, Remington has churned out classic sporting shotguns like the Model 31 slide-action, Model 1100 autoloading and the Model 3200 over/under. Remington rifles have also been the favorites of familiar names like George Armstrong Custer, Buffalo Bill and even Annie Oakley.

Remington has also had a long history of manufacturing military weapons under contract. In addition to the famous M1903 and Rolling Block rifles, Model 10 trench shotguns and 1911 pistols, Remington was contracted in WWI to make .303 British Pattern 14 rifles for England and Mosin-Nagant rifles for Russia. For the United States, Remington also made modified U.S. Model 1903 rifles with Pedersen devices.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

A soldier takes aim with an M1903 Mark I fitted with a Pedersen device (U.S. Army Ordnance Department)

During WWII, Remington continued to manufacture the M1903 rifle, including the 1903A4 sniper rifle variant, the first mass-produced sniper rifle manufactured in the United States. The company also produced nearly 3 million rounds of .30 and .50 caliber ammunition.

In more recent years, Remington has continued to supply the U.S. military with firearms like the Model 870 shotgun, Model 700/M24 rifle, MSR, and even the first batch of M4A1 carbines.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

A U.S. Navy SEAL with a Remington 870 during a training exercise in the early 1990s (U.S. Navy)

In March 2018, Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, having accumulated over 0 million of debt. In May of that same year, Remington was able to exit bankruptcy thanks to a pre-approved restructuring plan that was supported by 97% of its creditors.

In 2019, the Supreme Court denied Remington’s bid to block a lawsuit filed by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The families filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington as the manufacturer and marketer of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used in the shooting.

In June 2020, the FBI reported that it conducted 3.9 million firearms background checks, eclipsing the previous March record of 3.7 million. Despite a surge in firearms sales across the nation, Remington has found itself in financial hardship. According to its bankruptcy filing, the company owes its two largest creditors, St. Marks Powder and Eco-Bat Indiana, a combined total of .5 million. The filing also listed the states of Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri, as well as the city of Huntsville, as creditors with undetermined claims since the company took development incentives in each jurisdiction.

As the company tries to find a buyer to keep it alive, its future remains uncertain. Whatever its fate, the Remington name will continue to stand as one of America’s most iconic and prolific manufacturers of firearms.

Articles

The Army wants to ditch the M249 SAW and give the infantry more firepower

The US Army is looking for an upgrade to the M249 squad automatic weapon, a mainstay of the infantry squad and its prime source of firepower.


According to a notice on the government’s Federal Business Opportunities website, first spotted by Army Times, the US Army is looking for the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle, or NGSAR, to replace the M249.

The NGSAR “will combine the firepower and range of a machine gun with the precision and ergonomics of a carbine, yielding capability improvements in accuracy, range, and lethality.”

The notice stipulates that NGSAR proposals should be lightweight and compatible with the Small Arms Fire Control system as well as legacy optics and night-vision devices.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
A M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) on a Stryker.(Photo by Patrick A. Albright, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

“The NGSAR will achieve overmatch by killing stationary, and suppressing moving, threats out to 600 meters, and suppressing all threats to a range of 1200 meters,” the notice states.

The FBO posting does not list a caliber for the new weapon. The M249 fires a 5.56 mm round, and the Army is currently examining rounds of intermediate caliber between 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm to be used in both light machine guns and the eventual replacement for the M4 rifle.

The desire to replace the 5.56 mm round comes from reports indicating it is less effective at long range, as well as developments in body armor that lessen the round’s killing power.

The M249’s possible replacement, the M27 infantry automatic rifle, has already been deployed among Marines and is now carried by the automatic rifleman in each Marine squad.

The M27 was first introduced in 2010, originally meant to replace the M249, but the Marine Corps is reportedly considering replacing every infantryman’s M4 with an M27.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
A Marine fires his M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle while conducting squad attack exercise in Bahrain on Dec. 1, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Manuel Benavides)

The notice also requires that the NGSAR come with a tracer-and-ball ammunition variant, which “must provide a visual signature observable by the shooter with unaided vision during both daylight and night conditions.”

