6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

When you first enlist, there isn’t much room in the process for you to get what you want. Yeah, you can choose your MOS and you’ll probably get lucky with an enlistment bonus and some school options, but there’s only so much a recruiter can get you. Once you’re in for a few years and your reenlistment window opens, however, the retention NCO is the person you really want to sweet talk. Retention NCOs hold the real power — they’ll move heaven and earth to keep troops in the unit and the military.


Keep in mind, the retention NCO isn’t a wizard who can fix all your problems with a whisk of a pen. Whatever you do, don’t ever confuse their willingness to work with you as an invitation to make demands. If you start holding your enlistment for ransom, you will get laughed out of the office.

Think of these more as poker chips for retention to ante up in exchange for you putting up more time in the military. The more valuable you are and the more time you are willing to give to the unit, the more “chips” they’ll put down. If you’re just Joe Schmoe hiding in the back of the platoon, don’t expect more than a few of these.

6. Get into a school

An easy win you can score is the option to get into a school whenever the slot opens up. This is a pretty simple request since it doesn’t involve HRC.

When a commander is notified that there’s room in a school opening up, the retention NCO can shuffle your name up to the top of that list.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Just a tip: If you go to The Sabalauski Air Assault School, don’t wear an 82nd patch. Just throwing that out there — but it will be hilarious for every 101st guy there. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

Related: These are the difference between Airborne and Air Assault

5. Choice of duty station

A key goal of the retention NCO is to keep the good troops in the unit, but if you request a change of duty station, they’ll understand the bigger picture here is keeping you in the military.

A change of scenery might also give you a new perspective on the military as a whole.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
You, too, can join in on the military tradition of hating your new duty station, loving your old one, and looking forward to the next one! (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks)

4. Have fun with the ceremony

There are very few moments in anyone’s military career where they have the power to dictate what they want and have it happen. Troops can have fun with where the reenlistment takes place, invite friends and family, and, for a brief period during the ceremony, you’re technically “honorably discharged,” so the enlistment period timer is set back to zero.

Of course, you can’t do anything stupid because the ceremony isn’t done yet and the command and retention will hem your ass up if you make a fool of yourself, but briefly “discharged” troops can laugh at the fact that they can finally put their hands in the pockets of their uniform for a whole ten seconds.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
A CS Chamber sounds funny until you have to take your mask off to say the oath… (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau)

3. Help with promotion

This one is especially helpful for lower enlisted troops looking for a way to prove to the commander that they’re ready to take the next step in the military.

Reenlisting indefinitely won’t make your name appear on the Sergeant First Class List, but it can help an Army Specialist or Corporal get into the Sergeant board.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Retention can help you get to the board. You’re on your own when you’re there. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

2. Change of MOS

Recruiters (usually) don’t lie, but they don’t shine a light on the reality of certain MOS. If you enlisted hoping for a fun and exciting time in that obscure MOS and now you’re feeling some buyer’s remorse, you can finally reclass.

I mean, you can finally learn that everyone has to embrace the suck: just some more than others.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

1. The money

Nothing sounds better than pure, hard-earned cash. The amount you can earn is dependent on a lot of factors, including available funds, time during the fiscal year, your MOS (or what MOS you want), and your time in service. But you can at least squeeze something out of Uncle Sam if you know how and when to push for a reenlistment bonus.

If you don’t want to haggle for anything else on this list, at least get yourself some zeroes on that paperwork. Just be sure to reenlist while you’re deployed in a combat zone so you can get that money tax-free.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Hey! You might finally be able to pay off that ’69 Camaro you got at a 24% interest rate! (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

Military Life

How Silly Putty got its start in the military

It’s the crazy compound that bounces, molds, stretches, snaps — the non-Newtonian fluid that seemingly takes on new properties with each shape. It’s a beloved toy that has been around since the 1940s, but didn’t make its way into the hearts and hands of families until years later. Why? The substance’s original use wasn’t to become a toy at all, in fact, it was created to have tactical uses in World War II. 

Years later when the viscoelastic liquid silicone was rediscovered, it was repurposed into a toy and remains a best seller for Crayola to this day. The business was a slow start, but after a mention in the New Yorker put Silly Putty on the map, more than 250,000 units were sold in three days. Originally intended for adults, manufacturers realized their biggest market was in kids aged 6-12. They went on to create its first commercial, airing during the Howdy Doody Show in 1957. 

