Jumping from the military into a civilian role and vacancy is a huge change to make in your life and, of course, there’s a lot of differences that need to be taken into account. To succeed in this unforgiving job-seekers world, you need to be prepared and you need to have the right mindset and drive.
Even for someone who wasn’t in the military, finding a job can be stressful enough which is why it’s, even more overwhelming for veterans.
So, to ensure things go as easy as possible and you have everything you need to succeed, here are eight essential things you need to put into your resume to make sure it stands out from the crowd and secures you that all-important interview.
1. Define the Objective
One of the most important things to remember when creating your civilian resume is that you need a clear goal/objective to be defined. You need to know exactly what job you’re applying for before you even start writing.
“If you already have a resume written, you’ll need to edit it or every job application or vacancy that you apply for. Be sure to put the job clear in your mind, so you know exactly what kind of language to use and what style you need to be writing in,” shares Paul Taylor, a resume editor for Paper Fellows.
2. What Can You Do For Me?
When writing your civilian resume, you need to make sure that you’re speaking to the employer who is reading your resume and answering all the questions they asked, or slipped into, the job advertisement.
You need to be answering the questions and stating who are you and what you can bring to the table for this vacancy. Why are you the person they need for this job? For this, you’ll need to research the company and the job description, but this can be done easily using the internet.
3. Assuming No Military Knowledge
Not everybody is going to understand military terminology, and it’s important that you remember that when writing your resume. When it comes to listing out roles, individual titles, awards, training programs and anything else military-related, make sure that you put it all into layman’s terms.
4. Highlight Your Experience
During your time in the military, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time building up your skills, having lots of experiences and completing many achievements. All these achievements, even if you’ve won any awards, need to be highlighted in your resume.
This is what your employer is looking out for so make sure you put it near the top, so it’s the first aspect of you that they see.
5. Use Online Tools
When writing your resume, you need to make sure that it’s free from errors and mistakes which could cost you the interview. Of course, not everybody is writer so here is a list of tools you can use to make things easier;
To Vs Too – An online blog you can use to brush up on your knowledge of how to use grammar properly.
State of Writing – An online blog that’s full of resources on everything about writing professionally.
Easy Word Count – A tool for actively tracking and monitoring the word count of your resume.
Cite It In – An online tool you can use to manage and properly format your citations, quotes and references.
Grammarix – An online tool for improving and enhancing your knowledge of grammar for your resume.
6. Never Downplay Your Military History
When it comes to the fact that you’ve been in the military, make sure you never play it down and highlight it throughout your resume; be proud of what you’ve done. There are a ton of employers out there who wholeheartedly recognize the benefits and skillsets that come with hiring veterans – so make sure you’re clear about it.
7. Avoid Gory Details
If you’re a veteran who found themselves in live and active combat situations, it’s important you remember to leave out the details, such as accounts and experiences.
Of course you can state what roles you played – especially if you were managing a team – but a lot of what you could say might make your employer very squeamish.
8. Test Improve Your Resume
Once you’ve written the perfect resume, try sending it out to a few places and see if you hear back from them. If you hear nothing back within a week or two, be sure to edit your resume and make changes before sending it off to other places.
Continue to edit and improve your resume, and you’ll be amazed at how many interviews you can secure for yourself.
To summarise, these are the things you need to put in your resume right now;
Defining your goal
Answer the job description
Rewrite resume in layman’s terms
Share your experience
Use online tools for help
Never shy away from your history
Edit out the details
Analyze and enhance
Mary Walton is a writer whose work on resume writing has appeared in the Huffington Post and elsewhere. She helps with resume editing and proofreading at Resumention. Mary contributes to online education by helping PhD students with dissertation writing, and she blogs at Simple Grad.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the day the world rejoices, the skies part and veterans are offered countless freebies. This year, retailers across the country are offering deep discounts on everything from car washes to televisions. Make sure you double check the official site information and specific rules before heading out to claim your discount. You’ll need to bring your CAC, be in uniform or have proof of your veteran status to get the discounts. Some promotions include fine print that indicate participating locations only, so call ahead or reach out on social media first.
Dining discounts available all November
Eat’n Park All active and former United States military personnel will receive a special 10% discount for the entire month of November.
Golden Corral From November 1 – November 30, 2020, all active and former military members can pick up a free “thank you meal” promotional card that’s good for one free lunch or dinner buffet and beverage. The promotional card can be used Monday – Thursday after 11am from November 1 – May 31, 2021. One promotional card per person.
McCormick and Schmick’s Free Entree Veterans and Gold Star families (parents and spouses) can enjoy a half priced lunch or dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s on Sunday, November 8th, 2020.
Texas de Brazil Veterans receive 25% off dinner Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 12.
Tucanos Free Churrasco Meal with the purchase of another Churrasco meal or a ½ price meal available for veterans dining solo). Plus, post a selfie at Tucano’s and get a free dessert certificate. Mon., Nov. 9 through Wed., Nov. 11.
Dining discounts available on Wednesday, November 11, 2020
54th Street Grill & Bar Free entree up to $12 on Veterans Day (Wed 11-11-20) for Veterans + Active Duty who dine inside 54th Street. #54supportsvets
7-Eleven Get a free coffee or Big Gulp on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day. Download the 7-Eleven app and sign in or register.
Ahipoke Bowl On Nov. 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off poke bowls. Dine-in or take out.
Applebee’s Veterans and Active Duty Military can select a free meal from a limited menu on veterans Day. Provide proof of service required.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on food and retail purchases.
Buffalo Wild Wings Free Wings Veterans and active duty military who dine-in at their local B-Dubs can receive a free one order of boneless wings and a side of fries.
Calhoun’s All veterans and active duty military members can enjoy a free meal.
California Pizza Kitchen On Veterans Day, all veterans or active duty military personnel will be able to select a free entree from a special Veterans Day menu including pizza, salads and pasta. Please come in uniform or bring your military ID or other proof of service.
Cantina Laredo Veterans and active duty military can receive a complimentary meal on Wed., Nov. 11.
Cattlemens Steakhouse Cattlemens Steakhouse offers current and former military members a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner.
CentraArchy Restaurants CentraArchy Restaurants are showing their gratitude by honoring veterans and active duty military service members with 50% off an entrée.
Chicken Salad Chick Chicken Salad Chick is offering a free Chick Special and regular size drink to any veteran or active-duty military personnel who visits.
Chili’s Grill & Bar All veterans and active duty military personnel can choose a complimentary meal from a select menu on Veterans Day 2020.
Cicis Pizza Free adult buffet with valid active duty or retired military ID on 11/11/20.
Coco’s Bakery & Restaurant Receive a free slice of pie for all Veterans and Active Duty Military with proof of service plus buy one get one free entree for breakfast, lunch or dinner on Veterans Day.