The NGSAR should also weigh no more than 12 pounds with its sling, bipod, and sound suppressor. The M249 weighs 17 pounds in that configuration, according to Army Times. The notice does not include ammunition in its weight requirements.

The phasing in of M249 replacement should take place over the coming decade, the notice says.

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

NovaPoint Capital provides investment management with integrity

Joseph Sroka isn’t just an investment specialist, he’s a military veteran and business owner with a passion to assist the veteran community. He is the Chief Investment Officer of NovaPoint Capital, a firm he co-founded, which provides investment management for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.


Before getting into the number crunching and chart watching of the investment world, Sroka served as an infantry officer in the Army. After graduating from West Point in 1988, he was stationed in Berlin, Germany and was witness to the iconic fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification of Germany, and collapse of the Soviet Union. As a person who was inspired to serve by Ronald Reagan, seeing the end of the “Evil Empire” seemed like a good time for a career change.

“I grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and was in middle school during the Iran hostage crisis,” Sroka recalls. “President Reagan brought pride back to the country and the military. I was proud to serve.”

After earning his MBA, Sroka spent time working in equity research at investment banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms in Chicago, New York, and eventually Atlanta, the city he now calls home. The investment management industry has proven as lively as the military. Sroka was working at 4 World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center, on 9/11 and helped evacuate his colleagues at Merrill Lynch from the building. He has also managed through the volatility of the markets during the 2008 financial crisis.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Joseph Sroka

His deep experience in the industry helped him develop the tools he needed to go into business with his partner, Alan Conner. Together, they decided the goal of NovaPoint Capital was to provide individuals and institutions with disciplined and transparent investment management.

We’ve both seen the ugly side of the business over the years,” Alan explains, “Excessive fees and complicated investment products seem designed to benefit the investment firms and the brokers, rather than the clients. It is very satisfying to run a firm where we truly put the client first.

As a boutique firm, they offer an aspect that is often lost when dealing with larger firms: the opportunity to build a personal one-on-one relationship directly with their clients. This structure provides clients with direct access to the manager who is handling their money and not sales representatives or relationship managers who are twice or three-times removed from the actual investment.

They recognize that a lot of trust that comes with handling investments. NovaPoint seeks to provide all clients, large and small, with complete transparency in how their money is invested. They have used technology to simplify the process and give clients a window into what the team at NovaPoint is doing every day.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

NovaPoint shows they are purposeful and disciplined when it comes to the strategies they put forth. Both owners understand discipline. Sroka as a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, Conner as an endurance athlete and three-time IRONMAN triathlon finisher. Conner sees “the discipline in our investment process as a simple extension of the discipline we have in our everyday lives.”

Being a veteran-owned business, NovaPoint understands the value the veteran community provides to the country’s economy and wants to encourage other veterans to pursue their investment and financial goals. To help veterans achieve these goals NovaPoint Capital takes a few proactive steps. They offer special discounts on standard fees as well as waiving minimum investment requirements for veterans. They extend these offers to include retirement plans for other veteran-owned businesses as well as non-profit organizations that serve the veteran community. Additionally, NovaPoint contributes one day of revenue every six months directly to veteran charities.

Beyond discounts and waived requirements, Sroka personally continues to serve veterans in his community by being a mentor through organizations like Veterati and FourBlock. “I am a huge believer that the current generation of transitioning veterans are going to be the leaders in the U.S. economy for decades to come,” Sroka said. He is also working to bring a Bunker Labs chapter to Atlanta to help military and veteran entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in the area.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 ways troops kill time while in a fighting hole

Fighting holes have been used as effective defensive positions for decades, stymieing the enemy’s deadly offensive movements. Some branches of service refer to these dug-in positions as “foxholes,” but both terms refer to the exact same thing.

How a fighting hole is constructed depends greatly on the amount of time a troop intends to spend occupying a position. If a troop intends on staying in the fight from a single position for a prolonged period of time, it might be outfitted with entertainment options to stave off the boredom that comes from long hours of waiting. In this case, it’s not uncommon to find things left behind by a previous occupant for the next troop to enjoy.

