5 things they didn't teach me at TAP class - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

Over the years, the military has developed Transition Assistance Programs in order to help service members make the change from active duty to civilian life. Everyone goes through the program eventually, learning about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how to write a resume (and how to make it understandable to civilians), and even how to dress in something other than a uniform.


5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
It just looks out of place sometimes. (U.S. Army photo)

Yet, despite the best efforts of instructors and facilitators, there are some things the classes don’t cover — including simply how to actually get out. Here are a few lessons about the separation process.

5. Your DD-214 is worth getting right.

Everyone’s heard of the DD form 214. It represents the accomplishments of your time in the military. For the rest of your life, it’s how you’ll prove you’re a veteran. So, as excited as you might be for a new chapter in life, you’ll want to devote time and effort to getting it right.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
You might have heard of this document. It has lots of fans.(11Bravos.com)

You may not think the awards section, for example, matters much. However, listing the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medals establish that you’re a combat veteran, which makes a difference for certain VA benefits and can get you hiring preference for certain federal jobs. The good news is, even if not all of your past units were meticulous in documenting awards, it’s easy to correct. Producing a citation is the easiest way to have an award added. In the case of unit or campaign awards, any official document that proves you were part of a given unit for a certain deployment can prove you’ve earned it.

If the first working copy of your DD-214 isn’t accurate, don’t delay in asking your separations/retirement clerk how to fix it.

4. Copy your medical records!

Another important document is your medical record, so be sure to get a copy early. These days, some medical facilities will provide a digital copy on CD. Before you visit your local VA, be sure to ask whether they’ll work with that format. Either way, you’ll want to go through every page (paper or electronic) yourself before you take it to anyone else. You should flag anything that isn’t a physical or otherwise normal visit.

Be sure the copy you’re given is complete. Many members have been in since before the military switched to electronic records; when you ask for a copy of your record, you’re supposed to get both what’s in the electronic record and scans from your paper record. Be meticulous; if things are missing, go back to the records office and ask. Like your 214, your medical record is worth spending the time necessary to get right.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
This is really important for a number of reasons.

Once you’ve reviewed your complete copy, contact a veteran’s service organization. They have experts in the VA claims process who will go through your record with you and guide you through the next steps. You don’t even need to be a member of the organization.

3. Learn about the SBP.

Most TAP classes include a discussion about financial planning, and your transition office may ask you to show a budget. However, there isn’t always a discussion of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan, or SBP. This is an insurance plan retirees can pay into that will provide a beneficiary (usually spouse) an annuity to make up for lost retirement income once the retiree dies. And, while we don’t give financial advice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. It’s worth taking a look at your personal insurance and investment situation to decide if it’s something you want.

2. You get house-hunting and job-hunting perks.

If you’re retiring or being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, you get permissive temporary duty (free time off) to find a home and a job. Just how much time you get (10, 20, or 30 days) depends on if you’re being involuntarily separated or retired and whether you’re in the continental U.S. or not. That’s in addition to your terminal leave.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Getting a home is totally doable. There are hundreds of USAA commercials about this.

1. What is the Skillbridge Internship?

Not every TAP class mentions this program, so you may want to ask about it. This program allows service members to participate in civilian job training, including internships and apprenticeships, up to six months before separating. That means you can be learning your new job while still being paid by the military!

popular

This is why Corpsmen are better than Medics

“Pecker Checker,” “Silver Bullet Bandit,” and “Devil Doc” are just a few of the names to describe the most decorated rate in the U.S. Navy — the Hospital Corpsman.


We don’t like being called “medics” — if we wanted that title we would have joined the Army (shots fired).

With all that said, the military is known for its rivalry as each branch’s medical department wants to be defined as being the most dominant force. Although there will never be a clear winner, competing for the title is the fun part.

 

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

We could brag all day about having the most Medal of Honor recipients, but that just wouldn’t be dignified. So here’s proof that the rate of Hospital Corpsman is the sh*t. Come at me.

Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

Our awesome history is better

Back in the day, we were referred to as Surgeon’s Mates, Apothecary, and Loblolly Boy, among a few others. But it wasn’t until June 17, 1898, when President William McKinley signed an act of Congress that created the Navy Hospital Corps, which allowed enlisted personnel to assist surgeons with the wounded on the battlefield.

