The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

Ralph Stepney’s home on a quiet street in north Baltimore has a welcoming front porch and large rooms, with plenty of space for his comfortable recliner and vast collection of action movies. The house is owned by Joann West, a licensed caregiver who shares it with Stepney and his fellow Vietnam War veteran Frank Hundt.

“There is no place that I’d rather be. … I love the quiet of living here, the help we get. I thank the Lord every year that I am here,” Stepney, 73, said.

It’s a far cry from a decade ago, when Stepney was homeless and “didn’t care about anything.” His diabetes went unchecked and he had suffered a stroke — a medical event that landed him at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

After having part of his foot amputated, Stepney moved into long-term nursing home care at a VA medical facility, where he thought he’d remain — until he became a candidate for a small VA effort that puts aging veterans in private homes: the Medical Foster Home program.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Ralph Stepney, a Vietnam War veteran who was homeless a decade ago, watches TV in his room.
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

The $20.7 million-per-year program provides housing and care for more than 1,000 veterans in 42 states and Puerto Rico, serving as an alternative to nursing home care for those who cannot live safely on their own. Veterans pay their caregivers $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on location, saving the government about $10,000 a month in nursing home care. It has been difficult to scale up, though, because the VA accepts only foster homes that meet strict qualifications.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

For the veterans, it’s a chance to live in a home setting with caregivers who treat them like family. For the Department of Veterans Affairs, the program provides an option for meeting its legal obligation to care for ailing, aging patients at significantly reduced costs, since the veterans pay room and board directly to their caregivers.

Cost-effectiveness is but one of the program’s benefits. Stepney and Hundt, 67, are in good hands with West, who previously ran a home health care services company. And they’re in good company, watching television together in the main living room, going to elder care twice a week and sitting on West’s porch chatting with neighbors.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Ralph Stepney (left) and Frank Hundt sit on the front porch of the Baltimore home they share with caregiver Joann West on May 18, 2018.
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

West, who considers caring for older adults “her calling,” also savors the companionship and finds satisfaction in giving back to those who spent their young lives in military service to the U.S.

“I took care of my mother when she got cancer and I found that I really had a passion for it. I took classes and ran an in-home nursing care business for years. But my dream was always to get my own place and do what I am doing now,” West said. “God worked it out.”

The Medical Foster Home program has slightly more than 700 licensed caregivers who live full time with no more than three veterans and provide round-the-clock supervision and care, according to the VA. Akin to a community residential care facility, each foster home must be state-licensed as an assisted living facility and submit to frequent inspections by the VA as well as state inspectors, nutritionists, pharmacists and nurses.


Unlike typical community care facilities, foster home caregivers are required to live on-site and tend to the needs of their patients themselves 24/7 — or supply relief staff.

“It’s a lot of work, but I have support,” West says. “I try to make all my personal appointments on days when Mr. Ralph and Mr. Frank are out, but if I can’t, someone comes in to be here when I’m gone.”

VA medical foster home providers also must pass a federal background check, complete 80 hours of training before they can accept patients, plus 20 hours of additional training each year, and allow the VA to make announced and unannounced home visits. They cannot work outside the home and must maintain certification in first aid, CPR and medicine administration.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Caregiver Joann West sits in the living room of her Baltimore home, which she shares with veterans Frank Hundt (left) and Ralph Stepney.
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

But one prerequisite cannot be taught — the ability to make a veteran feel at home. West has grown children serving in the military and takes pride in contributing to the well-being of veterans.

“It’s a lot of joy taking care of them,” she said of Stepney and Hundt. “They deserve it.”

To be considered for the program, veterans must be enrolled in VA health care; have a serious, chronic disabling medical condition that requires a nursing home level of care; and need care coordination and access to VA services. It can take up to a month to place a veteran in a home once they are found eligible, according to the VA.

The veterans also must be able to cover their costs. Because medical foster homes are not considered institutional care, the VA is not allowed to pay for it directly. The average monthly fee, according to the VA, is $2,300, which most veterans cover with their VA compensation, Social Security and savings, said Nicole Trimble, Medical Foster Home coordinator at the Perry Point VA Medical Center in Maryland.

Pilot program takes off

Since 1999, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been required to provide nursing home services to veterans who qualify for VA health care and have a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or higher, or are considered unemployable and have a disability rating of 60 percent or higher.

The VA provides this care through short- or long-term nursing home facilities, respite care, community living centers on VA hospital grounds, private assisted living facilities and state veterans homes.

Shortly after, the VA Medical Center in Little Rock, Ark., launched an alternative — a pilot program that placed veterans in individual homes, at an average cost to the VA of roughly $60 a day, including administration and health care expenses, compared with upward of $500 a day for nursing home care.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Ralph Stepney holds photos from a cruise he took to Bermuda with West and Hundt. Stepney put the photos into a keepsake album that he keeps at their home.
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

And because veterans who are enrolled in the Medical Foster Care program must use the VA’s Home-Based Primary Care program, which provides an interdisciplinary team of health professionals for in-home medical treatment, the program saves the VA even more. One study showed that the home-based care has yielded a 59 percent drop in VA hospital inpatient days and a 31 percent reduction in admissions among those who participate.

More than 120 VA medical centers now oversee a Medical Foster Home program in their regions, and the VA has actively promoted the program within its health system.

It also has attracted bipartisan congressional support. In 2013, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bill to allow the VA to pay for medical foster homes directly.

In 2015, former House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) introduced similar legislation that would have allowed the VA to pay for up to 900 veterans under the program.

And in May, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) raised the issue again, sponsoring a bill similar to Miller’s. “Allowing veterans to exercise greater flexibility over their benefits ensures that their individual needs are best met,” Higgins said in support of the program.