But, when a fighting hole is constructed and is only going to be occupied for a short period, the troops within need to get clever with killing time. So, if living in a fighting hole is in your near future, learn from the troops before you.

Here’s few ways troops have killed time while dug-in on the front lines.


Also Read: 5 of the best ways to get drinkable water while in the field

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Then-Lt. Micheal “Spicy” Dorsey with a smile on his face while in the COC at OP Taylor, Sangin, Afghanistan, 2011.
(U.S. Navy photo by HM3 (FMF) Tim Kirkpatrick)

 

Continuously listen in on the radio

Although there’s always someone monitoring the comm gear to relay important messages as they come through, military radios can also be pretty entertaining if you listen closely enough. Communications between various units sometimes plays out like a military soap opera.

Troops request various items, get denied those items, and, if you’re lucky, they’ll hold down the “push to talk” button on the handset as they talk sh*t after being rejected.

We call these epic fails “hot mics.”

Smoke cigarettes until the sun goes down

In Afghanistan, Pine cigarettes run about a id=”listicle-2581849130″ per pack. Ground troops bring a little cash with them to the front line, so they’ll often buy smokes off the locals. When there’s nothing else to do, they’ll chain smoke ’em for entertainment. The only problem is, once the sun goes down, smoking a cigarette is a violation of force protection.

No one wants to bring danger to their brothers just to get a nicotine fix.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
HM3 (FMF) Tim Kirkpatrick thinks about the beautiful Southern California warm weather while freezing his ass off in Sangin, Afghanistan, 2011.
(U.S. Marine photo by Lt. Micheal “Spicy” Dorsey)

 

Think about the sh*t you’re going to do when you get home

While you’re stationed in a desolate area with virtually nothing to look at but a handful of villagers doing their laundry, troops’ minds start to wander, thinking about what they’ll do once they get home. Whether it’s going surfing, registering for school, or just going out to drink a cold beer, plenty of ideas drift through a troop’s mind as they man their defensive position.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Pvt. Codi Hoffman waits in a fighting position that he and a few fellow Soldiers built during a battalion-wide field training exercise.
(Photo by Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord)

 

Build narratives of imaginary firefights

When troops are positioned in fighting holes, there’s a strong chance they’ll take incoming fire — it’s less a matter of ‘if’ and more a matter of ‘when.’ So, they stay close to their rifles and predict where a threat may come from. They develop a narrative in their head of what actions they might take in order to fight off the bad guys — and maybe score a cool kill shot in the process.

Screw watching Hollywood movies, grunts create their own fiction while they’ve got nothing but time on their hands.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force snagged the alleged Minot M240 thief

The Air Force’s long national nightmare is over. Its missing M240 machine gun was finally recovered from the home of an airman stationed at the base, according to a press release from the Air Force Global Strike Command.

The theft prompted many to question how it could have been lost, why the Air Force has an M240, does the Air Force really need an M240, how many do they have or need, and would the Air Force notice if I took one.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations obtained a federal search warrant, executing it at the off-base residence of a Team Minot airman on June 19, 2018.

Missing for little over a month, the automatic weapon and the fallout of its theft made waves across the military-veteran community and in the military news cycle. After a box of 40mm MK 19 grenades fell off the back of a humvee while traversing a Native American reservation, the subsequent inventory of the Air Force arsenal on Minot discovered the missing M240 machine gun. This prompted the 5th Bomb Wing, 91st Missile Wing, and other installations to make a thorough inventory of their weapons.


What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
The Air Force released this super helpful photo of what the case of grenades probably looks like.

The theft also caused the dismissal of 91st Security Forces Group commander Col. Jason Beers, who was moved from Minot to his new job as Chief of Air Force Special Operations Command’s installations division. With AFSOC being based primarily in Florida, I think we can call that an overall win for the Colonel but unfortunately Chief Master Sgt. Nikki Drago was also fired as the unit superintendent.

Not much is known about the airman whose home housed the missing weapon or his motivation for the theft, if he did take it. Perhaps he wanted to help fight the burgeoning crime problem in the Minot area.

