Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

It is better to protest than to accept injustice.
– Rosa Parks

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Over the weekend, two videos emerged that made their rounds — not just in the military community, but all over the world. In Portland, Oregon, where civil rights protests have occurred daily since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a mix of mostly peaceful demonstrations with some outbreaks of violence and destruction.

In the midst of this, the first video shows presumed law enforcement officials in military fatigues without any sort of identification yanking protestors off the street into unmarked cars. This drew a furious reaction from lawmakers on both sides, lawsuits from the state or Oregon to civil rights groups, and drew out even more protestors who were not very happy that federal officials would resort to such tactics.

One of those men was Christopher David, a Navy veteran, who showed up to make his voice heard. David’s interaction with the police was recorded and immediately went viral after he was attacked, beaten and maimed — but not broken in spirit.

David, age 53, spoke to the Associated Press about the incident, why he went out there and what he hopes happens now.

“It isn’t about me getting beat up. It’s about focusing back on the original intention of all of these protests, which is Black Lives Matter,” David told the AP.

David said he was hanging back as this was the first time he ever protested anything. He also wore his Naval Academy sweatshirt to show the police that he wasn’t some crazy anarchist. He said the protest started as a bunch of pregnant women standing with linked arms. He said he was trying to talk to the men in fatigues. He said he told them, “You take the oath to the Constitution; you don’t take the oath to a particular person,” when one officer pointed a weapon at David’s chest. Another pushed him back and he stood there with his hands at this side. That is when the video shows a law enforcement officer strike David five times with a baton. The attack seems to not faze David at all, but then he gets pepper sprayed in the face. Only then does he fall back, but not before giving the officials a hand gesture to show his displeasure.

While various people on Twitter spoke of him standing tall like a mountain and not being hurt, David says he actually has two broken bones in his hand which will require surgery to fix.

David is a 1988 graduate of the Naval Academy and served in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps before getting out. He doesn’t plan on going back out to protest anytime soon. “My ex-wife and my daughter would kill me if I did that. They’re so angry at me for doing it in the first place because I got beat up,” he said. “I’m not a redwood tree. I’m an overweight, 53-year-old man.”

According to CNN, the Portland Police and Customs and Border Protection have denied the officers belonged to their respective departments. So far, Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals have refused to acknowledge if the men belong to their departments.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Troops have rescued and evacuated hundreds from Florence

Thousands of active-duty and National Guard troops are using amphibious vehicles and search-and-rescue aircraft to move people and equipment after Hurricane Florence battered the East Coast, even as some of their own bases were damaged by the storm.

Rainfall and rising water levels continue to threaten areas of North and South Carolina four days after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm.

Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, said the military has been able to work seamlessly with state and federal authorities leading relief efforts; 13,000 service members are responding to some of those agencies’ requests, including 6,000 active-duty forces and about 7,000 National Guard members, he said Tuesday from Raleigh, North Carolina.


Troops from Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina; Fort Jackson in South Carolina; and Moody Air Force Base in Georgia have pitched in.

In coordination with local, state and federal authorities, the Defense Department not only pre-staged meals and water, but also vehicles that could operate in floodwaters and helicopters for search-and-rescue and transport missions.

“As it turns out, that’s exactly what we needed to have,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

Members of the 106th Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National Guard, drop from an HH-60 Pavehawk during a rescue mission during Hurricane Florence, Sept. 17, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle Hagan)

Army personnel in high-water vehicles have helped evacuate about 300 people. And Marines from Camp Lejeune used amphibious vehicles to assist people stranded by floodwaters. In one mission, they were able to rescue 20 people at once, O’Shaughnessy said.

Cherry Point was also turned into a makeshift shelter after another nearby began to flood.

“A local state center was flooding so we took them to Cherry Point where we could house them overnight and feed them,” he added.

The storm didn’t bring the damaging winds initially feared, but it hovered over land for days, moving at just 2 mph and dumping about 3 feet of rain in some of the hardest-hit areas. That has caused rivers and streams to swell and spill over. In some areas where waterways haven’t crested yet, the threat still exists.

“The concern has turned to flooding, and that’s still the concern over the next 48 hours,” O’Shaughnessy said.

That threat even led the Defense Department to move some of its own supplies and equipment out of the danger zone, he added, since some of the trucks and food were stored at Fort Bragg, which was affected by the storm.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

Members of Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Miami and Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South rescue an elderly woman

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn)

The Coast Guard continues to lead search-and-rescue missions in coordination with state agencies. The Navy‘s amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and amphibious transport dock ship Arlington, which headed out to sea in advance of Florence, are also now about 10 miles off the coast of the North and South Carolina border, where they can assist.

There are MV-22B Ospreys aboard the Kearsarge, O’Shaughnessy said, which can help move people and materials in hard-to-reach areas.

Overall, the coordination between the states, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Department has been “executed exactly as designed,” he said. “My hat is off to the first responders, the local counties. The collaboration between the state and FEMA and FEMA and the Department of Defense has been phenomenal.

“That’s what has allowed us … to have such a strong response,” he added.

Featured image: Staff Sgt. Nick Carey from the 102nd Rescue squadron, New York Air National Guard, scans for people in need of rescue over Kinston, North Carolina, Sept. 16, 2018.

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

Articles

10 memes that pretty much describe life as a military spouse

Military spouses are just as resilient (and sometimes just as crazy) as their uniformed husbands and wives. They are the backbone of our military families, and while you’ll never hear (or read) me saying that the job of being a military spouse is the toughest job in the [insert branch here] (because I’ve both worn the uniform AND been up at 3:00 AM ironing HIS), you will hear (or read) me acknowledge that- without the support of our spouses- our service member’s jobs would be hella harder than they already are.


That’s why former President Ronald Reagan declared the Friday before Mother’s Day as Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 23rd, 1984. Every year since, it is typical for the President of the United States to issue a similar declaration.

