This is why it's awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Thanking those who served is always appreciated. Nearly every single veteran signed on the dotted line to contribute to something bigger than themselves and, when civilians extend their gratitude, the good will is reciprocated — that is, on any day outside of the last Monday in May.

Yes, the gratitude is always welcomed, but Memorial Day isn’t the time. If prompted, nearly every veteran will give a polite response along the lines of, “thank you for your sentiment, but today is not my day.”


Memorial Day is a day that’s often confused with Veteran’s Day (November 11th) and Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May). While most countries around the world remember their fallen troops on Armistice Day (which commemorates the signing of the treaty that ended World War I — also November 11th), the United States of America began its tradition of taking a day to remember the fallen shortly after the end of the American Civil War.

In its infancy, the holiday was also called “Decoration Day” and generally fell on or around May 30th — depending on where you lived. It was a time when troops, civilians, family, friends, and loved ones would visit the graves of fallen Civil War troops and decorate them with flowers in remembrance.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day
It was expanded after WWI to include all fallen troops from all wars.

The date was chosen because no major battles had taken place on that day — instead of honoring those died in a single battle, mourners could remember all who fell. It was also around the time most flowers started to bloom in North America.

After World War I, the country gradually transitioned to using Memorial Day as a way to honor fallen troops from every conflict. The celebration was kept around the same date and, on this day, the nation still decorates the graves of fallen troops with flags and flowers.

The final Monday in May became a federal holiday with the creation of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and was chosen out of convenience. It gave every American a federally recognized, three-day weekend in order to continue the tradition of honoring those who sacrificed everything for our freedoms.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day
As pleasant as it is to enjoyu00a0time off and au00a0cookouts are, it turned into a double-edged sword.
(Photo by Senior Airman Brett Clashman)

The convenience of this three-day weekend was noted in a 2002 speech by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who said the change undermined the meaning of the day to the general public. To many, it also marks the unofficial beginning of summer, a time filled with barbecues and trips to the lake.

Now, that’s not to say that these pleasantries should ever stop — Americans enjoying their freedoms is what many troops fought to uphold. It’s important to remember, however, that day has, and always will be, in remembrance of the fallen. It’s a day of solemn reflection most troops and veterans spend thinking of their fallen brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day
If a veteran can make it there, this is generally how they spend their three-day weekend. If they can’t, this is where their head is at.
(Photo by Senior Airman Phillip Houk)

To properly thank a veteran this Memorial Day, visit one of the many national cemeteries and join them in placing flags, flowers, and wreaths on the graves of those who deserve our thanks. To find a national cemetery near you, please click here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 mistakes boot make that aren’t the end of the world

Well, you done messed up, kid. You screwed up, everything is your fault, and there’s no way of wiggling out of it. You’ve just got to take it on the chin and carry on.

Unfortunately, genuine mistakes happen from time to time. We’re all human after all. But young troops, especially the good ones, take making a mistake a bit too hard. They’ve spent their entire training getting ready for the stringent task of being in the military only to find themselves on the wrong side of an as*chewing.

To these troops, that’s it. Their morale is now shattered because it feels like the world is collapsing down on them. Now, this isn’t to say that troops shouldn’t strive for perfection — because that’s what Uncle Sam demands — but small mishaps happen and will be quickly forgotten if improvements are made. If it’s truly a mistake that wasn’t done maliciously, just learn for next time.

After all, the primary role of a good NCO is to teach their younger troops to be better.


This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

And never use the “I have diarrhea” excuse. Best case scenario, they don’t believe you. Worst case scenario, you’re being honest and they still don’t believe you.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Caila Arahood)

Showing up late to formation

Showing up at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform is paramount to maintaining good order and discipline in the military. But things do happen that prevent someone from meeting all three of these criteria. Just explain the situation and your superiors will (likely) forgive you.

Whatever you do, however, don’t make excuses. NCOs have a keen eye for detecting bullsh*t because they themselves have probably used the same excuse of, “I, uh, totally had, uh… car problems. That’s it. Car problems.” in their earlier years. If you have proof that you made an effort to be on time, it’ll be fine.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Just grab a battle buddy and have fun with it.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

Low PT scores

Failing anything sucks, but failing something that goes down on your sort of permanent record and having to spend your off time in remedial training is worse. That’s what happens when you fail a physical fitness test.

An unspoken truth about morning PT is that it isn’t really meant to improve troops physically, but rather to sustain the level of fitness they already have. The PT that’s led by the company is designed to keep troops at a manageable plateau of “good enough” rather than sculpt Greek gods out of marble. The only way to improve is to actually workout after hours, or deal with the command-directed remedial training.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

A good coach can pinpoint exactly where your issues are just by looking at your shot grouping.

