7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously.

First, you must be wondering: What kind of glass-half-full, sappy, optimist comes up with a list like this? Maybe it’s a guy that got hit by a Domino’s delivery driver and now has more money he can count? Or maybe he was Tony Robbins’ number two, so he was well equipped to handle the tragic life of being completely paralyzed?

Well, I’m not the heir to the Domino’s empire nor did I work as a motivational speaker. I am, however, an optimist. And I’ll be damned if I let my situation beat me. 

I am completely paralyzed with the exception of a few stubborn facial muscles that refuse to quit. My condition did not happen overnight. It was an extremely gradual process that has been happening since the summer of 2010.

The culprit behind its methodical degeneration is a neurological disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. You might remember hearing about it during the Ice Bucket Challenge, a global phenomenon that gave the disease its 15 minutes of fame. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that were raised in the summer of 2014 there is still no known cause or cure.

Fortunately for me, despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously. I have a beautiful, kind, and smart wife. I’m also a father to the world’s next RBG, our three-year-old daughter Elliott Monroe. Perspective is everything, and I sure as hell won’t allow my situation to dictate my mood. So I wanted to write about some of the positive aspects of my life. Here goes.

  1. When it comes to skipping out of the chores around the house, it doesn’t get any easier than pulling the ALS card. I have not had to do the dishes once. Dirty diapers? No thanks! It turns out that you need fine motor skills to do both tasks.
  2. Need some help multitasking? I’m your man. Thanks to being completely paralyzed, I am able to write emails, while getting my fingernails clipped, and have lunch at the same time! Easy breezy baby, thanks to eye gaze technology, a caregiver, and a feeding tube.
  3. Is there anything worse than a gulp of fresh squeezed orange juice right after toothpaste? Or debating on having a cup of coffee after you just brushed your teeth? Not me, I don’t ever have to worry about such a conundrum. 
  4. I’m no Carrie Bradshaw, despite once finding a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the back of a cab in NYC. But my shoe game is strong. I do have a lot of custom-designed sneakers from Nike. The best part about having fresh kicks and being in a wheelchair is that my shoes are always on display. Not to mention that they never get dirty because they never touch the ground.
  5. Everyone poops. It’s not just a great book, it’s a fact of life. Now, I do require two different people to help me do my business, and I am quite regular. The two lucky individuals that get to join me have very defined duties. Pun intended. One person lifts me up in a bear hug motion while the second person pulls my pants down. But thanks to technology, that is really the only part of the experience that requires hands on help. I have a wonderful bidet that has more settings than a Sharper Image recliner. You haven’t lived until you felt the warmth of a heated toilet seat in the middle of winter.
  6. Lady Gaga is not the only one with a poker face. Thanks to ALS I can keep a straight face, no matter how high the stakes get. There is some minimal movement in my eyebrows and that is how I signal yes or no when I don’t have my tablet. This nuanced language is tough for people to fully understand. However, it gives me and my wife an incredibly intimate form of communication.
  7. I draw the line at smuggling narcotics across foreign borders, but other than that, if you got stuff to smuggle or “hold”?  I am your man. Nothing makes a security guard feel worse than having to pat down a completely paralyzed guy that talks with his eyes. I am also quite the Sherpa too. If we’re at the mall or Disney and I can hold bags. Throw them on the back and let’s roll.

This list was surprisingly easy to make. I am a truly positive person, but I am not an angel or some type of hippy-dippy sap that has his head in the clouds. I believe my life is hard but it is not any more difficult than yours. We all have battles and struggles. The choice to allow it to dictate your mood or how you see the world is exactly that, a choice. What do you choose?

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 15

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


Air Force:

An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. flies over the Gulf of Mexico, April 1, 2017. The Raptor was taking part in a flight alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker to show appreciation to the employers of Guard and Reserve Airmen.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cody R. Miller

Hill Air Force Base F-35A Lightning IIs fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, March 30, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw

Army:

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter arrives at the pickup zone at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 6. The aviators were taking part in a joint-training exercise with Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, in anticipation of working together during future Atlantic Resolve missions.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Scaggs

U.S. Army Soldiers from around the world compete in day three of the 34th Annual David E. Grange Jr., Best Ranger Competition, April 9, 2017, on Fort Benning, Ga. The competition is designed to determine the best two-Soldier Ranger team in the Army. 

