The hotline was the subject of the 2014 Academy Award-winning documentary “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” which profiles several Veterans’ Crisis Line counselors who work the 24-hour service to provide support and guidance to active and retired servicemen dealing with emotional, physical and financial troubles.
“We substantiated allegations that some calls routed to backup crisis centers were answered by voicemail, and callers did not always receive immediate assistance,” said a VA report filed in February 2016.
The VA estimates every sixth call is going to the backup center, where callers listen to Muzak while they wait for an operator. The VA has no information on how long the callers wait or how many give up because the backup centers are not monitored by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since the suicide hotline was created in 2007, it has received more than two million calls and intervened on 53,000 separate occasions. The new report recommends obtaining and analyzing data on hold times, implementing call monitoring for the crisis line staff, more rigorous training with a rigorous quality assurance process.
At age 55, the King of Jordan is still ready to lead from the front — literally, the front of any given war.
A video released by the Royal Court on Apr. 17 shows him leading Jordanian troops in a live-fire exercise, taking down buildings, clearing rooms, and covering his squad’s rear. Military action is nothing new to Jordan’s reigning monarch.
The King attended the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1980, entering the British Army as a commissioned second lieutenant. He became a first lieutenant in the Jordanian armed forces after deploying with the British to West Germany. By 1986 he was the captain of a tank company.
He worked his way up the officer’s ranks. By the time he was promoted to general grade, he was in Jordan’s Special Forces Command.
Major General ibn Al Hussein became King Abdullah II in 1999 upon the death of his father. Since then, he has been a liberal reformist, making Jordan an island of stability in a sea of Middle East turmoil. The Jordanian King even introduced governmental reforms that will lead Jordan to a more parliamentary democracy.
His reforms made him a popular figure in his country and around the world. In terms of geopolitics, Abdullah, like his father Hussein, decided to be a peacemaker, maintaining Jordan’s peace with Israel, taking in more than a million Syrian refugees, and keeping Jordan a bulwark against Islamic extremism.
The monarch never forgot his military roots. Keeping Jordan secure is something the King has always been ready to fight for — at times, even personally. When ISIS burned a downed Jordanian pilot alive, King Abdullah vowed to bombard the Islamic State until his military runs “out of fuel and bullets.”
Check out his room clearing skills in the video below, and contemplate what it must be like for junior enlisted Jordanian troops to fight alongside their freaking king.
Valor thieves are some of the most obnoxious wannabes on the planet, but at least they’re easy to spot. With all the militaries’ peculiar rules and jargon, most stolen valor culprits are quickly outed by a misplaced uniform ribbon or a slip of the tongue.
Which makes it all the more amazing that one likely survived for months on an active duty post while living in special operations barracks and surrounded by actual soldiers. And, he was conducting room inspections and signing out keys to others while he did it. He was only caught after being arrested for DUI.
So how did a poser manage to get access to one of America’s most active bases, slip into the ranks among some of the nation’s finest warriors, and then get the keys to the building he was squatting in? According to an investigation uncovered by the Fayetteville Observer, a 20-year-old kid just lied. And not even that well.
The Observer’s writer, Amanda Dolasinski, matched up details from the Army investigation to the arrest of Triston Marquell Chase, a 20-year-old. Chase has a criminal record for various felonies including identity theft.
He invited women, who would often bring food, into the third-floor room. Other soldiers reported that he conducted room inspections and signed rooms out to new soldiers. So, this squatter successfully gained the ability to run the building he was illegally staying in.
He also borrowed vehicles from soldiers in the barracks and filled his Snapchat account with photos from around the building.
Chase’s amazing alleged adventure came to an end when he pulled into the Fort Bragg KFC’s parking lot where military police were talking to a driver who had attempted to flee. Chase, visibly intoxicated, pulled up to the scene and told police that he was worried about one of his soldiers.
The police administered a field sobriety test (because as police officers that’s a thing they can do). According to the investigation, Chase then told the police, “Yeah, I’m wasted.”
Chase’s completely sober female passenger at the time was allowed to leave. No report on why he didn’t ask her to drive him.
Once 3rd Group became aware of the suspect incident, they quickly launched an investigation. When the investigating officer caught up with Chase, the fake soldier was leading a formation of six people. He told the officer that he had recently transferred into 3rd Group from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Delta company.
For the record, 82nd has a lot of Delta companies. That’s why actual soldiers will also list the battalions and brigades of the Delta company they were in.