The case of grenades is still missing, though. And the Air Force would very much like them returned. If you know where the Air Force’s grenades are, there’s $5,000 reward waiting for you.

popular

Why the unrest in Nicaragua is more important than you’d think

News about the civil unrest in Nicaragua has been under-reported in recent days as one of the last true Marxist-Leninist dictators is at the center of the killings of student protesters and journalists. And it could spark another Central American civil war.


The leader and chairman of Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista Party, Daniel Ortega, announced a tax increase on Apr. 18. Along with the tax increase, pension benefits are to be greatly reduced. What started as a peaceful demonstration against these changes turned deadly when authorities and pro-Sandinista groups used live ammunition on the protesting crowds.

Ortega first rose to power as a Communist revolutionary in 1978. His Soviet backing and strong anti-American views grabbed the attention of the Reagan Administration in 1985 which lead to America backing the Contras, an anti-communist counter-revolutionary group. After the details of the Iran-Contra Affair were made public, however, the U.S. backed out of the region — but the Nicaraguan Revolution had already claimed 30,000 lives.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, so, too, did Ortega’s control over Nicaragua. Still, he vowed that he would lead from the shadows. He ran for president in every election that followed. Herty Lewites, the more popular candidate in the 2006 election, was threatened, told that he “could end up hanged” if he continued to run. Lewites died of a sudden heart attack shortly before the election. Ortega became president again when he won with 36% of the vote that year.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
A totally legitimate election…
(Courtesy Photo)

He then abolished Nicaragua’s presidential term limits to remain in power indefinitely.

However, since Ortega became president, Nicaragua has actually been relatively stable. The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua even lists the country as the safest in Central America for U.S. tourists.

Ortega seemed to have changed his stripes and had relabeled himself as a Democratic Socialist who was very eco-friendly (despite highly advocating a new canal to rival the Panama Canal that would devastate the countryside). He claimed that he was embracing his Catholic faith (despite ignoring Pope Francis’ recent denouncements against the violence in Nicaragua). He also claimed to be anti-Capitalist and insisted that was there for the people (despite being the country’s fourth richest person and slowly making a fairly obvious power grab).

The current death toll of protesters and journalists at the time of this writing is 63. Protesters who have been arrested allege the use of torture and report having their heads shaven and being left barefoot in the outskirts of Managua. There are calls for the United Nations Human Rights Office to investigate human rights abuses.

The country is dependent on outside trade and tourism and the people are still reeling from the effects of the last civil war almost 50 years ago, so nobody wants a violent answer to this problem. Currently, the tumult is contained within Managua, but there’s no denying that Nicaragua is at a turning point. Either Ortega will be removed from power peacefully or this will spark a bloody revolution. It’s a situation that echoes the economic unrest and political dissatisfaction that characterized the Arab Spring of 2011.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Nonprofit to collect Valentines for veterans and forward deployed

Soldier’s Angels, a national non-profit organization, is continuing its annual tradition of collecting Valentine’s Day cards to send to veterans in VA hospitals and to those who are forward deployed. But this year they are asking volunteers to include a financial donation of $1 to their cards.

Each year, Soldier’s Angels collects thousands of Valentine’s Day cards to send to veterans around the country as well as to service members who are deployed overseas. However, this year, with the increase in the cost of shipping, the non-profit cannot afford to send the boxes of cards.

“This year the organization is asking for those who send Valentine’s cards to include $1 per card. The money received will help to offset the cost of shipping boxes of cards overseas or shipping to representatives for distribution at VA Hospitals,” a press release statement said. 

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

Soldier’s Angels is a non-profit organization that provides aid, comfort, and resources to active military, veterans, and their families. It was founded in 2003 by the mother of two soldiers and it currently has thousands of volunteers that assist veterans, deployed service members, and their families. Solider’s Angels volunteer network is mostly virtual this year due to COVID-19 restrictions but they continue to provide support in the form of care packages, hand-crafted items, and cards and letters.

Although the act of sending a simple card is small, the leaders at Soldier’s Angels note that it can mean a great deal to veterans and those who are deployed.