Colton’s Steak House Veterans eat free from 11am-4pm. Free entree valid for all active, former, or retired military when ordering from Veterans Day menu.
Connors Steak & Seafood Connors Steak & Seafood locations in TN, AL, and FL are offering 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree to all active duty and retired service members with military ID or in uniform.
Cotton Patch Cafe Veterans and active duty may enjoy a free Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken on veterans Day.
Country Cookin All active, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military are invited to dine and receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store During Military Family Appreciation Month Cracker Barrel will offer in-store specials on Veterans Day for military veterans and promotions throughout November to support military families in partnership with Operation Homefront. On 11/11, veterans can receive a free slice of Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake with their meal.
Denny’s All active, non-active or retired military personnel at all participating Denny’s restaurants nationwide will receive a free Build Your Own Grand Slam breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 5 a.m. to noon. Diners must show ID to receive this offer.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Free Pulled Pork Classic Sandwich this Veterans Day. To redeem in-store, veterans and current military personnel must present a military ID or valid proof of service.
Drake’s Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary meal at participating locations.
Dunkin’ Donuts On November 11, Veterans and active duty military can enjoy a free donut at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide, no purchase necessary.
Einstein Bros. Bagels On 11/11/20 veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee.
Famous Dave’s On Nov. 11 in honor of veterans Day all former and current military personnel will receive a free two meat Combo. Dine-in or To-Go.
Farmer Boys Wednesday, Nov. 11 veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service get a free big cheese cheeseburger.
Firebirds Complimentary meals to active duty military and veterans on Veterans Day.
Friendly’s Free Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Friendly’s is treating veterans and active military, with a valid military ID or honorable discharge card, to a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink. The burger can be upgraded to a cheeseburger for free.
Glory Days Grill Free appetizer or a regular order of boneless or grilled boneless wings.
Gold Star Chili Enjoy a free 3-way and drink on Veterans Day. For all who served.
Green Mill Restaurant and Bar Veterans and Active Duty Military will receive a free lunch or dinner dine-in meal at participating locations. Must show proof of service, and beverages and gratuity are not included in free meal.
Hamburger Stand All veterans and active duty with a valid military ID receive a free hamburger, regular fries, and a small Pepsi.
hopdoddy burger bar Free Classic Burger with Cheese for veterans on 11/11/20. Redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone.
Houlihan’s Receive a free entrée from a select menu with proof of veteran status or active service in the military.
Huddle House Huddle House is offering a free MVP Breakfast Platter to all active military members and veterans with proper I.D.
Huey Magoo’s Treat a veteran or active military member with proper I.D. to a free meal for one when you purchase a meal for one and two beverages on Veterans Day.
Hy-Vee Free Breakfast Enjoy a free curbside pickup breakfast for veterans and active military members November 11, 2020 from 6 – 10 a.m.
IHOP All active duty and Veterans are invited to come in and enjoy Free Red, White, & Blue Pancakes on Monday, November 11, from 7 am to 7 pm.
J Christopher’s Wednesday, November 11th, those who served receive a free meal.
Joe’s Crab Shack On November 11th, all veterans can enjoy 20% off. Valid for parties up to 4.
Juice It Up! This Veterans Day all veterans and active military will receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie.
Kolache Factory Enjoy one free kolache (any kind) and one cup of freshly brewed Katz coffee (any size). All veteran and active military with government-issued military photo ID or DD 214.
Kwikfill November 11th veterans receive free coffee at Kwik Fill locations.
Lamar’s Donuts Free donut and a 12oz coffee for all veterans and active military on Veterans Day.
Little Caesars Pizza On Wednesday, November 11, from 11am to 2pm, veterans and active military members can receive a free Lunch Combo, which features four slices of Little Caesars popular Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP!™ Dish pizza, paired with a 20-ounce Pepsi product.
Logan’s Roadhouse On Nov. 11, all active duty and retired U.S. military personnel are invited to enjoy a free meal from the American Roadhouse menu in honor of Veterans Day. This offer is available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at all Logan’s Roadhouse restaurants nationwide.
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), active and former military can enjoy a complimentary dessert, and a 20% discount with proof of service. Veterans receive 20% off the entire month of November for ‘Military Family Month.’
Luna Grill Luna is offering a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from Wed., November 11 through Fri., November 13 to any active duty or veteran member of the armed forces at all locations.
Macaroni Grill This Veterans Day, 11/11, all veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti with military ID.
Max & Erma’s On Veterans Day, participating Max & Erma’s locations are celebrating veterans and active military personnel with a free cheeseburger, endless fries, fountain drink and a chocolate chip cookie.
McCormick & Schmick’s Veterans of the Military, National Guard, Gold Star Parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée off a select menu on Sunday, November 8, 2020.
Menchie’s Free Frozen Yogurt On Veterans Day, all Veterans and military personnel with a military ID or proof of service will receive a free six ounce frozen yogurt any time of day on Veterans Day 11.11. Show a valid ID or be in uniform to receive.
Mission BBQ Veterans and active duty will receive a free sandwich on Veterans Day, 11/11/20.
MOD Pizza Sign to receive a buy-one get-one free MOD-size pizza or salad with military ID by November 8 and MOD will send you a coupon on November 9 to redeem on #VeteransDay.
Mountain Mike’s Enjoy 15% off any large pizza this Veterans Day. (coupon code: 178130)
Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub On 11/11 from 11am – 5pm, Veterans and active military can receive a free entrée from a special Veterans Day menu with the purchase of any other entrée. Dine-in only.
O’Charley’s All active and retired military service members are invited to enjoy a free meal from O’Charley’s. Restaurant participation may vary by location. O’Charley’s also offers military discount of 10 percent off all year long.
Perry’s Steakhouses Free pork chop dinner to U.S. active military and veterans with the purchase of a dinner entree.
Petro Stopping Centers All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.
Pie Five Pizza On Veterans Day get a free personal pizza at participating locations. Dine-in only.
Pilot Flying J/U.S. Pilot All active-duty and retired military veterans get a free breakfast including a coffee, Monday through Sunday, Nov. 9-15. The offer is available via the app.
Quaker Steak & Lube All military veteran, active duty and reservist service members receive free or discounted meals (up to $15) plus a free non-alcoholic beverage at participating locations on 11/11/20.
Rapid Fire Pizza Veterans and active duty military get a free dessert pizza or Cheezy Bread with purchase of an entree on Veterans Day this Wednesday, November 11th.
Red Lobster On Wednesday, November 11th to thank Veterans, active duty military and reservists, Red Lobster will offer a free appetizer or dessert from their select Veterans Day menu. To receive offer, show a valid military ID.