As the officer began calling the valor thief on his bull, the story quickly unraveled and the Fort Bragg Provost Marshal Office got involved. Chase was arrested and is facing a number of new felony charges. Meanwhile, 3rd Group is trying to get their ducks in a row in terms of barracks security.
Chase may go down in history as one of the ballsiest valor thieves ever caught. Not many of them take over barracks buildings or lead formations.
Wounded warrior Elizabeth Marks sat down with Army veteran Bryan Anderson from We Are The Mighty to talk about her journey through recovery from her injury in Iraq to eventually becoming a Paralympic swimmer.
After receiving this year’s Pat Tillman Award at the ESPYs, she spoke about the support she has received after her injury and the inspiration she hopes to provide others in their struggles.
If you’re hurting, whether it’s mental or emotional; if ever you think you’re alone, you’re not. If ever you think no one cares, I do. Please come join me behind the blocks.
The Pat Tillman Award for Service honors an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the former Army Ranger and NFL star’s legacy.
“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.
One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.
For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.
Seriously, as if the first viral video of actor Keanu Reeves slamming steel like a freaking Delta Force ninja wasn’t badass enough, now famed tactical firearms instructor and 3-Gun maestro Taran Butler has released more footage of the “John Wick” star getting his pew pew on.
Butler is a world champion 3-Gun competitor (a shooting sport that requires mastery of a shotgun, handgun and AR-style rifle) and frequently trains actors to properly handle weapons for Hollywood blockbusters.
An earlier video of Reeves slinging lead like a boss exploded online last year, with the actor demonstrating some serious skills in weapons handling and accuracy. In the newest video made up of more clips from the training last year — and includes some help from WATM friend Jaqueline Carrizosa — Reeves displays skills and speed that would make any top-tier competitor (and even some of America’s elite special operators) smile.
His transitions are lightning fast, his shot placement is about as “down zero” as it gets, and his trigger speeds are borderline full-auto, with minuscule splits and solidly low stage times. He even executes difficult “with-retention” handgun shots and moves from a close-in optic to a distance shot with his AR and drops steel every time.
From New Jersey to Washington state, National Guard members across the country are gearing up for election-related missions — ranging from cybersecurity support to responding to civil unrest — in an already record-breaking year for state activations.
Governors have continued to activate National Guard troops in the final days leading up to the presidential election, which has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic. Soldiers and airmen are supporting polling stations, leading cybersecurity missions, and even preparing for civil disturbances in the wake of what could prove to be a contentious election in which results might not be known for weeks.
As of Friday, 10 states were actively planning for Guard members to handle election-related missions and 15 were indicating they plan to do so. Those missions include working polling stations and cybersecurity missions.
No Uniforms, No Weapons
Armed troops won’t be guarding polling places on Tuesday.
Leaders in several states said the hundreds of Guard members activated by their governors will be wearing civilian clothes and won’t be carrying weapons. That’s true in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Nebraska, officials from those states say.
“Our service members are placed on state active duty, and they show up in civilian clothes to the polling stations, so any member of the community that is coming into a polling station isn’t going to be able to recognize that they are in the Guard,” said Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, assistant adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard. “They are going to look like anyone else from the community.”
Several hundred Guard members assisted at polling places during the primaries, Military.com reported this summer. They were under strict orders to stay out of the actual voting process, filling gaps created during the pandemic since older people who tend to volunteer at polls were staying home to prevent contracting COVID-19.
In New Jersey, one of the states where Guard members assisted during the primaries, troops are helping process mail-in ballots. The country has seen a huge uptick in mail-in ballots during the pandemic. About 240 New Jersey National Guard soldiers and airmen are already supporting 18 counties’ board of elections, Lt. Col. Barbara Brown, a Guard spokeswoman there, said.
“This support is an extension of the Guard’s active role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” she said. “The [New Jersey National Guard] is fully capable and prepared for this mission.”
Guard members in other states, such as Washington and Delaware, are taking on cybersecurity missions. U.S. intelligence officials warned earlier this month that Iran and Russia obtained voter registration information, and were already attempting to interfere in the election.
The National Guard has 59 cyber support units, Wayne Hall, a National Guard Bureau spokesman, said.
“Each state is different and has the advantage of tailoring its National Guard forces to their specific requirements to support elections, especially the states with cyber units,” he said. “We consider this flexibility one of the National Guard’s primary strengths.”