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army photo by Patrick A. Albright

Navy:

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April. 13, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (Handling) Airmen Nathaniel Eguia, left, and Obadiah Hunter scrub aqueous film forming foam off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Gerald R. Ford is underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship-the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years-will spend several days conducting builder’s sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Joshua Sheppard

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 12, 2017) An F/A 18C Hornet from the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Brown

Marine Corps:

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion take cover while conducting urban demolition breach training for Talon Exercise (TalonEx) 2-17, Yuma, Arizona, March 30, 2017. The purpose of TalonEx was for ground combat units to conduct integrated training in support of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-17 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Santino D. Martinez

Machine gunners assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa move toward an objective area during a Military Operation on Urbanized Terrain exercise with the Spanish Special Operations Group âGranadaâ in Alicante, Spain, March 29, 2017. The exercise provided an opportunity for Marines and Spanish SOF members to maintain joint readiness and strengthen relationships.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessika Braden

Coast Guard:

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick stands proud facing the crowd of the commissioning ceremony at Coast Guard Base Ketchikan, Alaska, April 12, 2017. The cutter McCormick is the Coast Guard’s first 154-foot Fast Response Cutter to be commissioned in Alaska.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios.

A New Hampshire Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter lands on the helipad at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor on Sunday, April 9, 2017 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The helicopter was taking part in the 2017 Best Warrior Competition, which encourages the Guardsmen to strive for excellence and achievement through a variety of physical and mental challenges.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Hillard

Articles

These are the best military photos for the week of August 5th

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


Air Force:

A B-52H Stratofortress is parked on the flightline at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 31, 2017. The B-52 has an unrefueled combat range in-excess of 8,000 miles.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Capko, pilot, 19th Operations Group, and Capt. Caitlin Curran, pilot, 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., land a C-130J Super Hercules on the ramp at Yakima Airfield, Wash., in support of Exercise Mobility Guardian, Aug. 03, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian.

The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

Army:

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery conducted an M4 Range at the 25 m Range Baumholder Local Training Area, Baumholder, Germany on Aug. 2, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army Photo by Visual Information Specialist, Erich Backes

Paratroopers of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, move to a firing position during a live fire exercise at the High Altitude Military Marksmanship Range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

Navy:

Fire Controlman 1st Class Zachary Gehrig fires a M240B machine gun on the starboard bridge wing of Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) during a live-fire exercise. Rushmore is underway off the coast of Southern California participating in a series of qualifications and certifications as part of the basic phase of training in preparation for future operations and deployments.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse Monford

Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199) (middle) conducts replenishment at sea operations with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) (front) and Takanami class destroyer JS Sazanami (DD-113) July 30, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Photo courtesy of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force

Marine Corps:

A Marine with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Scout Sniper platoon from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, participates in battle drills by firing his M4 at a 25 meter target Aug. 3, 2017 in preparation for a training exercise during Northern Strike 17 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries during the first two weeks of August 2017 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Michigan National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Ames

Marine Corps Body Bearers with Bravo Company, Marine Barracks Washington D.C., fold the National Ensign during a funeral for Marine Sgt. Julian Kevianne at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Aug. 3, 2017. Kevianne, 31, was one of the 15 Marines and one Navy sailor who perished when their KC130-T Hercules crashed in Mississippi, July 10, 2017. He was part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, Marine Aircraft Group 49, 4th Marine Air Wing, based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert Knapp

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker, sits in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska during an Arctic deployment in support of scientific research and polar operations, Saturday, July 29, 2107. The Coast Guard’s leadership role in providing a continued Arctic presence is essential to national security, maritime domain awareness, freedom of navigation, U.S. sovereign interests and scientific research.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Helicopter from Air Station Astoria performs a mock rescue during a search and rescue demonstration with a 45-foot response boat -medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle over Elliott Bay as part of the 68th annual Seafair Fleet Week Aug. 2, 2017. Seafair Fleet Week is an annual celebration of the sea services where Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from visiting U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian ships make the city a port of call.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Kelley.

Articles

6 times ‘Murphy’ was an uninvited guest on special operations missions

When special operators (or any armed force, for that matter) goes on an operation, Murphy (of “Murphy’s Law” fame) can be an uninvited and very unwelcome guest — whether with last minute changes in the plan, an inopportune discovery by civilians, or gear breaking down.


America’s highly-trained commandos have an amazing track record of achievement, wracking up huge wins with very few losses over the decades since World War II. But their missions are often so high stakes that when Murphy does pay a visit, the damage has an outsized public impact.

Here are some of the more notable instances where Murphy’s Law sent spec ops missions into a tailspin.