Red Robin All Veterans and Active Duty Military get a free dine-in Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries. For 2020, to reduce crowding, this offer is available Nov. 12 – Nov. 30.
Rock & Brews Rock & Brews is offering all active duty military, veterans, and first responders a free pulled pork sandwich or strawberry fields salad on veterans Day at participating locations nationwide.
TA Stopping Centers All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu that includes a beverage on Wed., Nov. 11, 2020, at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.
Taco John’s On Wednesday, Nov. 11, all active, reserve, retired and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military can get a free small Beef #1 Combo Meal who redeem the offer in the Taco John’s App.
Tap House Grill On Veterans Day, all active, inactive and retired military personnel can get a free meal and a Sam Adams pint while supplies last.
TCBY First 6oz are free for veterans and active military on 11-11-20.
Texas Roadhouse is handing out vouchers for a free meal to all Veterans and Active Duty military from 11 am to 2 pm on Veterans Day. Vouchers will be distributed in the parking lots at Texas Roadhouse locations.
Torchy’s Tacos On Nov. 11, veterans and active military can enjoy a complimentary taco and beverage from a select Veterans Day menu.
Twin Peaks In honor of veterans Day, all veterans, active duty military and reservists can eat for free from a select menu on Wednesday, November 11th.
Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill 11/11/20 military members (past and present) can enjoy a free entree or individual pizza.
Wendy’s Wendy’s nationwide are offering a free small breakfast combo with valid military ID. No purchase necessary.
Wienerschnitzel On Veterans Day, 11/11, Wienerschnitzel is offering a free Chili Dog with a small fry and a small Pepsi to Veterans and Active Duty Servicemembers. Bring your military ID or dress in a uniform.
Yard House Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11 with valid military ID. Offer is valid for dine in only.
Ziggi’s Coffee Veterans get a free 16 oz drink on November 11, 2020 at all Ziggi’s Coffee locations.
buybuy BABY — Veterans, active-duty military and spouses get 25% off their entire purchase in-store and online, November 11 to 14.
Columbia Sportswear — Military personnel receive 20% off at all Columbia brand and outlet stores on November 11.
David’s Bridal — Active and retired military members and their immediate families (and fiancés) get an additional 10% off the entire in-store purchase from November 9 through 11. Not valid online.
Rack Room Shoes — Military personnel and their dependents get a 20% discount off the entire purchase on November 11.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service — On November 11, MILITARY STAR card holders will receive various deals, including 10 cents off every gallon of fuel purchased at Exchange Expresses, double rewards points on online and in-store Exchange purchases, $10 off Exchange mall concession or kiosk purchases of $25 or more and 15% off food orders at participating Exchange restaurants. Beyond MILITARY STAR card-exclusive offers, Exchange Expresses and participating restaurants will be serving free coffee on November 11. Exchange Redbox video rental locations will also offer two movies for the price of one November 6 through 13.
Big Lots — In honor of Veterans Day, Big Lots announced they are offering a year-round 10% “Always On” discount for active military personnel and veterans who are members of the company’s Big Rewards program.
While Kill Cliff normally offers a 15 percent discount, on Veterans Day they’re extending it to 30 percent off for veterans. Many of their products purchased result in 100% of proceeds donated to specific military charities.
Target — Active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families get a 10% military discount between November 1 and 11. After eligibility has been verified online, an exclusive, one-time use 10% Target Circle offer will be available to use in-store or online.
Health and Fitness
Academy Sports + Outdoors – Military receive 10% off their entire purchase through Nov. 11. This deal is available in stores and online.
Great Clips – Retired and active service members can receive a free haircut or a card, which is redeemable through Dec. 11, for a free haircut. Nonmilitary customers who get their hair cut on Nov. 11 will also receive a card, redeemable for a free cut, to give to a service member.
Sport Clips – Some locations will offer free haircuts to veterans and active-duty service members and will donate $1 for every haircut provided that day to the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Help a Hero Scholarship fund.
Office Depot/OfficeMax – Veterans, active-duty military, retirees, reservists and their dependents get 25% off eligible purchases in stores when they present valid military ID or military dependent ID. This offer runs Nov. 11 to Nov. 13. Some items are excluded, including gift cards, appliances, certain consumer electronics, certain brands and other restricted items.
Samsung – From Nov. 6 to Nov. 11, active-duty military members and veterans can register on Samsung’s site for special deals, including an extra 10% off smartphones, tablets, wearables, mobile accessories and PCs.
Staples – Active-duty military personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans and their immediate families get a 25% discount November 8 through 14.
Mattress Firm – From November 11 through 17, veterans and active-duty military members can take advantage of Mattress Firm’s Black Friday Sale and receive an additional 10% off their entire purchase, for total savings up to 60% off.
Sleep Number – Military members can verify their identity on Sleep Number’s site to get a promo code they can use for an extra $100 off smart beds and adjustable bases through Nov. 16.
Home Depot — Home Depot offers a 10% discount to all veterans on November 11. Home Depot offers a 10% discount year round to active duty and retirees.
Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations
Pilot/Flying J – From Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, Pilot and Flying J locations will offer veterans a free coffee (any size) and one free breakfast item. Redeem this offer through the Pilot Flying J app.
Publix – Veterans, active military members and their families can get 10% off groceries on Nov. 11. Some items are excluded, including tobacco, gift cards, alcohol and lottery tickets. You must present a valid military ID to get this offer.
Walgreens — Veterans, military and their families get a 20% discount on eligible regular priced items, November 11 through 15. This in-store offer is only valid in Walgreens or Duane Reade stores.
Travel and Recreation Discounts
9/11 Memorial and Museum — Veterans will receive free Museum admission as well as half-price tickets for three family members from November 7 to 18.
Akron Zoo — Veterans, past and current, receive free admission and immediate family members receive 50% off admission November 7 through 11 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
B&Bs for Vets — The innkeepers participating in the 2020 B&Bs for Vets program will offer a minimum of one room for one night and totally free. Most innkeepers will give their free rooms away on November 10, but offers vary.
Birmingham Zoo — Veterans, active and retired military and their dependents receive free admission from November 11 until 15.
Caesars Entertainment — Veterans and active-duty military who book future travel on Caesars.com from November 4 to 15 get up to 40% off.
Capital Wheel — On November 11, active and retired service members ride free. Accompanying family members are eligible for the military discount. Onsite only.
Cincinnati Zoo — All members of the military will receive free admission on November 11. The offer also allows military personnel to purchase up to six half-price admission tickets for members of their immediate family.
Colonial Williamsburg — Military families can receive a free admission ticket during Veterans Day weekend.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — Military personnel, both past and present, and their immediate family get free admission on November 11 with military ID or proof of service.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — On November 11, active-duty and retired armed services members get free admission (including up to three immediate family members), and a 10% discount at Circa: The Museum Store and the Hatch Show Print retail store. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.