(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eben Boothby)

Not shooting ‘Expert’ at the range

This one stings more for combat arms troops, but it weighs down some gung-ho support guys as well. Units barely get enough range time as it is and the Sergeant’s Time Training, during which you have to balance the washer or dime on the end of a barrel, just doesn’t help as much as you’d think.

The only way to truly improve your shooting ability is with some one-on-one training at a range. Spend more time zeroing and getting advice on how to improve your sight picture and trigger squeeze and you’ll see your qualification score improve dramatically.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

If it’s actually busted busted, just blame the lowest bidder.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell)

Screwing up a piece of equipment

Breaking something on someone else’s hand receipt is a serious problem. Intentionally destroying government property is far worse. Messing something up that can easily be fixed if brought to the right person is not.

Let’s say you mess up a radio. If you politely ask the commo guy what’s wrong, they won’t ask questions, they’ll fix it. It’s their job. You may get a little salt poured on your wounds when you’re called an idiot, but that’s about it — no need to freak out.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Even your chain of command isn’t perfect.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachariah Grabill)

Genuinely not knowing an order that was just given

The military is an ever-changing beast. Commands flow down from The Pentagon to the branches which are then adapted by the divisions which are then modified at the brigade level, twisted by the battalion level, and then changed entirely at the company level. This is what is called “sh*t rolling down hill.”

Somewhere along all those links in the long chain of command, you might find a contradiction. One officer may say, “Dress uniforms only on CQ/Staff Duty” and you may not have gotten that memo. As long as your immediate superior hasn’t directly said it to you, you’ll do alright.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Never take the fall for a blue falcon. They won’t ever do the same for you.

Associating with sh*tbag troops

No matter which branch you serve in, everyone always harps on accountability of your peers. Unfortunately, not all of your peers are going to be the sane, functional people like you. It’s inevitable: You’ll run into that one dirtbag who just can’t get right, but you’ll still end up being the “good guy” who tries to save them.

Don’t take it personal and don’t be a dick about it, but do yourself a favor and distance yourself from them. This doesn’t mean you should rat them out to the NCOs — unless it’s a serious offense that would result in jail time for you by not taking it to the MPs. Just sidestep the problem before the chain of command thinks you’re also a part of it.

Articles

Paul Rieckhoff wants vets to help America ‘bring the temperature down’

 


This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day
Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA CEO and founder, advocating for vets at the DNC in Philadelphia. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — If the 13 years of running Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has taken an emotional and physical toll on founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff, he doesn’t show it. Watching him in action at the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia is a study in determination and attention to detail. No bypassing staffer is too junior to be engaged, and no veterans issue is too trivial to be addressed.

“If you had asked me 13 years ago that if this far in the future it would still be this hard, I would have said you were full of it,” Rieckhoff says. “Everything is still too hard, from getting candidates to say the right thing to reforming the VA.”

He’s also concerned that philanthropic organizations haven’t responded to a national health problem that he compares to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

“This is like going to the convention in 1982 and people are kind of peripherally talking about AIDS when their friends are dying,” he says. “So if we accept that 20 vets are dying a day as a base point, we’re going to walk out of these conventions and the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and these other billionaire philanthropic leaders are not going to be focused on veterans issues.”

Rieckhoff spreads the blame for the lack of progress on veterans’ issues — heath care and beyond — across several camps, starting with the commander-in-chief.

“President Obama has failed to provide the country a national strategy, and as a response, you’ve gotten fragmentation,” he says. And, by his reckoning, that fragmentation has taken myriad forms, including divisions among the veteran community itself.

“Too often VSO are having tribal fights when we really should recognize that we’re all really in deep shit because our demographics are our destiny and our demographics are bad,” Rieckhoff warns.

He goes on to explain that the veteran community is about to experience a “tectonic shift” numbers-wise because the World War II generation is all but gone and the Vietnam War generation is dying fast.

“We’re going to go from 12 percent in the population to, at some point, under five percent,” he explains.

In the face of this reality, Rieckhoff says that veteran service organizations and, more broadly, veterans themselves need to unify.

“My big takeaway in the wake of these two conventions is we have to find ways to be united and focused and we have to find ways to multiply our impact,” he says. “If veterans alone are carrying water for veterans’ issues we will lose.  We’re just too small. There aren’t enough of us.”

That’s not to say that he doesn’t think veterans have individual impact potential; in fact, Rieckhoff is quick to point out that vets are in a unique position nationwide right now.

“If you’re a veteran and you walk into a Starbucks or a classroom and announce your status you’re going to get 2 minutes of ‘rock star’ respect where people will listen to you for a little while before they jump into their corners for Bernie or Trump or whoever,” he says. “But you have that opening that opportunity to try and be a leader and bring people together. That’s what veterans need to be doing right now. We can bring the temperature down. We can do it through credibility and patriotism and through our example.”

At the same time, Rieckhoff warns vets against being used as props.

