5 ways the 'good ol' boy' system screws good troops - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

One of the most common threads among troops wanting to leave a unit (or the military in general) is toxic leadership. Although high ranking officers and senior enlisted have always tried to pluck toxicity out of the system because it goes against every military value, it still rears its head, typically in the form of the “good ol’ boy” system.


The “good ol’ boy” system is when a leader unabashedly chooses favorites among their subordinates.

There are many fair and impartial leaders within the military. I, personally, served under them and would gladly fall on a sword if they asked — even all these years later. These leaders would vehemently agree that their peers and superiors who exhibit obvious favoritism are in the wrong and are, frankly, undeserving of their position. This is why.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

That, or they’ll snap and lose all respect for said leader.

(DoD photo by David Vergun)

The cost of not playing is heavy

Superiors that follow the good ol’ boy system rarely make an effort to hide their favoritism. If they do pretend it doesn’t exist, troops will catch on and word will spread quickly through the ranks.

Trying to play by the rules under that “leader” is impossible. Instead, most troops will eventually break down and take the easy route of prioritizing the buttering up of their superiors. Rules are paramount to maintaining order and uniformity in the military. When they play second fiddle to keeping your superiors personally happy, something’s wrong.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

This is the most obvious form because everyone in the formation hears the BS being spewed.

(Photo by Sgt. Jacqueline A. Clifford)

Rewards are unearned

Two troops are up for awards: One has worked their ass off, day in and day out. They are a master at what they do and have not just helped others with problems, they’ve taught others how to fix those problems for next time. They don’t get in trouble with command, but they’re not the most people-friendly person you’ve met. The other unimpressively slides through work but goes fishing with the commander on weekends.

Logically speaking, the first troop should get a higher award than the second. Realistically, they probably got the same recognition, despite the difference in effort.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Because a “quiet retirement” is totally the same punishment as actual justice…

(Photo by Sgt. Crystal L. Milton)

Justice is not dealt

The Uniform Code of Military Justice is very clear. If someone is accused of wrongdoing, it’s up to a jury of their peers to determine their fate. Simply put: If someone does something wrong, their ass is grass. There aren’t any “ifs, ands, or buts” about it. A problem arises, however, when a leader decides to sweep an issue under the rug.

The law is clear and yet, somehow, different troops aren’t held to the same standard for the same crimes.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

“Nope… All good here.”

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

Bubbles are formed

Every good leader should be looking for means to positively improve the unit, no matter how minor the change. If a toxic leader surrounds him or herself with only people that nod, agree, and kiss their ass, they’ll see no need for improvement.

Troops do conduct evaluations of their superiors that get sent higher on the chain of command. In practice, these should give an accurate and fair assessment of a unit. This is an opportunity for troops to vent legitimate problems. However, too often these are disregarded because superiors are told things are fine by the sycophants.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

It’s one team, one fight. We’re all fighting for the same flag.

(Photo by Patrick Buffett)

Cliques face off

All troops aren’t always going to get along. That’s just a fact of life. But, when two groups of “good ol’ boys” butt heads, everyone else now needs to play along with their stupid game — no matter how petty.

As long as there’s still a working relationship, rivalries between units are fine. It builds espirt de corps. When there are divisions within a single unit because someone “doesn’t like that guy for something personal,” the unit has a serious problem.

Articles

21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

The 75th Ranger Regiment is an elite airborne light infantry unit, falling under the U.S. Special Operations Command.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Though headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Ranger regiment has three active Ranger battalions and one Special Troops Battalion, stationed at different bases in the U.S.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalions have approximately 600 men in each of its ranks, according to American Special Ops.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

With an increasingly fast op-tempo in a post-9/11 world, Rangers have stood out amongst their special ops peers as the experts in pulling off raids. “On multiple occasions, my teammates pulled terrorists out of their beds and flex cuffed them before they even woke up. That’s how precise Rangers have become in this war,” one Ranger wrote on the website SOFREP.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

But before any soldier can make it within the regiment, they need to go through some of the toughest training the military has to offer.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

For most soldiers, that training pipeline begins with the Ranger Assessment and Selection Programs. Once complete, soldiers will be assigned to the regiment and be authorized to wear its distinctive tan beret.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

While they are then authorized to wear the unit scroll of the 75th, they still need to attend the 8.5 week Ranger School if they want to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

The Army calls the 61-day Ranger School “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school” it has to offer.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

According to American Special Ops, students train for about 20 hours per day on two (or fewer) meals while sometimes carrying upwards of 90 pounds of gear. By the end of the course, they will hike or patrol approximately 200 miles.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

All will learn to memorize the Ranger Creed, an oath which embodies the elite soldiers’ ethos of never leaving a comrade behind, to never surrender, uphold Ranger history, and always complete the mission.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

The Regiment traces its lineage back to World War II. They were held in special regard after the Normandy landings, when 225 Rangers scaled cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc on June 6, 1944 under intense enemy fire. “The Rangers pulled themselves over the top,” President Ronald Reagan said of the men, in 1984. “And in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe.”