Harley-Davidson Museum — Active military, veterans and their families get free admission on November 11 and 12.
Jefferson Lines — Veterans and active military members get free tickets anytime between November 1 through 11. Free tickets are available for travel departing on November 11 through November 26 for both one-way and round-trip tickets. Veterans and active military members are welcome to return on a different date for round-trip tickets anytime through December 31.
La Quinta by Wyndham — Eligible military members get 12% off the Best Available Rate at participating La Quinta by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
Montgomery Zoo — Veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their dependent family members receive a 50% discount on regular daytime admission to the Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum November 8 through 14.
Monticello — Veterans get complimentary admission November 11. Admission is for the Monticello Self-Guided Pass.
Montpelier — Veterans get a free “Highlights of Montpelier” tour and Museum Shop discount, November 7 and 8.
Mount Vernon — All active-duty, former, or retired military personnel are admitted for free on November 11.
Pro Football Hall of Fame — Veterans and active military plus a guest get free museum admission and parking from November 1 through 15. A 20% off discount in the HOF Store will also be offered in November.
San Antonio Zoo — Active-duty, retired, veteran members of the military, National Guard and Reserves get free admission throughout November. Plus, up to four immediate family members can receive 50% off single day tickets on date of visit.
Sanderling Resort — Current and former military receive discounted rates of $129 per night from November 11, 2020 through March 19, 2021 with an additional 20% off all food, spa and retail.
Sedgwick County Zoo — All military personnel, veterans and their immediate families get complimentary admission on November 11.
Super 8 by Wyndham — Active and retired military members, veterans and their families can enjoy 15% off the Best Available Rate at participating Super 8 by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
True REST Float Spa — Veterans and active-duty military get a free 60-minute float on the 11th of every month, including November 11. For Veterans Day, True REST is also providing appointments to veterans only on November 11.
Woodland Park Zoo — Active, retired, and veteran military personnel and their spouses get free admission on November 11.
World of Coca-Cola — Active duty, reserves and retirees get free admission year-round, and from November 2 to 12 members of the Armed Forces may purchase up to four general admission tickets at half-price for their friends and family. Tickets must be purchased online.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts — Active and retired military members, veterans, and their families save up to 15%, plus receive 500 Wyndham Rewards bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.
Zoo Atlanta — Veterans, active-duty, retired and reserve members get free admission and $4 off general admission for up to six accompanying guests on November 11.
Delta Sonic Car Wash — Veterans and active-duty military save $25 on any oil change service throughout November.
Enterprise Car Sales — Active-duty military members, veterans and their dependents who purchase a used vehicle from Enterprise Car Sales are eligible to receive $300 off their vehicle purchase, November 1 through 30.
GM — GM offers special savings for the military November 3 through 30. Grace for Vets — Car washes from around the world who join this program offer free car washes to veterans and service members on November 11.
Marc Lonergan-Hertel grew up in Massachusetts with the dream of becoming a Navy SEAL — a dream he made into a reality. But he had a long way to go before achieving such a feat. He decided he needed to toughen up first, so he joined the Marine Corps, where he eventually found himself in Force Recon.
His military career took him through some of the toughest training the military has to offer. And he wrote about it in his memoir, Sierra Two: A SEAL’s Odyssey in War and Peace.
But Lonergan-Hertel didn’t stop there. He continued a life of adventure and service after leaving the military and today, he wants to call attention to real-world heroes he met along the way. He wants his transformative journey to help inspire others — namely, our nation’s youth — so they can maximize their full potential and achieve their dreams.
He calls himself a Protector.
Lonergan-Hertel and 1st Force Recon.
(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)
“Those who fight monsters inevitably change,” Lonergan-Hertel says, explaining what he means by the title “Protector.” It’s from a popular saying about post-traumatic stress, written by an unknown author. The quote goes on to note that if you stay in the fighting long enough, you will eventually become the monster. The former Navy SEAL wants to keep Protectors from getting that far.
“There is a cost to being a protector. Love is the only way to heal the wounds [that change you]. Remember this: As a protector, you run toward the things that others run away from. You go out to fight what you fear. You stand between others and the monsters on the other side of the wall.”
Lonergan-Hertel in his world-record paraglider flight, 70 South Antarctica.
(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)
You can read about his adventures fighting monsters in his book, Sierra Two. After his time in Force Recon, he left the military and worked as a Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles as well as a hunting guide in Colorado. Eventually, he decided to explore the Army and join the Special Forces. Shortly after joining the California National Guard, he was able to wear a maroon beret in support of 19 Special Forces Group and prepared to try out for Delta Section. He didn’t make Delta, but it did prepare him a selection packet he could submit to the Navy. He graduated from BUD/S in 1996 and joined SEAL Team Four. He left the military in 2000, but didn’t leave behind the adventurer’s life.
“My platoon chief recommended me for an around-the-world expedition through the Cousteau Society,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “I ended up getting the position as a team member and expedition leader and scout for NatGeo and Discovery Channel programs to Antarctica the Amazon jungle, where I had experience as a SEAL.”
Lonergan-Hertel and his NatGeo Team. Lonergan-Hertel is center, in the cowboy hat.
(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)
During his military career and post-military adventuring, he began to question what he valued most in life. He began to look for his true purpose. As his journey sharpened his self-awareness, he was soon transformed into a new person. He became a Protector – and wanted to be the best Protector he could be. His life took him to rescue hurricane victims, assess the environment in Antarctica while diving under the ice shelves, hike up the Amazon River Basin alone and encounter endangered tribes along the way — he even lost his best friend to pirates along the same river.
“I wrote my book because I realized how much our life journey sharpens our awareness of what really matters in life,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “Real life experiences transform us as human beings and gives us an understanding of risk and sacrifice.”
He even has a line of survival gear, that includes a heat reflective thermal field blanket sleep system, called First Line Survival. Lonergan-Hertel calls it “base camp in a bag” and all the proceeds from First Line Survival benefit his Protectors tour.
But the longtime adventurer is more than just an author. He’s crossing the country with fellow Protectors to tell their stories in stage presentations, meant for school-age children but meaningful to parents as well. He wants children to grow up with the confidence to realize their abilities and potential, to see a personal path toward a positive future, and realize they have the power to do this within themselves at all times.
“I understand very clearly that the gift of life can be away very quickly,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “The best thing I can leave behind is to inspire others to have confidence in themselves and to help others who have a more difficult journey in life.”
Think you can hack competing as a top CrossFit athlete while on active duty? Former Navy SEAL and top CrossFit athlete Josh Bridges thinks so, too.
Bridges, who while a member of SEAL Team 3 placed second in the 2011 worldwide CrossFit championship, known as the Games, told Military.com that given enough motivation, dedication and a friendly command, an active duty athlete could have what it takes.