Here at We Are the Mighty, we decided to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day the best way we knew how: by laughing at our life.

After-all, its like my crusty old Marine of a dad used to tell me “If you don’t laugh at yourself, Kate, I will. And I’m sure there’s others happy to join in.”

So in no particular order (because I can shine boots and clean a rifle, and you could cut yourself on the 45 degree angled crease of the nurse’s fold on my bed, but heck if I’m not the most disorganized wife on the block), here’s a bunch of memes that pretty much exactly describe life as a military spouse:

1. This one time, we got orders…

…And then we got different orders. And then, they came and packed the house up and took all of our sh*t and sent it to California, and THEN I said “hey remember that you just got promoted? Could that impact your orders?”

It could.

It did.

And the Marine Corps forgot to tell us.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
There is a plan, and it’s a good one. Or two. Or three. Source

2. Wedding vows are horribly unrealistic…

…And comedienne Mollie Gross might’ve said it best when she relayed how her husband convinced her to marry him. “Babe, you can have as many babies as you want, ’cause it’s free!”

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
To have and to hold, in richer and in poorer, in deployments and in field ops and in career changes and in… source

3. Civilians TOTALLY understand…

I mean, obviously they get it. I have this friend, we’ll call her Not-Amy-From-College to protect her identity. Not-Amy-From-College used to tell me ALL. THE. TIME. how she totally understood what I was going through when my husband was in Sangin with 3/5 because one time, when they’d been married for about 7 months, her husband had to take the train up from D.C. to NYC and he didn’t even come back until the next day. The. Horror.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Yes, your husband going out of town for work for an entire day is EXACTLY like my husband deploying… could you hold this bag for a moment so I can knife hand you? K, thanks. source

4. What do you mean I’m only allowed to have an MLM job or run a daycare in my house?

*BIG DISCLAIMER: there isn’t anything wrong with running your own multi-level-marketing (MLM) business or running a daycare in your home.*

The military spouse community boasts a pretty healthy number of lawyers (check out MSJDN), behavioral and mental health professionals (check out MSBHC), entrepreneurs (check out the MilSpoProject), teachers, politicians, business consultants, authors, actors — basically if it’s a grown up job, military spouses either have it or have had it.

We have professional hopes and dreams just like every other adult who doesn’t live off of Daddy’s money (here’s looking at you, Not-Amy-From-College-Who’s-Identity-We’re-Quasi-Protecting).

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
The audacity! A grown adult actually having plans of his or her own for his or her own career… wha? source

5. Drama… drama everywhere…

I’m only partially joking with this one. We’ve lived in some excellent housing communities where, seriously, our neighbors were the bees knees. And then? We’ve lived in communities that made Degrassi look like a family TV show that came on between “Boy Meets World” and “Step-By-Step.”

I think most military spouses can appreciate this one if they’ve lived at multiple installations.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Military housing is GREAT. Except when you have to go outside. Source

6. Finally found my daughter’s kindergarten graduation cap that accidentally got packed a month before graduation…

And it was only eight years after her kindergarten graduation.

Other things we thought were lost in a decade and a half of PCSing:

  • A Dell computer
  • An elephant tusk carved out of fish bone that looks suspiciously like an adult toy that caused my husband a rather embarrassing stop and search in a Japanese airport but that I am still laughing about 13 years later
  • A Japanese vase
  • My DD214 and military medical records
  • Wedding band (I’m still holding out hope that that one is in a box and really didn’t get vacuumed up like my daughter insisted)
  • A metal canister of Maxwell House coffee

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
You know those military spouses that get everything unpacked and put away within a week of moving into their new house. We hate them. source

7. No one cares what you think, Judy Judgy McJudgy-Pants

This one is so true it needs two memes to make sure the point is made. People are judgy and rude.

When people judge military members, they get labeled as unpatriotic and it’s done. When they judge military spouses, they get laughs, some cheers from a select few military members who lack integrity and good character, and maybe a few frowns from everyone else.

But military spouses are used to it. And that’s just a sh*tty deal all around.

To be honest, we’re just people who are married. Being military spouses doesn’t make us any more or any less likely to be a) a mess, b) unfaithful, c) fat, d) Wonder Woman or e) all of the above

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Everyone is a critic. source

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
There’s a pretty good chance one of these is totally accurate. source

8. Dear Deployment: you suck…

Deployments make warriors out of princesses, men out of boys, and they separate the strong from the weak.

But even the strongest feel exceptionally weak sometimes, and we hate that.

This is, of course, when we put our big kid pants and our gangter rap on, and we handle it.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Deployments are stupid, and yes we do hate them. But we’re proud of our service member for them. source

9. Operational Security pisses us off…

But it must be done.

That doesn’t mean we want to deal with the OPSEC police. You know the ones: Becky just posted “Missing my soldier today on his 21st birthday!” And Bernice, who’s husband is a fearsome E4, busts into the convo with “OPSEC ladies! You don’t want the enemy knowing when his birthday is if he gets captured!”

Hey Bernice, if he’s captured, he gives his name, rank, service number and date of birth. Go haze yourself.

But seriously, we do take OPSEC and PERSEC (personal security) seriously.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Don’t you dare accidentally have a number in your status during a deployment. The OPSEC police will be all over you. source

10. Someone must have a death wish

So… you decided to go to the commissary on pay day. That is either the bravest or stupidest thing you’ve ever done.

Jury is still out.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Commissary on payday? Newbie. source

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy bets big on drones to counter lethal anti-carrier missiles

The US Navy awarded Boeing an $805 million contract to develop refueling drones in what the service’s top officer called a “historic” step toward making the fleet’s carriers more effective and more deadly.

The contract provides for the design, development, testing, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned aerial refueling vehicles. It includes integration into the carrier air wing with initial operational capability by 2024.