1. Desert One

On April 24, 1980, the newly established Delta Force attempted a daring rescue mission of the 66 Americans being held hostage in Iran.

At the initial landing site codenamed “Desert One,” the mission went south in a big way. Ultimately, eight special operators died in the abortive effort, which contributed to the undoing of the Carter administration. The mission did become the backdrop used for the opening of the Chuck Norris classic, “The Delta Force,” which was also Lee Marvin’s last role.

2. Operation Urgent Fury

After a Marxist coup seized power of the small Caribbean nation of Grenada in 1979, tensions between the country (essentially a Cuban puppet) and the United States increased. After an internal power struggle ended up leaving the island nation’s president dead, President Ronald Reagan ordered American forces to settle the matter.

Unfortunately the SEALs involved with the invasion really had a rough time of it.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

The Navy SEAL Museum notes that a drop that was supposed to be in daylight and calm seas got delayed to night. A bad storm resulted in the loss of four SEALs. The lack of reconnaissance and bad comms (SEALs who rescued the island’s governor, had to use a phone to call HQ for support) created problems, but the operation was successful.

The SEALs at the governor’s mansion were eventually rescued by Force Recon Marines. Other SEALs managed to destroy a radio tower and swim out to sea, where they were picked up. Grenada was a success, and many of the lessons learned were applied in the future.

3. Operation Just Cause

The SEALs again were involved in an op where Murphy paid a visit when the United States decided to remove Manuel Noriega from power after Panamanian troops killed a U.S. Marine.

SEAL Team 4 drew the assignment of taking Punta Paitilla airport and disabling Noriega’s private jet. According to the Navy SEAL Museum’s web page, Noriega’s jet had been moved to a hanger.

As a result of the move, the SEALs ended up into a firefight that left four dead. One of those killed in action. SEAL Don McFaul would receive a posthumous Navy Cross, and have an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS McFaul (DDG 74), named in his honor.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

4. ODA 525 – Desert Storm

In this special op, Murphy took the form of children discovering the hide site of nine Green Berets lead by Chief Warrant Officer Richard Balwanz. Balwanz made the decision to let the kids, go, and his force found itself under attack.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Daily Caller noted that Balwanz brought his entire team back. In this case, the special operators overcame Murphy in an outstanding feat of arms that few Americans have heard about.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

5. Mogadishu

If you’ve seen “Black Hawk Down,” you pretty much know the story of how the firefight in Mogadishu went down. In this case, a 2013 article at RealClearDefense.com noted that two MH-60 Blackhawks from the 106th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (the “Nightstalkers”) were shot down. Murphy had a lot of room to maneuver when armor and AC-130 support was denied.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

6. Operation Red Wings

If you read the book, “Lone Survivor” (or saw the movie), you have a very good sense as to what went wrong here. Lieutenant Michael Murphy’s team of SEALs was discovered by civilians, a force of insurgents launched an attack and three SEALs were killed in the harrowing firefight.

It got worse when a Chinook helicopter carrying a quick reaction force was shot down by insurgents, killing 11 SEALs and eight Nightstalkers.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Articles

This is how the Army teaches you to ‘see green’ — not brown, black or white

Recently, the Huffington Post article “Becoming A Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country?” has been making its rounds across the veteran community.


Basically it’s a story about how a small group of veterans who were radicalized in Iraq and Afghanistan provide security for fringe Neo-Nazi groups. It continues with an anecdote about the author’s NYPD lieutenant uncle and his prejudice.

The piece argues that not enough is being done to aid returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress from becoming racists. To the article’s defense, it does say the percentage of veterans pulling security for the Right Wing groups is a small one. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard a racial slur used by a piece of sh*t during my time in the U.S. Army.

However, it glosses over the U.S. military’s extremely hard stance against those ****heads and the astronomical percentage of troops who learned to see their fellow service member as not white, brown, or black, but “green.”

All the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces have unequivocally denounced racism and hatred within their branch. Every value within each branch goes directly against what we all stand for. There is no way in Hell any soldier can truly live by the Army values if they are not loyal to and respect everyone on their left and right.

The Army’s diversity mission statement is: “To develop and implement a strategy that contributes to mission readiness while transforming and sustaining the Army as a national leader in diversity.” In every sense, we are.

The term “seeing green” refers to removing your view on another troop’s personal identity and welcoming them as a brother or sister in arms who also swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Of course, we still understand that they are of a different ethnicity. We’re not blind. We only place importance on their rank and position.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

We just assume that no matter what race you are, wherever you comes from, whatever religion, gender, or orientation: if you’re a young private – you’re probably an idiot no matter what. And if you’re a second lieutenant, you’re probably an idiot who’s also in the chain of command.