“As long you had the right command who was willing to be like ‘yeah, we’ll let you train’ – as long as you’re doing your job and getting all that stuff done, why not?” Bridges told Military.com during a recent interview. “I think it’s doable.”
Since 2011 when he first competed while on active duty, Games-level CrossFit competition has shifted from a field of athletes who hold full time jobs outside of the sport, to athletes who train fulltime. That change, Bridges said, would undoubtedly make it harder for an active duty service member today to make it than it was for him in 2011.
Still, he said “If you really want to be a competitive athlete and be in the military at the same time, it’s doable. You’re going to have to put in long hours, and when your friends and buddies are going out to the bars on the weekends, you’re not going to be able to. … There’s going to be some sacrifices you’re going to have to be willing to make.”
To make the Games while on active duty he said he had to get permission from his Chief to miss some training. He also had to sacrifice a lot of time at home.
“It was tough,” he said. “There were definitely days where I’d be out doing land warfare drills in 105 degree temperatures, and then on a one or two hour break in the middle of the day, I’d have to go into the gym and train. You definitely had to set your priorities right and just be like ‘this is what I have to do if I want to go to the Games. It is what it is.'”
Competing at Games level and successfully training as a SEAL share some of the same skills, Bridges said, in that sometimes you have to just “shut your brain off” about the physical demands.
“In CrossFit, at the Games, you’re going to be asked to do workouts that you’ve never done and movements that you’ve never practiced,” he said. “Being a SEAL is the same way – you almost have to shut your brain off and stop thinking. …You definitely have to be 110 percent into it.”
Bridges, 34, finished first this year in CrossFit’s California regional Games qualifier and will compete in the Games in Madison, Wisconsin August 3 to 6. Bridges left the Navy in 2015 as an E-6, and spent the last three years of his active duty time in a training command as a master training specialist while rehabbing from knee surgery for a torn ACL, PCL and MCL sustained during deployment.
Anyone familiar with CrossFit knows that thanks to the sport’s focus on movements that rely heavily on knee strength and mobility, including heavy barbell and odd weight work, getting back into competition shape after a major knee injury is no small feat. But Bridges said he keeps the fire burning by focusing on his goals.
“It’s not easy, for sure, to sit there and go into the gym day in and day out and grind, and grind and grind,” he said. “When I went to start competing I had a goal to win the Games. I fell just short. After the injury I was like ‘hey, you can have same goes, it’s just really going to be hard. … I’m a little hard-headed sometimes, that once I have that goal, I’m going to make it happen no matter what.”
The topic of combat-related trauma is finally being addressed in mainstream medicine across the United States. After seventeen consecutive years in overseas conflicts, trauma is both a reality and a devastation for our troops. As the stigma previously attached to mental health challenges fades, we’re finally coming together collectively to help support the men and women who serve in our military.
Luckily, there are many forms of treatment. Throttle therapy happens to be one of them — and a high octane one at that.
“Throttle therapy” is the term for time spent on a motorized bike with the intent to enjoy feelings of euphoria that may exceed the capabilities of prescription or illegal drugs. According to the nonprofit Veteran Motocross Foundation, or VetMX, “Research has shown that physical experiences which are thrilling and physically demanding can re-center human brain chemistry.”
In other words, sports like Motocross can help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, especially for veterans.
“It’s not something radical we’ve come up with,” said Dustin Blankenship, an Air Force veteran with a paralyzed left thigh. “There’s proof that riding a motorcycle helps people. It’s almost like you’re in a trance state on a motorcycle. It’s like meditation.”
Blankenship discovered that his injury doesn’t hold him back when he rides.
He’s not the only veteran to experience a transformation when he rides. Then-2nd Lt. Michael Reardon told the Air Force that motocross racing was the ultimate stress reliever and the perfect adrenaline rush — within reason: “[Motocross] is only dangerous if you let it be dangerous. The sport is much safer if you don’t exceed your own limits.”
Brothers Greg Oswald and Eli Tomac, a C-17 pilot and a Supercross champ respectively, know a thing or two about getting in a machine and letting everything else fade away. Check out the video below to hear about how they support each other on the ground, in the air, or on a racetrack:
Rodney Smith is gearing up for a trip to Alaska. He’s already been to all of the lower 48 U.S. states. He’s on a mission to provide free lawn care to the elderly, the disabled, single mothers, and veterans. He’s the founder of a nonprofit for youth which is aimed at community development.
He’s showing everyone in America his dedication to service, and he’s doing it the way he knows best: mowing lawns.
He is the founder of Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a way for young people to give back to their community while learning the ins and outs of the lawn-care industry. Smith doesn’t limit his services to mowing, just like any other lawn-care service. Raking leaves and shoveling snow are just a couple of the services he and his cadre of volunteers offer.
As he travels the United States, he takes requests, even going so far to post his phone number on Twitter. He mows lawns in the dark, just to get one more in for that day. He’ll even do what he calls a “mow by,” completing a lawn-care service for someone in need, even when they aren’t home.
Of course, it’s better if they’re home. Then the family can meet the incredible individual who enjoys giving back and mowing lawns so much he’ll go to disaster sites, like storm-stricken Virginia.
Smith started mowing lawns for free in 2015 after driving by an elderly man struggling to mow his lawn. He stopped his car, got out, and finished the lawn for the man.
“A small act of kindness grew into all this,” he says. “You never know what someone is going through and you touch them a certain way.”
After that act of kindness, he founded his nonprofit in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. while he was working on a degree in computer science. He used to mow lawns in between classes, a challenge for his studies but one he took with zeal. Then, he challenged others to something similar. He wanted kids to mow 50 lawns after posting a photo of them accepting the 50-Yard Challenge.
“I show kids the importance of giving back to their community,” Smith says. He now boasts hundreds of volunteer lawn care experts through Raising Men. “At first they didn’t like it… but they see the smiles and it shows them a different side of life.“
They didn’t know it when the accepted the challenge, but Smith would present the kids with a new lawn mower upon completing their 50th yard.
He challenged himself again with the task of mowing “50 Yards in 50 States.” In 2017, he drove to all lower 48 states and flew to Alaska and Hawaii. In May, 2018, he started doing it all again, visiting 20 states within three weeks. He’s not just mowing one lawn in each state, either. He often mows up to four per day as he travels. And when he comes across those in need, he stops to hear their story and help out.
And now he finds himself with a different challenge.
In 2017, Smith traveled to all the major urban areas in Tennessee and Alabama, dressed as Santa Claus to deliver gifts to the area’s homeless population. For 2018, the big-hearted lawn mower said he wanted to go even bigger. On Nov. 26, 2018, he began another nationwide tour, to visit each state and meet with at least two people or groups who are homeless and deliver gifts that will make them happy.
