One of the best parts about a deployment homecoming is making a homecoming signs to go with it! Some folks will get really creative and elaborate while others will be sweet and simple. Here are the 10 best homecoming signs we’ve seen!
It might seem that women would have it easy when it comes to regulations in the military — I mean, how hard is it to stick your hair in a bun, slip on your boots, and head out the door?
It’s actually pretty restricting once you realize how many regulations are placed on women in the military.
Granted, regulations are nothing new, and everyone has to follow them, but let’s take a look at a few that women in all branches of service have to abide by on a daily basis.
Women’s hair must be professional and steer clear of unnatural colors and eccentric styles. Yes, this means no fad hairstyles, no blinged out barrettes and bobby pins, which makes sense, to an extent. This regulation might be the hardest for women to comply with because the description is so broad and is ultimately up to the interpretation of supervisors to potentially escalate a breach of regulation (“No sir, my hair is not red — it’s Auburn”).
Heck, sometimes it might just be easier to chop it all off like GI Jane (newsflash that’s against regs too, no buzz cuts for women!). Looks like a bun it is!
Nails might seem like a menial regulation to gripe about, but it becomes tedious when supervisors are out to get you for anything that they can. Regulations call for natural nail polish, and the length must be no longer than ¼ of an inch. Imagine being called into a supervisor’s office for your nails being too long or wearing too pink of a polish. It happens to women in the military more often than you would think.
Women must not wear makeup that isn’t flattering to their skin tone or unnatural. Again, this regulation is so broad that it allows for misinterpretation or someone to deem others choice in makeup “unnatural.” Everyone has his or her own opinion of what natural and unnatural makeup looks like, and it’s hard to pin this one down.
Of course, there’s no blue eye shadow or purple eyeliner (duh), but there are many shades that are open to interpretation. Women usually adapt and figure out that no makeup, or close to no makeup, is the best way to stay out of trouble in this area.
1. Nametag/ Ribbon Rack Alignment
Nametag and ribbon rack alignment might be one of the most annoying regulations of them all. Men have pockets on their formal shirts to align their nametag and ribbon rack perfectly. Women don’t get pockets on their formal button-down shirts, and it makes it almost impossible to align because of the nuisance of, well, boobs.
Every woman has them and some more than others, which makes uniform wear, and abiding by small details frustrating. Women usually go to the lengths of sewing dots onto their shirts once they find the perfect alignment, because who knows if they’ll ever find that sweet spot again!
Props to all the women in the military who put up with these regulations and don’t let the details impede on their work performance, even though they might want to say shove it to their supervisors when they get called out for their eyelash extensions or the length of their fingernails.
Another Memorial Day has come and gone and, along with it, comes another report from the family of a service member who was killed in action about encountering a man in civilian clothes at Arlington National Cemetery. Calling himself Dave, the man talked to a Gold Star spouse for a bit, then moved on.
The wife of the fallen service member had no idea she was talking to Gen. David Goldfein, the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
She only found out because her friend noticed the coin that “Dave” left on the headstone of her husband — the coin of his office. She posted the story on social media some time later, which was confirmed by the popular Air Force Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco.
That’s the kind of person General Goldfein is. This isn’t an isolated incident. On Memorial Day 2017, an airman at Arlington spotted a man in his dress blues walking among the graves at Section 60 — the resting place for those who fell in Iraq or Afghanistan — putting his hand on each for a moment of reflection.
When he reached a sobbing widow, he embraced her and talked to her for a while. It was General Goldfein. The post also appeared on Air Force amn/nco/snco.
(Facebook photo by Cody Stollings)
Cody Stollings, the airman who recognized Gen. Goldfein, introduced himself and talked to the general for a bit. It turns out General Goldfein keeps the names of every airman who is killed under his command in a book. Each year, he visits them at Arlington to pay his respects.
For many Americans, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Niger, and Somalia have become a fact of life. When news about OIF, OEF, OAE, or OIR hits, no one really listens anymore. The acronyms change, but everything else stays the same. This is the cost of endless war. Andrew Bacevich, a historian and retired colonel whose son died in Iraq, said it best,
“A collective indifference to war has become an emblem of contemporary America.”