A guardian ‘angel’

Foster care has been a blessing for the family of Hundt, who suffered a stroke shortly after his wife died and was unable to care for himself. Hundt’s daughter, Kimberly Malczewski, lives nearby and often stops in to visit her dad, sometimes with her 2-year-old son.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Frank Hundt watches TV in his bedroom at caregiver Joann West’s home in Baltimore on May 18, 2018.
(Photo by Lynne Shallcross)

“I’m not sure where my father would be if he didn’t have this,” she said. “With my life situation — my husband and I both work full time, we have no extra room in our house, and we have a small child — I can’t take care of him the way Miss Joann does.”

Trimble, whose program started in 2012 and has five homes, said she hopes to expand by two to three homes a year. The VA will remain meticulous about selecting homes.

“There is a strict inspection and vetting process to be a medical foster home,” Trimble said. “We only will accept the best.”

It also takes a special person to be an “angel,” as the caregivers are referred to in the program’s motto, “Where Heroes Meet Angels.”

Stepney and Hundt agree West has earned her wings. On a recent cruise to Bermuda, she brought Stepney and Hundt along.

For Hundt, it was the first time he’d been on a boat. And Stepney said it was nothing like the transport ships he and his fellow troops used in the late 1960s: “Well, I’ve gotten to travel, but it was mainly two years in Vietnam, and there weren’t any women around.”

When asked why she brought the pair along, West said caregiving is “a ministry, something you really have to like to do.”

“And you know how the saying goes,” she said. “When you like what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

This article originally appeared on Kaiser Health News. Follow @KHNews on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the US will move an embassy to Jerusalem by 2019

The Trump administration plans to retrofit an existing facility in Jerusalem into an embassy with the goal of moving its staff there from Tel Aviv in 2019, US officials said on Jan. 18 2018.


The New York Times and Wall Street Journal quoted US officials on record, who said the State Department plans to reconfigure an existing consular facility that the US has operated out of Arnona in West Jerusalem since 1948.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
President Donald Trump.

Announcing the controversial move, US President Donald Trump said he planned on setting forth architects and planners to design a new facility. And his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has told reporters that a formal move would be at least three years off.

Also read: 7 treaties and relationships that might be affected by Trump foreign policy

But Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is leading the administration’s peace push, have since favored an expedited timetable, the Times reported. Tillerson continues to favor a longer timeframe.

“The secretary’s primary focus is on security,” said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for diplomacy and public affairs, according to the Journal report. “We will not be moving to a new facility.”

The US building girds the Green Line, which served as Israel’s border before the 1967 war.

Related: Here’s the billion dollar barrier that separates Israelis from the Palestinians

“We are going to retrofit a building” for a 2019 opening, he continued. “There is no plan for anything temporary.”

The Palestinian Authority has ceased formal communication with the Trump administration since the Jerusalem decision.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the new US course in Syria will collide with Iran’s

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently laid out a new U.S. approach to the conflict in Syria, and two things became immediately clear — the U.S. is staying in Syria and conflict with Iran could be coming.


Up until this point, the U.S. presence in Syria has focused on fighting ISIS, the terror group that gained control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014. But with ISIS in rapid decline and its once U.K.-sized territory all but completely removed from their grasp, Tillerson described Iran as the new principal threat to U.S. interests in Syria.

“Continued strategic threats to the U.S. from not just ISIS and Al Qaeda, but from others, persist,” Tillerson said earlier in January. “And this threat I’m referring to is principally Iran.”

Tillerson said Iran “is positioning to continue attacking U.S. interests, our allies, and personnel in the region” through its positioning in Syria.

In no uncertain terms, Tillerson said Iran dreams of a land arch that would connect them to their ally, Lebanon, through Syria, where it can provide weapons support to anti- U.S. and anti-Isreal terror groups. He noted that one of the U.S.’s desired end results is that “Iranian influence in Syria is diminished, their dreams of a northern arch are denied, and Syria’s neighbors are secure from all threats emanating from Syria.”

While the new strategy does not guarantee outright fighting between the U.S. and Iran, it puts the U.S.’s 2,000 or so troops in Syria in direct strategic competition with Iran’s estimated 70,000.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speak to members of the press . (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Numbers can be deceiving

Despite an apparent 35 to 1 numbers advantage for Iranian and Iranian-aligned forces in Syria, Iran’s forces are weak, overexposed, and certain to fare poorly in a direct competition with the U.S., according to Tony Badran, a Syria expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

U.S. and U.S.-backed forces have already come into contact with Iranian and Iranian-backed forces in Syria, and the short engagements proved decisive victories for the US, which holds considerable advantages in air power and high-end warfighting.

But those skirmishes only focused on getting Iranian forces off the backs of U.S.-aligned forces while the U.S. focused on defeating ISIS. In the US’s new campaign to shut down Iran’s hoped-for land bridge to Lebanon, the U.S. will likely have to work with local allies, according to Badran.

“The U.S. is going to have to develop local Arab fighting forces,” said Badran, “But you can do a lot more damage a lot quicker by expanding or amplifying the existing Israeli campaign by going after installations, mobile targets, or senior cadres.”

Israel, while it has stayed out of the majority of its neighbor Syria’s civil war, has made no apologies for stepping in with airstrikes when it feels Iran getting to close to Lebanon, where the Hezbollah militia vows to wage war against the Jewish state.

Also Read: Iranian protests have ebbed, but the anger remains

With Israel potentially at its back, the U.S. “has assets far beyond 2,000 guys out in the desert somewhere,” said Badran. The U.S. can call on naval power, aircraft carriers, nearby air bases, allied air power, standoff weapons like cruise missiles, and artillery.

Iran sacrifices asymmetrical advantage

While Iran usually enjoys what military analysts call an “asymmetrical advantage” over U.S. forces in the Middle East, or its ability to fight against U.S. interests using proxy armies and less-than-lethal force, that advantage disappears in a direct confrontation. If Iran mounted a large-scale attack on U.S. forces in Syria, the bases, depots, and planners involved in the attack would be quickly reduced to rubble, according to Badran.