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Rangers have distinguished themselves on many battlefields since then, to include places like Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, and most recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Rangers in Vietnam


Like other special operations units, Rangers yield a variety of skills, weapons, and can conduct operations in different environments. They can hit a target on land,

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

from the air …

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

… and out of the water.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Beyond formal schools like Ranger, Airborne, and Mountain Warfare, soldiers in the Regiment are often practicing their skills or taking part in real-world exercises when they are not deployed.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Among its most recent high-profile missions, the 75th Ranger Regiment played a larger part in overthrowing the Taliban in 2002, and the invasion of Iraq.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Rangers jumping into Afghanistan near Kandahar in 2002. (Photo: Youtube/screenshot)

They also helped rescue Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who was taken prisoner of war during the invasion.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Though the Ranger Regiment is composed entirely of men, a number of women currently going through Ranger School who are poised to graduate may someday change that composition.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

That possibility is likely a long way off. But one thing is absolutely clear: The 75th Ranger Regiment, in keeping with its creed, will continue to lead the way into battle.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

NOW DON’T MISS: The history of the U.S. Navy SEALs

MIGHTY CULTURE

The mail must go through: Your questions answered about coronavirus and the mail

As America works quickly to find ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it might not always be easy to know which industries are being affected and in what ways. Restaurants are offering takeout, cable companies are giving rebates on data usage, and the mail… well, the mail is working just like it always has. And for good reason.

Some people have expressed concerns that the coronavirus known as Covid-19 seems to have a fairly long survival window on hard surfaces like kitchen counters, so it seems feasible that one could be exposed to Covid-19 through a letter or package they receive. Others have worried that isolation procedures could disrupt delivery of mail and other shipments. Fortunately, most of these concerns can be readily dismissed.


So, here are some frequently asked questions, along with expert-backed answers.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Q:Is it safe to send and receive mail or packages amid the coronavirus outbreak?

A: Yes, according to the CDC and WHO.

Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has already considered our concerns about viral transmission through the mail. They point out that the likelihood that the virus could potentially survive throughout the duration of shipping is so small, there’s really no risk associated with sending or receiving packages.

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC website reads.

The CDC aren’t the only ones saying mail is safe to send and receive. The experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) have echoed the CDC’s sentiments in their own releases.

“The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low,” the WHO said.
5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Q: Are mail rooms shutting down at basic training?

A: No, and if that changes, we’ll let you know right away.

Sandboxx News’ close relationship with Sandboxx Letters gives us a unique insight into how the letters apparatus runs, and just how closely our friends on the Letters side of the business keep in touch with the mail rooms at basic training installations all around the country.

Sandboxx’s operations team have been working double time to keep open lines of communications with mail rooms around the force, making sure they’ll be the first to know if there’s an issue and relaying the updates to Sandboxx’s executive leadership, Customer Happiness team, and us at Sandboxx News.

“Under normal operations we call every mailroom that we ship to across all 5 branches of the military once a month,” explains Bobby Vigil, Sandboxx’s Operations Manager and a Marine Corps infantry veteran.
“Since the coronavirus outbreak, we have been calling mailrooms once a week and will continue doing so, so we can stay on top of any changes made to base operations.”

The mail printing procedure at Sandboxx is also particularly safe for a number of reasons. Most of the Sandboxx staff has switched to working remotely, so the operations crew has limited exposure to others. The process of printing and even stuffing the letters into envelopes is all handled by machines, so there’s very little chance for issues to arise.

Sandboxx Letters works with FedEx for to ensure rapid delivery. You can see what they’re doing to make sure packages get through on their site here.

Q: Will mail be delayed because of the coronavirus?

A: It isn’t now, but we’ll let you know if that changes.

It may be safe to send and receive letters, but many have found themselves wondering if letters will still reach their destination in a normal amount of time amidst all the changes businesses have made to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

At least for now, the answer is that things are progressing more or less as usual. Letters are still being delivered in the usual amount of time through the regular postal service, and most letters sent through Sandboxx will still reach basic training the next day, just like always.

Sandboxx Mailroom Update Concerning COVID-19

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Of course, this is one answer that may change over time. As America continues to manage this outbreak, some services may run into delays. Remember that if delays do come, they’re likely the result of ensuring the safety of the package carriers.