It is a fixed-price contract, meaning the Navy is not on the hook for costs beyond the 5.3 million award. Boeing will reportedly get million of the total award to start.

The Navy expects the program to yield 72 aircraft with a total cost of about billion, James Geurts, the service’s assistant secretary for research, development, and acquisition, told Defense News.

Geurts also called the MQ-25A “a hallmark acquisition program.”

“This is an historic day,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in a release.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

Boeing conducts an MQ-25 deck-handling demonstration at its facility in St. Louis, Missouri, January 29, 2018.

(US Navy / Boeing)

The Navy has been working on a drone that can operate on carriers for some time. The unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike program was scrapped in 2016 and reoriented toward developing an unmanned tanker.

According to the Navy, the MQ-25A will bolster the carrier air wing’s performance and efficiency while extending their operating range and tanking capability.

Richardson told Defense News that the new drone will free up the Super Hornet aircraft currently dedicated to providing tanker support to other aircraft.

“We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing — all at relevant speed,” Richardson said in the release. “But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging.”

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik)

Boeing has a long history of involvement in naval aviation, including manufacture of the Hornet and Super Hornet carrier aircraft, and in tanker operations.

This award is seen as a much-needed victory, however, as the company has been on the outside looking in for major aviation programs in recent years, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Boeing was involved in the UCLASS program, and the design it offered for the refueling drone was influenced by that previous project. The company has already built a prototype of the MQ-25A and has said a first flight may take place not long after the contract was awarded.

“The fact that we’re already preparing for first flight is thanks to an outstanding team who understands the Navy and their need to have this important asset on carrier decks around the world,” Leanne Caret, head of Boeing’s defense, space and security division, said in a company release.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares to launch from the flight deck of the USS Nimitz.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan R. McDonald)

Boeing said the Navy believes the MQ-25A will extend the range of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the EA-18G Growler, both of which are Boeing aircraft, as well as the F-35C, which is the Navy’s variant of the Lockheed Martin-made joint strike fighter.

The crews of the Navy’s Super Hornets are currently tasked with both refueling and fighter operations, rising concerns about wear and tear and stoking interest in unmanned replacements.

The Super Hornets and the F-35Cs that make up carrier air wings also have shorter ranges than the aircraft they replaced — a particular hindrance in light of the “carrier-killer” missiles that both Russia and China have developed.

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how the US decides when and where to drop bombs on ISIS

US-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria hit record levels in August, dropping 5,075 bombs during close-air-support, escort, or interdiction operations.


That was the highest monthly total recorded during Operation Inherent Resolve, the three-year campaign against ISIS.

The amount of bombs dropped in each of the first eight months of 2017 exceeded the total of any other month during the campaign.

The 32,801 weapons deployed by coalition aircraft through August 2017 is more than the 30,743 dropped all last year, which was the previous annual high for Operation Inherent Resolve.

The sustained uptick in bombing during the first months of President Donald Trump’s administration seems to fulfill his campaign promise to “bomb the s— out of” ISIS. But the increase in bombings is also likely driven by intense operations in Mosul and Raqqa, ISIS’ last major urban strongholds in Iraq and Syria, respectively.

Close-quarters fighting against determined ISIS militants in reinforced positions often necessitates close air support from Iraqi and coalition aircraft. (Not all aircraft active over Iraq and Syria are under US control, so the total number of weapons used is likely higher.)

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
USAF photo by Senior Airman Steve Czyz

Calls for airstrikes “would come from forces on the ground that an enemy’s been identified, say, in this house,” US Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge, director of the Combined Joint Operations Center in Baghdad, told Business Insider earlier this month. CJOC, as it’s called, liaises with Iraqi security forces and government officials and is one of two strike cells in Iraq that manage such engagements, Sofge said.

“The enemy’s been in a house, and that enemy’s firing from this structure,” Sofge said, describing a potential strike scenario. “So the first thing we do in a strike like that, we become aware of it, and we know where it is with great precision, 10-digit grids, down to the meter.”

Coalition personnel and their local partners have a database of “category-one structures” that they will avoid targeting because they have infrastructural or historic value, including religious centers or hospitals. ISIS fighters are known to make use of those structures for that reason, Sofge said.

“If it’s not that, it’s still a [category two] structure that we would have to go through a rigorous process to say, ‘Hey, this structure can be removed from its inherent protected status because of what’s going there on now. There’s fighters in there shooting at the Iraqi security forces.’ So first we establish that we can go engage with this thing,” Sofge told Business Insider.

“Then we apply a some fairly strict criteria of positive identification: How do we know who that is and what they’re doing, and we have multiple intelligence requirements — it can’t just be one thing; we have multiple indications that that is in fact what’s going on from that place,” he said, adding:

“And then we have a legal review that says that engaging this target comports with the laws of armed conflict and that engaging in these circumstances is permissible according to those laws, and once we’ve established all of those things we go to the government of Iraq and ask them for permission to strike that building, and they’ll say yes or no, and they do say both, depending on the structure. They do a pretty thorough review themselves.”

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
U.S. Army and Air Force personnel assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, return fire at insurgent positions in the Korengal valley’s steep hillside in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, Aug. 13. The 20 minute gun battle ended with 500 pound bombs, dropped by U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jets, destroying insurgent positions in the surrounding hills., no civilians were injured during the battle. International Security Assistance Forces across Afghanistan have increased operations in recent months, in order to ensure safety and security during Afghanistan’s second national election, scheduled for the end of August.

Sofge said coalition personnel will then, “within the bounds of proportionality,” do engineering analysis to see what will be damaged in a strike and what effect it would have on nearby structures. That’s followed by the weapon-selection process.

“We have an array of weapons available in support of the Iraqi security forces,” he said. “We’ll choose from among those and then use them in order to make sure that we do enough damage to kill the target and kill what it is that’s attracted the Iraqi Security Forces’ attention.”