Bacevich has also noted that those who aren’t serving in the U.S. military are encouraged to support the troops, but no one ever “stipulates how this civic function is to be performed.”
Those in charge of prosecuting the wars, however, should find it relatively easy to support the troops — by reaching their objective and bringing those troops home. But the Chiefs of Staff don’t hold that kind of command authority. They’re in an advisory position for the National Security Council.
In a time where the War in Afghanistan seems like it will never end and new hot spots seem to pop up all the time, it’s good to know the Air Force has someone at the top who’s seen and fought in war and knows that the people who die fighting them are more than numbers on a PowerPoint slide.
It’s nice to know that someone at the top really gives a shit.
Life in the barracks blows. You’re crammed into as tight of a space as possible so your superiors can keep an eye on you. There’s always something going on so you never get sleep. And you often have to share a tiny room with someone.
But never underestimate the power of a bored private. If you can think of it, it’s probably going down in the barracks at this moment. While most of the shenanigans aren’t against any rules, they definitely make the lack of BAH worth it.
TVs as big as the wall
There are plenty of terrible purchases made by boots when they get their first paycheck. And it’s no different when the boot comes back from deployment with plenty of spending money.
The average barracks room is barely large enough to have a massive 90-inch widescreen 3D TV but that won’t stop most troops who just got back stateside.
Technically, some do allow you to have fish or lizards. All depends on the specific command.
(Photo by Tech Sgt. Michael Holzworth)
The barracks is usually a pretty disgusting place as it is. The moment the NCOs leave, it goes back to the same filthy condition that it was in the day before.
Pets are already unclean creatures that require constant maintenance…but troops don’t care!
If you’re cool with them, they’ll share.
(Photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)
Some barracks have nearly an entire kitchen
There’s always one person in every barracks that knows how to and will cook for everyone. Sometimes they’re not even an actual chef — doesn’t matter.
Being the barracks chef takes a lot more appliances than just a hot pad and coffee pot. These guys do it all in style.
If they’re drinking in the barracks, it means they’re not driving back home. No DUIs! Everyone wins!
(Photo by Cpl. Jonah Lovy)
Enough alcohol to cause liver failure in a lesser man
There’s nothing wrong with someone over the age of 21 drinking alcohol on their time off, as long as they do it responsibly.
On average, a single barracks has more alcohol in it than any bar off-installation.
And we all know how well that usually goes.
(U.S. Army Photo)
Firearms in the barracks?
It’s your god-given right as an American to keep and bear arms. Only problem is that many units have a “no firearms in the barracks” policy.
That’s not to say that troops living in the barracks can’t own firearms. They just need to store them in the arms room.
Good luck not getting caught during a “random” inspection.
(Photo by Senior Airman Christian Thomas)
The barracks room isn’t exactly prime real estate for a single person, let alone multiple troops living in a room similar to a studio sized apartment.
And yet, troops will occasionally keep a local they got a thing for in there with them.
Before troops enlist in the military, they often find themselves preparing for the hellfire that their soon-to-be Drill Sergeant/Instructor is going to rain on them. Hate to break it to you, but there’s no escaping it — everyone gets bit in this shark attack. And remember, while they still have their brown round, you’ll never get the chance to grab a beer with them.
That doesn’t mean that your Drills are hate-filled robots. The point of basic training/boot camp is to break the civilian out of new recruits and turn them into moldable clay by the time they get to their first duty station. You won’t ever be friends with them while they’re your Drill Sergeant, but you can get on their good side. Here’s how:
5. Lose the civilian attitude
For some reason, after recruits sign on the dotted line, say goodbye to mom and dad, and are ready to defend this great nation of ours, they still show up and think it’s like working at Starbucks.
You see those other troops? Act like them and you’ll be just fine.
4. Learn everything you can
Basic training is just that — it trains you in the basics of what it takes to be a soldier. This is why the focus is on military customs and courtesies, Drill and Ceremony, and the proper wear and appearance of your given uniform.
The more you learn, the quicker you learn it, and the less you have to be told twice the better.
3. Shoot and PT better than everyone else
If there’s one thing that makes a Drill Sergeant/Instructor giddy, it’s seeing their recruits shoot better than the other Drill Sergeants’/Instructors’.