For that reason, Iran may look to avoid direct military engagement with the U.S., and simply continue to support the U.S.’s enemies while playing the long game of aggravating the U.S. and hoping Washington’s will breaks before Tehran’s.

But another prong of the U.S.’s strategy in Syria is to isolate the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

“We’re going to treat Syria like North Korea — an economic, not just a political pariah,” said Badran.

With the U.S. pressuring allies not to do business with the Assad regime and providing no money for reconstruction, the Syrian government, Iran’s ally, may weaken, making way for a less Iran-friendly administration in the future, thereby denying Tehran its land bridge without a shot fired.

The U.S. won’t go it alone

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
On the walls of the former American embassy. (Image Flickr Babak Fakhamzadeh)

Tehran has its own problems to worry about. Country-wide protests over the country’s steep inequality and billions in spending on foreign adventurism have threatened the very fabric of its leadership. Local Syrians — a diverse, mainly Sunni bunch — also may prove resistant to Iran, the dominant Shiite Muslim power in the region.

Though the   U.S. and Turkey frequently clash over differences in their vision for Syria, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and Washington Institute expert James Jeffrey says Washington and Ankara ultimately agree on the broad goals.

“Right now, about 40% of Syria is under control of U.S. or Turkey, and while U.S. and Turkey are not all that well coordinated, both U.S. and Turkey see the goal to a transition to a regime that will not do what [Syrian President Bashar] Assad has done,” said Jeffrey.

Jeffrey added that Turkey also would like to reduce the role of Iran in Syria, as Tehran has a “tendency to bully the Sunni Arab population” which could lead to another civil war.

Badran does not question that the U.S. could easily overwhelm or destroy Iranian forces in Syria, and instead believes the real challenge lies in determining who will establish control of southern Syria in the future.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military vets are forging budding careers in the cannabis industry

After a career in the military, veterans are equipped with numerous skills that make them an easy hire for thousands of civilian jobs. At first glance, the cannabis industry might not seem like the most ideal fit for veterans, but it’s shaping up to be a fruitful union.


The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
U.S. Army Cavalry Patrol In Kandahar Province

(Chris Hondros/ Getty Images)

It’s no secret that many soldiers have found solace from military-related ailments with medical marijuana: everything from PTSD to slipped discs, to insomnia, have been eased with aide from the versatile plant. In fact, according to a recent study by American Legion, a vast majority of veterans support both marijuana legalization and further research. That kind of support for cannabis extends past personal use and into the job market, where veterans are finding themselves increasingly more involved in the industry.

The most direct translation of military skills is into the cannabis security sector. There are many federal restrictions on the young industry, leading to the reluctance of financial institutions to open accounts for cannabis-centric companies. This means that a plethora of cannabis companies rely on a strictly cash-only basis. This, in turn, leads to a demand for a security detail to convoy alongside both the product and the money.

This demand has formed a reliable network of security companies that hire hundreds of veterans to simply accompany shipments, or post up outside of brick-and-mortar stores like armed bouncers.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

Dispensaries are no stranger to security detail

However, the military contributions to the cannabis industry reach much further than security. A growing number of veterans are beginning to get involved in, not only the retail side of the cannabis industry, but the cultivation side as well. According to “The Cannabist” the president of OrganaBrands (a Denver-based company that sells cannabis), Chris Driessen, says about 10% of his total workforce are veterans.

“The veteran community pairs so well (with our business), regardless of the branch of armed forces you’re in. (As a veteran) you learned systems, you learned processes, you learned chain of command,” he continued. “The fact that we don’t have to train people on some of those things — about work ethic and respect and doing what you say you’re going to do… is a huge benefit for any company, and of course ours as well… [they] set themselves apart in the interview. A lot of these folks are, on their own merit, heads and shoulders above their competition.”

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

(Veteran’s Cannabis Coalition blog)

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t training involved for veterans in the industry. One company, THC Design, actually has a paid internship and mentorship program exclusively for veterans. The course is 12 weeks long and gives veterans a tangible, hands-on, experience with every aspect of cultivation. According to co-founder Ryan Jennemann, the work ethic and problem-solving ability of military veterans makes them the perfect candidate for cannabis.

“What I was hiring for was not experience,” he told The Cannabist. “I was hiring for a work ethic, an ability to handle adversity, an ability to solve problems.” The program is both open source and available online as well, making it accessible for veterans looking to see if the cannabis industry is right for them.

As the legalization of marijuana spreads (Illinois just joined 10 other states as of January 1st), the stigma surrounding the cannabis industry begins to lessen. It’s no secret that marijuana has been a functional part of treatment for veterans returning from overseas, but now veterans are becoming a functional part of the cultivation and distribution of the cannabis industry itself.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Valentine’s Day, show some love to these veteran and military spouse owned businesses

Maybe you’re already collectively rolling your eyes at the idea of Valentine’s Day, but you shouldn’t! With the pandemic taking all the “normal” away, we should just let the world decorate itself in hearts and all things pink. We could all use some love around here. 

That being said, there are still ways you can make your Valentine’s Day meaningful. Rather than heading to the drugstore the day before (I am not judging you, but don’t pretend this doesn’t happen) I’ve created a gift-guide for the big day that’s filled with meaningful items produced by veteran and military spouse owned businesses. You’ll be winning points with your significant other and making the difference in the lives of those in our military community. Double win!

Here are our top 10 businesses for you to patronize this Valentine’s Day and the gifts we think would be extra special for your sweetheart.

  1. Doc Spartan

This Valentine’s Day, Doc Spartan has gone all out. The Heartbreaker Valentine’s Day Set is a limited-edition item that comes with a brand new grapefruit scent! Then we have the Sex Panther Set which is also fun and the scent is a favorite. The website jokingly claims it has bits of panther embedded and also comes with a disclaimer: Warning – not responsible for increased sexual activity while using or wearing this product. Use with caution. Ha!