“Many deployed service members do not receive any mail from home,” said Amy Palmer, Soldiers’ Angels CEO, and a U.S. Air Force Veteran in a press release. 

“Receiving a card from someone they may not know, but who supports them nonetheless, is a fantastic way to boost the morale of our service members.” 

In addition to those who are deployed, veterans in VA hospitals are experiencing even less interaction from family due to COVID-19 precautions.

Many are staying in a hospital that may be many miles or several states away from their nearest family members,” Palmer said. 

“And, due to COVID-19 restrictions, these patients may not have any visitors so receiving a card or other support helps to keep them going.”

If you would like to send a Valentine’s Day card, along with a $1 donation per card, to Soldier’s Angels, you can send it to the address below:

Soldiers’ Angels
2700 NE Loop 410, Suite 310
San Antonio, Texas 78217

If you would like more information about their Valentine’s Day project, you can visit their website here.

If you would like to volunteer with Soldier’s Angels, visit their website here.

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

Articles

Hundreds of VA employees get pink slips over White House pledge to clean up agency

Five hundred and forty-eight Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been terminated since President Donald Trump took office, indicating that his campaign pledge to clean up “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States” by relentlessly putting his TV catch phrase “you’re fired” into action was more than just empty rhetoric.


Another 200 VA workers were suspended and 33 demoted, according to data newly published by the department as part of VA Secretary David Shulkin’s commitment to greater transparency. Those disciplined include 22 senior leaders, more than 70 nurses, 14 police officers, and 25 physicians.

Also disciplined were a program analyst dealing with the Government Accountability Office, which audits the department, a public affairs specialist, a chief of police, and a chief of surgery.

Many housekeeping aides and food service workers — lower-level jobs in which the department has employed felons and convicted sex offenders — were also fired.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. DoD Photo by Megan Garcia

Scores of veterans have died waiting for care while VA bureaucrats falsified data to procure monetary bonuses, but fixes have been slow to come by largely because the union that represents VA employees has used its political muscle with Democrats to emphasize job security for government employees.

Former President Barack Obama originally appointed Shulkin as a VA undersecretary. By the end of the Obama administration, however, Shulkin had grown increasingly frustrated with the American Federation of Government Employees union and other groups defending bad employees’ supposed right to a government check even when they hurt veterans.

“Just last week we were forced to take back an employee after they were convicted no more than three times for DWI and had served a 60 day jail sentence … Our accountability processes are clearly broken,” Shulkin said at the White House.

In addition to reluctance by managers to vigorously pursue firings, the overturning of firings after the fact by the Merit Systems Protection Board — often with little public acknowledgment — has been a longstanding problem.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
President Donald Trump. DoD Photo by Maj. Randy Harris

Shulkin asked for new legislation that reduces the role of MSPB, especially when firing senior leaders. Congress passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act in answer, and Trump signed the bill in June.

The published data predates those new powers, and does not note which disciplinary actions were later overturned.

One record shows a “senior leader” being removed January 20, while another record shows a “senior leader” being demoted April 21. Those appear to refer to the same person — disgraced Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin — who returned to work in a lesser job after he appealed to the MSPB.

Former Obama Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald seemed to have so little grasp on firing employees that in August 2016, he said that he had fired 140,000 employees, a figure that made little sense since that would be nearly half the workforce.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Former Puerto Rico VA director DeWayne Hamlin. DoD Photo by Joseph Rivera Rebolledo.

He said “you can’t fire your way to excellence” and blamed “negative news articles” for a morose culture, rather than the individuals perpetrating the misconduct described in those articles.

Though high-level hospital officials were affected, according to the data covering the first six months of the Trump administration, relatively few disciplinary actions occurred in the central offices where Washington bureaucrats work. Those employ fewer people than the hospitals, but repeated scandals have also shown such employees looking out for one another to preserve each others’ jobs.

There were five firings in the Veterans Health Administration Central Office, including one senior leader. There were also two in the Office of General Counsel, and one in the office of Congressional and Legislative affairs.