The history of Silly Putty

In the midst of WWII, the U.S. was rationing its rubber sources to keep up with production of boots, tires, and other necessary war supplies. This was due to Japan’s invasion of countries that produced rubber in the Pacific Rim. During this time, Americans were encouraged to make their rubber items last as long as possible, and donate any extras they might have on hand.

At the same time, the government began researching rubber alternatives that could be used instead. Synthetic compounds that could be used in its placed were sought after in labs, including General Electric, which was located in New Haven, Connecticut. 

In 1943, researchers combined boric acid with silicone oil to create a “gooey, bouncy material with unique properties.” It’s disputed as to whether James Wright with General Electric, inventor Harvey Chin, or Rob Roy McGregor of Earl Warrick was the original scientist to do so. However, Wright is given credit in Crayola’s history, while Mcgregor received a patent. 

During this time, workers were impressed with Silly Putty for several reasons. It didn’t mold, it had a high melting temperature, it was extremely stretchy and versatile, and it was non-toxic. However, it would not work as a viable replacement for rubber. 

Silly Putty becomes a toy

Silly putty
If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can still buy the original Silly Putty on Amazon.

Years later, in 1949, Silly Putty was re-discovered by Ruth Fallgatter, who owned the Block Shop Toy Store. She got in touch with Peter C.L. Hodgson, a marketing consultant, and the pair began marketing it as a toy. It made its debut at the International Toy Fair in New York in 1950. 

Hodgson put himself deeper into debt to purchase extra product and packaging. He’s credited for coming up with the name Silly Putty and putting it into plastic eggs. They sold for $1 a pop. 

Sales were steadily growing, but with the Korean War, silicone was on short supply — one of the main ingredients to Silly Putty. A year later the shortage was gone and Silly Putty was back on the market.

In 1961 Silly Putty made its way outside the U.S., being sold in the Soviet Union and in Europe, becoming hits in both countries. It also made it into outer space when astronauts from Apollo 8 took it on a lunar orbit in 1968. The surge of popularity turned Hodgson into a multi-millionaire, due to ongoing publicity and sky-rocketing sales. 

After Hodgson’s death in 1976, Crayola obtained the rights and began selling it as part of their line of toys. It was introduced to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001, and to-date,  more than 300 million eggs — that’s 4,000 tons — had been sold.

Today, Silly Putty comes in many colors and scents, including offensive scents for the class clowns among us (vomit and puke), and aromatherapy options that target older users. Small eggs start at $1.99, topping out at $99.99 for a five-pound block. 

Military Life

Why Jungle Warfare School was called a ‘Green Hell’

The U.S. Army first started training troops in the jungles of Panama in 1916, just two years after the opening of the Panama Canal. Training began in earnest in the early 1940s as World War II in the Pacific necessitated the need for soldiers to be well-versed in the tactics of jungle warfare.


The 158th Infantry Regiment even adopted the nickname “Bushmasters” after the vicious pit viper they encountered while training there.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
U.S. soldiers training in Panama.

However, it was not until 1953, as the Korean War was drawing to an end, that the Army finally established a formal school, called the Jungle Operations Training Center. Operations ramped up once again during the 1960s in order to meet the demand for jungle-trained soldiers to fight in Vietnam.

In 1976, the Army realized it would be more efficient to train whole battalions at one time rather than training individuals piecemeal and sending them back to their home station. Those battalions would go through some of the toughest, most grueling training the Army had to offer. The jungle itself provides challenges of its own.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Giant snakes, for one.

The thick, triple canopy and dense foliage made radios all but useless and reduced visibility to just a few yards. Rain and humidity ensured soldiers were constantly wet and the jungle floor was always slick with mud, which the soldiers had to march and crawl through.

There were tree roots and vines on which to trip or become entangled. Other plants offered worse. A manual written for troops stationed in Panama during World War II listed over 100 poisonous or injurious varieties of flora. Leaning or brushing against the wrong plant could lead to some rather uncomfortable conditions.