If any changes do arise pertaining to coronavirus and the mail, Sandboxx News will keep you informed, just like we do with basic training changes, Covid-19 testing requirements from Tricare, and PCS changes.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


MIGHTY HISTORY

The top-secret plan to cripple Berlin during a Soviet invasion

During the Cold War, an Army Special Forces unit was tasked with sabotaging Soviet infrastructure and crippling an invasion force to buy NATO time should war break out. The mission was so secret that the entire thing was almost forgotten — until a few veterans of the unit stepped forward.

We spoke to two of these veterans to find out what it was like serving as clandestine soldiers in an occupied city on what was likely a suicide mission if the seemingly-imminent war ever started


5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

U.S. and Soviet forces standoff across Checkpoint Charlie in 1961, one of the many Cold War flare-ups that occurred in occupied Berlin after World War II.

(U.S. Army)

Master Sgt. Robert Charest is a veteran of Detachment A who has started the push for recording the unit’s history. Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Stejskal is the man who literally wrote the book on Detachment A.

The specific mission of Detachment A changed over the years, but the overarching goal was always preparing to counter and stall a Soviet invasion.

“If the Soviets decided to come across Checkpoint Charlie, we would just try to slow them down so that the rest of the folks, they’d get out of Berlin and all that stuff,” said Charest while describing the mission.

This meant that Charest, Stejskal, and others assigned to the unit — which had about 90 people in it for most of its existence — had to know what infrastructure to hit and how best to reach it. They also had to maintain all of the materials and weapons needed to complete their mission.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Berlin was criss-crossed by a network of trains, like this train for travelers on the U-Bahn. Another railway ran around the outside of the city carrying heavy freight, and Detachment A members were prepared to blow up train engines on the railway in case of war.

Some of the targets were obvious, like the railroad that ran around divided Berlin.

“Around Berlin, there was a railway network, basically called the Berliner Ring,” said Stejskal. “It was that railway network that would carry the majority of the Russian forces from east to west. So, you got the guys that are on the ground already and then you got all these troops that are going to be coming from Poland and the Czech Republic and then you’re heading for the Fulda Gap.”

Shutting down the railroad would slow the Soviet advance, but the teams that made up Detachment A needed a way to do it without getting caught. The more stuff they could break before getting captured and killed, the better chance NATO forces would have in building a defensive line and eventually launching a counter attack.

So, they rigged up pieces of coal, filled with explosives. Were these ever loaded into a train, the engineer would eventually blow up his own engine, blocking the rail line with a shattered train until authorities could clean up the mess, drastically slowing reinforcements.

Other targets included factories and other centers of manufacturing, transportation, and command and control.

To supply these missions, Detachment A relied on a series of spy-like gadgets and hidden caches of conventional weapons buried deep all over West Berlin. But the targets were in East Berlin, and Detachment A had to plan on how to strike across the city and, later in the war, across the Berlin Wall, to hit targets.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Special Forces sergeant Robert Charest while assigned to operation in Berlin, clearly rocking a different grooming standard than most soldiers in the Cold War.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Charest)

This required missions deep into Soviet-held Berlin. While Detachment A members usually enjoyed relaxed grooming standards and wore civilian clothes, spying across the wall was done in uniform surprisingly often.

“You put on a uniform, shaved your hair, got in the military vehicles, went through Checkpoint Charlie, and you had access to East Berlin,” Charest said, “Alexanderplatz and stuff like this. You drove around and that was your cover story. The Russians would do the same thing in West Berlin. They had their little system. That was how we conducted surveillance of our targets.”

The men had a huge advantage when spying on the East, though. Thanks to the 1950 Lodge Act, foreign nationals could obtain U.S. citizenship after a five-year stint in the military. This allowed Detachment A to recruit people from the neighborhoods and areas where their targets were without rousing suspicions. These recruits and leaders proved invaluable.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Soviet workers build the Berlin Wall, breaking up the city and reducing Detachment A’s ability to surveil its targets.

(U.S. National Archives)

“Our commander was great,” said Stejskal. “Our commander was Czech Officer who had served in the Resistance during World War II. Our Sergeant Major was a German who had served in the German Army, sort of, at the end of World War II. Just, nothing like you could imagine.”

“… several of the guys that reconned these targets were the actual Lodge Act people that lived in Berlin and had come from Berlin,” said Charest. “They knew where these targets were and the intel, G2 and above, knew what targets would be best to slow the Soviets down if they decided to come across.”

Detachment A practiced crossing the wall, swimming through deep canals with SCUBA gear, or making their way through sewer and water pipes under the city. One recon of the sewer pipes even got a senior officer in trouble.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Allied troops in West Berlin were deep behind Soviet lines. When the Soviets attempted to cut off re-supply to those troops, America launched the massive “Berlin Airlift” to keep them alive. The airlift was a success, but it drove home for many just how vulnerable West Berlin was.