The data does not include employees’ names, and does not show which employees were on new-employee probationary status. Employees can be fired much more easily during their first year.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Former Obama Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald. Photo from US Department of Veterans Affairs.

During the Obama administration, McDonald lamented that in the private sector “you cut a deal with the employee and you’re able to buy them out,” but said you cannot do that in government.

Yet VA repeatedly made five and six-figure payments to bad employees to get them to quit after they threatened to gum up the works by appealing disciplinary actions. The department even allowed Hamlin to offer a low-level employee $300,000 to quit after she refused to help management retaliate against a whistleblower who exposed Hamlin’s arrest.

The agency paid more than $5 million in settlements to employees under McDonald, which had the effect of encouraging bad employees to relentlessly appeal and make unsupported charges of discrimination when they were targeted for discipline, in an often-successful attempt to convert punishment into reward.

Shulkin said he “will look to settle with employees only when they clearly have been wronged … and not as a matter of ordinary business.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Pentagon discloses its count of China’s nuclear warheads and says the arsenal could double this decade

The Department of Defense disclosed its count of China’s nuclear warheads for what is believed to be the first time in a new 200-page report on China’s rapidly growing military power and said that the country’s stockpile of nuclear warheads may double this decade.

The department assesses that China has an operational nuclear warhead stockpile in the low 200s, a small but deadly force that could make an adversary with a larger arsenal think twice. “Over the next decade, China will expand and diversify its nuclear forces, likely at least doubling its nuclear warhead stockpile,” the Pentagon argued in its annual China Military Power report, the latest of which was released Tuesday.


The Pentagon report explains that China is believed to have “enough nuclear materials to at least double its warhead stockpile without new fissile material production.”

Discussing the report at a virtual American Enterprise Institute event Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Chad Sbragia stated that “just looking at number of warheads by itself is not the entire picture.”

He said that “China is expanding and modernizing and diversifying its nuclear forces across the board.”

“China’s nuclear forces will significantly evolve over the next decade as it modernizes, diversifies, and increases the number of its land-, sea-, and air-based nuclear delivery platforms,” the new Pentagon report states.

The newly-released report also noted that China intends to put at least a portion of its nuclear forces, particularly its expanding silo-based force, on a “launch on warning” status, which would mean that some weapons would be armed and ready for launch with limited notice during peacetime, as the US does with its intercontinental ballistic missile force.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper previewed the Pentagon’s expectation that China’s nuclear warhead stockpile will double over the weekend, writing in a social media post that “as Communist China moves to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile, modernizing our nuclear force and maintaining readiness is essential to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The US is in the process of modernizing the various legs of the nuclear triad in response to advances by China and Russia. At the same time, the US has been pushing China to join an arms control agreement placing limits on nuclear arms expansion.

“If the US says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese level, China would be happy to participate the next day,” the head of the Chinese foreign ministry’s arms control department said in July, the South China Morning Post reported. “But actually, we know that’s not going to happen.”

The US has several thousand more nuclear warheads than China has in its stockpile. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that the US has a total nuclear weapons inventory of about 5,800, an arsenal only rivaled by Russia.

In addition to its assessments on China’s evolving nuclear force, the Pentagon also reported that “China has already achieved parity with—or even exceeded—the United States in several military modernization areas.”

In particular, China is outpacing the US in shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and integrated air-defense systems.

The Department of Defense says that China has “the largest navy in the world” and “is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes,” it has over 1,250 ground-launched ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles, and it has “one of the largest forces of advanced long-range surface-to-air systems.”

China’s objective as it modernizes its fighting force is to achieve a world-class military by the end of 2049, a goal publicly stated by China’s leadership.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

How fans are reacting to new ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ footage

It’s been a big week for Paramount’s new film Terminator: Dark Fate, directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller. A first look was screened at CinemaCon 2019 followed by the release of official cast photos.

Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger return in their iconic roles in the film, which is produced by James Cameron and David Ellison. Dark Fate also stars Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna, and Diego Boneta.