“As a community, we have to be really wary about being used. If they want to throw you up on stage with someone, make sure that you’re getting out of it what you need because they’re going to get what they need,” he says. “It’s kind of like when you join the military, right? Uncle Sam’s going to get what he needs out of you. Make sure you get what you need out of Uncle Sam.”

The discussion pivots to the political sphere, and Rieckhoff is at once unflinching and bipartisan in his take on what’s in play for the military community.

“The conventions have been fascinating to watch,” he says. “I think what’s happened in the last four years is both parties realize that veterans make good populism. Last week you had Joni Ernst and a wall of veterans, this week you’ll have Seth Moulton and a wall of veterans. They know – Trump especially – that there is a huge populist undertone to everything veterans.”

But Rieckhoff fears the community may be squandering its time in the spotlight.

“We have lacked a real sharp edge of activism,” he says. “If this was 1968, vet protestors would be in the convention.”

He introduces a broader theme, saying, “It’s a very complicated psycho-social situation we’re in where our community has been asked to sacrifice over and over again, but the public has reasoned that those in the military are self-selected as people who are willing to sacrifice over and over again. You can send us on 12 tours and we’re not going to make that much of a stink.

“The bigger issue is the lack of precedent for the lack of involvement in our country in a time of war. There’s no precedent in American history for this much war with this small group of people for this long.”

That societal reality has yielded some things of concern, not the least of which, according to Rieckhoff, is the fact that there are very few veterans in positions of real power.

“None of the candidates in either party is a veteran,” he points out. “Neither chairman of the VA on either the House or Senate side was a veteran. Jeff Miller and Bernie Sanders can’t run around talking about how wonderful they were when they presided over the largest VA scandal in American history.

“Bernie Sanders used the scandal to pass the omnibus and Jeff Miller is running around with Trump, using his time on HVAC for that. That’s politics, I get that. But At the end of the day veterans are still screwed.”

Rieckhoff likens the situation to “asking a plumber to fix your television.”

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day
IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff at the DNC in Philadelphia. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

He uses what’s going on at the VA as an example, saying, “Bob McDonald is an army of one right now. He’s getting his legs cut out from under him by the Republican congress and Democratic leadership won’t touch him, so he’s almost out of time. He’s a good man who’s tried, but likely he’ll be out. The probability is we’ll get a new VA secretary who’ll get nominated in February or March, confirmed in March or April, and maybe he gets to work in June. So, six months into 2017, we’ll have the vision of a new VA secretary.”

Rieckhoff wants veteran leaders “who are still on the sidelines” to engage.

“There should be a coordinated and independent effort to recognize that these are trying times politically and we need to have a new call for these folks to serve,” he says. “You had the ‘Fighting Dems” in ’06 and I told Rahm Emanuel that ‘you have a political jump ball here,’ and he didn’t see it.

“The Fighting Dems wasn’t started by the party; it was started by that crew – Patrick Murphy and Tammy Duckworth and Joe Sestak. That was the first iteration. Four years later the Republicans had their own round, but there was never really a coordinated campaign by either party to recruit veterans. There was a coordinated campaign to push out veterans and to celebrate veterans, but there’s not actually a farm team.”

Rieckhoff goes further, actually recommending a ticket that a large percentage of veterans would support right out of the gate.

“If [former NYC mayor] Mike Bloomberg and [retired Admiral and former CJCS] Mike Mullen started their own party tomorrow, a third of our membership would go with them . . . probably a third of the country would go with them,” he opines.

Rieckhoff sums the landscape up as “crazier,” and, again, he believes that presents a unique opportunity for the military/veteran community.

“We’re some of the only people who can go to both conventions and understand both sides,” he says. “That’s the powerful position for us whether it’s gun control, immigration, Islamophobia, gay rights, marijuana, or whatever. We can be a unique bridge builder between both sides. The Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements are great examples. The veterans community is on both sides of those.”

For all of the impact potential veterans might have, Rieckhoff is also mindful of negative stereotypes that exist among the civilian populations, something he blames in large part to “media laziness.”

“The only description the media had of the Dallas shooter was that he was African-American, and he was a veteran,” he points out. “Why? Because they have to file a story quickly and those were the only two things they could verify. That accelerated media cycle perpetuates lazy reporting. And when you have a vet who fits the stereotype they run with it.”

Rieckhoff exhales and contemplates the requirement to constantly attend to the pubic’s perception of vets, and that reminds him of the accomplishments of the community and, specifically, the legacy of IAVA.

“When IAVA started in 2004 the veterans landscape was a desert,” he remembers. “Now it’s a metropolis. We are very proud of the fact that a lot of people who come through the IAVA team have gone on to do really cool stuff.”