The National Guard for Washington State has been working with state officials since the 2018 midterm elections, performing vulnerability assessments on firewalls and ensuring that software is up to date, Air Force Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, assistant adjutant general for the Washington Guard, said this week.
“One of the unique things about the Guard is we dip into the talent that we’ve got in the civilian areas so having companies like Microsoft and Amazon … allows us to draw those folks into the Guard that have got cutting edge experience working in a tech company is able to pair that with the military training they have,” Welsh said. “And then when we have issues like we are having with our election system, we’ve got some really, really talented and qualified folks to do that work.”
Bracing for Conflict
Guard members say they’re not anticipating trouble at the polls, but if a problem breaks out, they say troops working on election day would respond the same way a civilian would.
“In that case it’s a 911 event to call in local law enforcement to handle any violence or any threats of violence,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, adjutant general for the Nebraska National Guard, said.
If violent protests erupt after the election, Guard officials said it will be up to state leaders to coordinate with law enforcement units for potential National Guard response.
“I think the chief executives of each state are already thinking about these kinds of issues and they would be the focal point for any use of the National Guard for any civil unrest or disturbance following the election,” Bohac said.
After a long and often contentious campaign though, some National Guard members have for months been preparing to respond. In Tennessee, the Guard has a contingency plan to support the state highway patrol, Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, the Tennessee National Guard’s adjutant general, said.
“That has been a pretty established drill we have been executing since May and we do have a number of contingency plans,” he said. “We do talk with them more frequently; we have had a number of planning meetings just so we have a multitude of options that might be available.”
Guard personnel would primarily be tasked with providing protection for state and local facilities to free up the highway patrol to conduct law enforcement activities, Holmes added.
“We know our mission,” he said. “We have had to deploy for civil unrest, so we have a very good working relationship with them.”
In New Jersey, the Guard has a reaction force to assist the state for contingency responses when requested by proper authorities, Brown said.
“Our 8,500-member force remains committed to responding to our state and its citizens during times of need,” she said. “We live, work and raise families in these communities and will stay during this critical time for as long as we are needed.”
For now, though, leaders say they’re focused on ensuring troops aren’t burned out after a busy year for the National Guard.
“Our state leadership worries about our Guardsmen being overworked during our state call ups, but they work with our soldiers and airmen to ensure they are getting the rest they need and they are rotated out so they can take leave,” Joseph Siemandel, director of public affairs for the Washington National Guard, said.
The state activations follow National Guard missions for the pandemic, wildfires, border missions and protests across the country. Missions inside the U.S. peaked for the Guard in June, when more than 86,000 of its soldiers were engaged in domestic missions.
The National Guard provided 8.4 million days of support for domestic operations in fiscal 2020, which ended on Sept. 30.
“Due to all the peaks we’ve had, there’s no way that we would have been close to that in any previous year,” Hall said.
The missions haven’t come without controversy though, particularly after tens of thousands of Guard members were called on to support law enforcement personnel in responding to protests in dozens of states following the May death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody.
As Americans brace for the possibility of more unrest, National Guard leaders say they’ve reinforced law enforcement earlier this year and are prepared to do so again.
Military family members have whispered for decades about Intimate Partner Violence in our community. We’ve heard stories about friends and neighbors. We’ve been confidants for friends who needed help. Some of us have been in an abusive relationship ourselves.
“It’s really common. We’ve had multiple cases of domestic violence just in our neighborhood this year,” said the spouse of an Air Force active duty member.
According to the latest survey data release from the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN), 81% of military community survey respondents are aware of intimate partner violence in their neighborhoods and social circles, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to quarantine together.
Intimate Partner Violence is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as …abuse or aggression that occurs in a close relationship. According to the CDC, an intimate partner can be a current and former spouse or dating partner, and Intimate Partner Violence includes four types of behavior: physical violence; sexual violence; stalking; and psychological aggression. This is the first year MFAN’s support programming survey, presented by Cerner Government Services, has explored the issue
The data is even more disturbing against the backdrop of the pandemic. Since the nation began quarantining to limit the spread of COVID-19, mental health experts nationwide have sounded the alarm that quarantining forces abused people to spend even more time with their abusers.
“Reporting the abuse jeopardizes the service member’s career, therefore jeopardizing the woman and her family’s livelihood. A difficult choice to make: report abuse knowing your husband will lose his job or suffer to keep food on the table? There is no easy solution. That is awful,” the spouse of a Navy active duty service member said.