This film will take place after Terminator 2 — as if the last three films didn’t exist, which we can buy into because of time travel in the Terminator universe, but also, as Linda Hamilton put it, the last three “are very forgettable, aren’t they?” (Uhh, her words…not mine…)

Naturally, after the release of anything, the internet had some opinions. Enjoy:


Terminator: Dark Fate Footage Reaction and Review

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Terminator: Dark Fate Footage Reaction and Review

Collider’s Steve “Frosty” Weintraub watched the footage at CinemaCon 2019, and speaks to Collider Video’s Dennis Tzeng about what he saw in the video above, including a play-by-play of the footage and his own excitement: “It looked epic in scale and scope. The action looks immense. It looks like everything you’ve wanted in a Terminator sequel.”

TERMINATOR footage features a fully nude Mackenzie Davis time-travel landing in Mexico City and beating the shit out of a couple of cops. This is precisely as awesome as it sounds.

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There are a lot of “naked Mackenzie Davis” opinions, as you can imagine.

Linda Hamilton says she was initially reluctant to return to the “Terminator” franchise (Watch) #CinemaCon https://bit.ly/2ONlgYR pic.twitter.com/GRRA2L9jnY

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Even Linda Hamilton had some blunt opinions. Respect.

Also read: That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

And then of course there are some in-depth thought pieces:

I freely admit I’m dumb but can anyone explain how a terminator can grow facial hair?pic.twitter.com/V8SXZvmrg2

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I got you, @Yvisc:

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

Ultimately, between Miller’s passion and body of work (we can all agree that Deadpool was great, right?), the reactions all seem optimistic and positive. We’ll see if that holds out when the trailer drops.

Terminator: Dark Fate opens in theaters on Nov. 1, 2019.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed

I don’t know if that white shirt is in regs, tho…

(Paramount)

Articles

Whiteman pilot logs 6000 A-10 hours

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
Then, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks in an A-10 Thunderbolt II in 1991 next to, now, Lt. Col. Marks in the cockpit of an A-10 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 14, 2016. Marks reached 6,000 hours in an A-10 after flying for nearly three decades. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks


Lt. Col. John Marks, a pilot with the 303rd Fighter Squadron, logged his 6,000th hour in the A-10 Thunderbolt II at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, Nov. 14, 2016.

Nearly three decades of flying and 11 combat deployments later, Marks has achieved a milestone that equates to 250 days in the cockpit, which most fighter pilots will never reach and puts him among the highest time fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force.

Also read: The Air Force will keep the A-10 in production ‘indefinitely’

Ever since the end of the Cold War Era when Marks began his Air Force career, the mission in the A-10 has remained the same— protect the ground forces.

“Six thousand hours is about 3,500 sorties with a takeoff and landing, often in lousy weather and inhospitable terrain,” said Col. Jim Macaulay, the 442d Operations Group commander. “It’s solving the tactical problem on the ground hundreds of times and getting it right every time, keeping the friendlies safe. This includes being targeted and engaged hundreds of times by enemy fire.”

He also said it’s a testament to Marks’ skill that he’s never had to eject, and they both praise and respect the 442d Maintenance Squadron for keeping the planes mission ready.

What it’s really like for military families when troops are deployed
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. John Marks poses with an A-10 Thunderbolt II at King Fahd Air Base, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm in February, 1991. Destroying and damaging more than 30 Iraqi tanks was one of Marks most memorable combat missions during Desert Storm. | Courtesy photo provided by Lt. Col. Marks

Marks’ early sorties were low-altitude missions above a European battlefield, so different tactics have been used in more recent sorties that have focused on high-altitude missions above a middle-eastern battlefield.

“In the end, we can cover the ground forces with everything from a very low-altitude strafe pass only meters away from their position, to a long-range precision weapon delivered from outside threat ranges, and everything in between,” said Marks.

Most combat sorties leave lasting impressions because the adrenaline rush makes it unforgettable, said Marks.

“The trio of missions I flew on February 25, 1991, with Eric Salomonson on which we destroyed or damaged 23 Iraqi tanks with oil fires raging all over Kuwait certainly stands out,” he expressed. “The sky was black from oil fires and smoke and burning targets, lending to an almost apocalyptic feel.”