Doc Spartan is always on my top-10 list because of how they do business. Not only are all of the products made right here in the USA with all natural ingredients but the business thrives on compassionate commerce. They employ individuals and veterans in recovery from substance abuse to assemble and prepare all of the products. This gives those seeking to rebuild their lives meaningful employment and above all: hope.

2. CharlieMadison Originals

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

The jewelry offered by this military spouse owned business is one of a kind. Everything you choose has meaning and there are endless opportunities to find that perfect gift. Not only is each piece of her beautiful jewelry lovingly crafted by hand, 5% of every single purchase goes back to a military charity. You can start your shopping by clicking here.

3. Bottle Breacher

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Image credit: OSD

Eli is a former Navy SEAL turned entrepreneur and Jen has had a passion for business for as long as she can remember. Bottle Breacher got its start in Eli’s garage while he was active duty. A year and a half later, they were on Shark Tank pitching their idea. There are so many unique gift options and your purchase comes with purpose, too. You are investing in a veteran-owned business that also hires veterans and military spouses to do the work. Everything is made right here in the USA. The husband and wife duo also gives a portion of their profits right back into the military communities by supporting charities that take care of our heroes and their families. Click here to check out Bottle Breacher and all they have to offer.

4. Seaport Sweethearts Designs

This Navy-spouse owned business is always at the top of my list for gifts. Each piece she’s designed is dripping in beauty and is all handcrafted by her. There are endless opportunities to select something that’s both deeply meaningful but also gorgeous. Many of the creations can be worn every day and there are some to-die-for pieces that are for those special occasions, like Valentine’s Day. BIG HINT HERE. To check out Seaport Sweetheart Designs (the name is literally made for a V-Day gift, isn’t it?) click here.

5. Hope Design Ltd.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Photo credit: Hope Design, Ltd.

This is one military-spouse-owned business that you won’t want to miss. Each piece honors America’s heroes and their families. Army wife Lauren Hope features a wide array of beautiful jewelry to choose from but also something unique: custom pieces. You can take the time to create a one-of-a-kind piece for your sweetheart, making this Valentine’s Day extra special! Click here to start shopping today!

6. Triple Nikel

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
(Tripel Nikel)

I love this apparel company for so many reasons! Founded by some pretty epic soldiers, it’s not your average veteran-owned business. Their focus on equality and designs that can be worn by everyone makes my social worker heart want to explode, in a good way of course. This shop features some really wonderful designs that can fit anyone. Start shopping today, click here.

7. Naturally London

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Photo: Naturally London

This woman, veteran-owned business hits all the right notes for amazing Valentine’s Day gift ideas! When this Air Force veteran was pregnant, she was suffering from swelling and joint paint. Nothing on the market was working, other than soaking her feet in all natural oils and salts. The idea was born! “I wanted to create a beneficial foot care regimen that was easy-to-use, multi-purpose, didn’t make me smell like a medicine cabinet and most importantly ignite joy.” Chrissy Cabrera

So what are you waiting for? Dive into this incredible shop and make your sweetheart’s feet sing with joy! Click here to buy some goodies today!

8. R. Riveter: American Handmade

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
R. Riveter

This military-spouse-owned shop is making handcrafted amazingness! Two military spouses created this business as a way to sustain employment as they continued to move while their husband’s served the country. They grew and scaled with their own money before landing on Shark Tank in 2016. That appearance changed everything! They don’t just make handbags for military spouses, they hire military spouses to make handbags. The ripple affect of their idea, grit and determination has impacted so many. Check out their incredible collection of bags, candles and more by clicking here.

9. Teak and Twine

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
Teak and Twine

This female veteran-owned business is the perfect shop to find a one of a kind Valentine’s Day gift! The whole premise is making custom and special gift boxes, filled with quality items that bring joy. They work directly with artisans and small businesses to create unique gifts for everyone. Click here to check at their shop.

10. Recon: Active Rings

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

This veteran-owned business makes safe rings for America’s troops and first responders to wear. The story goes that the founder saw a fellow soldier lose his finger in part because of wearing a traditional wedding band while in combat. This sparked the idea for the business. This shop offers not just amazing bands to be worn anytime but things like soaps, shirts and hats. There are so many ways to pick a great Valentine’s Day gift, just click here to start shopping!

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran donated more than 2 feet of hair for wigs for cancer patients

Fernando Trujillo grew out his hair, like many sailors do when they retire. About six years later, he finally cut it — about 28 inches of dark, graying hair — and donated it to make wigs for cancer patients.

“I just decided to let it grow — one less expense,” Trujillo, 49, said in an Army news release. “In the military, I pretty much had to get my hair cut every two weeks to stay within regulations.”


The 24-year Navy veteran decided to part with his waist-length hair Jan. 18 so he could participate in his younger brother’s upcoming New Mexico National Guard promotion ceremony. But Trujillo, who was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in 2012, didn’t just want to throw his locks away.

“I’ve lost some friends and family over the years and also had some acquaintances that have had battles with cancer who lost their hair going through radiation,” he said in the release. “I figured my hair would be something that someone could benefit from.”

Currently a contractor at Fort Detrick in Maryland, Trujillo’s been in remission since an operation removed a 10-millimeter tumor from the roof of his mouth. While the treatment was fast, he said the initial cancer diagnosis scared him.

“Your heart just kind of drops and you have that bad feeling, like ‘Damn, how bad is it?'” he said in the release. “The first thing the doctor did was try to calm me down and let me know that everything should be fine. It was just a matter of how much they were going to have to cut out.”

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes

Trujillo lost about 20 pounds after the surgery because the only thing he could eat was pumpkin soup and protein drinks.

Other than some tenderness around the surgical spot in his mouth, he said his life has pretty much returned to normal, which is something cancer patients long for and wigs can help.

“Hopefully, that little bit will be able to help them retain a little dignity out of the whole situation they are facing,” Trujillo said in the release about his donation to Hair We Share. “It’s more about not drawing attention from people who constantly ask questions and feel sorry for you.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Appeals modernization benefits breakdown

Executive Director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Appeals Management Office (AMO) and Army veteran David McLenachen talks about the appeals modernization process.