He wants to deliver true Christmas cheer. Not content to give and take a photo before moving on, he wants to sit with them, talk, find out how they became homeless, and try to understand what the season means for them.
Rodney Smith covered the lower 48 states in just 22 days. As of Dec. 18, 2018, he was on his way to Alaska to continue his mission.
“Every day is tough when you’re homeless, but it’s terribly difficult this time of year – both physically and mentally,” Smith said. “If I can help make even a few people more comfortable and happy, I want to do it. It may sound crazy, but I believe if we all helped just one person where we live, the results would be astonishing.“
Being forward deployed in a foreign country has many dangers. No matter how well you fortify your Forward Operating Base, it’ll never be safe — only safer.
But for months or even years, it’s home for hundreds of service members…surrounded by an enemy on all sides who want to bring harm to them on a daily basis.
One thing Marines take seriously is making sure that while their brothers and sisters rest inside the wire — they’re safe. With different security levels in place, check out six obstacles that the enemy has to breach before even getting inside.
1. Hesco barriers
One aspect of fighting in the desert is the massive amounts of sand, dirt, and rocks that are available. Filling the natural resources in the encased barriers provides excellent protection against most types of enemy fire.
Marines from 1st CEB, fill Hesco barriers at a combat outpost in Musa Qaleh, Afghanistan. (Photo via 1stMarDiv)
2. Heavy guns in the nest
Occupying the high ground gives allied forces the best vantage possible. Add in a few Marines with big guns waiting for the bad guys to feel froggy — that’s protection.
The bad guys may want to rethink how they attack with these Marines on deck. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Even if granted permission to access the FOB, entering should be difficult. Serpentine belts force incoming vehicles to slow down and maneuver through the barrier maze.
If you don’t have permission to enter, the Marines will definitely open fire. (Photo via Global Security)
4. Security rounds
Marines carry hundreds of rounds on their person at any given time. Carrying a full combat load on patrol can wear the body down. Inside a FOB, you can ease up on your personal security — a little.
Instead of carrying 210 rounds, they’ll have the 30 security rounds inserted in their magazine.
In warfare, it’s essential to have cameras positioned everywhere and that see everything.
Dear bad guys, we totally see you. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Over time, the gravel inside the Hescos will settle, causing separation between the individual barriers. When FOB security notices this interruption, they frequently place and conceal claymore mines in between the Hescos until the issue is patched up.
The trials of Odysseus are really not that different from the struggles of those learning to readjust after wars of today, modern veterans are finding.
A small group of military veterans has been meeting weekly in a classroom at the University of Vermont to discuss The Iliad and The Odyssey for college credit — and to give meaning to their own experiences, equating the close-order discipline of men who fought with spears, swords, and shields to that of men and women who do battle these days with laser-guided munitions.
Homer isn’t just for student veterans. Discussion groups are also being offered at veterans centers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Maine Humanities Council has sponsored sessions for veterans incarcerated at Maine’s Kennebec County jail, as well as for other veterans.
For many in the UVM class, Homer’s 2,800-year-old verses seem all too familiar: the siege of Troy, the difficult quest of Odysseus to return home after 10 years at war, his anguish at watching friends die, and his problems readjusting to civilian life.
Stephanie Wobby, 26, a former Army medic originally from Sacramento, California, is a combat veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is one of two women in the UVM course; she has been to traditional post-traumatic stress therapy sessions, but said, “this is far more effective for me.”
“It still resonates, coming home from war, even if it was however many years ago,” said Wobby, a junior majoring in chemistry. “It’s the same.”
In a recent class, Dan Wright, 26, an Afghanistan veteran and UVM junior, wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Down with my Demons” while the group discussed The Iliad.
“It was talking about being scared to die and, like, when you are on the field, you don’t think about it,” said Wright, 26, of Halifax, Vermont. He said he was involved in near-daily firefights during a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan in 2012.
Enrollment in the class taught by John Franklin, an associate professor of classics, is limited to veterans; the current class includes veterans from wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There are no papers or tests, and the grade is based entirely on class participation and an understanding of the material.
The people who work with the veterans at UVM felt it was a tragedy when they heard last week that a former Army rifleman expelled from a program to treat veterans with PTSD took three women hostage in California and fatally shot them. With Homer, they are working to avoid the idea of the damaged veteran, said David Carlson, the coordinator of student veterans’ services at UVM and a Marine veteran of Iraq in 2005 and 2006 who sits in on the classes.
“From my end, all it does is make me think the work we do with veterans every day is that much more important,” Carlson said.
Homer-for-veterans is the brainchild of Dartmouth College classics professor Roberta Stewart, who is now hoping for a grant that will allow her to expand the idea nationwide.
an episode from the ancient Greek epic poem the Odyssey. (Artwork by Arnold Böcklin)
Stewart read some blog posts by U.S. service members fighting in Iraq in 2003. She recognized their graphic descriptions of war and the difficulties many faced readjusting to life after combat and reached out to one veteran who appeared to be having a hard time.
“I said to him, ‘Homer can help you. Homer knows,'” Stewart said.
Stewart never heard back from the veteran she told about Homer, but the light bulb stayed on. A decade ago, she wrote to the Department for Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, suggesting the idea. Officials were skeptical at first, but she eventually won and started her first group.
Navy Cmdr. Amy Hunt, the operational support officer for the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, hopes to set up programs for still-serving Navy Seals and overseas support personnel.
“Using Homer, because of the distance involved and also it’s great storytelling, is a way to break into those experiences,” Hunt said.
In its different guises at the locations where classes and discussions have been offered, veterans from World War II to those just home from Afghanistan have seen themselves in the struggles described by Homer.
“It was no different then, the soldiers coming home war from war and dealing with these issues than it is now,” said Norman “Ziggy” Lawrence, of Albion, Maine, a Vietnam-era veteran who now leads some of the discussion with jailed Maine veterans. “It opens that avenue so that they can speak to issues that they are having.”
“My administration is taking steps to ensure that the men and women who bravely fought for us when they were called will be given the care and attention they need during some of their darkest hours,” said President Donald J. Trump.
The roadmap is the result of an Executive Order that President Trump signed on March 5, 2019. It calls for several steps to advance this critical national goal, many of which are already underway:
National Suicide Prevention Activation Campaign
This summer, the PREVENTS Office will launch a nationwide public health campaign aimed at educating Americans that suicide is preventable. It creates awareness of mental health and suicide prevention best practices with a call to action for ALL Americans to take the PREVENTS Pledge to Prevent Suicide.
Improving Suicide Prevention Research
Too often, we focus on a one-size-fits-all approach to suicide prevention that fails to take into account an individual’s specific risk factors. As a key element of the roadmap, PREVENTS will launch the National Research Strategy to accelerate the development and implementation of effective solutions to help prevent suicide among Veterans and all Americans.