“Recently, a mission I flew on our most recent trip to Afghanistan, relieving a ground force pinned down by Taliban on 3 sides and in danger of being surrounded, using our own weapons while also coordinating strikes by an AC-130 gunship, 2 flights of F-16s, Apaches, and AH-6 Little Birds, stands out as a mission I’m proud of,” continued Marks about one of the most rewarding missions of his career, which earned him the President’s Award for the Air Force Reserve Command in 2015.

Having more than 950 combat hours like Marks does is valuable for pilots in training because experience adds credibility, said Macaulay.

“I’ve watched him mentor young pilots in the briefing room then teach them in the air,” said Macaulay. “Every sortie, he brings it strong, which infects our young pilots that seek to emulate him.”

As an instructor pilot, Marks said he uses his firsthand experience to help describe situations that pilots learn during their book studies, such as, what it’s really like to withstand enemy fire.

“I like to think we can show them a good work ethic as well,” Marks added. “You always have to be up on the newest weapons, the newest threats, the newest systems. You can never sit still.”

Marks plans on flying the A-10 until he is no longer capable, which gives him a few more years in the cockpit and the potential to reach 7,000 hours.

“I love being part of something that’s bigger than any individual and doing something as a career that truly makes a difference – whatever you do in the Air Force, you’re part of that effort,” said Marks. “It’s going to be up to you to carry on the great tradition we have in our relatively short history as an Air Force.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

In the military, we had such a strong bond with those with whom we served. From day one in uniform, we had a battle buddy by our side. The closeness we had with our brothers and sisters is not something for those that didn’t serve to easily understand. Would your current co-workers pull ticks out for you from near your anus? Yeah, that actually happened to me … Thanks Mac, that’s what we call close! Do you think the people you work with now would run into gunfire for you?

We leave that family and often, many feel alone. This feeling is natural because being out of uniform is different from still serving. However, it’s what every veteran goes through as they leave their service. We may not talk about it at parties, but it’s as real as anything else in the world. This feeling can’t be ignored, but must be addressed.


It’s no secret that we have a suicide problem in the U.S. and even more profound in our veteran community. It’s a sad reality that we’ve lost more to suicide — over 108,000 — than combat during the Global War on Terror. Most of us know a brother or sister who’s taken their life after losing their personal battle at home. We can never eliminate the crisis, but we can certainly limit the amount who are overcome by their demons.

According to Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit focused on reducing the number of service members and veterans lost to suicide, veterans are at a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than those who didn’t serve. By 2030, the number of veteran suicides will be 23 times higher than post 9/11 combat deaths. There has been a 93 percent increase in the suicide rate of male veterans aged 18 to 34.

I applaud people bringing attention to the issue through different methods. It may be doing 22 pushups a day, talking about why they served for 21 days or, I’ve also seen other messages and posts on social media raising awareness about the problem. We know there’s a problem, but I’m more for doing what Non-Commissioned Officers always do: Identify the problem, develop solutions and implement change.

Let’s be more proactive.

While serving, we saw our teammates every day. We were able to witness signs that they may be struggling. Being around each other so much, we could see if their behaviors changed, if they were down, if they showed the signs of depression and if they needed help. These checks are more difficult when we’re out of the military.

One of my favorite quotes: “You don’t need to have a patch on your arm to have honor.” – LT Kaffee at the end of A Few Good Men.

I’m challenging you to do one thing: pick up the phone and call someone you served with. Check on them. Ask them how they’re doing and listen. This is not a time to bullshit around the topic – ask them if they’re doing ok. How are they handling being out of uniform? Bring up the fact that it’s different and you feel the difference, too. We know how to accomplish tough tasks — this should be easier because of the love we have for those we served with. Have a real talk, reconnect and you may help someone suffering silently.

It’s not easy for people to acknowledge they’re having problems; generally, it’s not our veteran way. It’s not a disorder and we’re not broken. If we look out for each other and remove the stigma, we can mitigate the risks. Let’s show our love for our brothers and sisters. If you need help, reach out. And, reach out to others and do a buddy check.

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