A quick review of the current roles of IAVA alums bears this out. Vet leaders like Abdul Henderson (now on the Congressional Black Caucus), Bill Rausch (now at Got Your 6), Tom Taratino (Twitter), Matt Miller (Trump campaign), and Todd Bowers (Uber) all spent time on the IAVA staff.

“We built IAVA to be a launching pad,” Rieckhoff says. “I’d rather have Tom Taratino at Twitter changing the culture than have him at the House VA Committee talking to a bunch of other veterans for the ninetieth time.”

But in spite of the challenges, Rieckhoff is bullish on the future of the veteran community.

“In 10 years, disproportionally CEOs are going to be veterans, candidates are going to be veterans, entrepreneurs are going to be veterans,” he says. “And that’s going to be exciting to watch.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy Commander sentenced to 18 months for ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal

A U.S. Navy commander was sentenced Dec. 1 to 18 months in prison for his role in a fraud and bribery scheme that cost the government about $35 million.


Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., was the latest person to be sentenced in connection with a decade-long scam linked to a Singapore defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” Francis.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Francis bribed Navy officials to help him over-bill the Navy for fuel, food, and other services his company provided to ships docked in Asian ports, according to prosecutors. The bribes allegedly ranged from cash and prostitutes to Cuban cigars and Spanish suckling pigs.

Pitts pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges that alleged he tried to obstruct a federal investigation while in charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command in Singapore.

In handing down the sentence against Pitts, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino told him that he had “betrayed the Navy and betrayed the country,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Also Read: This is why the ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal is a very serious problem

“Pitts deliberately and methodically undermined government operations and in doing so, diverted his allegiance from his country and colleagues to a foreign defense contractor, and for that, he is paying a high price,” said Adam Braverman, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego.

In addition to his prison sentence, Pitts was also ordered to pay $22,500 in fines and restitution.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Former Somali warlord now drives Uber

A man accused of committing war crimes while serving as a Somali military commander during the African nation’s brutal civil war later moved to the US and got a job driving for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

According to a CNN investigation, Yusuf Abdi Ali, a driver for Uber in Virginia since November 2017, is a former officer in the Somali army who is accused of being involved in killing more than 100 men while serving under the dictator Siad Barre.

Eyewitnesses from the Somali war zone told journalists from Canada’s CBC network in 1992 that Ali committed atrocities during the civil war in the 1980s.


“Two men were caught, tied to a tree,” one said. “Oil was poured on them and they were burnt alive. I saw it with my own eyes. I cut away their remains.”

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

An eyewitness from the Somali war zone telling journalists about the crimes committed by Ali. “Two men were caught, tied to a tree, oil was poured on them and they were burnt alive. I saw it with my own eyes. I cut away their remains.”

Another told CBC: “He caught my brother. He tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. He shredded him into pieces. That’s how he died.”

After the CBC documentary, Ali was deported from Canada and moved to the US. According to CNN, he worked as a security guard until 2016, when CNN found him and confronted him about the allegations. He was fired soon after.

Undercover reporters from CNN ordered an Uber ride with Ali as their driver this month — and recorded him in secret.

Ali drove a white Nissan Altima and was an “Uber Pro Diamond” driver with a 4.89 rating.

In the report published May 14, 2019, CNN said Ali had been driving for Uber for 18 months and had also worked for Lyft.

The undercover footage shows Ali telling CNN reporters Uber “just want your background check, that’s it,” and that if “you apply tonight, maybe after two days it will come, you know, everything.”

He’s accused of war crimes and torture. Uber approved him to drive.

www.youtube.com

Business Insider understands that Ali passed TSA and FBI background checks.

“This new continuous checking technology will strengthen our screening process and improve safety,” Uber’s vice president of safety and insurance, Gus Fuldner, said at the time.

CNN previously discovered in 2016 that Uber and Lyft had hired drivers with serious felony records, some of whom went on to be accused of sexually assaulting passengers.

A man saying he was one of Ali’s victims brought legal proceedings against him in a US court in 2004.

On May 13, 2019 — 15 years later — a court in Alexandria, Virginia, heard opening statements from lawyers for Ali and the man, Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa.

Warfaa has accused Ali of shooting him and leaving him for dead during an interrogation at his village in Somalia in 1988.

Ali was named by Warfaa’s lawyer as the leader of the Somali army’s 5th Brigade. Warfaa said Ali was known to soldiers as Colonel Tukeh, or Colonel Crow.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Ali speaking with CBC in 1992.

(YouTube/CBC)

Ali has denied all allegations of war crimes, calling them “totally baseless.” Business Insider has contacted Ali’s lawyer for comment.

Business Insider understands Ali was not flagged on any of the government watchlists and sanctions lists searched during Uber’s screening process.

An Uber spokeswoman told Business Insider:

“Drivers must undergo a driving and criminal history background check reviewing local, state and national records, and we evaluate eligibility in accordance with criteria set by local laws.”