(U.S. Air Force)

“He, along with somebody else, went into the sewer system to check the situation out for crossing points, okay,” Charest said. “Well, little did he know that the CIA had these things monitored with all kinds of stuff. They triggered the alarms.”

While the plans were well laid, they still relied on brave men willing to take on huge risks to make the mission a success. After all, West Berlin was still deep inside East Germany.

“It’s a strange feeling,” said Stejskal. “We were 110 miles behind the East German border, about 12,000 allied troops inside West Berlin surrounded by close to a million Russian and Warsaw Pact soldiers. Oddly enough, I think most of us were very energized to be where we were.”

And the men had a good idea of how dangerous that situation was.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Soviet forces prepare to leave Hungary. If the Cold War had gone hot, Detachment A members, like the rest of the allied troops in Berlin, would have been outnumbered and outgunned over 100 miles from friendly forces.

(RIA Novosti Archive, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

“Well, it was basically a suicide mission,” Charest said. “If we got in and hit anything and then we had to face escape and evasion, all right? You were on your own. There was nothing set up, formally, for escape and evasion, yet. You were on your own. That’s why you spoke the language, that’s why you were familiar with the countryside. You knew, essentially, you had to get to the coast or wherever NATO withdrew to and stuff like this. But, you had nothing formal, you were on your own.”

“I think we would’ve been hard-pressed to survive more than 72 hours, but you never can tell,” Stejskal said. “How did the OSS agents feel when they parachuted France or into Yugoslavia during World War II? Same kind of feeling. You’re anticipating that you’re going in to a very bad situation, but you got the best tools, the best cover, and everything else.”

Luckily, Detachment A never had to slow a Soviet invasion, despite flare-ups, like the tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie. Instead, they spent their time training and conducting surveillance, preparing to save American forces in a war that never came and quietly saving American lives while building the framework and doctrine for units that followed them, like SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force.

MIGHTY SPORTS

7 great stretches for lower back pain

There’s nothing more debilitating than lower back pain. The grimaces, groans, and feeble feelings one gets from back pain happen because the area is full of nerve endings that react violently to any injury inflicted on them (like a twist while carrying a particularly squirmy kid). If you’ve strained a muscle, there is no real shortcut to healing: You have to rest, ice, and wait it out as your body repairs the microtears. But often, back pain is caused not by tears but by tightness or spasms, and these issues can be addressed through stretching.

These 7 moves are designed to target your lower back. In each case, the stretch should be no deeper than a position you can comfortably hold for at least 30 seconds, and should never be so intense as to cause pain. Slowly ease into each position, and when you reach a point of manageable intensity, focus on breathing in and out deeply for 30 seconds to one minute.


(Photo by Katee Lue)

1. Child’s pose

Funny, isn’t it, that a likely source of your back pain is also the name of the exercise to ease it? To perform this yoga-inspired move, start on all fours. Slowly sink your hips back toward your feet, until your butt touches your heels and your chest is pressed against your quads. Extend your arms in front of you and feel the gentle stretch along your back.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

2. Cradle pose

Turn over onto your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Raise your feet and bring your knees toward your chest. Wrap your arms over your shins as if you are giving them a big hug. Gently pull your knees in closer to your spine, raising your head so that your back is rounded.

3. Figure 4

Start facing a chair back, table, or sturdy towel rack. Cross your right foot over your left knee, bending your right knee out to the side so that your legs form the shape of the number “4.” Holding the support in front of you, bend your left knee, stick your butt out, and sink into the stretch, rounding your spine and pulling away from the support to deepen the stretch in your lower back. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Cat pose

Another yoga classic, start this move on all fours. Drop your head toward the floor and round your back, imagining the center of your spine being lift by a string toward the ceiling.

5. Floor twist

Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Spread arms out to either side for support. Gently let your knees drop to the right side while you rotate your head and torso to the left. Return to center, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Photo by Jakari Ward)

6. Chair stretch

Sitting in a chair, cross your right leg over your left. Place your left hand at the outside of your right knee. Gently press against your right knee as you twist your head and torso to the right, letting your legs turn slightly to the left. Return to neutral. Repeat on the opposite side.

7. Runner’s stretch

Sometimes, a tight lower back is exacerbated by even tighter hamstrings. For this stretch, start sitting on the floor, both legs straight in front of you. Turn your right leg out and bend your right knee, sliding your right foot up so it touches the instep of your left knee. Lean forward and grab your left toes with both hands (grasp your left calf if you don’t have the flexibility to reach that far) feeling the stretch down your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Photo by Alexander Mils)

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New VA appeals process is starting and it looks promising

Over the last 18 months, VA has been dedicated to implementing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (Appeals Modernization Act). The Appeals Modernization Act was signed into law by President Trump on Aug. 23, 2017, and has been fully implemented beginning Feb. 19, 2019. VA is proud to now offer veterans greater choice in how they resolve a disagreement with a VA decision.