Among other findings, MFAN’s data showed that those who sought assistance were more likely to:
Range in rank from E4 to E6, if they were active duty family members
Carry more debt
Be concerned with their own or a family member’s alcohol use
Rate as more lonely on the UCLA Loneliness scale
Have considered suicide in the past two years
“For years now, we have heard anecdotes from our Advisors and others in the community about Intimate Partner Violence,” said MFAN’s Executive Director Shannon Razsadin. “We felt it was critical that we collect data on this issue, so that leaders and policy makers will be able to make decisions that honor and protect the health and safety of everyone in the community.”
MFAN recommends that policy makers look for ways to increase communication with military and veteran families about online and virtual resources available; encourage connections with others, especially virtually, as isolation is a tactic of abusers; and reduce barriers for military spouses to seek financial or health care benefits if they or their children are experiencing abuse.
“I’m not by any means a violent person, but I have wanted to strike [my wife] after I came back from tours because I was so angry at the world,” a National Guard and Reserve member said. “I never did, but it was really disturbing how much I wanted to. That’s what made me start counseling.”
The first-ever audit of the of the $2.7 trillion enterprise that is the Defense Department identified widespread problems in cybersecurity, but found little in the way of savings that could offset potential budget cuts in 2019, according to Pentagon and Congressional officials.
Without going into detail, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in a statement on the report, said the audit identified “multiple material weaknesses” across the department but also provided “invaluable information that will help us target and prioritize corrective actions.”
David Norquist, the Pentagon’s comptroller and prime mover behind the audit, said no glaring instances of fraud were found but the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Special Operations, and the Transportation Command all received failing grades.
“We didn’t pass. That’s the blunt and bottom line. We have issues and we’re going to fix them,” Norquist said.
That was to be expected in a first-time audit, Norquist told defense reporters in a Pentagon news conference shortly before the audit’s release on Nov. 15, 2018.
David Norquist, the Pentagon’s comptroller and prime mover behind the audit.
(DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
“If you’re not fixing it, the auditors will come back in exactly a year and find you didn’t fix it,” Norquist said before the report’s release. “And they’re going to come the next year, and the next year until you fix it, so each year I’ll be able to tell you how many findings we closed.”
Occasionally, the auditors turned up problems that turned out not to be problems, Norquist said, which is what happened when they went looking at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
The Hill database listed million-worth of missile motors as broken and in need of repair. When the auditors went to look at them, the motors were found to be in working order — it was a problem in labeling, the audit report said.
One of the “material weaknesses,” as Mattis put it, was in the area of cybersecurity throughout the department, Norquist said.
“Our single largest number of findings is IT security around our businesses,” Norquist said, and it “reflects the challenges that the department faces in IT security.”
One area of concern was in security clearances for personnel and “terminating user access when they depart,” Norquist said.
The department also had to do a better job of “monitoring sensitive users, people who have special authorities, making sure there is careful monitoring to that,” Norquist said. “Our single largest number of findings is IT security around our business systems. We thought this was likely.”
Mattis has been pushing DoD managers to find efficiencies and savings on contracts and operations to fund improvements in the lethality and readiness of the force, and also to guard against potential budget cuts in the new Congress.
President Donald Trump has already warned that he could ask for five percent budget cuts in 2019 across all government departments.
In a statement on the audit, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, urged against using the audit as an excuse to cut military funding.
The audit should be used to make the military “more efficient and agile,” Thornberry said, and “it should not be used as an excuse for arbitrary cuts that reverse the progress we have begun on rebuilding our strength and readiness.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who has called DoD a “.7 trillion enterprise” when all the ships, planes, tanks, missiles, salaries, and buildings are counted on top of the budget, agreed with Norquist that failures uncovered by the audit were to be expected in the first attempt.
“We never thought we were going to pass an audit, right? Everyone was betting against us that we wouldn’t even do the audit,” Shanahan told defense reporters on Nov. 15, 2018.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Nicholson correctly identified two of the biggest problems paratroopers face in an assault. First, troops are vulnerable during their descent from hundreds of feet. Second, the soldiers are spread out over a large area by the nature of the drop.
The former cavalry officer suggested that “Bat-Men,” paratroopers fitted with special wingsuits that had become popular at airshows, could safely open their parachutes at lower altitudes, making it harder for ground troops to kill the attacking forces. These Bat-Men would also be able to steer themselves in the air, allowing them to land closer together and form up for their assault more quickly.