Lyft told CNN that it was barring Ali from its service but that he had not driven for the company since September.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Military might be winding down southern border deployment

Weeks after President Donald Trump ordered nearly 6,000 troops to the US-Mexico border, the largest active-duty mobilization to the border during his presidency, some of those troops will start heading home.

The expected end date for the operation is Dec. 15, 2018, but some troops that are either not needed or have completed their mission could leave before that date, according to Politico. All troops should be back to their home stations well before Christmas, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan told Politico.


“We will continue to support [US Customs and Border Protection’s] request for support up until Dec. 15, 2018, unless we are directed otherwise,” Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said. “At some point in time, when the work is done, we’ll start downsizing some capability or shifting capability to elsewhere on the border. Our numbers will be commensurate with the capacities that DHS and CBP have requested.”

For those not heading home, Thanksgiving dinner will be shipped to troops at the border.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Members of the U.S.military along the U.S.-Mexico border.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brandon Best)

A CNN report published late Nov. 19, 2018, seemed to contradict the assertion that the border operation was beginning to wind down. The news outlet said Trump is expected to grant some troops the authority to “protect” CBP personnel from migrants “if they engage in violence.” The report, which cited administration officials familiar with the matter, said the troops would also be granted permission to protect federal property.

In late October 2018 — days before the Nov. 6, 2018, midterm elections — Trump ordered troops to the US-Mexico border to aid CBP and other law enforcement in anticipation of a caravan of migrants traveling north from Central America. Some 2,800 soldiers were sent to Texas, 1,500 to Arizona, and 1,500 to California — in addition to roughly 2,100 members of the National Guard already deployed.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Members of the U.S.military along the U.S.-Mexico border.

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

Usually, when military personnel are sent to the border to back up law enforcement and CPB, it’s part-time National Guard troops (under the command of state’s governors), as was previously authorized. However, the troops sent ahead of the midterm elections included active-duty troops: “three combat engineer battalions, members of the US Army Corps of Engineers and troops who specialize in aviation, medical treatment and logistics,” according to The Washington Post.

Critics called the mobilization of troops to the border a political stunt pulled before the midterm elections to rally the president’s base.

The troops were mainly responsible for building barriers along the border including shipping containers and barbed wire. Thus far, roughly seven miles of wire have been placed at the border, according to Military.com. And the concertina wire mission has been completed in Texas, Stars and Stripes reported. The Pentagon said it does not have any clarity on the next step now that barrier emplacement has been completed.

Migrants have begun to arrive in Tijuana, Mexico, and roughly 7,000 could end up there, according to KPBS. Earlier on Nov. 19, 2018, CBP closed some northbound traffic and pedestrian lanes at the border crossing.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

DoD says those who try to overrun embassy will ‘run into a buzzsaw’

The Pentagon warned on Thursday morning that anyone who tries to breach the US Embassy in Baghdad would face a “buzzsaw.”

Swarms of violent protesters and apparent supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia targeted by recent US airstrikes stormed the gates of the embassy on Tuesday, forcing the Pentagon to react.

About 100 Marines from a special crisis-response unit created after the 2012 attacks on US diplomatic posts in Benghazi, Libya, were sent in to reinforce the embassy, and 750 paratroopers from the Army 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force deployed to the US Central Command area of operations.


At a press briefing on Thursday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said that “we are very confident in the integrity of that embassy.”

“It is highly unlikely to be physically overrun by anyone,” he said, adding that “anyone who attempts to overrun that will run into a buzzsaw.”

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley

(DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden)

The US on Sunday conducted airstrikes against five positions of the militia, Kataib Hezbollah, in retaliation for a rocket attack days earlier on an Iraqi base that killed a US contractor and wounded several American service members.

President Donald Trump has pinned the blame for both the rocket attack and the assault on the embassy on Iran.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” he tweeted on Tuesday, later adding: “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

The past year has been largely characterized by heightened tensions with Iran, which the US military has deployed roughly 15,000 troops to counter since May.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at the briefing on Thursday, according to Voice of America, that the US would “take preemptive action” against Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias in Iraq “to protect American forces, to protect American lives.”

He added: “The game has changed. We’re prepared to do what is necessary.”

Esper said that there were indications that groups opposed to the US presence in the area might be planning additional attacks.

“Do I think they may do something? Yes. And they will likely regret it,” he said.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

The Department of State told Insider on Wednesday that the situation at the embassy “has improved” and that the Iraqi security forces had stepped in to provide additional security, clearing protesters away from the outpost.

The embassy, which cost an estimated 0 million, is in a 104-acre compound in the fortified Green Zone, making it the world’s largest embassy.