It was the Corpsman’s job to keep the irons hot while assisting the doctors with cauterizing patient’s limbs after amputation, as well as keeping buckets of sand at the ready to help the medical staff from slipping on the floor from all those massive bleeds.

Since those days, Corpsmen served right alongside the Marine Corps, fighting and patching them up; and that tradition has carried on through the eras as they continue to earn each others’ respect.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

Just some of the different types of Corpsman

With all the many types of Corpsmen out there these days, let’s start from the beginning.

In the modern era, the basic Hospital Corpsman earns the NEC “quad zero” or “0000” rating when they graduate from A-school, and can either head right out to the fleet or get additional orders for more specialized training called “C-schools.”

Some Corpsmen will go on to become laboratory techs, dental techs, or attend one of two the Field Medical Training Battalions.

Also known as field med, this tough training is a few steps down from Marine boot camp and is modified with medical classes catered to performing life-saving interventions in combat.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Corpsmen conduct a field exercise in a M.O.U.T. (Military Operation Urban Terrain).

In field med, Corpsmen learn basic patrolling tactics and infantry maneuvers that will help when they deploy to combat zones with their Marine platoons.

After Corpsmen graduate that program, they earn the NEC “8404,” or Field Medical Service Technician.

In some cases, Corpsmen can request additional schools if they qualify and decide to re-enlist at the end of their active contracts. Many Corpsmen at the pay grade of E-5 request to attend “Independent Duty Corpsman” or IDC school.

Remember when I told you we were better than Army medics? Here’s what I meant:

After completing training, Independent Duty Corpsmen are allowed to take care of patients, prescribe medications and perform minor surgical procedures without the presence of a medical officer.

No Army enlisted personnel can do that. Write that down.

Unfortunately, with all the valuable training IDC’s go through, when they exit the Navy, they can take the knowledge with them, but the accreditation doesn’t transfer over to the civilian world. Bummer.

Also Read: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

We’re not Marines, but we’re often seen that way

It’s official; Corpsmen are not Marines — we’re sailors.

Because most of us have served at one time or another on the Marine side of the house, also known as the “Greenside,” many confuse us with Marines due to our stature and uniform.

The truth is, we don’t mind this because of the brotherly bond we’ve earned. If we’ve taken good care of our Marines, that bond will stretch far beyond our years of military service.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
An (FMF) Corpsman takes a look at his patient during sick call.

The FMF Corpsman

FMF stands for Fleet Marine Force.

Corpsmen can earn this pin after studying their asses off and answer a sh*t ton of questions about Marine knowledge.

It’s a lot to learn and can take a year to scratch the surface of everything you need to know. In some cases, Corpsmen end up learning more facts about the Marine Corps than Marines.

Plus, if you do receive the honor of getting pinned, it’ll make you look cool in front of your platoon.

It’s also a common practice that you pass down your FMF pin to an up and coming Corpsman who appears to have a promising career.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
The Fleet Marine Force Warfare pin. Semper Fi.

There are three different types of FMF pins and they all look the same. The Marine Air Wing, Logistic Group, and Division (infantry) all have different knowledge the Corpsman is tested on to earn the plaque.

The Division pin tends to be harder to earn since infantry Corpsmen spend a lot of time in the field without much time to study.

Another impressive aspect of being a Greenside Corpsman is that you’re entitled to wear most of the Marine uniforms except their legendary dress blues — provided you sign a “Page 2” document saying you’ll abide by all Marine Corps regulations.

This includes all uniform inspections and annual exercise tests.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class

The modified Corpsman dress uniform. That’s badass, Chief — look at the freakin’ stack!

Watch the Corpsman tribute video below, and brothers, stay safe out there. We salute your hard work and dedicated to the Corps.

(USMARINE4545, YouTube)

MIGHTY GAMING

These are the Air Force swords that look like they belong in a video game

Everyone in the military (including the Air Force) scratches their heads over why ridiculous and over-sized swords are given to high ranking Air Force officers. The real reason is rooted in tradition and a dash of silliness.


U.S. Air Force NCOs honor officers who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps by inducting them into the Order of the Sword. The keeper of the Air Force Master Sword, the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, bestows the honored officers with a sword of their own, fitting to their duty.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
That’s right. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force has his very own actual Master Sword.

