5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Every week, new service members report for duty at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton located in Southern California. There, they’ll undergo some intense training — but they’ll also have some time off. So, the boots will often ask others what fun stuff is nearby.

You might get a few good suggestions but, for the most part, it’s tough for a newbie to travel around without spending a sh*t ton of cash. So, if you’re “ballin’ on a budget,” we’ve come up with a few places you can visit while on liberty that won’t bleed your wallet dry.


5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
The ferris wheel and ice rink located near the heart of Irvine Spectrum.

 

Irvine Spectrum

Located in Irvine, this outdoor mall contains of plenty of excellent restaurants, a state-of-the-art movie theater, and a Dave and Busters to help you hone your gaming skills. Just north of Camp Pendleton, the large shopping center has enough to keep you entertained for hours.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Welcome to the laid-back OC Tavern

 

OC Tavern

Ready for some excellent fish tacos? Well, OC Tavern has great ones alongside a full bar to get you smashed — if you’re of age, of course. This place hosts concerts, has a cigar lounge, and is a great place to play billiards. Since it’s located just a few minutes north of Camp Pendleton, it’s an easy spot to reach on a Friday or Saturday night.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
The Kaleidoscope. They have girls at the gym!

 

The Kaleidoscope

Located in Mission Viejo, this shopping and entertainment area is close to Camp Pendleton and features a Buffalo Wild Wings, a solid movie solid theater, and a gym where real girls go — as opposed to the male-dominated Marine gyms.

Since it’s closer than Irvine Spectrum, the Uber ride will be cheap, which is perfect for junior enlisted who don’t make a lot of cash.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Chill out and have a good time at Goody’s Tavern.

 

Goody’s Tavern

Located just north of Camp Pendleton, Goody’s Tavern is a chill place for great drinks and entertainment. You’ll run into tons of Marines here, so you know you’ll be in good company.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Members of the Western Army Infantry Regiment, Japan Ground Self Defense Force, and Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit play a game of football on the Del Mar Beach at the conclusion of Exercise Iron Fist.
(Photo by Sgt. Christopher O’Quin)

Del Mar Beach

Located near the main gate, the beach in Del Mar has everything you need to blow off steam. There, you can camp and rent small cottages for a few days at a time. These rental areas are so close to the shore that you’ll hear the waves lapping onto the sand as you sleep. There are also BBQ pits available, and you can sneak in a few games of football or volleyball before heading back to the office on Monday morning.

It’s perfect.

Articles

This is what the potential US Space Corps could look like

A sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces may be a reality soon. But it will likely still be decades before “Star Trek’s” Starfleet becomes a thing.


On June 21, The House Armed Services Committee proposed forming the U.S. Space Corps. Both Republican and Democrat representatives suggested cleaving the current Air Force Space Command away from Big Blue and forming its own branch of service.

Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers is spearheading the Space Corps into the 2018 Defense Authorization Bill. Rogers spoke with NPR and said “Russia and China have become near peers. They’re close to surpassing us. What we’re proposing would change that.”

Opposition to the Space Corps comes from the confusion that it would create at the Pentagon. Both Air Force Sec. Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein argued against the proposal. Gen. Goldfein said in May “I would say that we keep that dialog open, but right now I think it would actually move us backwards.”

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Photo via Wikimedia

The formation of new branches of the military isn’t new. The Air Force was of course part of the Army when it was the U.S. Army Air Corps. Even still, the Marine Corps is still a subdivision of the Navy.

Funding for the Space Corps would be coming from the Air Force. The budget for the existing Air Force Space Command would increase before it would become its own branch.

With the ever growing sophistication of war, the “red-headed step children” of the Air Force would be in the spotlight. The Space Corps would most likely be absorb The Navy’s space arm of the Naval Network Warfare Command into its broader mission.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
As an integral part of the 21st Space Wing, Cheyenne Mountain AFS provides and employs global capabilities to ensure space superiority to defend our nation and allies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Hoffman)

There has not been a proposed official designation for Space Corps personnel yet.  Air Force personnel are Airmen so it would be logical for Space Corps troops to be called spacemen.

The life of spacemen wouldn’t likely be too different from the airmen in Space Command and sailors of the Naval Network Warfare Command already. There are only a few bases that would garrison spacemen. Their mission would likely remain the same as it is today — “to provide resilient and affordable space and cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation.”

To crush the dreams of every child, the fighting would mostly be take place at a desk instead of space. It costs way too much to send things and people into space. Until there’s a great need to send troops into space, Spacemen won’t be living out any “Halo,” “Starship Troopers,” or “Star Wars” fantasies.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
But we can still dream, right?