Oddly enough, Nicholson has a tenuous connection to the famous DC Comics character Batman. After Nicholson resigned his Army commission due to a series of high-profile squabbles with military leadership, he started National Allied Publications.
NAP became Detective Comics at the end of 1936 and Detective Comics released the first issue with the Batman character in 1939. But Nicholson had no part in creating the Dark Knight. He had left the company in 1937.
Officers in the military don’t always have the best reputation.
Company Grade Officers, or “CGOs,” might have it worse — at least there’s some heft behind a full-bird; lieutenants are like wee babes in the wood.
In the four or five years we’re training and partying at frat houses earning degrees, our enlisted peers go on multiple combat deployments and conduct real mission operations.
So when you show up as a brand new elle-tee with them shiny butterbars, that is decidedly not the time to pull rank; it’s the time to earn the respect the rank commands.
Here are a few ways to do that without being a dirtbag:
1. Be cool, man. Just…be cool.
You do not need to swagger. You do not need to throw that commission around. If you show up barking orders, you will be resented. The ideal goal is for there to be mutual respect, and it starts with you.
2. Find a mentor.
Probably someone in the E-4 to E-6 range. These guys know the ropes, they’re experts in their career field, and they’ve been taking care of personnel issues since you were a cadet singing your way to chow.
Learn from them. Take their advice into consideration. Everyone needs a Yoda.
3. Know your people (and their jobs).
There’s a fine line between stellar leadership and stalking. (Image via 20th Century Fox)
You should know the name, marital status, secret hopes and dreams, and blood type of everyone you are responsible for. If they have an injury, you need to know it.
If Private Jones gets shin splints, don’t make him do parade practice — make him go to the doc. It’s your job to keep your people mission qualified, and to do that, you need to know the best and worst of them.
You also need to know their mission. You’re probably not going to know all the details they know, but you need to understand what they’re doing every day and you need to be able to communicate it up the chain.
4. Ask questions.
If you don’t know something, don’t bluff your way through it. Acknowledge the information gap and go find the answer. This demonstrates that you are willing to learn and grow, but more importantly, it demonstrates that you are trustworthy.
5. Be a sh*t shield.
Back to Pvt. Jones and his shin splints. It’s your job to recognize that Jones’ medical treatment is more important than a Change of Command ceremony — but that doesn’t mean the commander will see it that way.
It’s on you to convey the needs of your people up the chain of command, and to shield those below you from any backlash.
This is rarely a simple task, but luckily you’ve already proven yourself to be true to your word and earnest in your desire to grow (right? RIGHT??) — the commander will see that, too.
Not being a dirtbag is appreciated up and down the chain.
The first female Marine to try to become an infantry officer has been reclassified to a different military occupational specialty after failing her second attempt at the grueling Infantry Officer’s Course, Military.com has learned.
The officer, who has not been publicly identified, began the 84-day course July 6 and was dropped July 18 after failing to complete two conditioning hikes, Capt. Joshua Pena said.
“IOC students may not fall out of more than one hike during a course,” Pena said.
In all, 34 of the 97 officers who began the course have been dropped. Nine, including the female officer, were recommended for MOS redesignation, meaning they will be placed in a non-infantry job within the Marine Corps.
The female officer first attempted the course in April, just months after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter declared all previously closed ground combat jobs open to women and ordered the services to design plans for integration. She was dropped on the 11th day of that attempt, after failing to complete a second hike.
Notably, the officer passed the notoriously challenging first day’s combat endurance test both times she attempted the course.
While 29 female officers had attempted the IOC on a test basis in a three-year period before the integration mandate was handed down, none would have had the chance to enter infantry jobs upon passing the course.
And because all but one of the female officers were volunteers attempting the course for personal improvement and Marine Corps research purposes, they were not guaranteed a second shot at the course the way male officers were. (The other female Marine was attempting to become a ground intelligence officer, a job that opened before other infantry jobs.)
For that reason, female officers now have their fairest shot at passing the course as the Corps looks to integrate previously male-only units.
But it remains to be seen how many women will attempt to enter these formerly closed positions.
Pena said there are now no female officers enrolled or slated to participate in future IOC classes. The current class will conclude Sept. 20.
In April, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Marine Corps would not change its physical standards in an attempt to help its first female infantry officers enter the fleet.
“One of the questions I got at IOC was, ‘OK, five years from now, no woman had made it through IOC. What happens?’ ” Mabus said at Camp Pendleton on April 12. “My response was, ‘No woman made it through IOC. Standards aren’t going to change.’ “