If the plants weren’t bad enough, there was local wildlife to contend with. Poisonous snakes and bugs surely top the list of unwanted encounters. Enormous spiders would spin giant webs across narrow jungle paths. Snakes waited in the underbrush and in trees. Jim Smit, a National Guard platoon sergeant and Vietnam veteran captured and killed a fifteen-foot boa constrictor during his time at Jungle Warfare School.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
We weren’t kidding about the snakes.

He said it was the best training, short of combat, that any soldier could undertake.

There was also the venomous and dangerous Bushmaster pit viper. Mercifully, the snakes preferred not to make contact with humans, so encounters were rare. Rounding out the dangerous reptiles in the area were the crocodiles that lived in the waterways nearby.

However, the worst encounter for many soldiers was the common mosquito. They are ubiquitous in jungle environments and are a terrible nuisance. Although most bites simply leave soldiers itchy, their most dangerous quality is their ability to carry malaria. In the jungle, a little carelessness can lead to a lot of pain. Failing to properly secure mosquito netting at night could mean waking up covered in mosquito bites. Even with the netting, soldiers weren’t entirely safe. Exposed skin, carelessly pressed against the net while sleeping, would be open to bites.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
A lot of chafing probably goes on too.

It was in this setting that the Army conducted some of the best training and created some of the best unit cohesion possible. The terrible conditions forced soldiers and leaders alike to have to think through situations while not being able to simply go “by the book.”

This is because the jungle is a great equalizer in combat conditions. The thick foliage interferes with radio signals, renders night-vision devices nearly useless, and stops hand-held GPS devices from working properly. Soldiers at Jungle Warfare School could not rely on the technological advantages they were accustomed to.

(jamelneville | YouTube)

 

These circumstances were what made the Jungle Warfare School unique, though. While soldiers learned how to operate in the jungle learned many valuable warfighting skills that are difficult to replicate in other environments.

Although not technically authorized for wear, many students who completed the school wore the Jungle Expert tab or patch.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

Despite the unique nature of the school and the exceptional training it provided, it was not relocated when Fort Sherman closed down in 1999. Soldiers would not have the opportunity to attend Jungle Warfare School again for another fifteen years, when it was reopened in Hawaii in 2014.

Military Life

5 reasons why troops and first responders get along so well

There’re no two groups of Americans that get along quite as well as the military and the first-responder community. It makes sense on a broad level; they’re both occupations filled by people who hope to help their fellow man and make the world a slightly better place.


But it goes much deeper than that — it’s not just a shared, we-got-10-percent-off-our-meal-at-a-restaurant connection.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Civilians just don’t understand the actual amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that happens in both. That fact alone is why so many police officers love ‘Hot Fuzz.’
(Photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Taylor)

They share the same culture

Part of what makes the Armed Forces fun is the inter-service banter exchanged between branches. Funnily enough, first responders playfully mock one another as well.

EMS will throw some jabs in jest at firefighters and firefighters will tell jokes at the police’s expense. Hell, even within the different bureaus, police will riff on each other. Law enforcement officers and firefighters, just like Marines and airmen, will happily mock one another all day long, but treat each other as family when push comes to shove.

This is just one of the many areas in which the two cultures overlap.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
They also come up with the same off-the-wall insults that troops love.
(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pedro A. Rodriguez)

They share the same lingo

Troops say a lot of little things that they don’t realize are uncommon in the civilian world, but the lingo is easily understood by first responders.

The phonetic alphabet is an obvious one, but it makes my veteran heart grow knowing that police also call each other blue falcons.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
The hardest times for both are often the memorial services.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Fowler)

 

They share the same bad days

The sad reality is that the bad days both groups experience can be hard to explain to civilians.

There are fantastic moments that you can be proud to share with your children and your spouse, but helping the world will also show you things that’ll keep you up at night — you can’t know this feeling without experiencing it.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Have you ever been to a fire station? It’s basically a frat house in between calls.
(Photo by Jamal Wilson)

They share a strong bond of brotherhood with their peers

It’s no secret that troops are close to one another — and first responders are no different.

They grow together through shared pain, mockery, and brief moments of brevity until the sh*t hits the fan again. This level of camaraderie is respected across both groups.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Or you enlist for a change of pace but end up doing the same thing in a different uniform.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Octavius Thompson)

 

Many have served in both

The main reason why so many of each community can relate with one another is because many troops leave the service and make a living as a first responder, and vice versa.