Troops come from all walks of life. I’ve served with former surfers from California, ranchers from Texas, and computer analysts from Illinois. Troops who grew up in the projects of Harlem to the high rises of Manhattan to trailer parks outside Atlanta to the suburbs of Cleveland.

I will forever be honored knowing they all embraced me as a brother. The life story of my friend, Spec. Allam Elshorafa, is proof that serving in the military will make you “see green” far more than the minute group of f*ckfaces that do radicalize.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Still one of his coolest photos was when he was a Private First Class. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Arriving at my first duty station in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I wasn’t the most popular guy in the unit. I quickly realized that awkwardly talking about World of Warcraft wasn’t doing me any favors with avid fishermen and party guys, yet they still always looked out for me as one of their own.

In Afghanistan, I got to know Elshorafa. He was a Muslim born in Jerusalem. His family moved to Dallas when he was younger and as an adult, he enlisted to defend his new American home.

We quickly became friends. We’d talk about cartoons we saw as kids, video games we played as teens, and movies we hated as adults.

Things shifted when the topic of “why we enlisted” came up. He told me it was his life’s goal to help teach others that “not all Muslims are terrorists.” They are a fringe group that preys on other Muslims and are a blight on his religion.

One of radical Islam’s recruitment methods is to point at racism of westerners to rally disenfranchised Muslims. Yet, for all of the vile hatred those sh#tbags spew against the West, the largest target of Islamic terror is still other Muslims.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
A little compassion goes a long way. (Photo via Military.com)

Islamic terror to Elshorafa was the same as how every group deals with the radical sh*theads. Not all Christians are Branch Davidians, and not all Republicans are in the Alt-Right. To him, America was his home and we were his family. I, and everyone else in the platoon, embraced him as such.

My brother-in-arms ended his own life in June 2017. He joined the staggering number of veterans that still remain one of the most tragic concerns within our community. The loss still pains me, and I wear the memorial band every day.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
I’ll never take it off, brother. I even argue with the TSA over taking it off.

It didn’t matter what race or religion either of us was, Elshorafa had my six and it will always hurt that I didn’t have his in his time of need.

He taught me about his faith and never attempted to convert me. He invited me to join him at an Eid al-Fitr celebration and the food was amazing. Just as you learn the players of every other football team other than your own by hanging out with their passionate fans, you learn in the military about others’ ways of life by bullsh*tting with them.

Everyone embraces the same suck on a daily basis. We all bleed the same red. And we all wear the same ‘green.’

Military Life

These are the best military photos for the week of September 23

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


Air Force:

Senior Airman Joseph Clark, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and a pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron, conduct a pre-flight inspection at Krzesiny Air Base, Poland, Sept. 11, 2017, in support of Aviation Rotation 17-4. The exercise focused on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities and helps strengthen relationships and engagements with allies.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, take part in an elephant walk in support of exercise Beverly Sunrise 17-07 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 16, 2017. The exercise was a simulated deployment to test the readiness of the 35th Fighter Wing, and assessed their ability to meet deployment and wartime requirements.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman

Army:

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shelita Taylor of the 400th Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, dons and clears her gas mask during a team-building ruck march held by the 200th Military Police Command during a ‘CSM Huddle’ in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sept. 16, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Soldiers from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), sweep a mock city for enemy Soldiers during a joint air to ground integration training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Sept. 6, 2017. Soldiers from 10th SFG(A) participated in a three-week training exercise in support of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. The exercise is designed to enhance the interoperability of multiple air assets supporing Special Operations ground force maneuver.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Army photo

Navy:

OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 19, 2017) Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) prepare to disembark the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

Sailors heave line aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195) while underway in Mediterranean Sea.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Krystina Coffey

Marine Corps:

Cpl. Angelica Mcfarlin, a heavy equipment operator with Support Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, moves shrubbery during Exercise Deep Strike II at Blythe, California, September 6, 2017.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Shoemaker

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Ground Combat Element, Company A, conduct a M240B medium machine gun shoot during Alligator Dagger. Alligator Dagger is an amphibious exercise in order to increase proficiency and enable the force to train for amphibious operations within U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Valero

Coast Guard:

Boat Forces Standardization Team members from Training Center Yorktown VA inspected Station Washington DC this past week. They had the luxury of sneaking in some sightseeing while conducting underway drills.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard photo

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of March 16th

Life in the military is unpredictable. There’s no way for service members to know what will happen on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, the ranks are filled with photographers who stand ready to capture everyday life, both in training and at war.