McLenachen briefly discussed his service in the Army with counterintelligence. He later left the Army to pursue a career in law. He worked as law clerk for a federal judge before he eventually came to work at the VA.


Before becoming executive director of the VBA’s AMO, McLenachen acted as deputy under secretary for disability assistance. While in this position, he began helping the VBA improve their appeals system in order to better assist veterans.

The Appeals Modernization Act took effect Feb. 19, 2019. Congress created the act in 2017 to help solve problems VBA had with appeals and claims. The act created three new ways to help veterans submit appeals and get their results at a quicker pace:

  • Higher-level review
  • Supplemental claim
  • Board of Veterans’ Appeals
VA Appeals Modernization

www.youtube.com

McLenachen and the VBA continue to strive to find ways to improve the appeals process. You can reach them through Ask a Question on the Veterans Affairs website.

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

Articles

These are the new upgrades coming to the B-2 Stealth bomber

The Air Force is now testing new, high-tech sensors, software, electronics and other enemy radar-evading upgrades for its B-2 stealth bomber to preserve its stealth advantages and enable the aircraft to operate more effectively against increasingly capable modern air defenses.


The massive upgrade, designed to improve what’s called the bomber’s Defensive Management System, is described by Air Force developers as “the most extensive modification effort that the B-2 has attempted.”

Also read: Air Force says F-35A ready and waiting to be unleashed on ISIS

The Defensive Management System is a technology designed to help the B-2 recognize and elude enemy air defenses, using various antennas, receivers and display processors to detect signals or “signatures” emitting from ground-based anti-aircraft weapons, Air Force Spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog said in a written statement.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

The modernized system, called a B-2 “DMS-M” unit, consists of a replacement of legacy DMS subsystems so that the aircraft can be effective against the newest and most lethal enemy air defenses.

“This system picks up where mission planning ends by integrating a suite of antennas, receivers, and displays that provide real-time situational awareness to aircrew.  The DMS-Modernization program addresses shortcomings within the current DMS system,” Hertzog added.

Upgrades consist of improved antennas with advanced digital electronic support measures, or ESMs along with software components designed to integrate new technologies with existing B-2 avionics, according to an Operational Test Evaluation report from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The idea of the upgrade is, among other things, to inform B-2 crews about the location of enemy air defenses so that they can avoid or maneuver around high-risk areas where the aircraft is more likely to be detected or targeted. The DMS-M is used to detect radar emissions from air defenses and provide B-2 air crews with faster mission planning information – while in-flight.

The VA is now putting disabled veterans in foster homes
The cockpit of the B-2 Spirit | US Air Force photo

Air Force officials explain that while many of the details of the upgraded DMS-M unit are not available for security reasons, the improved system does allow the stealthy B-2 to operate more successfully in more high-threat, high-tech environments – referred to by Air Force strategists as highly “contested environments.”

Many experts have explained that 1980s stealth technology is known to be less effective against the best-made current and emerging air defenses – newer, more integrated systems use faster processors, digital networking and a wider-range of detection frequencies.

Upon its inception, the B-2 was engineered to go against and defeat Soviet air-defenses during the Cold War; the idea was to operate above enemy airspace, conduct attack missions and then return without the adversary even knowing the aircraft was there. This mission, designed to destroy enemy air defenses, was designed to open up a safety zone or “air corridor” for other, less stealthy aircraft to conduct attacks.

In order to accomplish this, B-2 stealth technology was designed to elude lower-frequency “surveillance” radar – which can detect the presence of an aircraft – as well as higher-frequency “engagement” radar precise enough to allow air defenses to track, target and destroy attacking aircraft, developers explained.

It is widely believed that modern air defenses such as these are now able to detect many stealth aircraft, therefore complicating the operational equation for bombers such as the B-2, senior Air Force officials have acknowledged.

These newer air defense technologies are exhibited in some of the most advanced Russian-built systems such as the S-300 and S-400. In fact, according to a report from Dave Majumdar in The National Interest and reports in the Russian media, the Russians are now engineering a new, more effective S-500 system able to hit some stealthy targets out to 125 miles or further.

In fact, The National Interest once cited a Russian media report claiming that “stealth” technology was no longer useful or relevant – a claim that is not believed to be true at all, or is at least unambiguously disputed by many experts and developers familiar with stealth technology.

For this reason, many senior Air Force developers have explained that – moving into the future – stealth technology is merely one arrow in a metaphorical “quiver” of offensive attack capabilities used by the B-2.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joel Pfiester.

Nonetheless, Hertzog explained that upgraded B-2 stealth technology will have a much-improved operating ability and “strategic advantage” against a vastly wider range of air defenses.

“With necessary upgrades, the B-2 can perform its mission regardless of location, return to base safely, and permit freedom of movement for follow-on forces, including other long range strike platforms.  Modifications such as the DMS-M are necessary to preserve this strategic advantage against 21st century threats,” Hertzog added.

The DMS-M upgrade does not in any way diminish the stealth properties of the aircraft, meaning it does not alter the contours of the fuselage or change the heat signature to a degree that it would make the bomber more susceptible to enemy radar, developers said.

Many advanced air defenses use X-band radar, a high-frequency, short-wavelength signal able to deliver a high-resolution imaging radar such as that for targeting. S-band frequency, which operates from 2 to 4 GHz, is another is also used by many air defenses, among other frequencies.

X-band radar operates from 8 to 12 GHz, Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, sends forward and electromagnetic “ping” before analyzing the return signal to determine shape, speed, size and location of an enemy threat. SAR paints a rendering of sorts of a given target area. X-band provides both precision tracking as well as horizon scans or searches. Stealth technology, therefore, uses certain contour configurations and radar-absorbing coating materials to confuse or thwart electromagnetic signals from air defenses.