“Though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post security posture remains heightened,” the emailed statement read. The Pentagon has left the door open to sending more troops to the Middle East to counter threats to US personnel in the region.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How veterans are using writing to heal

Navy veteran and creative writing gold medalist Patrick Ward is excited to share his work at this year’s Vet Gala at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF). His featured story can be found among the 15 short stories and poems displayed in Writers’ Row at the festival’s Artist and Writer Exhibition.

“Writing has helped bring me back to the person that I want to be,” Ward said. “I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to be here and to share my story with others. We all have stories to tell. My hope in telling mine is that it inspires someone while I’m here.”


Inspiration and healing

Gary Beckwith, creator of the annual Veterans Literacy Jam at Battle Creek VA Medical Center and one of this year’s NVCAF writing event organizers, says he hopes veterans realize their potential and leave feeling healed.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Navy Veteran and creative writer, Patrick Ward (right), listens during a discussion at the writing workshop at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. Ward’s story is among the 15 short stories and poems displayed in Writers’ Row at the festival’s Artist and Writer Exhibition.

“I believe that writing can be a cathartic experience,” said Beckwith. “The writing workshops and Vet Gala were designed to, not only highlight the talents of our writers, but were organized with the hopes that veterans leave here feeling inspired.”

During the festival, writers take the opportunity to speak about their writing and how it has affected their health, emotional well-being and recovery.

Army veteran Otto Espenschied has used writing to help him overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cope during a nine-year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Recently receiving a gold medal for his short story titled, “I Don’t Have PTSD,” he explains that writing and participating in this year’s festival has helped him understand that he is stronger than he ever knew.

“It’s hard to dream when you’re barely holding on,” he said. “Writing has helped get me through some tough times, but I’m alive. I can hug my daughters and my wife each day. What more can I ask for?”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 stages of moto car decals and what they actually mean

Every troop should be proud of their service. From the gung-ho infantryman to the admin clerk, everyone should take pride in being a tiny cog in the giant gears that keep this country safe. While you’ll be hard-pressed to find troops in service wearing branch-specific clothing while off-duty (the uniform is good enough), most troops sport some kind of decal on their car.

There’re many practical reasons for this — the most obvious being that police officers tend to be more lenient about minor traffic infractions (this works better the further away from post you are), but it can also be an effective conversation starter with other troops and veterans.

But the type of moto car decal you sport (or don’t) says more about you than you might think. So, what’s on your car?


This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

There’s also the chance that it’s a new car and they just haven’t found the right moto sticker yet.

(Photo by Dan Ox)

Nothing

At the very beginning of the list is the troop that just isn’t into all the hype. This troop will probably serve for one or two contracts, PCS to Fort Couch, and pick some sort of functional college degree path.

If your ride is devoid of decals, you’re probably not really into getting drunk with the guys in the barracks and would much rather stay at home and play video games or spend time with the family. Every four-day weekend, you’re nowhere to be seen because you’re off pretending you’re not in the military. And, honestly? No one else in the unit noticed.

There’s a 35% chance that all of this troop’s best stories about being in the military involve just tagging along with some grunts who are doing cool stuff.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Or you can cut out the middle man and get a veteran license plate. These are actually pretty cool when you get the paperwork filled out for one.

(New York State Department of Motor Vehicles)

Small, yet classy branch decal near the license plate

You did your part and you are a low-key badass. You don’t need to overdo things, but you’re proud of what you’ve done. Maybe you were the quiet infantryman who handled business. Maybe you were the platoon sergeant who took great pride in looking after your Joes.

You don’t need to brag. Your stories are probably told and exaggerated by other people — and you don’t correct them, you just smile and enjoy.

There’s a 73% chance that your stories are actually more interesting than anyone else’s at the bar.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing these stickers rolling through the stargate.

(Meme via Private News Network)

Military spouse stickers

Let’s be clear up front: This list item isn’t about the military spouses themselves — they’re safe from ridicule. This one’s for the dead-eyed troop who drives the family minivan to work.

You were once this mighty badass that struck fear into the hearts of your enemies. Now your life consists of making quick runs to the grocery store just so you can have a smoke without your wife yelling at you and maybe finally get the damn theme song of Paw Patrol out of your f*cking head.

There’s a 0.3% chance that you’ll let your troops go home by 1700 because you’d rather not face the family just yet.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Chances are also high that if you’ve blocked out your rear-view window, you’re probably layering on more than one sticker.

(Image via RallyPoint)

One single, large-as-f*ck decal that blocks out the rear-view mirror

By this stage, all sense of normalcy has been abandoned. Once you go full hooah, there’s no turning back — embrace it.

Your eyes are always ahead of you because there’s no way in hell you can look back. There are many different types of decals that range partially transparent, so you can actually drive properly, to the fully opaque Eagle, Globe, and Anchor that prevents you from seeing the red and blue lights of the cop that’s going to pull you over.