The PREVENTS Office has built relationships with dozens of organizations across the country. These include Veteran and military service organizations, faith-based groups, universities, non-profits, corporations, small businesses. It also includes state and local governments to share best practices for promoting mental health, to ensure awareness of and access to federal, state, local and tribal resources.
“The release of the PREVENTS Roadmap is a critical step in advancing the national priority of preventing suicide in this nation, but it is only a first step” said PREVENTS Executive Director Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen. “With our Veterans leading the way, we will engage all Americans as we fully implement the PREVENTS Roadmap. Together we will prevent suicide.”
The La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness (Collaborative) announced today [Monday, Dec. 19, 2016] that it met the ambitious goal they set in September of this year: to end homelessness for veterans in the City within 100 days (by Christmas Day). This makes La Crosse the first city in Wisconsin to end homelessness among veterans.
Over the 100 days, the Collaborative increased its monthly housing placement rate for veterans by 400%, demonstrating what’s possible when multiple agencies join forces and focus on clear, measurable goals.
This goal was not accomplished by doing business as usual. It was accomplished by unprecedented cross-agency collaboration between over thirty agencies, including: the Tomah VA Medical Center, Couleecap, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, La Crosse Police Department, and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (full list of Design and Leadership Team members).
This effort elevated action-oriented problem-solving over traditional planning.
With the support of Gundersen Health System’s Office of Population Health, the Collaborative is using a proven innovation and improvement model (adapted from one developed by Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute for the 100,000 Homes Campaign) to accelerate housing placements and profoundly improve system performance.
“The key to our success has been the amazing collaboration within our initiative and a strong shared focus from everyone on the team”, said Kim Cable, Design Team member and Housing and Community Services Director at Couleecap). “This is just the beginning of our journey to end all homelessness in the City of La Crosse. We are excited and inspired by our initial success and the support from the community.”
“I am so proud of the La Crosse Collaborative’s incredible efforts to end veteran homelessness here in our community”, said Mayor Tim Kabat, a Leadership Team member.
“La Crosse signed on to the national effort, as part of the Mayor’s Challenge, to work together and provide permanent housing for our homeless veterans and it is awe-inspiring to see this dream realized. We are so fortunate to live in such a caring, compassionate, and hard-working community.”
“This is a tremendous achievement and milestone for our community,” said Victoria Brahm, Acting Director of the Tomah VA Medical Center. “I am extremely proud of our staff members who worked with the Collaborative. This is the result of a lot of hard work – getting to functional zero was a tough challenge, but one that we were never going to give up on.”
“Gunderson’s Office of Population Health is focusing on elevating the health of the community by engaging beyond the health system walls, and partnering with organizations in communities who are going upstream to prevent illness, disease, injury, and crisis”, said Sandy Brekke, Senior Consultant, Office of Population Health, Gundersen Health System.
“It’s hard to be healthy when you go to sleep hungry, homeless, or in substandard housing. As an institution, GHS recognizes that safe, secure housing is foundational to the health of individuals and families in our community and are proud to support the effort to end homelessness in La Crosse. We are grateful to the Design Team of the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness, they have brought the community together and have worked incredibly hard to make sure that our Veterans have a warm place to call home.”
The Collaborative will celebrate its success tomorrow afternoon, December 20th, at the Waterfront Banquet Room, hosted by Don Weber, CEO of LHI and Leadership Team member, who said: “Veteran homelessness is our nation’s silent shame. It goes without saying that any who has served and protected our nation should not have to worry whether they will have a roof over their heads. In dedicating ourselves to ending Veteran homelessness in our region, our community has proven that the story does not have to end here. Our Veterans deserve our lifelong commitment to returning to them the same comfort and safety they’ve so selflessly secured for us through their service.”
For more information on what it means to end homelessness (defined nationally as reaching “functional zero”), visit the FAQ section on the Collaborative’s website. On the website, you can also donate to ongoing efforts to end homelessness, sign up to volunteer or—if you are a landlord—offer housing to others who are homeless in La Crosse.
The US Navy’s new supercarrier is going through shock trials, and that means setting off live explosives near the warship to simulate aspects of actual combat conditions.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the first of a new class of aircraft carriers, completed the first explosive event of the ongoing full-ship shock trials on Friday off the US East Coast, where the Navy detonated explosives near the carrier.
The Navy said in a statement the aircraft carrier was “designed using advanced computer modeling methods, testing, and analysis to ensure the ship is hardened to withstand battle conditions, and these shock trials provide data used in validating the shock hardness of the ship.”
The official Twitter account for USS Gerald R. Ford tweeted Saturday that “the leadership and the crew demonstrated Navy readiness fighting through the shock, proving our warship can ‘take a hit’ and continue our mission on the cutting edge of naval aviation.”
Though the Navy has conducted shock trials with other vessels, the latest trials with the Ford, the service’s newest and most advanced carrier, mark the first time since 1987 the Navy has conducted shock trials with an aircraft carrier.
The last aircraft carrier shock trials involved the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, according to the Navy.
Shock trials are designed to test how Navy warships hold up against severe vibrations and identify potential shock-related vulnerabilities in a combat vessel.
Nearby explosions, even when vessels were not taking direct hits, would send destructive, high-pressure waves toward them.
During the major global conflict, “it was discovered that although such ‘near miss’ explosions do not cause serious hull or superstructure damage, the shock and vibrations associated with the blast nonetheless incapacitate the ship, by knocking out critical components and systems,” the study said.
“This discovery led the Navy to implement a rigorous shock hardening test procedure,” the report said, referring to shock trials.
The Navy said that the trials are being conducted in a way that “complies with environmental mitigation requirements, respecting known migration patterns of marine life in the test area.”
The service further stated that it “also has employed extensive protocols throughout [full-ship shock trials] to ensure the safety of military and civilian personnel participating in the testing evolution.”
After completing full-ship shock trials, the aircraft carrier will return to the pier at Newport News Shipbuilding for its first planned incremental availability, a six-month period during which the ship will undergo “modernization, maintenance, and repairs prior to its operational employment,” the Navy said.
When Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Ray Drowley arrived alone at an American camp on the Solomon Islands with a gaping wound in his chest, a missing eye, and a shredded uniform, a junior officer threatened to court-martial him for abandoning his defense post.
Instead, Drowley was put on the path to history.
On Jan. 30, 1944, Drowley was a rifle squad leader with B Company, 132nd Infantry Regiment, Americal Division, when he displayed the bravery that would earn him the Medal of Honor.
The Americal Division arrived on Bougainville on Dec. 25, 1943, as part of the Solomon Islands and New Guinea campaigns. The division was unique in World War II as it carried a name and not a numerical designation.