During a moment of peace in Basic or Boot Camp, it’s not uncommon to hear a new troop say that they were a volunteer firefighter for a few semesters in college.

Military Life

5 things sailors and marines will fight over when underway, according to a Marine

The Marine Corps and Navy have a complicated relationship at sea. There is no shortage of inter-branch jokes at one another’s expense. Time old classics such as, ‘The Marine Corps is the men’s department of the Navy,’ (which is true) does not inspire loyalty while underway. The military branches are brothers in arms, and just like brothers in real life, they like to beat each other. That is, until the president issues the order to liberate a country or provide humanitarian aid. Life’s boring on ship. Naturally Marines and sailors will always find things to bicker about.

1. Waiting in line

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

An argument between Marines and sailors always breaks out at the head of the line, especially at chow time. The Marine Corps has early chow and late chow. The Navy does as well but they take it to another level. Instead of having a separate line for people on post or at work, and be civilized, they just cut in front of the line like heathens. This, of course, causes problems when one gets between a devil dog and his chow. By the end of the first month it is guaranteed that new rules will be set in place because of the culture clash.

2. E5 and below working parties

Every time there is a RAS, also known as a Resupply at Sea, the intercom will announce an E5 and below working party. The Navy promotes faster, thus, they will have more E5’s than the Marines stationed on board. However, a Marine infantry sergeant who has served multiple combat deployments is going to have a few choice words about doing bush league tasks like that. In the Navy, one doesn’t get respect until they become an E6.

3. Who drinks more

Marines do. This one is a given, Marines can out-drink any sailor in any hemisphere. It’s not even a contest. Also, Corpsman with the Fleet Marine Force count as one of us. So, although a Corpsman maybe out-drinks a Marine it doesn’t count because he’s cool.

4. The gym

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trevor Hagan, an assaultman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, exercises in the gym.

The Navy’s version of a POG is a button pusher. The Marines aboard the ship need to weight train because it is part of their job to be in top physical shape. These are the guys who, if the president wants a country invaded in 24 hours, are landing on the beach. The sailor on social media all day in his office doesn’t need to be in the gym. Worst yet, they don’t know how to train correctly and get in the way. Eventually, the ship will have to divide the gym into blocks when one branch has access to it without the other. Marines won’t budge on this one: your ship, our gym, stay out.

5. Extra duties makes everyone extra petty

The ship also needs help with other duties in the kitchen, the ship store, security and watch on the command deck. Drafting Marines into these roles is a double-edged sword. If crew as a whole gets along things will be quiet and uneventful. That’s the exception, not the rule.

Every single one of these altercations will result in pettiness on both sides. The Navy engineers will turn off the air conditioning in the Marine berthing. The Marines running the ship store will give priority to their friends because the sailors cut in line at chow. If a port allows some adventure everyone will be scattered to the wind. If port is limited to a small area with beer, there is probably going to be a fist fight. When sh*t needs to get done, everyone will put their differences aside and accomplish the mission. When there is no clear mission, both branches will always clash underway. ‘Rah.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How troops use a combat scythe in Afghanistan

Picture yourself on a foot patrol in Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries in the world where the majority of the population hates the fact that you’re there.


Now, imagine you’re the “lead” of that foot patrol (typically the combat engineer who is looking for IEDs buried in the ground) and you spot a suspicious device ahead with a command wire sticking out of the dirt.

For most of us, it’s not a good idea to approach, especially if that wire trails off toward a nearby compound — it’s a freaking trap. But for troops serving in Afghanistan, it’s just another day at the office.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Counter-IED teams locate roadside bombs using Valon metal detectors. (Photo from Army.mil)

Although most IEDs are considered primitively built with limited resources, the grunts on the ground have a clever way of dealing with ’em: the combat scythe.

Related: This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

Famously known as an agricultural tool, ground pounders use them to conduct a “hands-on” inspection of a potential threat from up to 12-feet away. The operator will extend out the scythe and use its rounded tip to tug and drag out the device for an exam.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
A Marine and his trusty scythe will never run out of batteries. (USMC photo by Cpl. William J. Jackson)

By deploying his trusty scythe, a troop can safely determine if that bump in the ground is indeed an IED and call for a controlled detonation of the affected area. Of course, if it’s a false alarm, then that foot patrol proceeds onward without fear.