According to the Air Force’s claim: “The original order of the sword was patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages in Europe: the (British) Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword, still in existence today. In 1522, King Gustavus I of Sweden ordered the noblemen commissioned by him to appoint officers to serve him, and these people became known as the non-commissioned officers.”

Eagle-eyed historians would poke holes in many of those claims. The Brits don’t have an Order of the Sword. The Sweds didn’t have one until 1748, which is way later than what is considered the Middle Ages — and they haven’t inducted anyone since 1975. The Romans already had a form of an NCO, France’s King Charles VII helped form corporals a century earlier than Gustavus I, and Baron Von Steuben helped finalize the American NCO Corps as we know it with the “Blue Book” for the Colonial Army, so, yeah, there are some holes in this origin story.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
By video game logic, those Senior Airmen shouldn’t be high enough level to equip that sword.

As for the current Air Force Order of the Sword, the inductee is chosen by the enlisted airmen on a strictly confidential matter. Having roughly 50,000 airmen keeping a secret is nearly impossible, so the decision is made by the 15 senior most enlisted. Because of this, seven consecutive 4-star commanders of the United States Air Forces in Europe were placed into the order.

But it’s the design of sword that draws the most attention. The over-the-top pageantry that goes into the design is a source of entertainment and jest all around the military.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
So it has +15 lightning damage because he was the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command? Got it.

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of September 30th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

An aircrew member with the 15th Special Operations Squadron looks out at Puerto Rico from an MC-130H Combat Talon II, Sept. 27, 2017. Approximately 50 Air Commandos are part of a group deployed to provide humanitarian aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated islands in the Caribbean.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jean Fernandez, assigned to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) and a native of Bonao, Dominican Republic, conducts an inspection for an EA-18G Growler in preparation for flight operations on Misawa Air Base.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Bacon

Army:

An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire training exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 25, 2017. 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment attached to 210th Field Artillery Brigade certified 16 crews in five hours as they completed their Table VI certification.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA BDE PAO

U.S. Army Pfc. Emmanuel Bynum, assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), reinstalls the fairings on a HH-60m Black at Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 27, 2017. The 101st CAB will be conducting medical evacuation and relief efforts to support FEMA in the recovery process of Puerto Rico after the devastation created by Hurricane Maria.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Pablo N. Piedra

Navy:

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) transits the Baltic Sea Sept. 26, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Utah Kledzik

Equipment Operator 2nd Class Patrick Reiter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, operates a rig during water well drilling operations in support of Southern Partnership Station 17. SPS 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brittney Cannady

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines adjust an 81mm mortar to improve defensive posture near Gereshk, Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2017. Several advisors with Task Force Southwest are assisting their Afghan National Defense and Security Force counterparts throughout Operation Maiwand Six, which is designed to thwart insurgent presence and promote security and stability in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Sanchezangel, an infantry Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, holds security for a rehearsal raid during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 27, 2017. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter James serves as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The cutter’s crew deployed to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations and the ship’s communications capabilities are being used to help first responders coordinate efforts.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Pete Melnick.

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Scott Smith of the Pacific Strike Team and Laredo Construction Project Manager Bob Springob evaluate removal operations for a displaced vessel here in Houston, Texas on Sept. 28, 2017. The Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency have been fully integrated into a Unified Command with the mission assignment of removing displaced or partially submerged vessels as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Hillard.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Morale.

In the military, it’s what’s for dinner.


5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Cookie, your goulash fills me full of pep!

And for the military chef, the job is a lot more than just filling bellies with fighting fuel.

Cooking for the Armed Forces concerns the Art of Building Morale. And if an army marches on its’ stomach, then it follows that an Army chef operating at the highest level — who’s able to create culinary magic under the demands of budget, field deployment, and operational extremity — can have a huge individual impact on the health of the mission.

That holds true for every branch, in every situation, from boot camp to battlefield.