It got its name from “American, New Caledonia,” the South Pacific island on which the unit was provisionally formed for defense in May 1942. Though officially known later as the 23rd Infantry Division, the Americal name remained.
A month after the unit’s arrival, Drowley was assigned a defensive role with his company as a neighboring unit launched an attack against Japanese defensive positions.
The staff sergeant witnessed three wounded soldiers from the neighboring company collapse. Intense enemy fire prevented their rescue. That’s when Drowley made a fateful decision.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Drowley “fearlessly rushed forward to carry the wounded” one-by-one to cover.
After moving two of the men to safety amid a hail of gunfire, Drowley discovered an enemy pillbox that American assault tanks had missed. The enemy fighters within were “inflicting heavy casualties upon the attacking force and…a chief obstacle to the success of the advance.”
The dire situation didn’t deter him.
Drowley directed another soldier to complete the rescue of the third wounded soldier. Meanwhile, he darted out across open terrain to one of the American tanks. Drowley climbed the turret and signaled the crew.
He exchanged his weapon for a submachine gun and rode the deck of the tank while firing toward the pillbox with tracer fire.
As the tank ambled closer to the enemy position, Drowley received a severe wound to the chest. He refused to leave his position for medical treatment, instead continuing to direct the tank’s driver to the pillbox.
He was shot again — losing his left eye — and knocked to the ground.
But Drowley remained undaunted. Despite his injuries, he continued to walk alongside the tank until it was able to open fire on the enemy pillbox and destroy it. In the process, American forces discovered another pillbox behind the first and destroyed it as well.
With his mission finally completed, Drowley returned to camp for medical treatment.
When he reached the safety of the American outpost, his platoon leader admonished him for leaving his post. But the reason he left was quickly learned, and he was eventually recommended for the nation’s highest military honor.
After receiving the accolade, he was offered a commission and a chance to speak at war rallies, but Drowley declined and eventually left the service. He lived a quiet life for the rest of his years.
In 1991, he told The Spokesman Review of Spokane, Washington, that he shied away from the title of hero.
‘What Did You Do?’
“People say, ‘What did you do to get the Medal of Honor?’ You were only doing your job,” Drowley said. “You’re fearless, all right. You’re so damned scared you’re past fearless. But you’re going to get killed if you don’t do anything.”
Along with the Medal of Honor, Drowley was also awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Clusters and two Bronze Stars.
He was the first Americal soldier to be awarded the medal and the division’s lone recipient for action in World War II.
While recovering from his wounds at a hospital in Spokane, he met his future wife, Kathleen McAvoy. He returned to Washington after the war from his native St. Charles, Michigan. He operated a service station before working as a civilian employee at Fairchild Air Force Base. He retired in 1980.
Drowley died May 20, 1996. He was 76. He was buried at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane.
Army occupational therapist Maj. Erik Johnson will use anything that works to help wounded warriors. One of the big problems he faces is how to get his patients involved in their own therapy.
Therapists have historically used activities like working with leather and copper tooling to engage patients, but that doesn’t appeal to soldiers from the Xbox generation. Johnson, a gamer and former Army rehabilitation patient himself, found a way to incorporate games into therapy.
“If I threw, you know, macrame in front of a soldier he might laugh at me,” Johnson said in an interview with WATM. “But if I threw him at a video game, he’d be like, ‘Yeah man. I love this dude. Hell, I’m gonna go like do everything I can to optimize my treatment.'”
The games used in therapy are carefully curated by Johnson who identifies what needs each could fulfill. DJ Hero and Big Brain Academy, for instance, are good for soldiers who have suffered brain traumas.
“One of the biggest things with concussions is that you have what we call executive dysfunction or basically, a big issue with cognition,” Johnson said. “So like, your memory is not as good as it was. Or you have issues with problem solving. Or maybe you have issues with delayed response with your brain thinking to your hands moving.”
So, Johnson can put soldiers recovering from a concussion or another brain injury in front of DJ Hero, which requires that the player keep to a rhythm, watch symbols on a screen, and anticipate the actions of others.
Big Brain Academy allows players to work on memory, statistics, analysis, math. And, it allows them to measure their progress.
“And the thing with Big Brain Academy is that it kept a record of everything you did,” said Johnson. “So, if you built a profile, and you’re like, ‘Okay, yesterday was the very first time I worked on this, I was terrible. Today I’m a little bit better and in a week I’m doing fantastic.’ Even if that’s not standardized, you can still see them improving.”
Big Brain Academy payed off big for Johnson and the soldiers under his care when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 to set up a brain injury program inside a deployed brigade combat team. Stuck on an austere forward operating base, a simple game that could be set up in a hooch was a good tool to help soldiers recovering from a concussion or TBI.
When Johnson got back to the states, systems like the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii allowed him to target physical therapies with video games as well. For amputees who lost one or both legs, cardio is an issue.
“Our lower extremity amputees have a big issue with cardio. They haven’t been able to run, and they start gaining weight and running is a lot more challenging for them. How are we going to engage them in a good cardio regimen?
“One of the things we noticed was we could put them on Wii Boxing and set them up on a therapy ball and they have to balance on the therapy ball which would strengthen their core and then also, they are doing a lot of engagement with their upper extremities. And, anybody that has played any kind of Wii sport-type game that takes a lot of that effort knows that real quickly it gives you a good workout.”
Amputee patients also got help from Ken Jones, an engineer who runs Warfighter Engaged and builds custom controllers for amputees.
“He’ll modify game controllers or systems so that anybody could play on them,” Johnson said. “Let’s say you lose your left hand, well, he’s going to bring all those buttons on your Xbox controller over to the right side.”
Jones even made a custom controller for a quadruple amputee.
“Just by like pushing switches and big toggles and different elements like that, he basically made it to where anybody could engage in therapy. Well, I call it therapy, they call it gaming.”
Glen Banton, the CEO of OSD, met Johnson and asked for his wish list, everything Johnson would need to create the perfect setup for treating wounded warriors with video games.
“So I started to do a lot more writing down, research on games. I would want this particular game for this application. I would want this for this application. And I started going down this list of different games that would do different things.”
“So Glen and his team, they came with OSD last week and blew me away,” Johnson said. “I mean, like way more than I had asked for, way more than anticipated. My office is full of gaming stuff right now that I’m now trying to build an entire huge gaming center within out therapy gym so that it’s actually almost a piece of medical equipment, that is its intended use. Before, we had roving televisions and we’d throw a system on it. Now it’s like, I’m going to actually have a specified space where we go and do therapeutic gaming.”
Of course, not all of Johnson’s patients are video gamers. But for the ones that are, they have a therapist who not only wants to engage them with their chosen hobby, but has an awesome suite of tools to do it with.