Be the guy that your Drill is willing to pit against the other recruits.
2. Don’t f*ck up
If the Drill Sergeant tells you to do something, do it. If they say not to do something, don’t you dare do it.
Drill Sergeants have an expectation that they’re teaching a bunch of idiots, so they’ll tell bark orders at you for everything shy of common sense.
1. Most importantly, don’t suck up
Drills are used to damn near everything they put up with from new recruits. You can just barely pass your PT test, shoot just well enough to qualify, be as quiet as a ghost, and they’ll still talk highly of you after you graduate.
This goes hand-in-hand with dropping the civilian mentality: suck-ups don’t make it in the military
, well, on the enlisted side anyways. They don’t need some kid telling them how great they are — they have a mirror. Suck-ups don’t make it far because it goes against the one rule of military life: one team, one fight.
The Sherman tank was a powerful force to be reckoned with on the battlefields in WWII; it was fast and mobile and it shelled out plenty of firepower.
It provided just enough cover for American ground troops as it stomped through the German front lines. The Sherman was designed to patrol over enemy bridges and it was easily transported on railroad cars.
Related: 9 tanks that changed armored warfare
When the U.S. decided to invade Europe, General Patton selected the Sherman as his particular tank of choice and wanted as many to roll off the assembly lines as possible. Nearly fifty thousand were produced between 1942 and 1945.
Weighing in at 33 tons, it sustained a speed of 26 miles per hour and housed 2 inches of armor. Many saw the image of the Sherman tank to be invincible just like the American war effort, but the brave soldiers who served as tank crew members believed that it had too many engineering flaws and was far inferior compared to the German’s Tiger and Panther tanks.
The Sherman tank was equipped with a fully-transversing 75mm turret short barrelled gun that fired a high explosive shell 2,000 feet per second. Compared to the German tanks that shot accurately at 3,500 feet per second, the enemy’s armor piercing ammo was 2-3 times more effective.
It was recommended that to defeat the Germans, the tank crew had to speed up and flank around their battlefield rivalry and get within 600 yards range to be effective.
Captain Belton Y. Cooper, author of Death Traps and a member of the 3rd Armor Division maintenance unit, recounts knowing how inferior the Sherman was after seeing its physical destruction firsthand. He knew it was no match for the Nazi’s arsenal.
“We lost 648 tanks totally destroyed in combat, another 700 knocked out, repaired and put back into action,” Cooper says. “That’s 1,348 tanks knocked out in combat. I don’t think anyone took that kind of loss in the war.”(HistoryAndDocumentry, YouTube)
During election week, four states legalized medicinal marijuana use, joining a list of 40 states and the District of Columbia in saying “Mary Jane is a friend of mine — in some form or another.”
The federal government, however, is saying “not if you value your 2nd amendment rights.”
Currently, marijuana is legal for recreational use in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C.
Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota all voted last week to allow medical marijuana use, joining 17 other states who acknowledge the medicinal value of cannabis.
Outside of those 29 states, limited medical marijuana use (which generally refers to cannabis extracts) is legal in 15 other states.
The states that don’t allow any type of marijuana use are Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia.
While the Veterans Administration admits that it hasn’t conducted any studies to determine if medical marijuana can successfully treat PTSD, they do admit that there seems to be anecdotal evidence to support that claim.
Use of “oral CBD [cannabidiol] has been shown to decrease anxiety in those with and without clinical anxiety” the VA notes.
The VA goes on to explain that an ongoing trial of THC, one of the compounds in cannabis, shows the compound to be “safe and well tolerated” among participants with PTSD, and that it results in “decreased hyperarousal symptoms.”
According to an investigation by PBS’s “Frontline,” marijuana’s “danger” label came about predominantly as a result of a smear campaign against immigrants between 1900 and the 1930s.
The network acknowledges a report from the New York Academy of Medicine that states that, despite popular opinion, marijuana does not “induce violence, insanity or sex crimes, or lead to addiction or other drug use.” That report has not been refuted by scientific research to date.
In 1972, President Nixon ordered the Shafer Commission to look at decriminalizing marijuana use, and the commission determined that the personal use of it should, in fact be decriminalized.