These techniques are, in many cases, engineered to work in tandem with IR (infrared) suppressors used to minimize or remove a “heat” signature detectable by air defenses’ IR radar sensors. Heat coming from the exhaust or engine of an aircraft can provide air defense systems with indication that an aircraft is operating overhead. These stealth technologies are intended to allow a stealth bomber to generate little or no return radar signal, giving air dense operators an incomplete, non-existent or inaccurate representation of an object flying overhead.

Also, the B-2 is slated to fly alongside the services’ emerging B-21 Raider next-generation stealth bomber; this platform, to be ready in the mid-2020s, is said by many Air Force developers to include a new generation of stealth technologies vastly expanding the current operational ranges and abilities of existing stealth bombers. In fact, Air Force leaders have said that the B-21 will be able to hold any target in the world at risk, anytime.

While many senior Air Force officials have made this point in recent years, the ability of the B-21 to strike anywhere in the world, was something emphasized by Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, told Scout Warrior last year in an exclusive interview.

Naturally, many of the details of these stealth innovations are, by design, not available for public discussion – according to Air Force and Northrop Grumman developers.

The DMS-M program achieved a key acquisition milestone last year, authorizing the program to enter what’s called the Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase.

“Major efforts during the EMD phase include the system Critical Design Review, completion of hardware and software development efforts, Integrated Test, and Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.  Three aircraft will be modified during EMD to support the successful completion of this phase,” Hertzog explained.

The program plans on achieving 2019 Full Rate Production following this phase in 2019.

The total Research Development, Test and Evaluation funding for B-2 DMS-M is $1.837B to develop four units, Hertzog added.

The B-2 is engineered and built by Northrop Grumman; the major subcontractors on the program are BAE (receivers), Ball Aerospace and L-3 Randtron (antennas), and Lockheed Martin (display processors).

Total procurement funding for the B-2 DMS-M program is $832M to procure 16 additional units.

The Air Force currently operates 20 B-2 bombers, with the majority of them based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. The B-2 can reach altitudes of 50,000 feet and carry 40,000 pounds of payload, including both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The aircraft, which entered service in the 1980s, has flown missions over Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. In fact, given its ability to fly as many as 6,000 nautical miles without need to refuel, the B-2 flew from Missouri all the way to an island off the coast of India called Diego Garcia – before launching bombing missions over Afghanistan.

MIGHTY FIT

The High-Intensity fat-shred plug-in

Maybe you have a uniform inspection coming up. Maybe you have a hot date. Maybe you want to start your own manscaping Youtube channel.

I’m not here to judge… You wanna look good with your shirt off; I get it. After all, it is one of the main motivations I approve of for working out, along with:

  • Dominate a fight
  • Live forever, and
  • Win

It’s actually a lot easier to lose fat than the internet wants you to believe. Just eat at a calorie deficit and train HIIT a couple of times a week. All you need to get your gym-time fat-shred going is here!


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The ultimate HIIT workout… buddy team rushes. “I’m up. They see me. I’m down.”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Q. Hamilton)

What HIIT is

HIIT (not to be confused with HITT), as I’ve written before, is a training method designed to burn fat. It’s pretty good for what it is designed to do. It’s my go-to method with clients to help them burn a little extra fat off their frames faster.

HIIT doesn’t build muscle and traditionally doesn’t include weights at all, although there are some people who tout its benefit with weights as well.

To me, that’s missing the point. HIIT means High Intensity: it’s right there in the name. That means it should be a ball-buster, where you’re pushing at over 80% of your physical capacity.

The general rule of thumb for HIIT workouts is that you conduct an exercise, like sprints or side-straddle hops, for 10-30 seconds, then you take a break and repeat over and over for about 20-30 minutes.

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Choose simple repetitive movements like battle ropes for your HIIT workouts.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ross A. Whitley)

How it helps with fat loss

HIIT workouts have the ability to deplete our immediate energy sources, such as blood sugar and muscle and liver glycogen. Once that is depleted, our bodies have to start pulling energy from other sources.

That point is usually where you are no longer able to push past 80% effort. You hit a wall. When you get to this wall, continuing to work will force your body to start pulling energy from your muscles and lean body mass (because you are putting in so much effort you are in an anaerobic state, and fat can’t efficiently fuel exercise when you’re in an anaerobic state).

Mobilizing fat for energy requires oxygen. When you are exercising and putting out past 80% effort, you are in an anaerobic state (making energy without the help of oxygen). When you then slow down after putting in that effort, your body comes back into an aerobic state (making energy with the help of oxygen). This is when the fat stores burn.

This is the reason the rest periods are so long in a HIIT workout, to get you back down into an aerobic state. The majority of the fat you burn during HIIT is actually a result of burning out your immediate energy sources so that post-workout, your body (in an aerobic state) has no choice but to burn your fat stores for energy.

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Row, row, row your boat…straight to fat-loss city.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Charles Haymond)

Why you shouldn’t do it every day of the week

HIIT is physically difficult. It makes you sore, it takes time to recover from, and its fat-burning effects last for up to 48 hours. Let’s pull these apart.

When you “put out,” you naturally get sore. If you are overly sore, your next workout will not be as effective as it could have been had you waited. Whether it’s due to physical reasons or mental reasons, you put out less when sore.

Recovery from a proper HIIT workout could take up to 2 days. Proper recovery ensures that you reap all the benefits from the workout.

The Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption Effect (EPOC for short) is one of the beneficial effects of a hard HIIT workout. Your metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn,) gets elevated for up to 48 hours after a HIIT workout. Because of this, you don’t need to do the workout more than a couple of times a week.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BjzcNion5Qq/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Michael Gregory on Instagram: “Here’s how to do a HIIT workout properly. . A lot of people do “HIIT” but they don’t understand the purpose. It’s to to boost your output…”

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How to program it and execute a session

HIIT workouts are often made super confusing by trainers; it’s actually quite simple.

Choose 2-3 days a week MAX that have at least 48 hours between them.