Searching for inspired military cooking and meeting the chefs responsible is the central mission of Go90’s series Meals Ready To Eat. And host August Dannehl, a Navy veteran and chef, has a nose for this type of story. For his first foray, he paid a visit to Fort Lee, Virginia to reconnoiter some of the U.S. Armed Forces’ top chefs, who’d gathered there for the annual Military Culinary Arts Competition and Training Event.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
In the thick of it: Military Culinary Arts Competition, Fort Lee, VA (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
There’s nothing like the smell of morale in the morning. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Modeled after the World Culinary Olympics and sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, the 40-year-old event is a bubbling cauldron of ideas, inspiration, and good old-fashioned inter-service rivalry. But at its heart, the event, like Dannehl’s series, seeks to champion the importance of culinary artistry to the overall operational effectiveness of the military.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Articles

This is why the Navy SEAL swim challenge is not for just anyone

Navy SEAL candidates go through some of the hardest military training in the world before earning their beloved Trident.


Before graduating BUD/s, they must successfully pass “drown-proofing” which is a series of swim challenges that must be completed without the use of their hands or feet — which are tied together.

This swim challenge is comprised of five difficult tests that not only pushes the mind but the body to its limits.

Can this Buzzfeed host use both his mental and physical strength to overcome and complete this challenge? Let’s find out.

Related: This SEAL was shot 27 times before walking himself to the medevac

Note: This challenge was done in an eight-foot deep pool versus the nine-foot one the Navy uses during the training.

Phase 1: Bobbing up and down 20 times for five minutes.

Success! (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 2: Float on your back for five minutes

The key here is not to panic. (Images via Giphy)Result: Fail

Phase 3: The Dolphin swim

Where endurance kicks in. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 4: Front and back somersault

One of the test’s hardest challenges. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 5: Retrieve a GoPro at the bottom of the pool

He made that look easy. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

4 out of 5 isn’t bad.

Also Read: 7 unrealistic Navy SEAL characters in the movies

Check out the Buzz Feed Blue’s below to watch this host attempt the whole Navy SEAL water challenge for yourself.

(YouTube, BuzzFeedBlue)Do you think this guy passed the Navy SEAL swim test? Comment below.
Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of October 14th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

U.S. Air Force Col. David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, sits in the cockpit of an F-35A Lightning II while Norwegian Major “Taz” Amdal, Project Test Pilot for F-35 Drag Chute Program, tells him about controls Oct. 12, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F-35A is here to conduct cold weather testing to ensure the fifth generation multi-role fighter aircraft runs at peak performance for its scheduled 2020 arrival.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexander Sinclair, a member of the 101st Air Refueling Wing (101 ARW) Communications Flight, installs phone connections at the 101 ARW, Bangor, ME, Oct 10, 2017. Cyber Transport Systems Specialists deploy, sustain, troubleshoot, and repair standard voice, data and video network infrastructure systems, IP detection systems, and cryptographic equipment.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Hill

Army:

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Randall Ledoux of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) 173rd Airborne Brigade transmits his position while conducting defensive operations during exercise Swift Response 17 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 12, 2017. Swift Response 17, Phase II is an annual, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise focused on allied airborne forces’ ability to quickly and effectively respond to crisis situations as an interoperable multi-national team. The exercise takes place at the JMRC in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 2-20, 2017 and includes approximately 7,000 participants from 10 NATO nations.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Seth Plagenza

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, return greetings to the residents in the sector of Las Palmas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 12, 2017. The Soldiers distributed water and Meals, Ready-To-Eat, to the residents. The full force of the federal government continues to make progress towards recovery, working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico officials, municipalities, businesses, and voluntary agencies on the islands.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Donna Davis

Navy:

Happy Birthday, Navy!

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Thomas Rodriguez, from Los Angeles, prepares for flight quarters aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), Oct. 12, 2017. James E. Williams, homeported in Norfolk, is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Colbey Livingston

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Gold) pulls into the pier of Republic of Korea’s Busan Naval Base as part of a routine port visit. The visit is to strengthen the already strong relationship between the U.S. Navy and the people of the Republic of Korea.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), disembark the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) via MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft also with VMM 162 (REIN), in the Caribbean Sea, Oct. 12, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexis C. Schneider

Cpl. Caleb Bastille, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267, assists in landing a UH-1Y Huey during a simulated tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) mission at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 11. TRAP missions allow pilots and crew chiefs to directly integrate with ground troops, simulating potential scenarios that could take place when forward deployed.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. David Bickel

Coast Guard:

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear, a 270 foot, medium endurance cutter, arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to deliver supplies, Oct. 9, 2017. The supplies included donations collected by Customs and Border Patrol members.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

A Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew assists in mooring the 34-foot fishing vessel Nata Ella in Refuge Cove, Ketchikan, Alaska Oct. 7, 2017. The Nata Ella crew reported they were taking on water on the southwest side of Bold Island, and the Station Ketchikan RB-M crew provided a dewatering pump and towed the fishing vessel to Ketchikan.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Charly Hengen

Humor

6 silly things troops bring into combat zones

When service members deploy to a combat zone, they get a checklist of gear they’re required to bring that will help them survive.