Not every IED can be figured out with a solid poking, though. If that IED is trickier than usual, the patrol will call upon the services of Explosive Ordnance Disposal to access and, typically, blow the sh*t out of the device.

On the bright side, controlled detonations are pretty epic to watch. They’re allied forces’ way of telling the bad guys ,”Not today, f*cker.”

That is all.

Military Life

Keep that New Year’s fitness resolution with vet-owned supplements

February is here, football season is over, and Spring is around the corner. Summer — swimsuit season — will soon be upon you. There’s no more time for excuses; kick your fitness regimen into high gear.


You know, the regimen you resolved to implement just one month ago.

Eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. The gym you joined is banking on you not going. Ever. There are many statistics about the military-veteran community. This doesn’t have to be one of them. Enter Ranger Nutrition.

Scott Hardesty was a 26-year-old Army Airborne Ranger. During one jump, he hit the ground with a partially-deployed chute — and he hit it hard. Now, he’s a disabled veteran who struggles with back issues daily.

Working out keeps those issues from overtaking his entire life.

Like many people who train daily, he takes supplements to augment his workouts. And, like many of us, he found so much of what was out there to be unappealing and even found some outright ineffective. Unlike many people, Hardesty has chemist friends at UC Berkeley.

We were at dinner,” Hardesty says, “And eventually you get around to complaining. Protein tastes like chalk, pre-workout makes me shake, and BCAAs taste terrible.

Their response: “Wanna make some stuff?”

What they came up with are American-made, all-natural supplements that actually taste good and work like they’re supposed to.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Scott Hardesty, founder and Army Ranger, uses his own products.

Hardesty let his friends try what they made and they loved it.

So, Scott Hardesty decided to make more — more of the products he wanted to take. In the video above, he even shows off his personal workout mixes, using Ranger Nutrition products. Eventually, he made it a business.

Ranger Nutrition is more than just a responsible, vet-owned business. It’s in a partnership with Lift for the 22, a veteran-run organization that provides gym memberships to disabled vets, free of charge.


Hardesty is good friends with Lift for the 22’s founder, Carter Davis, and donates five percent of all Ranger Nutrition sales to the organization.

Ranger Nutrition products do really taste good and perform exactly as they say they do. No shakiness, no nausea, and they’re easily stackable. Best of all, if you aren’t into powders or shakes, they have many products in pill form.

If you do like powders, Ranger Candy BCAA tastes far better than anything at GNC (and it’s actually really good) and speeds recovery time to a very noticeable degree. It’s an amazing product.

The other standouts are Ranger’s Whey Protein shakes (the first that didn’t make me wretch) and the XT Catalyst combined with MAXXOUT pre-workout — both amazing for weight training days. Ranger’s pre-workout also kicked cardio sessions into another level.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Ranger Nutrition’s product line.

You can buy Ranger Nutrition products from its website. Hardesty even invites purchasing just a sample pack — you won’t be disappointed.

I wanted to create products I wanted to take,” Hardesty says. “Ones that I wish I could have taken while I was active in my military career. If you are ready to take your workouts to an entirely different level of performance, give our products a try. You will be extremely glad you did.

Catch more of Scott Hardesty’s fitness tips on American Grit.

Military Life

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

The title of “Military Spouse” is a descriptor that those married to service members wear proudly — and with good reason. There is a sense of pride in being married to someone who has dedicated their life and career to defending our great nation.


Military life affects the entire family to varying degrees and finding others who can relate to what you are going through is important. So, it makes sense to identify as a “Military Spouse” and be an active part of that community.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
We’re a family and it’s beautiful. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Calvin Shamoon)

But is there a downside?

Maybe.

My husband recently retired from the military after 20 years in the Marine Corps. We were ready for this transition. We knew exactly where we wanted to retire, we had friends and family in the area, and, having already lived in the location in the past, we had a few roots already planted.

I was a very active part of the military-spouse community and, over time, I became very well-versed in making friends and adapting to living in certain areas for only a few years at a time. Even today, we still find ourselves gravitating towards military families when it comes to social gatherings.

But 18 months into this “retirement” phase of our lives together, I am feeling a little bit lost.