There’s a 50% chance that the other side of your rear-view decal has a gun rack — even if it’s on a Honda Accord.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

I get the ribbon rack and the rank you reached when you retired, but it’s assumed that, at one point, you were a butter bar and a private. We get it.

(Meme via Popular Military)

Your complete military record

You’ve put everything you’ve ever done in the military on full display for the world to enjoy. Just showcasing your rank, unit insignia, and maybe a prestigious medal or two isn’t enough for you. You’re willing to spend hours searching online for that NATO Kosovo medal decal just to let everyone know that you went there one time.

The only thing more impressive than your military career is the amount of dedication you have to telling everyone about it.

There’s a 99.9% chance that you’ll start a conversation with, “as a veteran, I…”

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

To be fair, you can become internet famous, just like the “Moto as F*ck Marine Truck” guy.

(Meme via r/USMC)

Every single sticker your branch has ever sponsored to the point where you can’t see any of the original paint

You served and, goddammit, you’re going to let everyone know! There won’t be a shadow of a doubt in anyone’s mind when you roll up (blasting Free Bird, of course) that you wrote a check for everything up to and including your life — even if you’re just pulling into the company area on post.

Everyone should bask in all of your veteran glory. It is, frankly, an insult that you can’t get a 10% discount on all seventy-nine military bumper stickers you ordered on Amazon (because you’ve already bought out the stock at your local AutoZone).

There’s a 84.9% chance that you consider wall-to-wall counseling a legitimate method of training troops.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China holds surprisingly short opening of massive bridge

After 10 years and 420,000 tons of steel, and at a devastating cost in lives and renminbi, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open — and the announcement came by a strangely curt Chinese President Xi Jinping in the port city of Zhuhai.

The opening ceremony was shrouded in some of the trademark confusion that has dogged the megaproject since its inception in 2009, with the big day having only just been announced in late October 2018.

In an unexpected and breathtaking display of brevity, Xi declared the world’s longest sea crossing — a 35-mile (55-kilometer) bridge and underwater tunnel connecting Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland Chinese port city of Zhuhai — as open with an abrupt two-second speech that, it is fair to say, was not what everyone was expecting.


“I announce the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is officially open,” Xi said.

With those accurate, though perhaps less-than-memorable words, China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong caught the 700-strong audience, which included media members and dignitaries, on the hop.

It was an exercise in concision from a president who, almost a year ago to the day, opened the Communist Party congress in Beijing with a granular 3-hour, 23-minute speech summarizing his thoughts on a new era in socialism with Chinese characteristics.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Instead, before an audience of top officials including Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, Xi said his piece at the strategically located port of Zhuhai and left the podium as electronic fireworks flailed about on a television in the background.

Reporters on the ground, including Bloomberg’s Fion Li, were quick to express their surprise and disappointment.

Rhetorical revelry is a party tradition

Chinese leaders have a proud tradition of ponying up when history calls for it.

Deng Xiaoping, who while diminutive in stature was a political juggernaut in the 1980s, made a career with pithy insights that Chinese speakers around the world still quote and reexamine.

And while Mao Zedong may have presided over some of the least poetic policies of the 20th century, the Great Helmsman could turn a phrase when he had to, like this brutal and blunt firecracker from 1957.

As president, general secretary of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party, and chairman of the Central Military Commission, Xi has quickly and effectively concentrated influence into his sphere.

And Oct. 23, 2018’s event seemed tailor-made for a long-winded reflection on China’s increasingly successful exercise of soft power, its sheer engineering audacity, and the political genius of building a 55-kilometer crossing that continues to grow the mainland’s security apparatus and authority on both the semiautonomous gambling enclave of Macau and the city-state financial powerhouse of Hong Kong.

But in the end, the president perhaps decided to let the massive, looming achievement speak for itself.

It’s all part of the plan

The bridge is part of China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area Master Plan” to integrate Hong Kong, Macau, and the manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong province’s nine biggest cities to create a combined id=”listicle-2614804819″.5 trillion tech and science hub intended to rival even Silicon Valley.

The 55-kilometer megastructure is a typically intimidating, awe-inspiring, and slightly pointless statement of state authority and universal purpose. It rises from the Sun and Moon Bay in the Zhuhai port like some giant, disoriented concrete serpent, snaking off mercurially into the distance.

The air is very thick too, with southern Chinese humidity and the ever-present eerie gray-brown pollution that wafts in blooms from heavy manufacturing out of the Pearl River Delta — the factory floor of the world — ensuring the megabridge in all its glory will be largely obscured from view year-round.

What it does provide, however, is direct access to both potentially wayward semiautonomous regions, binding the gambling enclave and the city-state tighter to the breast of the motherland. Indeed, it may be the angst of an ever-encroaching China that has tilted the president to such a rare and unexpected pithiness.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Site under construction in 2015.