But many service members end up hauling ridiculous items along with them that they don’t need.

Anything can happen along the way to combat zones; troops could end up in an area that only has electricity for three hours a day and no running water, in which case, that brand-new Nintendo Wi really won’t do much.

Related: 8 pieces of gear grunts buy themselves before deploying

So check out our list of silly things service members bring with them to war:

1. A sh*t-ton of cash

It’s okay to bring a little pocket change, but just be mindful because we’ve seen troops bring hundreds of dollars with them just to be stationed at a combat outpost where there is virtually nothing to buy.

ISIS failed to open a Super Target location near your new command post.

Yes. We’re all happy when a new Super Target store opens. (Images via Giphy)

2. Sports equipment

Having a football, basketball, or a soccer ball handy for some leisure activity while you’re deployed is a great way to relieve stress. But cramping these items into your already stuffed sea bag maybe a bad idea.

They make great care package items though. Write that down. (Images via Giphy)

3. Beach toys

Do we need to emphasize why you shouldn’t pack a pool noodle or an inflatable pool? Service members have done it before — we’ve seen it.

Don’t let that kid be your JTAC. (Images via Giphy)

4. An expensive laptop

Deployment movie nights are basically defined as everyone gathering around one laptop. But it’s not necessary to bring one that’s top of the line with the capability to hack into a secure website or Deejay at your local FOB.

You just don’t need that much power.

Remember, war can get dirty, and grit will find its way in between the keys — it could ruin it.

No matter what tech you bring, please don’t dance like this…ever. (Images via Giphy)

5. Unauthorized clothing

Halloween costumes, wigs, and designer clothes don’t have a real place in that already stuffed seabag.

By all means, have them sent to you in an excellent care package though. You could make a YouTube video and become internet famous. Priorities.

Mouse ears are a great choice to send to your deployed friend or spouse. ISIS will love it. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 8 things Marines love to carry other than their weapon

6. Bulky video games

Yes. Service members have been known to pack their X-boxes and PlayStations into their gear and pass them through customs. But many don’t take into account whether they can actually hunt down a TV to play on.

Just something for you to think about before you deploy.

Looks intense. He must be a POG. (Images via Giphy)

What random stuff did you see people pack with them on deployment?

Military Life

4 female CrossFit athletes that would dominate combat quals

There’s always a question of women’s strength when it comes to meeting combat position qualifications. The truth is that there are definitely women out there that have the ability, as of now, to meet those requirements.


The CrossFit revolution that has swept the nation over the past couple of years has opened up doors for female athletes. Female CrossFit athletes develop body types we aren’t used to seeing on women, mainly because of existing misconceptions of weakness attributed to gender.

CrossFit is not just centered solely on lifting, but also on general strength and endurance. These women, and others like them, could tear apart the physical standards required for combat positions.

1. Sam Briggs

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Go ahead and ask her if she lifts.

This English-born athlete came onto the CrossFit scene in 2010 and has been putting her competition to the test ever since. Just taking a look at her barbell stats, it’s easy to see that she would be a contender if she were to sign up for a combat position in the military.

Briggs stands at 5’6″ tall at age 35. She can squat 280 lbs, deadlift 375 lbs, and press 127 lbs, just to name a few stats. In 2013, she won the CrossFit games and became the fittest woman on Earth.

Since all combat positions are opened and gender-neutral, the qualification standards are not lowered for women, so they have to prove themselves against male counterparts. There’s no doubt Briggs could go toe-to-toe with men in any physical component of these standards.

For example, according to the Marine Corps’ gender-integration implementation plan, the standards below are for all personnel that seek a combat position:

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Olympic lifts are part of the qualifications. Who would’ve thought?