Sofge, who stressed coalition forces’ efforts to avoid civilian casualties, said the actual process likely takes less time to complete than it does to describe, in part because of the experience they have doing it and because parts of it happen concurrently.

The US-led coalition’s air campaign against ISIS has attracted intense scrutiny for the number of civilian casualties it is believed to have caused.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

According to Airwars, a UK-based independent monitoring group, between Trump’s inauguration and mid-July, more than 2,200 civilians appeared to have been killed in coalition airstrikes — almost as many as the 2,300 likely killed by coalition strikes under Obama.

That works out to 80 civilian casualties a month under Obama and 360 a month during the Trump administration.

Civilian deaths under Trump peaked in March, with nearly 700 confirmed or likely casualties. They have declined since June and July, when fighting in Mosul wrapped up.

Concerns about the air campaign were also piqued by reports the coalition had loosened its rules of engagement, allowing US and other coalition personnel on the ground to move closer to the front line and call in strikes and artillery fire directly, rather than going “through a whole bureaucracy and through Baghdad,” one embedded US adviser told the Associated Press at the time.

A coalition spokesman told the AP the rules of engagement had been “adjusted” in December, “empowering” more coalition forces “to call in airstrikes without going through a strike cell.”

The Pentagon contested that report, saying in March that overarching guidelines about such strikes had not changed, even as US personnel were being embedded at lower levels within Iraqi Security Forces units and appeared to be closer to direct combat.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
A member of the Iraqi Security Forces establishes a security perimeter around an HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. Photo by Capt. Stephen James.

Asked if the process to carry out strikes had changed during the fighting in Mosul, Sofge said “not appreciably,” adding that the process did see “refinements” regarding Iraqi permission for airstrikes.

“Some of the processes tend to be centralized, and in effort to decentralize them while still retaining the integrity of an Iraqi permission [it] was tweaked by the Iraqi government, not by the strike cells, as to who’s the Iraqi giving you the thumbs-up that the government has given permission,” Sofge told Business Insider.

“I know in some cases [it] was lowered a level in an effort to streamline the process so it was more effective to the fighters on the ground,” he added, “but there was no change from a coalition perspective in the process — only who was the person saying ‘yes’ to the strike on the Iraqi side.”

Such an adjustment may have given Iraqi commanders on the front line more say in when and where strikes took place.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

The Iraqi government declared the liberation of Mosul in early July, though cleaning up munitions left there by the fighting could take a decade or more.

ISIS fighters remain in some pockets of Iraq, mostly in the north-central part of the country and in the far western desert.

Iraqi forces, backed by the coalition, have launched assaults on those positions in recent days.

In Syria, the months-long fight in Raqqa has gained ground, according to US Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a coalition spokesman.

More than 75% of the city is now cleared of ISIS fighters, he said on Thursday, adding that Syrian Democratic Forces, a mainly Kurdish force partnering with the coalition, “have made clear progress and we are seeing ISIS begin to lose its grip on their self-declared capital in Raqqa.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘First Man’ director wants to show the sacrifices that military families made as astronauts braved the unknown

Three months ago, Navy SEAL and NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy slogged through the dirt roads of Normandy with a 44lbs rucksack on his back. Captain Cassidy and several dozen other SEALs (myself included) had just swam 11 miles through the English channel to commemorate the pre-D-Day mission of the first Naval Commandos. The 11-mile swim / 25-mile ruck run on the 74th anniversary of D-Day had a purpose: to raise money for fallen SEALs and their families.

It was an act of service for those who had died in service.


Cassidy, who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, sweated out this epic charity challenge in the middle of training for another kind of walk — one that will take place at 17,000 miles per hour, 400 kilometers above the earth’s surface. If all goes well, Cassidy will return to space and conduct a spacewalk to make repairs on the International Space Station. But, in the midst of endless days of preparation and training, he took time to honor his military roots — a heritage he shares with a long line of astronauts before him. Captain Chris Cassidy said,

It’s truly been an honor to have a role in our nation’s manned space program. We have had astronauts and cosmonauts living continuously on the International Space Station for the last 18 years which has only been possible because of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. That history is also deeply intertwined with the military. Personally, I love how in both our nation’s space program and military, laser focus on mission success is balanced with detailed planning and operational rick controls. It’s also an amazing feeling to be among such motivated and talented people.

That heritage is one of the centerpieces of the new blockbuster film, First Man, featuring Ryan Gosling starring as NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong. People know Armstrong as the man who walked on the moon; they often don’t know that Armstrong was a decorated Navy fighter pilot and Korean War veteran.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

Neil Armstrong in 1964, while in training to be an astronaut.

(NASA)

The film is largely focused on Armstrong’s life and the mission to get to the moon — but it explores a theme familiar to military audiences: the challenge of maintaining a family while deploying to do dangerous work. The film depicts Armstrong’s family and their sacrifice, particularly that of Armstrong’s wife, Janet. And it shows scenes that any military family has faced: how to speak to your children about the danger of the mission; the enormous stress before the deployment; the uncertainty while your loved one is far away. All of this is shown with raw and real emotion.

What was true then and is true now is that service member families often bear a heavy and overlooked burden during times of conflict. While First Man is primarily a movie about the first moon walk, it’s important to remember that that mission, and the space program in general, was the byproduct of a conflict: the Cold War and the tension between the USSR and the US. The frontlines of the early space race were the frontiers of space, and its foot soldiers were military test pilots who strapped themselves to rockets and ventured into the stratosphere in service of their country.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

Apollo 11 astronauts with families, 1969

(Ralph Morse for LIFE)

I had an opportunity to speak with Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle (the director behind the smash-hit films La La Land and Whiplash) and ask him about these themes of the connection between military service and the space program:

1. Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind ‘First Man’

After I made Whiplash, I was approached by producers Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, and Marty Bowen about the idea of doing a movie on Neil Armstrong. I didn’t know much about space travel and didn’t know what my angle would be. But I started reading Jim Hansen’s incredible book, First Man, and started to think of Neil’s story as a story about the cost of great achievement — similar to what I had looked at in Whiplash, only on a much bigger canvas.