President Nixon, according to PBS, rejected that recommendation.
To this day, marijuana use and possession is a federal crime, despite being overwhelmingly accepted by nearly all of the country in some form or another.
So why does this matter to the military and veteran community?
It all comes down to federal law. While a majority of the country recognizes the benefits and harmlessness of cannabis, the federal government does not.
In fact, the feds say marijuana users immediately forfeit their Second Amendment rights by consuming cannabis.
On September 7th the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that federal law “prohibits gun purchases by an ‘unlawful user and/or addict of any controlled substance.’ ”
The court claims that marijuana users “experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgement” and that this impaired judgement leads to “irrational” behavior, despite the findings by both the New York Academy of Medicine and the Shafer Commission to the contrary.
Background checks for firearms purchases require buyers to acknowledge whether they are a “habitual user” of marijuana and other illegal drugs. If they truthfully answer “yes,” they are barred from buying a gun. That means gun buyers in states that legalized marijuana use had better not indulge in the new right.
Will this change any time soon?
To answer that question, one needs to look at how legalization has impacted the finances in the states that have made pot kosher. After-all, money makes the world go ’round.
According to CheatSheet, Oregon banked $3.5 million in its first month of recreational marijuana sales. Washington State hit the jackpot with $70 million its first year, and Colorado rolled a fat one with $135 million in 2015 alone.
That was enough for the U.S. Congress to pause and say “let’s think about this.” Currently sitting in the Senate right now is S.683 , or the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARES).
Introduced by Democrat New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker in March 2015, the act moves to transfer marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug, protect marijuana dispensaries from being penalized for selling marijuana, and directs the VA to authorize medical providers to “provide veterans with recommendations and opinions regarding participation in state marijuana programs”, among other things.
To give an idea of what a schedule II drug is, the U.S. Department of Justice lists ADHD medication as a schedule II drug.
So when will marijuana use be decriminalized on a federal level? It’s too soon to tell.
Until then, veterans will have to choose between our pot and our guns.
It’s the first sergeant’s job to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administrative work, and the unit’s morale and welfare. Regardless of how well this mission is completed in the eyes of the lower-enlisted, earning the rank of first sergeant takes many years of hard work and dedication to the Marine Corps.
Members of the E-8 pay-grade are some of the most interesting and badass Marines you’ll ever meet as you climb through the ranks. They come in several varieties:
Good luck getting your original voice back after all those years of screaming at young recruits.
The former drill instructor
You can easily identify this type of first sergeant. First, listen to how raspy their voice is from years of yelling at recruits during training. This type of first sergeant is outstanding at calling cadences during PT and formation marches — for good reason; they’ve had plenty of practice.
The one that everyone respects
Once you enter the infantry, you’ll begin to judge other Marines and sailors based purely on they the way they look. There’s tons of competition within infantry houses; it’s our way of sizing up those we must outperform. However, there are a few senior-enlisted Marines whose appearances alone will tell you that they’re complete badasses.
You’ll look up to these guys.
1st Sgt. Ambroga Carson Jr, addresses guests during his retirement ceremony on Camp Johnson N.C.
Some Marines hold audiences captive with riveting speeches while others send people drifting off to sleepyland. Those who can keep your attention speak from their diaphragms and sound off like they have a pair. These vocal commanders are used to addressing whole companies of Marines and have tons of epic stories to tell.
The one who knows every freakin’ regulation in the book
An excellent first sergeant knows all the ins-and-outs their job — which is hard. Some troops will (foolishly) try to pull a fast one on the Marine who controls all the administrative work for the entire infantry company. However, these types of first sergeants don’t even have to bat an eye when it comes to Marine Corps policy.
They will rattle off nearly every regulation in the book if you try and test them.
Haters will say this is photoshopped. It’s not.