Veterans who appeal a VA decision on or after Feb. 19, 2019, have three decision review lanes to choose from: Higher-Level Review, Supplemental Claim, and appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board). VA’s goal is to complete Supplemental Claims and Higher-Level Reviews in an average of 125 days, and decisions appealed to the Board for direct review in an average of 365 days. This is a vast improvement to the average three to seven years veterans waited for a decision in the legacy process.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Clayton Cupit)

Before appeals reform, pending appeals grew 350 percent from 100,000 in Fiscal Year 2001 to 450,000 in Fiscal Year 2017. In November 2017, VA initiated the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) to afford Veterans with a legacy appeal the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of the new process. RAMP ended Feb. 15, 2019, but VA remains committed to completing the inventory of legacy appeals.

This is a historic day for Veterans and their families. Appeals Modernization helps VA continue its effort to improve the delivery of benefits and services to Veterans and their families.

For more information on Appeals Modernization, visit http://www.va.gov/decision-reviews.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

This Marine survived a shot from a .50-cal at point-blank range

After volunteering to deploy to Iraq four times, the Marine Corps finally sent Cpl. Jared Foster to Baghdad in February 2005. He was assigned as a personal security detail driver for VIPs in the Baghdad area when tragedy struck.


Just a month later after being sent to Iraq, Foster was just sitting down in his tent after a fire watch when a weapon discharged. With all the smoke in the tent, Foster thought a grenade had gone off. He was wrong.

“I saw smoke,” he told AZCentral in a 2007 interview. “Then I looked down because I felt something really cold, and when I lifted my hand up, it had blood all over it.”

Foster couldn’t move and couldn’t hear, but tried to yell for help. A .50-caliber rifle discharged from just five feet behind him. The shot should have torn him in half. Instead, it missed his spine and exited through his stomach.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Marines man an M2 Browning .50-cal machine gun. (U.S. Marine Corps)

His friends cut off his blouse to tend to his wounds and his intestines fell out. When they told him he was shot by a .50-cal, he didn’t believe them.

“Nah, that would rip your head off, he told them.” He lost consciousness shortly after.

What kind of BMG round went through Foster’s body isn’t clear but the various types of 50-caliber ammunition are commonly used to penetrate vehicle armor or chew through protective cover – like concrete.

Two years later, the Marine told AZCentral that he was evacuated to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center and subsequently underwent some 45 surgeries. He lost his tailbone and suffered damage to his large and small intestines. He was even told he would never walk again.

“I say I don’t have a butt to sit on now, and I really don’t,” Foster is quoted as saying in a Marine Corps Safety Corner. “The only thing that saved my life is I was maybe five to 10 feet away from the .50-cal when it went off, and it didn’t have time to tumble and pick up speed and velocity. It went through me, three feet of wood, four feet of a dirt berm, went another 300 yards and hit another dirt berm.”

Not only did Foster survive the wound, but he was also on his feet and walking within two years of being shot.

“The doctors said they didn’t know if they could save me,” he told the Marine Corps Safety Corner. “They didn’t know how to put me back together because they’d never seen anyone shot by a .50-caliber. The hole in my back was huge. But whatever they did worked.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

New Forever GI Bill qualifies more reservists for awesome benefits

Reservists called up for active duty will soon qualify for increased Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits if they meet certain requirements.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” was passed by Congress and signed into law in August 2017. The Forever GI Bill expands education benefits for some members of the Reserve effective Aug. 1, 2018.

VA may now consider more reservist service as qualifying time towards eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, including:


  • Major disasters or emergencies, as authorized under section 12304a of title 10, U.S. Code
  • Pre-planned missions of up to 365 days in support of combatant commands, as authorized under section 12304b of title 10, U.S. Code

The service must occur on or after June 30, 2008. The benefits are payable for a course of education beginning on or after August 1, 2018.

It’s important to note that serving time under title 10, U.S.C. 12304a or 12304b doesn’t automatically qualify for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has a minimum service requirement of at least 90 days, although periods of service for separate missions can be combined to meet the 90-day threshold.

Here are some examples to help you understand this provision of the Forever GI Bill:

A reservist was called up to active duty and served in Afghanistan for one year in 2002. Then he or she was called up for three months in 2004, two months in 2005, and three months in 2010 under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Forever GI Bill/Colmery Act allows more Reserve service to qualify for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Prior to Aug. 1, 2018, those three months under 12304a were not creditable active duty service, so the person was eligible for the 60 percent tier with 17 months of creditable service. Now, thanks to this new provision of the Forever GI Bill/Colmery Act, the three months of service under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a can be added. The reservist now has 20 months of qualifying service and would be eligible for the 70 percent tier.