It’s not that I’m getting the itch to move — I have jokingly told my husband that I just want to be buried in the backyard because I am not moving again. But I do feel a loss of identity when it comes to friendships.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
No one gets the military community like the military-spouse community. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy)

Making friends with folks who have lived in one area their entire lives is a bit challenging. It’s not because they’re not open to being friends with a newcomer, it’s because I find myself so far out of my comfort zone. The zone where, no matter what, another military spouse and I instantly had at least one thing in common upon first meeting. So I struggle to create long-lasting, meaningful friendships (that are so valuable to my mental health) in a community of people who have been around each other their entire adult lives.

Was there something I wish I had done differently while my husband was on active duty? I’m not sure. I don’t regret the many incredible, life-long friends I made, even if they are spread out across the world. I don’t regret being active in the military-spouse community because I learned so much and grew as a person.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Military spouses of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 visit local children at the Life is Beautiful Daycare Center in Ishikawa, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonah Baase)

But I do wish that I had spent more time making connections with those outside of the community. I had “civilian family” friends, sure, but it feels like a life skill I could have spent more time honing.

Just like active duty service, transition out of military service impacts the entire family. There are many aspects of the transition to be considered, but one that I really wish I had realized was being careful of putting so much stock in my identity as a military spouse, especially when it comes to the friends I made.

I don’t wish that I had spent less time with military friends, I don’t wish that I had shied away from participating in the community, but I do wish I had spent more time thinking of life after my husband’s military service in regards to my own identity.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Journey from Secret Service to Airman

 For one Airman, deciding to switch careers from a law enforcement tradition to serving her country was no easy decision.

Joining the Air Force wasn’t an easy decision for Senior Airman Shayna Dunn, 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron network manager operator, but looking back she feels it was the right one for her.

“My father was a Marine and he met my mother while stationed in Germany,” said Dunn, who grew up in Stafford, Virginia. “By the time I was born, my father was no longer in the military, and was working as a Capital Police officer.”

While in high school, Dunn developed an interest in criminal justice from influences from her father and television.

Senior Airman Shayna Dunn, 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron network manager operator, works on a cyber-related issue at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 1, 2021. As a member of the 690th COS, Dunn’s unit provides agile cyber combat support to Pacific Air Forces, enabling warfighters the ability to leverage advanced weaponry against adversaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jermaine Ayers)

“I used to watch a lot of criminal justice shows like ‘NCIS’ or ‘Criminal Minds’ and I ended up taking a class in high school and it piqued my interest,” she said.

Dunn attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

After college, Dunn was offered an opportunity to work with the U.S. Secret Service, but while training, an injury caused her to rethink her plans.

“One day while training, I ended up fracturing my wrist and during my recovery I was tasked with more administrative work,” said Dunn. “During this time I had to decide if I wanted to continue down my current path or did I want to do something else. On one hand, I was in a position where I should have been content with this job, however, on the other hand, something internally just didn’t feel right.”

Secret Service to Airman
Senior Airman Shayna Dunn, 690th Cyberspace Operations Squadron network manager operator, provides cyber network operations at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 1, 2021. After technical school, Dunn received orders to JBPHH where she helps to provide global cyber supremacy for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jermaine Ayers)

After much deliberation, Dunn decided to resign from the U.S. Secret Service and start on a new path by joining the Air Force.

Breaking the news to her family and friends about her decision wasn’t easy.

“To some, my decision was surprising,” said Dunn. “It took a little while for people to understand where I was coming from, which made it difficult for me because I didn’t want to let anyone down, I didn’t want to let my family down, my friends down.”

Even though it took Dunn a year to make it Basic Military Training, it wasn’t until she arrived that she felt confident with her decision to enlist.

After being assigned to the 690th COS for her first assignment, Dunn earned several awards, made Senior Airman below-the-zone, and met her future husband.

Secret Service to Airman
Robert and Shayna Dunn celebrate her birthday at the Sky Waikiki Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, February 9, 2020. Robert and Shayna met a little after she arrived to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and after their first date they’ve been together ever since. (courtesy photo)

“If I had to describe Shayna, she is humble and caring, always putting others before herself,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Dunn, 690th COS cyber systems operator.

To some, the uncertainty of not knowing the outcome of a decision can be exhausting, but for Shayna, her difficult choice proved to be worthwhile.