2. Katrin Davidsdottir

Davidsdottir hails from Iceland and is a two-time winner of the CrossFit Games in 2015 and 2016. She certainly is a force to be reckoned with and is well known for her 255-pound back squat and 310-pound deadlift. Davidsdottir is still competing and one of the most well-known CrossFit athletes.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Maybe this is who should be training females entering combat positions.

CrossFit incorporates running in high-intensity workouts while adding weighted vests to the equation. Davidsdottir had to run a mile and half with a weighted vest, swim another mile, and then run another mile and a half — not to mention the endless reps of deadlifts, pull-ups, and squats that followed. Some combat positions don’t even require all of the abilities that these female athletes have conditioned their bodies to perform.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Katrin Davidsdottir with a weighted vest.

3. Tia Claire Toomey

The reigning champ of the 2017 CrossFit games and has been crowned Fittest Woman on Earth. Toomey is from Australia and is young blood on the scene.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Just another day repeatedly lifting some 55lbs dumbbells overhead.

At the young age of 24, Toomey has been able to train her body, in a short amount of time, to accomplish amazing feats. Her barbell stats include a 297-lbs squat, a 244-lbs clean and jerk, a 357-lbs deadlift, and 50 pull-ups in a timed period. She could certainly make an excellent candidate for any combat position in the military.

4. Sara Sigmundsdottir

Sigmudsdottir is also from Iceland and has been rocking the CrossFit competitions — repeatedly ranking third. She’s always in the winds and nearly takes the title every year, but misses it just by a few marks.

Even still, her barbell stats are pretty impressive. Sigmudsdottir clean and jerks 243lbs, back squats 298lbs, and deadlifts 341 lbs. Not too shabby for third place. She could definitely contend in combat qualifications.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Sara Sigmundsdottir

One thing is for sure: For some female athletes, the standards never need to be lowered.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This service’s Gold Star program supports the military families that have lost

The Air Force family tree has many branches and one branch, representing the service’s Gold Star families, has leaves that glow consistently with the rest.


Gold Star families are survivors of military service members who lost their lives during armed hostilities, including deployments in support of military operations against an enemy or during an international terrorist attack.

The Air Force’s Gold Star program provides enhanced support and outreach for the lifetime of each survivor, or until the survivor no longer needs or desires the services. The program is designed to let families know the Air Force cares for them and will continue to embrace them as part of the Air Force family.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. Photo from the city of Vienna, WV.

“Our primary purpose is to continue recognizing and honoring the sacrifice these families and their loved ones made in the service of our nation,” said Vera Carson, Air Force Families Forever program manager at the Air Force Personnel Center. “Gold Star families fall under the Air Force Families Forever program, which ensures all families of our fallen Airmen are never forgotten.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein directed the provision of additional lifelong support to Gold Star families in April 2017. Gold Star family members, such as parents, adult children, and siblings, are now being offered the opportunity to receive a Gold Star identification card, which authorizes access to Air Force bases in the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii. For additional information, contact your Air Force Families Forever representative at the local airman and family readiness center.

By allowing these families unescorted access to Air Force installations, they can visit their loved one’s gravesite, attend memorials and base-wide events, and stop by the local airman and family readiness center for immediate and long-term compassionate support.

“General Goldfein and his wife, Dawn, want to ensure our Gold Star families remain a part of the Air Force family, and this special ID card is helping us make that happen,” said Carla Diamond , Air Force Gold Star and Surviving Family Member representative. “We are reaching out to surviving family members, establishing contact, and ensuring that their needs are met.”

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
In 1967, an Act of Congress established the Gold Star lapel pin (left) for issue to immediate Family members of servicemembers killed in combat. The Next of Kin pin (right) signifies a service-related death or suicide during active duty other than combat. Photo by Edward Johnson, FMWRC PAO.

One resource for survivors is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. This program provides emotional support and healing to anyone grieving the death of a military loved one. The staff provides military survivor seminars, Good Grief Camps for young survivors, peer mentors, and resources relating to grief and trauma.

Taking care of each Airman’s family is vital to ensuring an Airman is prepared and mission ready.

“Supporting family members is critical in making sure our Airmen are resilient and ready to meet their mission objectives and serve our nation daily,” said Randy Tillery, Airmen and Family Care director. “The Gold Star program reminds our surviving family members they are still an important part of the greater Air Force family.”