Or, let’s say a reservist had only 90 days of service under title 10, U.S. Code 12304a. He or she wouldn’t have qualified at all. With this law change, the reservist now has qualifying active duty and would be eligible for the 40 percent tier.

If you haven’t explored your options to use your education benefits, you can start by visiting the GI Bill Comparison tool. You can see how to maximize your education value and look up the college, training school, or even apprenticeship program you’re interested in attending. You can also see how much your GI Bill benefits will cover and if you’d have any out of pocket expenses.

If you have any questions, please call 1–888-GI-BILL-1 (1–888–442–4551). If you use the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD), the Federal number is 711. You can also visit the Forever GI Bill page.

Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service delivers GI Bill® education benefits to Veterans, service members, and their families. Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pay for college, graduate school, and training programs.

Featured image: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leaders, and Democratic Members of the House join representatives from Veterans’ Service Organizations at an enrollment ceremony for the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @VAVetBenefits on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The ‘Pando Commandos’ were more intense than you’d think

For the 2017 Army-Navy Game, the Army’s jerseys celebrated the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), the predecessor to the current 10th Mountain Division. Even with the spotlight on one of the most versatile units of WWII, many people don’t understand the bad-assery of the “Pando Commandos.”


After witnessing ski-mounted Finnish soldiers successfully take on and destroy two Soviet tank divisions, founder of the National Ski Patrol, Charles Minot “Minnie” Dole saw for the need ski troops in the U.S. Army. After much convincing of the Department of Defense, the 10th Light Division (Alpine) was formed from the combinations of the 85th, 86th, and 87th Infantry Regiments assembled, 9,200ft above sea level, at Camp Hale in Pando, Colorado on July 13, 1943.

The goal here was to train a rugged, mountain soldier, acclimated to the harsh mountain tops of the Alps and the frigid north of Scandinavia. Soldiers needed to be trained in both skiing and ice climbing. The 10th Light Division (Alpine) was soon ready to fight and was re-designated as the as the 10th Mountain Division, complete with unique tab and official unit patch.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Because apparently you can’t use a cartoon panda holding a rifle on skis as your official heraldry. (Image via KnowYourMeme)

Meanwhile, the Germans had just set up defenses across the Alps, making travel from the south nearly impossible — a perfect task for the Pando Commandos.

The Germans at Riva Ridge on Mount Belvedere assumed that the near 1,500-ft vertical cliff would be impossible to scale and scarcely manned the position. The 10th Mountain, under the cover of night, blizzard, and complete silence, made the climb and assaulted the Germans as they slept. It was a complete success. The surprise attack grabbed the attention of Germans, who tried to make seven counterattacks to reclaim the peak. None were successful.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
At the time, skiing was mostly a college thing. As a result, their division had more degrees and were smarter than anyone else — a fact most 10th Mountain guys would happily tell you today. (Image via Boston Globe)

Today, the legacy continues on as the 10th Mountain still trains in the icy hell known as Fort Drum. The high-altitude training is perfectly suited for the mountains of Afghanistan.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liane Schmersahl)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

3 things you should never say to a military spouse

It’s no doubt that those who haven’t lived the military lifestyle have a difficult time with some of the logistics. In everything from decoding thousands of acronyms, to seemingly “hard” dates that change at the drop of a hat, to the mindset of doing without a loved one for months on end, if you haven’t lived it, it’s a foreign reality.


That’s not to say non-military folk aren’t empathetic, simply that they haven’t experienced military happenings firsthand. However, that is to say they should remain impartial at all times. And they definitely shouldn’t tell a milspouse the following three things:

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

You knew what you were getting into.

Yes. That is an actual thing that people say to military members and their spouses alike. A quite common thing.

Sure. We know the main points. But all the details? Some surprises are sure to come along the way with anything in life. No matter how prepared you are, no one can anticipate the emotions of that first deployment (or the tenth).

Saying that a milspouse can’t talk about a situation being hard just because they knew about it upfront, is wholly unfair. We are communicators. When things bother us, we discuss them. When we are having a rough time, we tell others … that’s part of what helps the situation get better.

But to be shut down by someone who has zero idea of what they’re going through and to have them tell you your feelings don’t matter because you knew a military marriage would be hard? Hold me back.

It’s a harder situation than anyone thinks – and instead of being told their feelings are invalid, military spouses should be celebrated and supported for their help within the armed forces community.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
The guided-missle cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) Homecoming

At least … it could be worse.