What was the toll that the mission to the moon took? I was awed by the sacrifice, the patriotism, the ambition, and the vision that made the impossible possible — and the reminder that it was human beings who did it, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and overcoming daunting odds — and even great tragedy — to accomplish something for the ages.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out

The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdown. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, ride the special transport van over to Launch Complex 39A where their spacecraft awaited them. Liftoff was at 9:32 a.m.

(NASA)

2. What’s woven through the movie are themes of duty and sacrifice. And as a Navy veteran myself, I could identify not just with the astronauts (especially Neil, Navy pilot), but with their families and what they went through. Can you talk a bit about those themes and how they affected your work on this?

The family aspect was paramount — showing these famous events through the eyes of not just Neil, but his wife Janet and his sons, Rick and Mark. How did they all cope with the demands of the job? Funerals were a normal part of life. Two of Neil’s closest friends died while he was in the program. Neil himself almost died several times. And yet, balanced with the danger and the risk, he and Janet also had to take out the trash, clean the pool, make breakfast for their kids. That combination of the intimate and the epic, and the selfless way Neil and Janet confronted all of it, was extraordinary to me.

But I also think it’s worth remembering, as you note, that Neil had been in the Navy. He was someone who believed deeply in service for country. He risked his life in the Korean War. He became a test pilot to forward our understanding of aeronautics, to contribute to knowledge. He went to space to keep seeking those answers. This is someone who was not acting in his own self-interest, who was not seeking fame or fortune. This is a man who believed, in all aspects of his life, that his duty to the mission came first, and without that willingness to risk it all and to sacrifice it all I don’t believe the moon landing ever would have happened.

3. Can you talk a bit about Janet Armstrong and her role?

Ryan and I were lucky enough to meet with Janet and spend time with her. She was an incredible woman, and the stories she told us and memories she shared with us were invaluable. Like Neil, Janet was tough — she had a grit to her that I think made her uniquely qualified for her role in the space program. It’s worth remembering that astronaut wives like Janet played an enormous part in the overall endeavor of going to the moon: they were the ones to had to find the balance between space and home, between the demands of their husbands’ work with the lives of their kids and the necessities of home. They had to do it all while putting on a smile for the cameras — even when they couldn’t know for sure if their husbands would ever return from space. One of my greatest joys in making this movie was in watching Claire Foy embody Janet’s spirit and resilience and pay tribute to such an amazing person.

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The Apollo 11 crewmen, still under a 21-day quarantine, are greeted by their wives, Janet Armstrong, Patricia Collins, and Joan Aldrin.

(NASA)

4. There’s a scene in the film where Neil Armstrong is talking to his boys about what’s about to happen — the mission and the risks. Can you give us a sense of what you were thinking with that scene and what you wanted to convey?

That’s a scene that many families across the country have their own version of: the mom or dad about to go off to work, and the knowledge that he or she may not come back. It again speaks to a willingness to sacrifice in the name of service that I find awe-inspiring. In this movie’s case, the scene at the dinner table between Neil and Janet and their boys Rick and Mark was almost word-for-word what actually happened. Janet insisted to Neil he talk to his kids and explain to them what he was doing and what the risks were; much of the scene was taken verbatim from Rick and Mark Armstrong’s recollections. It was a tremendously important scene for all of us — a moment where the characters have to come to a stop and confront the dangers of what they are doing, and what it all means.

5. The military and the space program have a long joint history. At the simplest, a lot of veterans became astronauts. The SEAL community, which I’m a part of, for example is proud of the fact that there are two astronauts currently in training who are SEALs. Did that joint history play into your research at all, or the end product?

It did, in several ways. First, I liked to think of the film as almost a war movie. The moon mission was initially a product of the Cold War, and the astronauts who risked their lives for their country were all former or current servicemen. The dangers were almost combat-like, too — this was not the glossy, glamorous, sleek-and-easy space travel I grew up seeing in movies. These capsules were like old tanks and submarines; the rockets carrying them out of the atmosphere were essentially converted missiles. The dangers were front and center — and, with them, the immense bravery required to face them.

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This photograph of astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, was taken inside the Lunar Module (LM) while the LM rested on the lunar surface.

(NASA)

6. The film’s story and title come from James Hansen’s biography of Neil Armstrong, but I was curious: Did you have any other creative influences that helped you make this — books, films, etc?

Yes, many! As I alluded to, certain war movies were big inspirations: Saving Private Ryan, Paths of Glory, The Deer Hunter. Movies about submarines like Das Boot. I also read as many books on the subject matter as I could — one of my favorites was “Carrying the Fire” by Mike Collins, who flew with Neil on Apollo 11. “Deke!” by Deke Slayton and “Failure Is Not An Option” by Gene Kranz were also key. And, finally, documentaries! The archival material shot by NASA, much of which is compiled in incredible films like For All Mankind and Moonwalk One. Documentaries of the period like Salesman and Hospital and Gimme Shelter. An amazing documentary by Frederick Wiseman, about training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, called Missile. All of these taught and inspired me.

First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, arrives in theaters October 12, 2018.

Kaj Larsen is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, VICE, Huffington Post, and numerous other outlets. He also served as a US Navy SEAL earning the rank of Lieutenant Commander and completing multiple deployments in the Global War on Terrorism. His family member, Judith Resnick, was the second American woman in space and was killed on launch during the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion.