Choose simple movements that you can repeatedly do efficiently even when tired. Things like stationary bike sprints, rower sprints, running sprints, or simple bodyweight movements. The more complicated the exercise, the less likely you will be able to push past that 80% threshold.

Choose an interval time or distance. If you choose a distance, pick something that will take you no more than 2 minutes to complete. Past 2 minutes of work usually results in dropping below that magic 80% threshold.
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Yeah, you can do burpees for a HIIT workout…only if you can keep pace the whole workout! No sandbagging!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)

Rest long enough for your heart rate to drop below 60% of your max heart rate if you have a heart rate monitor. Otherwise, rest for 2-3 times as long as your exercise took. For example, you should rest for about 3 minutes for a sprint that took 1 minute.

Choose a number of intervals that will take you about 20-30 minutes to complete in total. Or, if you’re new to this, stop when your performance drops significantly from your first effort. For example: if your first effort took 80 seconds to run 400m, but your 5th effort took 160 seconds, then it’s time to stop. You are clearly depleted of immediate energy and are now tapping into your muscle protein.

MIGHTY FIT is making big moves to put out content that you not only want to read but also want to live. Take 2 minutes and let us know here what you’d like to see from MIGHTY FIT.

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Navy nixes cyber attack theory on USS Fitzgerald and McCain collision

The promised investigation into the circumstances of the recent, devastating Navy collisions has turned up zero evidence that cyber attacks disabled either the USS Fitzgerald or USS John S. McCain.


Navy Adm. John Richardson said in an all-hands call streamed live on Facebook Aug. 30 that, despite the Navy giving an “amazing amount of attention” to the postulate that cyber attacks were behind the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain, the investigation has found no evidence of such claimed attacks.

“We’ve given that an amazing amount of attention,” Richardson said. “It is sort of a reality of our current situation that part of any kind of investigation or inspection is going to have to take a look at the computer, the cyber, the information warfare aspects of our business. We’re doing that with these inspections as well, but to date, the inspections that we have done show that there is no evidence of any kind of cyber intrusion.”

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson (right) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano stream a digital all hands call, Aug. 30, 2017.

“We’ll continue to look deeper and deeper but I just want to assure you that, to date, there’s been nothing that we’ve found to point to that,” Richardson said.

Richardson said in a tweet Aug. 21 that there may have been indications of cyber intrusion, but said the Navy would continue looking into that possibility. With his recent all-hands call, Richardson has all but foreclosed completely the potential for a discovery of a cyber intrusion involved in the collisions of the Navy vessels.

 

The statement effectively puts to rest the enormous amount of speculation in security circles about whether cyber attacks were in any way involved in disrupting the navigational systems of these two Navy vessels, but even in the beginning other experts suspected that negligence was a far more likely explanation.

“The balance of the evidence still leads me to believe that it was crew negligence as the most likely explanation — and I hate to say that because I hate to think that the Navy fleet was negligent,” University of Texas at Austin aerospace professor Todd Humphreys told USA Today.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is searching desperately for new fighter pilots

China’s navy needs Maverick and Goose — and many, many more fighter jocks for its growing carrier force.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is desperately searching for pilots to fill its carrier air wings as the country pushes to build a formidable carrier fleet.

The PLAN launched its 2019 pilot recruitment program Sept.15, 2018, with “the highlight of this year’s recruitment [being] the selection of future carrier-borne aircraft pilot cadets,” according to the Chinese military, which noted that as China’s armed forces shift from “shore-based” to “carrier-based” abilities, the PLAN intends to develop a pilot recruitment system “with Chinese naval characteristics that can adapt to carrier-borne requirements.”


The language appears to indicate a strategic shift from home defense to power projection on the high seas, thinking consistent with Chinese efforts to build an advanced blue water navy.

The lack of pilots trained for carrier-borne operations and combat has been a problem for China in recent years. “They don’t have a whole lot of pilots. Not a lot of capacity in that area,” Matthew Funaiole, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained to Business Insider in August 2018.

By the end of 2016, there were only 25 pilots qualified to fly China’s carrier-based fighters, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported Sept. 18, 2018.

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A J-15 fighter jet sits on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning.

(Photo by Zhang Lei)

Recruiters will travel across the country to 23 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions to find suitable navy aviators. “Some of the pilot cadets recruited in 2018 will receive the top and most systematic training as carrier-borne aircraft pilots,” a PLAN Pilot Recruitment Office official revealed.

Pilots selected and trained to fly carrier-based aircraft will fly the fourth-generation Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark, the heaviest carrier-based fighter jet in operation today and the type of fighter that composes the carrier air wing for China’s only operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

The ongoing recruitment program, according to SCMP, marks the first time the Chinese navy has directly recruited pilots for the J-15, a problematic derivative of a Soviet prototype which has been blamed for several fatal training accidents. In the past, aviators from the navy and air force who were trained to fly other types of aircraft were pulled to fly the J-15.

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A J-15 ship-borne helicopter prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning.

(Photo by Zhang Lei)

“Becoming a naval pilot is the best choice for those who want to become heroes of the sky and the sea,” the Chinese military stressed on Sept. 18, 2018, emphasizing the Chinese military’s interest in developing advanced power projection capabilities.

China is rapidly building an aircraft carrier fleet with one carrier already in service, another undergoing sea trials, and a third in development, but China is still very new to complex carrier operations. Chinese Navy pilots successfully completed their first nighttime takeoffs and landings in May 2018.

“An elite team among the pilots also has carried out night landings, widely considered the riskiest carrier-based action, and have become capable of performing round-the-clock, all-weather operations,” the China Daily reported Sept. 19, 2018.

In addition to a pilot shortage, China still struggles with power and propulsion, aircraft numbers and reliability, carrier launch systems, and a limited experience with carrier operations.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How a Marine tore up targets while lying on his back and shooting backwards

The US Army is preparing to field new night vision goggles and an integrated weapons sight that will change the way US ground forces go to war.