-Feature image: Courtesy photo via DVIDS

Articles

Military applicants will now take same drug tests as active duty members

Drug testing for all applicants for military service is expanding to include the same 26-drug panel used for active military members, the Defense Department’s director of drug testing and program policy said.


The change, effective April 3, 2017, is due to the level of illicit and prescription medication abuse among civilians, as well as the increase in heroin and synthetic drug use within the civilian population, Army Col. Tom Martin explained.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Army Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a ceremonial swearing-in of Delayed Entry Program enlistees at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

Currently, military applicants are tested for marijuana; cocaine; amphetamines, including methamphetamine; and designer amphetamines such as MDMA —also known as “Molly” or “Ecstasy” — and MDA, also known as “Adam,” he said.

The expanded testing will include those drugs as well as heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and a number of synthetic cannabinoids and benzodiazepine sedatives, Martin said.

Related: 13 hilarious urinalysis memes every troop will understand

The new standards apply to all military applicants, including recruits entering through military entrance processing stations, as well as appointees to the service academies, incoming members of the ROTC, and officer candidates undergoing initial training in an enlisted status.

Ensuring the Best Enter Military

With drug use incompatible with military service, the expanded testing is meant to ensure readiness by admitting only the most qualified people, Martin said. Incoming service members will be held to the same standards as current military members, who are subject to random drug testing up to three times a year, he added.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
It’s not like at the doc’s office. It’s so much more than that.

“Military applicants currently are tested on a small subset of drugs that military members are tested on,” Martin said. “Applicants need to be aware of the standard we hold our service members to when they join the service.”

About 279,400 applicants are processed for entry into military service each year, with roughly 2,400 of them testing positive for drugs, Martin said. Data indicates that about 450 additional people will test positive using the expanded testing, he said.

Policy Details

The updated policy allows applicants who test positive to reapply after 90 days, if the particular service allows it, Martin said. Any individual who tests positive on the second test is permanently disqualified from military service, he said, but he noted that the services have the discretion to apply stricter measures and can disqualify someone after one positive test.

Current policy allows for different standards for reapplication depending on the type of drug, Martin said. The updated policy is universal and allows only one opportunity to reapply for military service regardless of drug type, he said.

The update to Department of Defense Instruction 1010.16 was published Feb. 27.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

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These tactical weathermen predict the rain and can bring the pain

Special operations forces are a diverse lot.


The Green Berets can bring in engineers, comms specialists, and even weapons specialists. The Navy SEALs bring their own lethal skills, as do Navy EOD personnel. The Air Force, though, has shown it can deploy surgical teams that can operate in remote conditions, combat controllers, pararescuemen, and other specialists.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
A Special Operations Weatherman with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron takes readings during training at Fort Carson, Colo., April 21, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Perhaps the most interesting of those other specialists are the Special Operations Weathermen. Yeah, that’s right – the Air Force has trained meteorologists who can go in with other special operations personnel. Now, you can understand a unit like a special operations surgical team, but why a weatherman? At first glance, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Members of Air Force Special Operations weather teams participate in a training scenario on a CH-47 Chinook during Emerald Warrior at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on March 7, 2012. (USAF photo)

Believe it or not, weather matters in military operations. Air drops in Sicily in 1943 and during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day were greatly affected by the wind. Today, even with GPS, air-dropping supplies depends on knowing what the wind will be like. While the “little groups of paratroopers” are legendary, the better outcome is to have most of the troops and supplies land together.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Staff Sgt. Stephen Petche, 10th Combat Weather Squadron, takes observations after releasing a weather balloon during a training exercise July 31, 2013 at the Eglin Range, Fla. SOWTs provide immediate and accurate weather information and forecasts deep behind enemy lines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Victoria Porto)

These “weather commandos” need to attend eight schools from across the country to earn their gray beret, and spend 61 weeks in training. This involves everything from learning how to forecast the weather and to take the observations to learning small unit tactics to handling both water survival and underwater egress training. These personnel even attend the Airborne School at Fort Benning.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Staff Sgt. Christopher Allen, a special operations weather specialist from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, scans Sendai Airport prior to conducting a weather observation here March 16. Sudden snow and low visibility threatened to prevent aircraft from landing at the airfield. A team from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron out of Kadena Air Base, along with Japanese emergency management organizations, cleared a section of the runway and re-established the control tower to direct flights in and out of the airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

Even after those 61 weeks, when they become Special Operations Weathermen, these “Weather Warriors” will spend a year in further training before they deploy.