Sigh. Another common response to military lifestyle changes is “at least.”

“At least he won’t be gone that long.” “At least he gets to come home for the birth.” “At least he’s not deploying.” It’s a minimizing statement that makes us want to pull our hair out.

Why can’t it just be hard? Why do milspouses have to be told their feelings aren’t as big as they feel them?

Yes, it could be worse. That’s true of anything in life. But we don’t need the Debbie Downers of the world pointing out stats about how much worse off life could be. If you can’t muster up a sincere, “That’s tough! It’s ok to be upset,” then maybe just don’t say anything at all.

But you get great benefits.

And? Anything else you’d like to toss in from left field, Karen? Sure, milspouses are grateful for how wonderful it is to get free flu swabs or take courses via the GI Bill. But we promise, that’s not the first thought that comes up.

There are great benefits of military life. But it’s not exactly an even trade-off for the sacrifices the entire family makes. Really, it’s apples and oranges, and if you talk to milspouses about how they should be grateful for all the benefits during month seven of a deployment, they just might throw said fruit in your direction.

When talking to military family members, be careful what you say. Even when ill intentions aren’t in mind, be careful not to belittle their experience or denounce what’s been gone through. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t understand unless you’ve lived it, and sometimes, when things are hard, we just want to be heard.

Military Life

These are the best military photos for the week of September 16th

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


Air Force:

An Air Commando from the 7th Special Operations Squadron, 352d Special Operations Wing fires a .50 caliber machine gun aboard a CV-22 Osprey during a flight around southern England, Sept. 11, 2017. The Osprey flew out to a range where the crew sighted, loaded and ran through technical and tactical procedures to re-qualify on the .50 Caliber weapons system.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Photo by Staff Sgt. Philip Steiner

Aircrew from the 179th Airlift Wing depart from here to pick up and deliver much needed supplies to relief workers in the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, September 14, 2017. The 179th Airlift Wing is always on mission to be the first choice to respond to community, state and federal missions with a trusted team of highly qualified Airmen.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Paul Stennett

Army:

The crew of a Nebraska Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter from Company A, 1-367th Aviation (Security Support) Regiment prep for a new mission in northern Florida, Sept. 14, to evaluate river levels and flood damage, while ensuring flooded areas are free of stranded civilians. The crew of the UH-72 Lakota helicopter included four or approximately 100 Nebraska Amy National Guard Soldiers currently serving on State Active Duty out of Jacksonville, Florida, in support of Hurricane Irma relief and recovery operations.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Nebraska National Guard photo by Spc. Lisa Crawford

A tank commander assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division looks for positive identification of the “enemy” from his battle position at the field training site for Exercise Bright Star 2017 in Mohamed Naguib Military Base, Egypt, Sept. 12. Bright Star builds on the strategic security relationship between Egypt and the United States, a historic partnership which plays a leading role in counterterrorism, regional security, and efforts to combat the spread of violent extremism.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leah R. Kilpatrick

Navy:

Sailors refuel an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, Det. 1 on the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) Sept. 11, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik

The USS Constitution’s Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Anderson, leads a Salt Lake City Navy Week Presentation at the Murray Boys Girls Club. Navy Weeks focus a variety of assets, equipment and personnel on a single city for a week long series of engagements designed to bring America’s Navy closer to the people it protects, in cities that don’t have a large naval presence.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Hammond

Marine Corps:

Corporal Nelson Rivera, from Brooklyn, NY., assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1/5, stands guard in defense of the amphibious task force during a straight transit aboard USS San Diego (LPD 22). During the DATF, USS San Diego’s small caliber action team (SCAT) and Sailors assigned to the ship worked together to provide 360-degree security coverage of the ship. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the 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.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Laboy

September is Suicide Prevention Month. The involvement of family, friends and fellow Marines is the best method to deter suicide. Aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, the Behavioral Health Section provides counselors and a 24-hour help line for those reaching out during times of crisis.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
Photo by Keith Hayes

Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Air Station Borinqun, Puerto Rico MH-65 Dolphin helcopter crew transfers a 60-year-old man with a reported head injury to awaiting emergency medical services at the air station, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The man reportedly sustained a severe head injury Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 from a downed power line following Hurricane Irma.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Coast Guard Courtesy Photo

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flys over the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton to receive fuel to continue relief operations in Key West, Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. The Hamilton crew deployed to Florida in support of Hurricane Irma relief operations.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Samantha Corcoran

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force identifies pilots involved in deadly T-38 crash

The Air Force has identified the pilots involved in Nov. 13, 2018’s T-38 Talon crash at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

Capt. John F. Graziano, 28, an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron, was killed in the crash, officials said. Graziano was from Elkridge, Maryland. The crash was the 5th involving a T-38 in just the last 12 months.