(Photo by Joe Loong)
The one you can never find
When you need some paperwork signed, this type of first sergeant is never in his office when you go looking for them. So, where the hell do they go? Who the F knows…
Serving in the military is often portrayed as a challenging task and with the right reasons. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly many advantages — embracing mother nature while serving is the one we’ll focus on. A lifestyle (what I’ve become to understand what the service actually is!) that offers you the chance to travel worldwide is unique and rewarding. The military has created this long culture of moving around, which means more opportunities for soldiers to experience outdoors in different countries and continents. Acknowledging the hardship of continuous relocations for military families, I will emphasize my personally-identified outdoor benefits in serving in the military.
- Soldiering up while learning to live in the field
Whoever has been in the army still has vivid memories of their first Field Training Exercise. There’s always that guy or gal who forgot his one piece of equipment he shouldn’t have forgotten leading up to a long, cold, freezing night. I have great stories about the rookie mistakes my buddies and I made in our first days in the field. Yet, this was all part of the learning process, and as time went by, we all learned how to gear up and started to relish mother nature every time.
If you’re a morning person (well, no one cares if you are or not, you’re still waking up early), you can see the morning mist slowly vanishing into nothing. At these times, we enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee and having small talk with our fellow soldiers.
If you like sunsets, there’s nothing like watching them as you eat an MRE with your friends (the MRE is not a must).
- Enjoying outdoors all over the world
Having served in the military in Europe, I was fortunate to train with many countries worldwide. I was attached to a Royal Commando Company from Great Britain. We trained together on the beautiful beaches of Albania. Having the sea breeze cool us off after strenuous exercises was something we all craved. The mixture of the Adriatic Sea combined with Commando Fighting Tactics was a combo made in heaven.
On the other side of the world, in Wisconsin, I enjoyed one of the most beautiful spring weather ever. My unit was attached to a National Guard Unit from the Midwest and drove to this beautiful Army Base near the Canadian border. The trees, the air and the scenery were something I’ll never forget.
One of the best pieces of training I’ve ever completed was Winter Survival Training with Austrian, German and Swiss Alpine Infantrymen. My fellow cadets and I attended the two-week training in the Sharri Mountains near the trijunction between Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. If you wanted to see the power of nature, this was the place. We would start our morning hikes in beautiful sunny weather, wearing only shirts. As we approached the peak, an immense cloud with atrocious wind would cover us in no time. We would have to rush back to our shelter to survive — the beauty, unpredictability and mercilessness of nature-all within 30 minutes. No other profession offers this opportunity!
There have certainly been times of heavy rain and freezing cold, which I didn’t enjoy and that I’ll never forget. However, having had the opportunity to travel to more than 30 countries and four continents, I have enjoyed the outdoors everywhere I trained and traveled in the military capacity. These travels have made me appreciate nature so much more!
3. Hiking while completing mandatory ruck marches
If you serve in an infantry unit, you will probably have frequent ruck marches. Such activities can certainly be challenging and tedious, but if you’re into hiking and outdoors, they will feel less like work. The opportunity to patrol in mountains and hills with no signs of human construction feels more like a movie from WWII.
The remote areas where this training takes place more often than not offer a fantastic escape from urban stress. This is undoubtedly a factor not to be ignored since today’s world is defined by a fast-paced life with a rapid decrease in outdoor activities. Going out in ruck marches and FTXes will allow you to enjoy nature and fulfill your professional duty while getting paid to do so. Having a few beers and barbeque would be excellent, but we all know that’s not going to happen!
4. Working out in the outdoors with passion and camaraderie
One of the leading military activities known to occur in the outdoors is physical training. Whether soldiers are training with their platoon or in large running formations with their Battalion Commander, they’re undoubtedly enjoying the camaraderie.
As soldiers test their limits in developing their physical stamina, they learn how to cope with the weather and the environment. The all-weather training regimen gives the soldier a challenging task but also prepares them for any engagement. The CrossFit culture has dramatically shifted the culture from gyms to out-of-doors while achieving better results.
Serving in the outdoors and appreciating it
The military profession is essentially defined by the outdoors. All soldiers seem to enjoy it since it gives them an excellent opportunity to develop personally and savor nature. At the same time, they can travel around the globe while experiencing sceneries from all over the world. While this may appear as an unorthodox way to defend your country’s freedoms, it comes with difficulty and risk to soldiers’ lives.
Yet, true warriors overcome all obstacles and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, wherever they may be.