Gold Star families are not new. The term traces back to World War I when Americans would fly a flag with a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces. The star became gold if the family lost a loved one in the war. Along with the US flag, these family members now receive a lapel pin with a gold star resting on a purple background.

Since 1936, the last Sunday of September is observed as Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day. Air Force officials are now planning events to commemorate the special day.

Articles

7 life lessons we learned from the grunts in ‘Platoon’

With so many war movies out there to choose from, not many come from the direct perspective of a man who personally lived through the hell that was Vietnam.


Critically acclaimed writer-director Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) took audiences into the highly political time in American history where the war efforts of our service men and women were predominantly overlooked as they returned home.

The son of a successful stockbroker, Stone dropped out of Yale in the 60s and joined the Army, becoming one of the first American troops to arrive in Vietnam.

Related: 7 life lessons we learned from watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Here’s what he taught us:

1. Respect is only earned, never issued.

Chris Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen, just landed in the “Nam” with a fresh shave and a stainless uniform. Before saying a word to anyone, he was automatically picked apart by war-harden soldiers passing by.

In war and in life, it doesn’t matter how you start the game — it’s how you finish it.

“Welcome to the suck, boot.” (Image via Giphy)

2. You have to keep up

Being in the infantry is one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs ever. You don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest, but you need to pull your own weight…literally.

Move it! Move it!  Move it! (Image via Giphy)

3. Staying positive

In the eyes of a “newbie,” the world can seem and feel like one big sh*t show — especially if you’re burning a barrel of sh*t with diesel fuel.

Finding new ways to approach a bad situation can boost morale — especially when you have a lot of time left in the bush.

Negativity can get you hurt, positivity can get you through it. (Image via Giphy)

4. We’re all the same

Regardless of what your race, religion, or education level — when it comes down to being a soldier in a dangerous combat zone, none of those aspects means a thing.

Preach! (image via Giphy)

5. Never quit

Sgt. Elias, by played Willem Dafoe, was intentionally left behind by Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) with the hope the V.C. would kill him off.

Although Elias struggled to stay in the fight, after taking several AK-47’s rounds, he showed the world he’s truly a warrior.

His back must have been killing him. (Image via Giphy)

6. War changes a man

The bright-eyed bushy-tailed boy that showed up in the beginning isn’t the thousand yard staring man who stands in front of you now.

Kill! (image via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

7. Brotherhood

When you break into the circle of brotherhood, there’s no better feeling.

Safe travels. (Image via Giphy)To all of our Vietnam war veterans, everyone at We Are The Mighty salutes you.

MIGHTY TRENDING

That time the US and Iran teamed up to fight the Taliban

The days following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were strange days for many of us. Not only here at home, where the American worldview changed literally overnight, but also in Afghanistan. For obvious reasons.


5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
We don’t scramble B-52s for just anyone.

What might not be so obvious are the many ways which the United States systematically struck back against al-Qaeda and the Taliban who protected its members in Afghanistan. By now, many have heard of the U.S. Army Special Forces who assisted the Northern Alliance on horseback. The new movie 12 Strong depicts their mission.

Related: The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback 

But three days after the Green Berets and Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum teamed up for the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, another joint American-Northern Alliance team was fighting to capture – and keep – the Afghan city of Herat.

Army Rangers and Special Forces teamed up with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards special ops unit, the Pazdaran. The operation was reportedly planned in Tehran between General Tommy Franks and Iranian General and commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Yahya Safavi.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Yahya Safavi.

According to reports from the open-source U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, American air power had been conducting air strikes on the city since October 2001, destroying armored columns, tunnel complexes, and other support facilities. The city was ready by the time the joint assault took place.

The Revolutionary Guards moved in first, setting up a forward post for the assault on Herat. They were joined shortly after by U.S. Special Forces, with an army of 5,000 Northern Alliance fighters led by Ismail Khan. The Americans directed air support while the Shia militias led an insurrection in the city.

American Special Forces, Northern Alliance fighters, and Shia militias moved on the city as the populace took arms against the Taliban with anything they could find. Defeated Taliban fighters fled the city within the same day.

The whole operation was overseen in Tehran by agents of the CIA working with Iranian intelligence officers.  Shortly after the city fell, a Northern Alliance spokesperson said it was the first time Khan set foot in the city since it fell to the Taliban in 1995.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
The Afghan city of Herat in 2001.