They will head out, not only to help predict the wind and rain, but to help bring the pain on the bad guys.

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6 reasons why veterans would gear up and head back to war

As veterans, we’ve all thought about signing back up at one time or another. But what would it take to truly get us back in uniform, to don all that heavy gear and take the fight to the enemy as we’ve always done?


Though we all have to take into consideration all the formations, bull-sh*t we receive from the chain of command — and let’s not forget all those wonderful uniform inspections. Everyone loves those.

With all the crap that comes with serving, many veterans still miss some aspects of military life.

Let’s gear up and go to war! (Images via Giphy)

Check out our reasons why we would gear back up to take on the bad guys.

1. If another major terrorist attack happens

The Sept. 11 attacks stirred up patriotism in millions of Americans, and some joined the military during that period just to get a little revenge.

I represent ‘Merica! (Image via Giphy)

2. For a huge bonus check

Everyone wants to line their pockets with extra beer money.

And a case of beer! (Image via Giphy)

3. If your military family went as well

The military brother and sisterhood have a very tight bond, you f*ck with one brother or sister — you f*ck with whole while family.

You said it girl. (Image via Giphy)

4. If you just couldn’t find a good enough job that suits you

Because office work just didn’t satisfy that inner combat operator in you.

These guys were all former snipers. True story. (Image via Giphy)

5. To feel that combat adrenaline rush again

Shooting and blowing up the bad guys makes an operator feel great about themselves. It’s a morale booster.

He nailed every shot too. He’s that good. (Image via Giphy)

6. To get some adventure

Post-military life is hard to adjust too. Sometimes you just want to leave the homeland and get back into the sh*t.

Can we go with you? (Images via Giphy)To all of our military family already forward deployed — we salute you.

Can you think of any more reasons to throw those cammies back on? Comment below.

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Marines will get upgraded personal water filters

The Marine Corps is investing in a next-generation water purification system that will allow individual Marines to get safe, drinkable water straight from the source.


The Individual Water Purification System Block II is an upgrade to the current version issued to all Marines.

“With IWPS II, Marines are able to quickly purify fresh bodies of water on the go,” said Jonathan York, team lead for Expeditionary Energy Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “This allows them to travel farther to do their mission.”

Finding ways to make small units more sustainable to allow for distributed operations across the battlefield is a key enabler to the Marine Corps becoming more expeditionary. Developing water purification systems that can be easily carried while still purifying substantial amounts of water is part of that focus.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Master Sgt. Kevin Morris prepares the Individual Water Purification System II for safe, drinkable water straight from the source. IWPS II is an upgrade to the current IWPS issued to all Marines. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The current system filters bacteria and cysts, but Marines still have to use purification tablets to remove viruses. That takes time – as long as 15 minutes for the chemical process to work before it is safe to drink. IWPS II uses an internal cartridge that effectively filters micro pathogens, providing better protection from bacterial and viral waterborne diseases.

“IWPS II will remove all three pathogens, filtering all the way down to the smallest virus that can be found,” said Capt. Jeremy Walker, project officer for Water Systems. “We have removed the chemical treatment process, so they can drink directly from the fresh water source.”

IWPS II can also connect to Marines’ man-packable hydration packs.

“The system is quite simple and easy to use,” said Walker. “The small filter connects directly with the existing Marine Corps Hydration System/Pouch or can be used like a straw directly from the source water.  The system has a means to backflush and clean the filter membrane, extending the service life. The system does not require power, just suction.”

The current system was fielded in 2004 and used by small raids and reconnaissance units in remote environments where routine distilled water was unavailable. Since then, the system has been used in combat and disaster relief missions.

Also read: Here’s the Army’s awesome new gear to protect soldiers

IWPS II is expected to be fielded to Marines in fiscal year 2018.

“IWPS II will be especially helpful for deployed Marines in emergency situations when they are far from their base to ensure they have a source of water without resupply,” said Walker.

IWPS is one of the many water systems fielded by MCSC’s Combat Support Systems. To read more about the capabilities fielded by CSS click here.

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