Over the holidays, the Emmy award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich prepared a world-class cuisine for the troops aboard the USS George Washington.
But leading to the holiday festivities, she traveled the country meeting veterans and learning their incredible service stories.
“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.
One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.
For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.
Here’s a short clip from our visit with Lidia:Lidia Bastianich, YouTube
Watch the full hour-long documentary special on PBS to see how Lidia pays homage to the men and women of our military and the sacrifices they make.
Every combat arms unit needs a radio operator. Whether they enlisted as one or they were “voluntold” to be one, someone’s gotta do it. There’s a steep learning curve between being a guy with a radio pack and being the go-to radio operator. If you can manage to be the best, your unit will cherish you.
To be the best, you need to master your equipment. Learning the ins and outs of the radio takes years of hands-on training that you won’t find in any schoolhouse — you can only find it by volunteering during every field op.
That being said, there are some tips and tricks that anyone can pick up to make as a radio operator a whole lot easier.
Never place the blame on the distant end for comm problems
Want to know the fastest and easiest way to lose all credibility as a radio operator? Blame the distant end.
It might actually be the other radio operator’s fault — too bad your squad won’t look at it that way. Instead, just say that you’ve done everything you can and continue to try and make it right.
The problem with the radio is probably the time
The way that frequency hop works, broken down Barney style, is that a radio is given a sequence of radio frequencies to hop around to depending on the time of day. If you’ve loaded the COMSEC fill into a radio and you’re not able to talk to anyone, the time is probably wrong.
All COMSEC uses Greenwich Mean Time, so it might be easier to just set your watch to London time, regardless of where you are in the world.
Drop tests totally work
Don’t question why or how it works, it just does.
Realistically, if you pick up any piece of electronics and drop it from about a foot off the ground, it could shatter or break. A SINCGARS and some of the older radio systems, however, can handle the abuse.
Carry an eraser or chapstick
W4 cables are used to transmit audio and fill between a radio and whatever. Getting these damn cables to attach properly will be the bane of your existence.
Some people recommend licking the end to get it to work, but that’s just nasty. You can get the same result by just cleaning the prongs and removing gunk with an eraser. You can also use chapstick to lube it up. Sure, that might damage the cable, but since W4 cables are a dime a dozen, it doesn’t really matter.
Extra batteries are worth the weight
Every good radio operator has a bug-out bag filled with extra crap. This bag includes the radio system itself, maybe cheat-sheets for the nine-line and everyone’s call signs, an extra hand mic, and a few spare W4s. I know they get heavy after a while, but bring some extra batteries, too.
SatCom antenneas work best on the roof of a vehicle
Unlike most line-of-sight antennas, a SatCom antennae works by, as the name implies, communicating to satellites. Just because you’ve pointed the antennae toward the other hill doesn’t mean you’ll be able to talk.
Giant metal vehicles disrupt the relatively weak signal, so placing it on the ground next to an MRAP is a terrible idea — but don’t be afraid to climb on top and place it up there if you’re not planning on moving soon. Oh, and point the antennae towards the Equator. That’s around where the satellite is supposed to be.
OE-254s still work if the antenna is a bit wonky
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen new radio operators and uptight NCOs waste plenty of time trying to get their OE-254 antenna to stand up perfectly straight. The actual pole doesn’t matter. As long as the head of the antenna isn’t broken and is connected, it’ll work just fine.
Now, don’t misinterpret that. This is just meant to say that it’ll be operational. Hell, you could duct-tape it to the top of a tree and it’ll still work (trust me, I know). This doesn’t mean you should half-ass setting up an OE-254 just because you think it’ll be fine. You better be damn sure that it’s secure.
The Good Conduct Medal is one of the easiest medals an enlisted troop can earn. It’s an award given to enlisted personnel for every three years of “honorable and faithful service.” During times of war, the GCM can given out at one year of good service and can be posthumously awarded to service members killed in the line of duty.
But the GCM isn’t the same as a service stripe, which is given to soldiers every three years, Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen every four years, and is never given to airmen. To earn a GCM, you need to keep your nose clean (or don’t get caught doing something you shouldn’t) for three years. If you’re a solider, boom, that’s an instant 10 promotion points.