The new Enhanced Night Vision Goggles – Binocular (ENVG-B) and the Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I) will make US soldiers and Marines deadlier in the dark by offering improved depth perception for better mobility and increased situational awareness at night, as well as the ability to accurately shoot around corners and from the hip.

The Army will begin fielding this capability late September 2019 at Fort Riley in Kansas, where this new technology will be delivered to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.


The night vision goggles offer higher-resolution imagery, as well as improved thermal capabilities, giving ground troops the ability to see through dust, fog, smoke, and other battlefield obscurants.

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The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular.

(US Army photo)

The goggles wirelessly connect to the weapon sight, delivering Rapid Target Acquisition capability. With a picture-in-picture setup, soldiers can see not only what is in front of them, but also whatever their weapon is aimed at, allowing them to shoot from the hip or point their weapon around a corner.

“This capability “enables soldiers to detect, recognize and engage targets accurately from any carry position and with significantly reduced exposure to enemy fire,” according to the Army.

This system was tested with US soldiers, special operators, Marines, and National Guard personnel.

Sgt. First Class Will Roth, a member of the Army Futures Command Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, was skeptical when he first learned about this technology, he told the Army in a statement. “I couldn’t envision a time when soldiers would accept this product and trust it in the field,” he said.

His mind changed after he saw a Marine lie down on his back and fire over his shoulder at targets 50 to 100 meters away, relying solely on the goggles paired wirelessly to the optics on the Marine’s rifle. “He hit five out of seven. It gave me chill bumps,” Roth said.


ENVG-B Final Touchpoint

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“I decided this was an insane game changer,” he added. “I’m a believer, one hundred percent. Nothing else offers these kinds of capabilities.”

Senior Army officials are optimistic about the capabilities of this new technology.

“It is better than anything I’ve experienced in my Army career,” Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command, told Congress earlier this year, adding that Rangers had “gone from marksman to expert” with the help of the new optics.

Brig. Gen. Dave Hodne, director of the Army’s Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, told reporters in October 2018 that he “can’t imagine, right now, any future sighting system that will not have that kind of capability.”

The ENVG-B and FWS-I mark the first deliverables of the US Army’s one-year-old four-star command, Army Futures Command, which is dedicated to the development of next-generation weapons and warfighting systems.

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

Articles

9 Military Categories The Oscars Forgot

Sure, the Academy Awards have categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,’ and, yes, military movies like “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” are in the mix this year. But all of that falls somewhat short of capturing the true military cinematic essence that this year’s crop of films produced. Here are nine categories that the Oscars forgot and the winners in each:


1. Best Misuse Of Government Property By A Leading Man: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”

Because Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle was a super badass sniper, he had a phone so that generals and even the president could call him to tell him who he should put the crosshairs on next. What did Cooper’s Kyle use the phone for?  To call his wife, usually right before a firefight was about to break out.  And once it did he wouldn’t hang up (in order not to alarm her or anything).

2. Best Use of Kristen Stewart’s Bitch Face By An Actress In A Leading Role: Kristen Stewart, “Camp X-Ray”

Kristen Stewart plays a U.S. Army guard at Gitmo who develops a sympathetic relationship – through a prison door – with one of the detainees.  But her sympathy is buried under the same expression she’s used in every movie she’s ever been in, that signature bitchy pouty girl face, so it’s hard to tell when she’s sympathetic and when she’s bored or pissed off. But, hey, like B.B. King said, “You can play just one note if it’s the right one.” We say bravo, Ms. Stewart.

3. Best Supporting Actor In A Role About The Fact All Vets Are Doomed: Brad Hawkins, “Boyhood”

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Brilliantly filmed over a 12-year period, director Richard Linklater’s gem focuses on the life of a sometimes single mom and her two kids.  The mom’s third love interest is a returning vet who’s just back from Iraq. He seems like a nice, well-adjusted guy, but after a while he’s holding down a job as a prison guard and sitting on the front porch guzzling beer and yelling at the son about being a good-for-nothing, which is to say they got it exactly right because that’s what always happens to returning vets.

4. Best Portrayal Of The Perils Of Having Sex In Combat: “Fury”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uAKbSLsXxg

Brad Pitt’s Sherman tank crew stumble across the home of a war-weary German family with a hot daughter, and they enjoy a bit of normalcy. One of the crew hooks up with the daughter, and once they’re done the crew leaves and minutes later the family’s house gets blown to smithereens by an air strike.

5. Best WTFO? Moment: “300 – Rise of Empires”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb6w6Qz55jc

In the middle of a kick ass war-at-sea between ancient sailing ships, General Themistocles suddenly produces a horse that he rides all over the deck while slashing and stabbing his foe.  But it really gets good when the horse – without any hesitation – gallops through flaming wreckage, leaps into the water, and then jumps onto an enemy ship where Themistocles continues his savaging of the enemy – truly the year’s best WTFO? military movie moment.

6. Most Dramatic Flame-out Of A Military Movie Franchise: “Jarhead 2”

Three words: Straight. To. DVD.

7. Best Actress In A Role About The Joys Of Being A Military Mom: Michelle Monaghan “Ft. Bliss”

Michelle Monaghan plays a single mom soldier who returns home after 15 months in Iraq only to find that her 6-year-old son has forgotten who she is.  (What, did the rest of family hide all the pictures of her? And no Skype?) About the point her son starts to warm to her she’s sent back to Iraq because that’s how the Army rolls.  If the military wanted you to have a kid they would have issued you one.

8. Most Groundbreaking Guerrilla Warfare Sequence: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

One of the conniving chimps uses cute chimp moves to mollify two humans just long enough to get one of their automatic weapons and blow them away with it.

9. Best Actor In A Role About The Tortured Souls Of Those In The Intelligence Community: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5CjKEFb-sM

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the intel genius who knows a thing or two about code breaking.  Cumberbatch’s Turing is at odds with his sexual orientation and anti-social and basically pained by everything in his life – in other words, he’s a lot like most of those in the intel community.

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