Here are the best photos from across the military this week:

Air Force:

Crew chiefs from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas wait for take-off Mar. 12, 2018 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Team Little Rock hosted over 65 Airmen from six wings to train together and showcase tactical airlift. Partnerships and interoperability enhance operational effectiveness and mission readiness.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christine M. Pepin, a crew chief with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, performs a cursory inspection prior to hot pit refueling of an F-16C Fighting Falcon at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia, March 13, 2018. The 177th FW participated in an air-to-air training exercise to sharpen air combat capabilities and accomplish multiple training upgrades.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Cristina J. Allen)

Army:

The U.S. Army Military Advisor Training Academy of the 316th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Benning conducts a field training exercise at Lee Field, March 14. The three-day exercise is the culmination of a four-week program designed to prepare Soldiers to conduct key leader engagements, exercise defense plans with local leadership and foreign forces, and grow the skills necessary to develop report with local populations. The U.S. Army MATA trains, educates, and develops professional Soldiers within the Security Forces Assistance Brigades.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

A combat engineer assigned to Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, pulls security as the Soldiers press forward to clear a trench during a live fire exercise at a range near the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, March 13, 2018. These Soldiers are part of the unique, multinational battle group comprised of U.S., U.K., Croatian and Romanian soldiers who serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade as a deterrence force in northeast Poland in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil)

Navy:

An explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 prepares to rappel during helicopter rope suspension technique (HRST) training at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. EODGRU 2 is headquartered at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story and oversees Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 and all east coast based EOD mobile Units.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, readies for takeoff on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Corona)

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division fire an M777A2 155mm howitzer during the 10th Marines Top Gun Competition for Rolling Thunder at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mar. 15, 2018. The Marines were evaluated on their timely and accurate fire support capabilities and overall combat effectiveness.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nghia Tran)

A Marine assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) fires his M4 carbine rifle during a routine deck shoot aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21) March 14, 2018. Marines conducted the training to maintain their combat skills and proficiency while deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

Coast Guard:

A Coast Guard boat crewmember aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, from Station St. Petersburg, Florida, assists two adults and three children Monday, March 12, 2018, from their disabled 18-foot pontoon boat 1 mile south of the Gandy Boat Ramp, Florida.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Massey)

Members of Astoria Emergency Medical Service surround an injured female hiker at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Ore., prior to transporting her to Columbia Memorial Hospital for further medical care, Mar. 11, 2018.The hiker was hoisted from Saddle Mountain by a sector MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, which consisted of Lt. Cmdr. James Gibson, Lt. Jason Weeks, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Dowell and Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Yelvington.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jason Weeks.)

Military Life

8 things you realize leaving drill life

Coming off the trail is a strange period in a military family’s life. After putting years into an OSUT unit — yes the WHOLE family puts in time — suddenly it’s about to be over. Back to normal working hours … well normal military working hours. Back to a life where you’re not constantly supervising. And now, after putting in so much blood, sweat and tears, after losing so much sleep, things are different. On the other side of drill life has somehow changed, all for the better. Because now you’ve had a fulfilling experience, helped grow the military, helped change lives and make stronger soldiers

  1. It’s an EMOTIONAL experience

You never knew just how much you had invested in this gig until it’s over. Do you hear that sound of deafening silence? It’s relief overtaking your entire body. Let it soak in. That is, if you can hear it over the sound of your still-yelling voice. Remember, it’s now ok to talk at normal decibels. Carry on. 

  1. You feel bad for the new guys

Each new drill and their subsequent family — they’re coming in with a long road ahead. Even the mention of how long their stint is can make you cringe. It’s best to take a deep breath and walk on.

  1. Your career will never be as entertaining

Never underestimate the stupidity of a private … that’s a saying for a reason. I mean, it’s not their fault — they’re the new guy who doesn’t know any better. (What dumb moves did you make as a private?) But in the same light, their moves brought endless entertainment. So much so that it’s likely to never be beat — that is, unless you promote and return to basic once again. 

  1. There’s no use in repurposing the hat

Unless you catch a job as Smokey the Bear, there’s no re-using the brown round. And good riddance to the things, too. They’re hot, they’re heavy, and they serve little purpose other than identifying you to your trainees. Put them on display or blow them up in the field, that’s your call. 

drill life
  1. If you haven’t lived it, you won’t understand

Families who haven’t lived drill will never understand what it’s like. It’s a far cry from “normal” military life. And unless you’ve been there personally, it doesn’t hit quite as close to home. Anyone who says it’s “not that bad” should be promptly told where to go. Anyone considering volunteering should be patted on the back and wished the best of luck. 