MIGHTY HISTORY

An ancient king whipped the ocean to protect his troops – and it worked

There’s an old military adage that goes “if it’s stupid and it works, then it isn’t stupid.” This idea clearly dates all the way back to the Classical Era, because the stupidest thing ever done to protect a fighting force was perpetrated in 480 BC. By a King.


Say what you want about Persian King Xerxes I, he knew how to fight a battle. That is to say, he always brought enough men and material to get the job done. Yes, this is the same Xerxes seen in the movie 300, but before the Persian Army could get to Thermopylae, they had to cross the Hellespont, what we call the Dardanelles today. It did not go exactly as planned.

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Like a lot of things the Persian Army tried.

Xerxes was coming right off of victories over uprisings against Persian rule in Egypt and Babylon and had acquired a massive army, as-then-unheard-of in ancient times. Some 300,000 troops were ready to pour into Greece to avenge the ass-kicking the Greeks perpetrated on Xerxes’ father, Darius. Xerxes was not one to overthink things. The simplest way to get a massive army from one land mass to another was to simply build a bridge and roads to it. Xerxes even had the bridges built in advance so his army wouldn’t have to wait to get to Greece.

This did not go exactly as the Persian Army planned. Before he and his troops could arrive, the seas swelled up and swallowed the bridges, completely destroying them. When the King arrived, it was just debris. Infuriated with the seas, Xerxes marched out to the sea and whipped it with a chain 300 times as his soldiers watched and shouted curses at the water.

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He also beheaded the engineers who built the bridge, which may have been a contributing factor to his eventual success.

The bridges were then rebuilt to the exact specifications required to hold 300,000 Persian troops bent on destruction, along with their pack animals, cavalry, and whatever else they could carry. This time, the bridges held and the Persians marched out to meet the Greeks – who would kick the Persian Army right back out of Europe by the following spring.

When the Persians arrived at the bridges in full retreat, they had been destroyed again.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This free retreat gives military spouses a chance to interact with the Love Language expert

Deployments are a staple of military life. But often, military spouses and significant others are left to go-it-alone, especially if they do not live near a military installation. This year, two women are looking to change that with an online retreat headlined by huge names in the military community and outside of it, including keynote speakers Dr. Gary Chapman and Jacey Eckhart.

Joanna Guldin-Noll, a veteran’s spouse and writer behind popular military spouse lifestyle blog Jo, My Gosh!, and Becky Hoy, a military spouse and creator of deployment subscription box Brave Crate, believe that good can come from deployments when approached with intentionality.


“We want to create a place where military spouses and significant others can access resources, best practices, and camaraderie to help them prepare for deployment,” Hoy said.

Held November 8-10 and completely online, PILLAR gathers more than 20 military spouses and experts for a three-day event. Among the line-up of speakers and panelists is Dr. Gary Chapman, bestselling and world-renown author of The Five Love Languages series. Using an interview-style format, Chapman and Hoy will discuss relationships, the military and how to make the Five Love Languages work during deployment. Chapman will answer questions sourced directly from PILLAR attendees.

Including the needs and wants of attendees is important to the duo. “The idea of a wife pining over her husband for a year and doing nothing but waiting while he’s away just isn’t the lived reality of military spouses,” Guldin-Noll said. “Military spouses are finding opportunity in deployment. We are honoring that by incorporating a diversity of voices, military branches, backgrounds and experiences into the retreat.”

Sessions include actionable financial information provided by the retreat’s presenting sponsor, USAA, yoga instruction from Bernadette Soler, and how to ask for and accept help from therapist E.J. Smith. While the retreat will have a schedule, attendees will be able to view sessions and access resources whenever they are able. The flexibility is a nod to the very real demands of military families during deployment as well as the hope to make the retreat as accessible as possible, regardless of where attendees live.

“Military family life can be viewed as being so difficult, but when we reprogram our mindset, we can see there is so much joy to be found along the military life journey,” Jessica Bertsch said, a PILLAR speaker who has experienced multiple deployments. “PILLAR is taking a hard topic like deployment and bringing hope and solutions for military spouses.” The president of Powerhouse Planning and Coast Guard spouse will speak on finding joy in deployment.

PILLAR is free to military spouses and significant others. Registration is open at pillardeploymentretreat.com until November 8; however, if you want to submit a Five Love Languages question, you’ll need to sign-up before September 10 — the deadline for question submissions.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Ukraine destroy a Russian-built fighting vehicle

The Ukrainian Military recorded what looks like a ceasefire violation on Feb. 22, 2018, that resulted in the destruction of a separatist infantry fighting vehicle.


The incident took place near the city of Dokuchayevsk, just south of Donetsk, the capital of the self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic. Video shows a guided anti-tank missile hit a vehicle while artillery strikes land in the area.

Also read: In a surprising twist, US agrees with Russia over Ukraine

“An enemy infantry fighting vehicle has been destroyed near the occupied town of Dokuchayevsk thanks to the skills of servicemen from the ‘Mospyne’ tactical group of the United Forces,” according to a statement posted on the official account for Ukraine’s ongoing anti-terrorism operation.

The statement also said that the IFV was most likely on a reconnaissance mission. It is not immediately clear what type of IFV the vehicle is.


Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in its Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts — a region known as Donbas. Two peace agreements have been signed between the warring parties and their sponsors, but ceasefire violations happen almost every day along the conflict line.

This incident is particularly rare because it involved an IFV. According to Minsk II, one of the ceasefire agreements, heavy weapons like armored vehicles and artillery are supposed to be withdrawn from the frontlines, in an effort to create a 31 mile long “security zone.”

The engagement comes amidst plans for the US to supply the Ukrainian military with 35 FGM-148 Javelin fire-and-forget anti-tank launchers, and at least 210 missiles.

Related: Watch as a massive ammunition depot blows up in Ukraine

The Javelin is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapon systems available, and has been requested by Ukraine repeatedly, but former President Barack Obama never approved the deal. The Trump administration now says the missiles are being provided to Ukraine strictly for defense.