“The people are celebrating on the rooftops of their houses. Car drivers are honking their horns,” according to the spokesperson.

In 2005, an Iranian Presidential candidate alluded to the story via an interview with USA Today’s Barbara Slavin, who was able to confirm some parts of the story, while some sources alluded to further collaboration and denied other parts.

Articles

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Recent investigations show that the Department of Defense has issued thousands of other-than-honorable discharges to veterans with mental health and behavioral health diagnoses.


U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and seven other senators introduced legislation to change that.

On April 3, Murphy, veterans, and advocates for veterans held a press conference in Connecticut and called upon Congress to take action.

“I can’t stand the idea of a veteran risking her or his life for this country, suffering the wounds of battle, and then being kicked to the curb as a result of those wounds,” Murphy said. “But that is exactly what has happened to tens of thousands of men and women who have fought and bled for our country.”

“This is common sense,” Murphy added. “We are breaking our promise to those who served.”

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
In 2014, 6 of the 20 veterans per day committing suicide were users of VA services.

Murphy said there is also a stigma that comes with an other-than-honorable discharge that is a heavy burden for veterans to live with. “A lot of these so-called offenses are very minor,” Murphy said.

The legislation Murphy helped introduce would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health and behavioral health services to diagnosed former combat veterans who have been other-than-honorably discharged. The bill would also ensure that veterans receive a decision in a timely manner and requires the VA to justify to Congress any denial of benefits that they issue to a veteran.

Up until recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Murphy said, denied it had the legal authority to provide any care to former combat veterans who received OTH or Bad Paper discharges.

The VA has reversed course on the matter, Murphy said, adding that now it’s time for Congress to act to ensure mental health and behavioral health services are provided to these veterans.

Since January 2009, the Army has “separated” at least 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Murphy.

“These soldiers who fought for our country suffered serious mental health problems or traumatic brain injury as a cost of their service. And we turned our back on them,” Murphy said, adding that they also return home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But instead of being directed to the care and treatment they need, they’re being given other-than-honorable discharges or so-called “bad paper discharges,” disqualifying them from VA care, especially the mental and behavioral health services many of them desperately need, said the senator.

Murphy’s strong support for the bill was echoed by Blumenthal, who is a sponsor but was not at Monday’s press conference.

“This bill will make crystal clear that all combat veterans should have access to the full array of mental and behavioral health care they need and deserve,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot wait for a crisis to provide essential mental health to veterans suffering from the terrible invisible wounds of war.”

He said 20 veterans per day are lost to suicide.

5 things they didn’t teach me at TAP class
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz/Released)

One of those in attendance at the press conference Monday was Conley Monk, a Vietnam veteran from New Haven who developed PTSD as a result of his military service.

In 2014, Monk and four other plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit because they were issued OTH discharges. They won the suit, which was brought on their behalf by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and the Pentagon agreed to upgrade their discharges to honorable.

Another veteran to speak Monday was was Tom Burke, president of the Yale Student Veterans Council and a U.S. Marine corps veteran.

In 2009, Burke was a Marine infantryman in Afghanistan.

It was when he was in the Helmand Province that he witnessed deaths of many young children who were killed by an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade. One of Burke’s responsibilities was to cart away the dismembered bodies.

“I began smoking hash,” Burke said, adding that in a matter of weeks he was charged for misconduct for his drug use and was told he would be kicked out of the Marines.

Burke said he “tried to commit suicide a few times.”

He said he was later locked in a psychiatric hospital and subsequently given an OTH discharge later in 2009.

In 2014, Burke said he applied for an honorable discharge, but was denied.

Burke tells his story often, these days, not to elicit empathy for his own case, but to try and draw attention to the bigger issue of the thousands like him who are being denied benefits.

“Veterans are dying,” Burke said. “These aren’t men and women who are trying to take advantage of the system.”

Margaret Middleton, executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, said veterans need relief.

Under the current system, a veteran trying to get an honorable discharge often “requires the expertise and cost of an attorney and lengthy research,” something that veterans returning from combat shouldn’t be forced to endure, she said.

Murphy concluded: “Our veterans made a commitment to our country when they signed up. I introduced this legislation to make sure that the VA keeps its commitment to help veterans with mental and behavioral health issues. I won’t stop fighting until they get the care and benefits they deserve.”

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