  1. You made less than minimum wage

All that extra drill pay everyone talks so much about? Yeah, you didn’t know it would be accounting for all hours of the night, endless stints of the field, and really never getting a clear day off. Count in the pandemic and you may or may not have felt like you’d never go home again. Our best advice is to NOT do the math on how much you’re actually making per hour. It’s beyond depressing. 

  1. Your sanity still exists

Don’t worry, it’s still in there, somewhere. Once you come off the trail, life somehow settles. That crazy feeling you had from lack of sleep? It’s gone. That shakiness from too much caffeine? The blinking and your kids grew three inches and learned 10 new skills? The wanting to pull your own hair out because you cannot just relax and have a “chill day.” All that — it’s gone and comes back … eventually. 

  1. You made great friends along the way

Leave was non-existent unless it was the holidays (and we don’t mean four-days, what are four-days anyway? Lolz) — we’re talking about the big ones: Christmas, Haunnaukah, New Year’s — that’s your annual leave. Two weeks of freedom is all. That meant spending time off — rare as it might have been — with fellow families on the trail. And in some big moments in life, you were all each other had. It made you close and wonderful memories were made. 

Articles

6 newbie boots you wouldn’t want in your infantry squad

Hollywood war movies are usually comprised of strong and versatile trope elements like the wise seasoned soldier, the good decision makers, and the flawed protagonist who needs a solid character arch before the credits roll.


There’s also the cast of characters that are considered the weaker links, or they’re just so naïve audiences sigh with relief when they die off.

So here’s our list of newbie boots we wouldn’t want taking point on patrol with us.

1. Conrad Vig (“3 Kings”)

He’s the funny, goofy guy who also talks too much and no one takes him seriously until you get annoyed by his presence.

Great movie, but bad karate kick. (Image via Giphy)

2. Corporal Upham (“Saving Private Ryan”)

He stops himself from saving a fellow brother because his fear got the best of him, but to add insult to injury, he gave up an easy kill shot and let the German soldier off the hook. Unacceptable!

Unfreaking believable. You had him, Upham! (Image via Giphy)

3. Gardner (“Platoon”)

We knew this over-weight character was going to perish sooner rather than later — no way his stature meets physical regs. No squad wants the guy who can’t hold his own weight — literally — on their team.

He ain’t gonna make it! (Image via Giphy)

Related: The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

4. Norman Ellison (“Fury”)

Although this character wasn’t meant to be a “tanker”, the situation called for it. There’s nothing worse for an infantry squad than the guy who refuses to do his job — killing the enemy.

Good for nothing. (Image via Giphy)

5. Fergus O’Donnell (“Jarhead”)

He’s the Blue Falcon that managed to burn down a weapons cache when all he had to do is sit and listen to Christmas music.

The ultimate Blue Falcon (Image via Giphy)

6. Gomer Pyle (“Full Metal Jacket”)

Also known as Leonard Lawrence in the film, Pyle was hated by his fellow recruits and they held an awesome blanket party in his honor.

This poor bastard. (Image via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Military Life

3 tips for picking out a ‘spouse’ right before a deployment

It’s no secret that both male and female troops tend to get married right before a long deployment to collect and save some extra cash. Although contract marriages are illegal in the military, that doesn’t stop many troops from heading down to City Hall or finding a justice of the peace to recite a few words and signing their names on a marriage license.


If you have the money and a potential spouse, you can plan a cheap wedding within an hour — depending on your location. Since most contract marriages end in divorce (go figure), it’s important to cover your own six when you’re out and about looking for that year-long husband or wife.

But, before you head out and find that special someone, read these tips — they just might save your ass later on.

Should I or shouldn’t I just marry a stripper?

Countless troops have gone out to their local boobie-bars to do exactly this. That fact is, strippers are humans, too, and they’re just trying to make ends meet like you, so that extra cash seems pretty good. However, never go after one that works near a military base, especially your military base.

Other service members are nosy and command “red flags” those types of relationship behaviors. So, if you’re going to marry a stripper, don’t go next door and do it a few months prior to deployment to give it some buffering time. It looks better on paper that way.

Use that dating app on your phone

Like they say, “there are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Now, we’re not saying you have the right to play games with peoples’ minds and hearts, but they, too, might be in a financial bind and you can bring the marriage idea up to them when the time is right.