Iryna Lutsenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, claimed on Feb. 23, 2018, that Canada and “European countries” will also provide Ukraine with weapons in the coming years.

Ukraine’s intelligence recently reported that up to 200 officers from the Russian Military arrived in the country as part of a rotation of Russian servicemen in the region.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Saudi Arabia just accused Lebanon of declaring war

Saudi Arabia said on Nov. 6 that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.


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President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia sign a Joint Strategic Vision Statement earlier in 2017. Photo from The White House Flickr.

Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan told Al-Arabiya TV that Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister on Saturday, had been told that acts of “aggression” by Hezbollah “were considered acts of a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia by Lebanon and by the Lebanese Party of the Devil.”

Also Read: The White House is going after this Lebanese terrorist group with a $12M bounty

“We will treat the government of Lebanon as a government declaring a war because of Hezbollah militias,” Sabhan said, according to state-owned news channel Al Arabiya.

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ISIS militants loaded into buses who fled Lebanon in a peace deal with Hezbollah. (Screengrab from YouTube UNB News)

Sabhan’s accusations reportedly included smuggling drugs and providing training for acts of terrorism.

Hariri’s resignation came as a surprise for many, particularly when he made his announcement during a trip to Saudi Arabia. The country is politically split between Saudi Arabia loyalists and Iran, which is represented by Hezbollah.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Ballad of Iwo Jima flag raiser, Ira Hayes

In 1964, country music star Johnny Cash released an unconventional album. It was called Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, and it was a radical departure from Cash’s previous release five months prior, “I Walk the Line.” The album was a concept album and was entirely dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of Native Americans.


The lead single of the album was called “The Ballad of Ira Hayes.” Most Americans at the point had either forgotten who he was or had no idea who he was to begin with. But everyone in the United States and most people around the world had definitely seen his picture. He was in one of the most famous photographs in world history.

Ira Hayes
Ira Hayes
Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won’t answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine that went to war

Ira Hayes was one of six Marines that were photographed by Joe Rosenthal on the summit of Mt. Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. He was part of a group that was ordered to take down the first flag raised and replace it with a bigger flag so that it would be seen better. As the flag went up, Rosenthal took a couple of snaps (he almost missed the flag raising looking for rocks to use as a stand) and had the pictures flown out to Guam. When the film was developed, the photo editor of the AP claimed it was “one for all ages” and had it sent to New York. It was immediately sent around the world 17 hours after it was taken. It won the Pulitzer Prize that year and became one of the most iconic photographs ever taken. And it was about to push into the limelight a young man who had always tried to avoid it.

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www.history.navy.mil

Gather ’round me people
There’s a story I would tell
‘Bout a brave young Indian
You should remember well
From the land of the Pima Indian
A proud and noble band
Who farmed the Phoenix Valley
In Arizona land
Down the ditches a thousand years
The waters grew Ira’s peoples’ crops
‘Til the white man stole their water rights
And the sparkling water stopped
Now, Ira’s folks were hungry
And their land grew crops of weeds
When war came, Ira volunteered
And forgot the white man’s greed

Ira Hayes was born on the Gila River Indian Community, a reservation in Arizona. He was the son of a World War I vet and was the eldest of six children, of which two died in infancy, and two died in their 20s. Life on the reservation was hard. His father was a farmer but farmed on land that was almost unsuitable for farming big crops. He was only able to grow enough to sustain the family. Hayes was a Pima Indian, who were traditionally famers. However, the U.S. government moved the Pima to an area around the Gila River where the land was not too agreeable with an agricultural lifestyle. An effort to build a dam that would send water to the community instead flowed toward a nearby white community, which led many Pima to think the government was trying to kill them off. Hayes grew up as one of the few kids that could speak English and learned to read and write. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he was one of the millions of kids that went to join the military.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won’t answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine that went to war
There they battled up Iwo Jima hill
Two hundred and fifty men
But only twenty-seven lived
To walk back down again
And when the fight was over
And Old Glory raised
Among the men who held it high
Was the Indian, Ira Hayes

Hayes graduated from boot camp in San Diego and was designated a Paramarine (this was a shortlived MOS that was essentially an airborne Marine). He earned his wings and went off to fight in Bouganville in the South Pacific. He then was assigned to 5th Marine Division and started training for the upcoming invasion of Iwo Jima.

Hayes landed with his unit at the base of Mt Suribachi 75 years ago. On February 23, the was to accompany his Sergeant, Mike Strank up Mt Suribachi to replace the smaller American flag that had just been raised with a bigger one. One of the Marines that joined him was his friend, Harlan Block. After they raised the flag, they continued on to fight for another five weeks. The battle was much more ferocious than expected with the Japanese fighting to the last man while trying to inflict as many casualites. The Marines fought bravely but endured a terrible toll in taking the island. Hayes himself watched his friend, Block die as well as Sergeant Strank.

At the end of the battle, Hayes emerged physically unscathed, but the mental and emotional toll was heavy. In his platoon of 45 men, only 5 were left when the battle was over.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won’t answer anymore

Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine that went to war
Ira Hayes returned a hero
Celebrated through the land
He was wined and speeched and honored
Everybody shook his hand
But he was just a Pima Indian
No water, no home, no chance
At home nobody cared what Ira’d done
And when did the Indians dance
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Within two weeks of leaving Iwo, Hayes and the two other living flag raisers, Rene Gagnon and James Bradley were put on a plane and flown to Washington, D.C. Before he died, Franklin Roosevelt wanted them to be paraded around the country to raise money for war bonds. The war in Japan still needed to be won, and the loss of American life so far had not sat well with the public that wanted their boys home. Roosevelt and his successor Harry Truman knew the flag raisers would be instrumental in raising money for the war. Raising the Iwo Jima flag over the U.S. Capitol, they then went to New York and around the country. For Hayes, there were a few things bothering him. First, he knew that his friend Harlan Block was one of the flag raisers and somehow was misidentified as someone else. He told officers at Headquarters Marine Corps what happened, and they told him the names were released, and it was too late. He was ordered to keep quiet. The second was he was suffering from what we now know as survivors guilt and PTSD. He just wanted to head back to his unit and be with his friends. He was able to leave the tour early and headed back and was part of the occupation force of Japan.