The intent behind the GCM is to award outstanding troops who’ve managed to go three years without ever failing to be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. The disqualifying factor for this medal is if you ever receive an NJP.
Now, what is and isn’t considered eligible for a non-judicial punishment is loosely defined and is entirely at the discretion of the commander. Talking too severely to a subordinate could be considered an NJP-worthy offense by a commander that’s cracking down on hazing, while another unit’s commander may turn a blind eye to horrendous acts that discredit the military.
The moment a troop gets a “Ninja Punch,” their 3-year GCM timer restarts. Three years after a sergeant knifehands a private, that private is once again eligible for a Good Conduct Medal. A scumbag who has brown-nosed the commander or has a commander who “doesn’t want the unit to look bad” will receive this medal every third anniversary of their enlistment. Do you see the discrepancy?
Once again, one unit may make an elaborate ceremony to honor the troop for their three years of good conduct while another may just ask a troop to buy a Good Conduct Knot to add to their ribbon rack. Again, this is at a commander’s discretion.
There is a silver lining to all of this. Fresh young troops who are giving the military their best can feel like their world’s been shattered the first time they screw up. Stern talking-tos and regular bad conduct counseling statements don’t blemish one’s good conduct streak — take the lickings and move on. An offense typically only turns into an NJP when it’s one in a series of misconduct.
The Good Conduct Medal should be awarded to those troops who exemplify the military values. It is a flawed system that sees undeserving scumbags awarded while good troops who make a genuine and innocent mistake aren’t — but the troops that do deserve it and earn it make the military proud.
Everyone knows the Air Force has some cushy accommodations and, as a result, they often get flack from the other branches. It’s pretty obvious that most of these jokes stem from pure envy. Let’s face it, the Air Force is the youngest of all the branches and they get the best that Mom and Dad have to offer, even on deployments.
That’s what we call an Air Force MRE.
(Photo by Master Sergeant Christian Amezcua)
Surf and turf Fridays
In 2018, every Friday at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, the dining facility served surf and turf. It might not be the best quality steak or lobster, but who else gets steak and lobster on deployments!? Between steak and lobster dinners, the daily dishes are pretty up to par, taste-wise. There’s definitely no carrot pound cake or chili mac being served in this chow hall. Okay, I lied — there is chili mac, but it doesn’t resemble that sh*t found in MREs.
Everyone knows WiFi is essential to an Airman’s way of life.
Photo by Chad Garland of Stars and Stripes)
Free WiFi in work areas
You heard that right: free WiFi in the work areas is the norm for Airmen in Afghanistan. There’s WiFi provided by certain companies in sleeping quarters, but personnel pay upwards of .00 per month for access. To save some of that deployment bankroll, many Airmen spend a portion of their days off in or near their workplace to mooch off that sacred WiFi signal.
Is this why they call it the Chair Force?
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joe Yanik)
It’s okay, laugh it up — but I bet forward operating bases’ don’t provide a makeshift movie theater with recliners where you can watch newly released films every Saturday and Sunday night. An Airman can watch a new movie that’s currently out in theaters every single weekend of their deployment if they choose to do so. Services also provides free, all-you-can-eat popcorn!
Running can be fun, right?
(U.S. Air Force)
5K fun runs
There are 5K fun runs almost every month, held on the main boulevard at Bagram Air Base. You can choose to run in formation, run in your flack vest and helmet, or even walk! It’s all about getting that exercise in and making the days a little less monotonous. All that Netflix binging on work WiFi can get tiresome. Woe is us.
Above, Kandahar Air Base Afghanistan where you can find a T.G.I. Fridays and KFC.
A taste of home
Tired of dining-facility surf and turf and instant coffee? Go to the on-base Green Beans Coffee, get a Chai Latte, and, while you’re at it, stop by Pizza Hut next door and order a pepperoni pie. Sure, the pepperoni doesn’t taste like pepperoni and kind of smells like fish, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? If you want to pick up some new headphones or something to read while you sip on that Chai, the Bagram BX is stocked with all the amenities you’d find at home.
This post originally published on WATM in 2018. But we still feel the same way about the cushiness of Air Force Deployments.