Commentators have been quick to describe the project as a white elephant, noting that the lightly traveled crossing can hardly be a push for convenience but rather another covert expansion by Beijing as it extends its reach back into the supposedly autonomous enclaves of Hong Kong and Macau.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is the second major infrastructure project binding Hong Kong to the mainland opened in just a few weeks, following a new high-speed rail connection that opened in September 2018 — the first time Chinese security were stationed on and bestowed authority in Hong Kong territory.

Certainly, there is anxiety in Hong Kong, with critics fearing the increasing inroads into the special administrative region’s territory by an ever-assertive mainland, while some local media has suggested that drivers on the bridge will be closely scrutinized by cameras that examine even their physical condition and how fatigued a driver is becoming.

The issues of territoriality may dominate the project for years to come; most of the bridge is considered mainland territory and Hong Kong vehicles and drivers, already hit by restricted access, will be traveling under the laws of the mainland, Hong Kong’s transportation department has warned.

“The Hong Kong government is always out of the picture and is under the control of the Chinese government,” the Hongkonger lawmaker Tanya Chan told AFP last week. Construction of the bridge began in 2009 and was targeted for completion two years ago.

According to the South China Morning Post, 10 workers died and 600 were injured in the construction of the typhoon-proof, two-way, six-lane expressway bridge that the government expects to carry 29,100 vehicles and 126,000 single-day passenger trips by 2030.

But for now, the bridge is open to some traffic, including certain buses, freight, and selected permit-holding passenger vehicles.

It’s also a gorgeous trip by ferry.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Turks stand by decision to buy Russian missiles despite threat of US sanctions

Turkey’s defense minister said Ankara was preparing for potential U.S. sanctions over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, but also spoke of what he called a growing “rapprochement” with Washington over the issue.

The United States has demanded that Ankara call off the deal to purchase the Russian system, and NATO allies have also expressed concerns about the potential threat to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.


Washington has warned Ankara that it could invoke the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and impose financial penalties should Turkey go ahead with the deal.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.

(U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Michael Jackson)

Speaking to reporters late on May 21, 2019, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that during recent talks with Washington, Ankara had seen a “general easing and rapprochement” on the issue.

But he said Turkey was “making preparations” and “considering all options” against possible U.S. sanctions over the purchase.

Akar also said Turkish military personnel were receiving training to operate the S-400 missile defense system.

This is why it’s awkward to thank veterans on Memorial Day

S-400 missile defense system.

(Flickr photo by Dmitriy Fomin)

Washington has said it could withdraw an offer to sell Ankara the U.S. equivalent — the Patriot anti-missile system — and warned that Turkey risks being ejected from the F-35 fighter-jet program.

Turkey is a member of the consortium involved in the production of the jet and a buyer.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Check out the new trailer for upcoming WWII movie ‘Midway’

Apologies for spoiling the ending, but the upcoming World War II movie “Midway” is about one of the United States’ greatest military victories in our war with Japan.

The film opens in theaters Nov. 8, 2019, just in time for Veterans Day weekend.

Director Roland Emmerich (“The Patriot,” “Independence Day” and “White House Down”) has spent decades trying to get “Midway” made, and improving technology has finally allowed him to match the movie to his vision.

The studio debuted a new trailer, and you can watch it below.


Midway (2019 Movie) New Trailer – Ed Skrein, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson

www.youtube.com

“Midway” stars Woody Harrelson as Adm. Chester Nimitz and features an epic cast that includes Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Nick Jonas, Aaron Eckhart and Darren Criss.

The Battle of Midway was truly a turning point in World War II. If the Japanese had won, the entire West Coast would have been exposed, and the alternate history imagined by a show like “The Man in the High Castle” would have been a real possibility.

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

Articles

This helicopter ship landing during a storm will make you squirm

Helicopter pilots have it easy in some ways — they do not need runways to take off or land — just a clearing. Well, one look at this video taken on Oct. 26, 2016, showing a Royal Danish Navy Sikorsky MH-60R landing on one of that navy’s Thetis-class oceangoing patrol vessels, will how just how tough a landing can be sometimes.


In this video, the Thetis-class patrol vessel is in the midst of a storm. Note the very expert technique the Danish pilot uses to match the vessel’s speed, and the very deft touch used to keep from slamming the helicopter into the pitching deck.

The MH-60R is a multi-role maritime helicopter capable of carrying Mk 46, Mk 50, or Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes. It also can carry AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. According to the official MH-60 website, it has a crew of three, a top speed of 140 knots, and can stay up for over two and a half hours.

According to Naval-Technology.com, the Thetis-class ocean patrol vessels displace 3,500 tons, have a top speed of 20 knots, hold 60 crew, and are 369 feet long. The Danish Navy has four of these vessels in service. Two entered service in 1991, two entered service in 1992.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptem1zpHD_s