Capt. Mark S. Palyok, also an instructor pilot with the unit, was injured in the crash. Palyok was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Texas, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released Nov. 14, 2018, officials said in an announcement on the official Laughlin Facebook page.


“Knowing how everyone is affected by this tragedy, my immediate concern is making sure that every member of our Laughlin family is okay,” Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said in the post. “Together, we are Laughlin and now is the time that we stand together to take care of one another.”

The Air Force T-38 Talon went down at 7:40 p.m. local time on Nov. 13, 2018, at the base, officials said. Emergency crews responded to the scene.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

“Our investigators are doing everything possible to ensure they investigate this incident to the fullest,” Gentile said.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

Capt. John Graziano was killed Nov. 13, 2018, in a T-38 Talon crash.

(Air Force via Facebook)

The 87th is responsible for training student pilots and, to include specialized undergraduate pilot training for the active-duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard as well as foreign allied air forces.

The latest crash comes as the Air Force is on the path to receive new trainer jets to replace its current Northrop Grumman-made T-38s.

There have been four previous crashes involving T-38s in the last 12 months, one of them deadly.

In September 2018, the service awarded Boeing Co. a .2 billion contract to build the service’s next aircraft for training future pilots.

The new trainer cannot come too soon for the service as it struggles to maintain its aging Talons, as well as its T-6 Texan II aircraft.

The Texan has had its share of problems as well.

The Air Force cleared its fleet of T-6 trainers to resume training operations at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph after a “brief pause” following a crash near the base Sept. 18, 2018.

Both pilots safely ejected from the aircraft. The Texan was also grounded in February 2018 after ongoing reports of pilots suffering breathing problems.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Five sobering 9/11 Memorials across the United States

After 9/11 we vowed that we would never forget. We set out to find those responsible for the horrific attacks and bring them to justice. To remember the people whose lives were taken that day, we erected memorials across the nation as focal points for grief and healing and as symbols of hope for the future. Here are five of the most beautiful, sobering and awe-inspiring.


5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Frederic Schwartz Architects—Wikimedia Commons)

1. The Rising—Westchester, New York

Naturally, New York is home to the most 9/11 memorials. The Rising in Westchester remembers the 109 Westchester residents who lost their lives on 9/11 with 109 steel rods intertwined like strands. They rise 80 feet from the ground, “reaching upward to the heavens,” according to the architect. It also includes the names of 10 additional victims who were former Westchester residents etched on stones. A 110th victim from Westchester was unintentionally omitted from the memorial. Since their identification, their name has been added to the stones.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(9/11 Memorial Museum)

2. Postcards—Staten Island, New York

Dedicated on the fourth anniversary of the attacks, the Postcards 9/11 Memorial features two fiberglass structures that resemble postcards. It honors the 275 Staten Islanders who lost their lives on 9/11. Each victim is memorialized with a profile on a granite plaque that lists their name, date of birth and place of work at the time of the attack. The memorial frames the location across the water on Manhattan where the Twin Towers stood. Postcards was the first major 9/11 Memorial to be completed in New York City.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Steve Tobin)

3. Trinity Root—New York, New York

Sculpted by artist Steve Tobin, Trinity Root measures 12.5×20 feet and weighs three tons. The bronze sculpture memorializes the stump of a 70-year-old Sycamore tree that shielded St. Paul’s Chapel from falling debris on 9/11. Unveiled in 2005, the sculpture has since been moved to Trinity’s Retreat Center in Connecticut.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Boston Logan International Airport)

4. Boston Logan International Airport 9/11 Memorial—Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Logan International Airport houses a permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 175 and American Airlines Flight 11, both of which departed Logan for Los Angeles before they were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers. A landscaped path leads to a large glass cube that houses two glass panels etched with the names of every person aboard the two planes.

5 ways the ‘good ol’ boy’ system screws good troops

(Public Domain)

5. Monument to the Struggle Against World Terrorism—Bayonne, New Jersey

Dedicated on the 5th anniversary of the attacks, this memorial stands 10-stories tall and was an official gift from the Russian government to the United States. The sculptor, Zurab Tsereteli, drove by the American Embassy in Russia every day for work. Following the attacks, this daily commute would bring him to tears, inspiring the teardrop focus of the memorial. It highlights the 26 Russians who were killed on 9/11 and also memorializes the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. The memorial was originally gifted to the local government of Jersey City. After they rejected it, the memorial was placed in its current location in Bayonne.

There are dozens more memorials across the nation that honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks. In big cities and small towns throughout the United States, we keep our promise that we made all those years ago. We will never forget.