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won’t answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine that went to war
Then Ira started drinking hard
Jail was often his home
They let him raise the flag and lower it
Like you’d throw a dog a bone
He died drunk early one morning
Alone in the land he fought to save
Two inches of water and a lonely ditch
Was a grave for Ira Hayes

After the war, Ira Hayes had a few years as a minor celebrity. People would stop by the reservation to say hi, he recreated his role in a John Wayne movie, and attended ceremonies honoring his role in the flag raising. He tried to make things right and hitchhiked 1,300 miles to see the family of Harlan Block. He told them their son was one of the flag raisers and wrote a letter they could present in which he gave details on how to prove it (the boots Block and Hayes wore were Paratrooper boots and different than the other Marines). But the guilt and trauma that Hayes endured were too much. He also dealt with the racism Native Americans faced when he traveled. Once he went to visit a war buddy and wasn’t allowed on the property because he was Indian. He had to wait on the road until his friend arrived home. He couldn’t hold a job and became an alcoholic. When he was back in Arizona, things got worse. Farming was impossible, there were few resources, and there was nothing to do but drink. He was arrested over 50 times for public intoxication. When asked about his drinking he said, “I was sick. I guess I was about to crack up thinking about all my good buddies. They were better men than me and they’re not coming back. Much less back to the White House, like me.”

Hayes died on Jan. 24, 1955. He was found next to an abandoned hut on the reservation, dead of exposure and alcohol poisoning. He was later buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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live.staticflickr.com

Call him drunken Ira Hayes
He won’t answer anymore
Not the whiskey drinking Indian
Or the Marine that went to war
Yeah, call him drunken Ira Hayes
But his land is just as dry
And his ghost is lying thirsty
In the ditch where Ira died
A decade later, Johnny Cash decided he would create an album about how Native Americans were treated in the USA. Cash at the time, believed he was part Cherokee and took up a cause that few cared or even knew about. For his Bitter Tears album, he used several songs from his friend, songwriter and Korean veteran Peter LaFarge. One of the songs was a song, LaFarge had written about Hayes.

In the lead up to its release the album proved controversial. Radio stations and fans balked at the political nature of the song, and stations refused to play it. Cash was so angered he took out a full-page ad in Billboard magazine in which he called out those who were boycotting the song and album seen here.

The song would end up being a hit, rising up to #3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles.

For Ira Hayes, his heroism and tragic life would be immortalized forever not, just by a photograph but also a song.

Articles

An SAS sniper killed 5 ISIS suicide bombers with 3 bullets

A Special Air Service sniper who spotted a group of Islamic State fighters leaving a suspected bomb-making facility in Iraq fired three shots that detonated two suicide vests and killed all five fighters, according to reports in British media.


The SAS sniper was operating 800 meters away from the factory when he noticed the group wearing unseasonably warm and bulky clothing. The 10-year veteran of the SAS hit the first man in the chest and detonated his vest, killing three fighters. As the two survivors attempted to escape back into the factory, the sniper shot one in the head and the other in the vest, which detonated the second vest.

Also read: 7 longest range sniper kills in history

“This was a classic SAS mission,” a British Army source told the Express. “About three weeks ago the intelligence guys got information that a bomb factory had been set up in a nearby village. With just three well-aimed shots, that single team has probably saved the lives of hundreds of innocent people. The unit was sent in to see if they could identify the house and the bombers.”

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UK (Ministry of Defence photo)

The decision to attack with a sniper was made due to concerns about collateral damage.

“There were too many civilian homes nearby and children were often around so an airstrike was out of the question,” the unidentified British Army source said. “Instead, the SAS commander in Iraq decided to use a sniper team and the operation was a complete success.”

In another engagement in Aug. 2015, another British sniper reportedly saved an 8-year-old boy and his father who were about to be executed.

Articles

This is what the new VA chief thinks about using medical marijuana to treat PTSD

On May 31, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said he is open to expanding the use of medical marijuana to treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Shulkin said that although federal laws would limit the ability to use marijuana, he said it could be possible to take action in states where medicinal marijuana is legal.

“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful and we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that,” Shulkin said during a press conference. “Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans … I believe that everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts and we will implement that law.”

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David Shulkin (right) seeks major VA hospital reform. (DoD Photo by Megan Garcia)

The head of the VA also said the agency he oversees is in a “critical condition,” likening the veterans’ healthcare provider to a patient in bad health.

Shulkin, a doctor appointed by former President Barack Obama, said patients wait too long for services from VA hospitals and government bureaucracy prevents the agency from firing employees who perform poorly. The VA oversees the care for more than 9 million veterans.

“I’m a doctor and I like to diagnose things, assess them, and treat them,” Shulkin said. “Though we are taking immediate and decisive steps stabilizing the organization … we are still in critical condition and require intensive care.”

“As you know, many of these challenges have been decades in building,” Shulkin added.

Navy Veteran beaten by police in Portland speaks out
Shulkin aims to improve medical services for our nation’s veterans. DoD Photo by Greg Vojtko.

In reference to the VA’s inability to fire employees quickly, Shulkin said “our accountability processes are clearly broken.”

In one example, it took the agency more than a month to fire a psychiatrist who was caught watching pornography on his iPad while seeing a veteran.

Shulkin said now is the time to face the VA’s challenges and address them “head on.”