Get in touch with an ex back in your home town

The best way to keep your fake marriage under wraps is to keep your new spouse far, far away from anything that resembles a military base. You’re still in contact with your family back home anyway, so you might as well drop a “hey” to your single ex that isn’t yet sure what they want out of life.

We all personally know someone who’s married their ex. There’s a history there behind the happy couple, which validates the union and lowers your chances of getting caught.

Think about it.

Humor

6 tips to get a ‘sick in quarters’ chit in the military

Sometimes you just feel a little under the weather and are looking for that extra day off. Everyone experiences it and you’re no different. But hey, take if from a “doc” who’s heard every excuse in the book. Here are some surefire ways to get yourself that 24-hour “Sick in Quarters” chit that says “no duty for me, and I’m going home.”


Here’s a few ways you can get sent home as sick in quarters  — on your own terms.

1. Food Poisoning

Sounds bad right? Because it is bad.

Telling the medical personnel you ate sushi the night before (even if you didn’t) and you’ve been vomiting ever since is gold. Don’t forget to tell them you’re unable to hold down water.

They may conduct a “water challenge” which is when they monitor you to see if you can hold down a glass of water. They won’t tell you what they’re doing because they’re camouflaging the test. Spit it up onto the floor, or into a trash can, never in he sink. You want them to see the evidence.

Since there’s no real medical test for this, it’ll probably get labeled in your medical record as a case of gastroenteritis, which is a fancy word for stomach ache.

2. More Than 5 Days

Five days is typically the baseline where doctors believe your aliments may be bacteriological instead of viral — even without a fever. This is a huge tally in your win column. Once the medical professionals begin talking about giving you antibiotics, which they rarely do, hold the smile back when they put you on a five day Z-pak instead of a cold pack.

Letting you go back on duty and risk getting others sick makes more work for them. So away you go!

3. A History of…

Doctors have to be detectives ruling out the worst possible medical condition first, but they only know what you tell them.

Be careful of what you say and how you say it, you could be looking at a full day in medical getting blood work and x-rays. Your chances of going home early could be over.

4. Cough During Auscultation

Auscultation is the act of listening to sounds your heart, lungs, and other organs make using a stethoscope to diagnosis pulmonary and cardiac conditions. Here’s a common trick. Deliver a nice wet cough when the doctor puts the diaphragm of the stethoscope on your back and tells you to take a breath deep in. Timing is key. Deep breathes tend to trigger coughing.

Also note that you should dramatically clear your throat when left alone in the patient’s room. The medical staff can totally hear you from outside.

5. Have A Battle Buddy

You’re feeling so ill you can’t make it to medical alone. That’s a shame. Having a witness to testify on your behalf how sick you are is an incredible asset to have. Just remember, you now own him or her big time.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Imagine that!

6. No partying for you

Now that you’ve got your SIQ chit. Get out of there and go home before the doc changes his mind.

Some quick words of advice. People are haters, and the military community is small. You get caught at the bar, mall, or strip club on your newly earned day off, you could be in a world of hurt as your new assigned place of duty is now where ever you call home.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.
Military Life

5 ethical ways to make Basic Training easier

Let’s get this straight right away: Doing things that are clearly against the rules makes you a sh*tbag Soldier. However, just because you don’t want to be a sh*tbag doesn’t mean you have to strive to be the best. For many, the goal of Basic Training quickly becomes simply making it to the end.


Just take a few pointers from the E-4 Mafia and you’ll find your Basic Training experience to be much more bearable. Keep in mind that while these may not be against any rules, they certainly won’t win you brownie points with anyone.

5. Hide behind the fat kid

Right out the gate, trainees experience a “Shark Attack.” Every stereotype you’ve ever heard about a Drill Sergeant is unleashed upon new recruits in one fell swoop. As newbies get off the bus for the first time, DIs swarm, “attacking” each as they emerge. The Drill Sergeants will try to space themselves out to make sure every trainee gets a chance to “enjoy” the attack. Sometimes, however, they can’t help themselves when a big boy gets off the bus — every Drill Sergeant wants a chance to yell in his face.

That’s where you come in. Quietly avoid eye contact and let the big guy ahead of you take the brunt.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
This one may be harder than it seems, but if you pull it off, you’ll save yourself from wetting your newly issued ACU trousers. (Photo by Stephen Standifird)

4. Be just good enough

You’re just trying to make it to the finish line. There’s no first place trophy. Well, technically, there’s a Certificate of Achievement, but those are remarkably easy to get after you arrive at your first duty station and rarely is an Army Achievement Medal is given to out-f*cking-standing trainees.

If you’re not already in that 0.1 percent of excellence, your sole focus should be on improving yourself and graduating.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
When you get to your unit, you can a CoA by just existing properly. (Photo by Spc. Tynisha Daniel)

3. Do nothing, say nothing

At some point, you’ll hear the drill sergeants call, “everywhere I go, there’s a drill sergeant there.” You have no idea how true that saying actually is.

You could just be getting ready for lights out and decide it’s safe to f*ck off. Nope, there’s a drill sergeant. You might think no one will notice you skipping out of cleaning the bay. Nope, there’s a drill sergeant. Don’t even bother shamming or slacking off with the other guys in the platoon. Just keep your nose down.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Just clean your rifle when you can. They might confuse this as taking initiative but, in actuality, you’re just avoiding trouble. (Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

2. “Clean” the latrines while you’re on firewatch

Every night, two trainees pull fire watch. In one hour intervals, the two oscillate between sitting at the desk and cleaning.

Always volunteer to be the cleaner because chances are that whatever you’re about to clean has been cleaned already. As long as you, say, wipe down the sink, you’ve technically cleaned something.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
Even when you make it to the real Army, you’ll still be mopping latrines. So, get used to it now. (Photo by Maj. Brandon Mace)

1. Don’t stop the sh*tbag from getting in trouble

Nothing is more true in the military than the phrase, “one team, one fight.” Which brings us to the as*hole trainee that doesn’t get the message.

There will always be that one trainee who is not fit for military service and comes in with a bad attitude. There’s no redemption. When they go down in flames (which they will), you’ll look better by comparison by just not being a sh*tbag. But at the same time, don’t get in their way — you don’t want to get bunched together in their idiocy. Whatever you do, don’t try to cover for them.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad
You’re going to get smoked regardless, so don’t try to avoid it. (Photo by Sgt. Phillip McTaggart)

Military Life

Why airmen call Chief Master Sergeant Wright ‘Enlisted Jesus’

Kaleth Wright is the incumbent Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. He is the 18th CMSAF and only the second person of color to hold the rank. In the 27 years preceding his appointment, Chief Master Sgt. Wright (obviously) lead an illustrious career. But in late November of 2016, something miraculous happened.

One day, in a manger, a legend was born. It was nearly Thanksgiving in the cold, far-away land of the District of Columbia when the story of the man who come to be known as “Enlisted Jesus” first took root. On the following Valentine’s Day, Chief Master Sgt. Wright took the helm and, almost instantly, began to rain down blessings upon the world’s greatest airpower.

There are countless reasons airmen shower Enlisted Jesus in praise, but here are three very real, very specific justifications for his quickly-spreading moniker.


7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Come o’ ye little children

Enlisted Professional Military Education overhaul

Rumor has it that one of the first items on the agenda of Enlisted Jesus was to free up the time and energy of his airmen so that they could better serve this great nation. His first, well-known, crack at freeing up that time? EPME 21.

The new system did not get rid of the requirement, but it did get rid of the Time-in-Service bit that automatically signed up service members according to how long they’ve been in uniform, regardless of rank, and too often stripped them of the chance to attend EPME courses in-resident.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Have you heard of his goodness?

(Air Force Nation)

EPR? Not for E-3 and below!

One of the most dreaded moments in many an airman’s career is Enlisted Performance Review time! Even if you’ve been blessed with a sharp supervisor and have recorded all of your accomplishments meticulously, it’s still going to give you a spike in cortisol. They get easier to do as time goes along, but those first few can be downright scary.

For the supervisor — especially the young supervisor — this time is a fiery trial of skill and fortitude. You have your supervisor, who is getting sh*t from their supervisor, who is getting sh*t from their supervisor, who’s getting sh*t from the 1st Sgt, up your ass to get this done on time, even if you’re early.

Now put together a new supervisor and a green troop. What does this combination yield come EPR? A stressed out, ineffective set of airmen.

Enlisted Jesus decided to kill that noise by removing the requirement for anyone who is promotion-eligible.

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

But first, let us take a selfie

(Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force’s Instagram)

OCPs

No, Enlisted Jesus likely didn’t make the call to bring the OCP and move away from that sage grey, tiger stripe getup so many of us loathe. Hell, he probably didn’t even have too much of say in that decision at all.

He has, however, been very vocal in support of them and is largely seen as the face and force behind them finally becoming the official duty uniform of the Air Force.

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