In all likelihood, spacemen would focus their efforts on the threats against cyber-security, detection of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and maintenance of satellites in the early days. No major changes from what currently exists today, but the Space Corps would have more prestige and precedent in future conflicts.

Yet, President Donald Trump has recently reestablished the National Space Council. Trump made clear his goals of a “Deep Space Gateway” to help astronauts reach more distant locations along with his goal of reaching Mars “by the end of his second term.

The concept of the Space Corps is still up for debate. It would still need to pass the Senate Armed Services Committee and then to President Trump.

Articles

9 superpowers every medic would want in the field

Corpsmen and medics carry a mobile emergency room strapped to their backs along with their weapon systems — and it gets heavy. After going through months of intense medical training they can probably apply a wet tourniquet in the pitch black with one hand while under enemy fire.


Truth is, they can’t be everywhere at every moment. Make no mistake, if the medical staff could take care of everybody and send them home in one piece, they would.

Related: 6 superheroes who were also Air Force officers

If humans had special powers, these are the one’s Corpsmen and medics would want to make their jobs easier.

1. X-ray or heat vision

There’s no better tool for quickly checking for fractures or cauterizing bleeds.

She’s fine. (giphy)

2. Mind reading or telepathy

Corpsmen and medics not only have to care for the good guys but the bad ones as well. It would be badass if they knew who not to waste their time on if they knew who wasn’t really injured.

(giphy)

3. Teleportation or super speed

During a mass casualty, “Doc” is outnumbered by the number of people he or she needs to care for. Being able to render care swiftly and take them to medical in a blink of an eye would save time and resources.

“I hope I didn’t miss anyone.” (giphy)

4. Invincibility

Being pinned down in a firefight is crazy dangerous, but if bullets and mortars just bounce off of you running out in the open to save your comrade ain’t sh*t.

(giphy)

5. Super Strength

Because picking up heavy crap is important.

Lift with the legs, not your back.  (giphy)

6. Elasticity

During the chaos of battle, you can find yourself far from some supplies you need. So what better than to stretch out an arm to grab a bandage that happens to be several meters away?

(giphy)

7. Telekinesis

Why run out into a hail of gunfire if you can just drag the casualty to you?

(giphy)

8. Endurance

Hauling sick and injured people from A to B can get pretty exhausting if you’re out of shape.

(giphy)

Also Read: 5 ways your platoon would be different with Rambo in charge

9. Super intelligence

Because being smart rocks!

(giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 signs that a veteran’s story is ‘totally legit’

Since ancient times, warriors have gathered around the fire to recall battles fought with comrades over flagons of strong ale. Today, we keep this same tradition — except the storytelling usually happens in a smoke pit or dingy bar.

If you’ve been part of one of these age-old circles, then you know there’s a specific set of mannerisms that’s shared by service members, from NCOs to junior enlisted. The way veterans tell their stories is a time-honored tradition that’s more important than the little details therein — and whether those details are true or not. Not every piece of a veteran’s tale is guaranteed to be accurate, but the following attributes will tell you that it’s legit enough.


5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Just hear them out. Either out of politeness or apathy — your choice.

Beginning the story with “No sh*t, there I was…”

No good story begins without this phrase. It draws the reader in and prepares them to accept the implausible. How else are you going to believe their story about their reasonably flimsy military vehicle rolling over?

It’s become so much of an on-running trope in veteran storytelling that it’s basically our version of “once upon a time.”

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

But sometimes, you just have to tell the new guy that everything they just signed up for f*cking sucks.

Going into extreme (and pointless) detail

Whenever a veteran begins story time for a civilian, they’ll recall the little details about where they were deployed, like the heat and the smell.

Now, we’re not saying these facts are completely irrelevant, but the stage-setting can get a bit gratuitous.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

If your story is about your time as a boot, everyone will just believe you… likely because your story is too boring to fact check.

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Constantly reminding the listener that they can look it up

The military has paperwork for literally everything. Let’s say you’re telling the story of how you were the platoon guidon bearer back in basic training. If you tried hard enough, you could probably find a document somewhere to back that statement up.

As outlandish as some claims may be, nobody is actually to put in the work to fact-check a story — especially when you’re just drinking beers at the bar.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Maybe it was because I was boring, but I never understood why people felt the need to go overboard with hiding people in the trunk. Just say, “they left their ID in the barracks.”

(Photo by Senior Airman Ryan Zeski)

Citing someone that may or may not exist as a source

Among troops and veterans, it’s easy for most of us forget that people also have first names. This is why so many of our stories refer to someone named of ‘Johnson,’ ‘Brown,’ or ‘Smith.’ It’s up to you whether you want to believe this person actually exists.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

If they start getting into the stories that will make grandma blush, fewer nudges are required.

(U.S. Army photo)

Tapping the listener’s arm if they lose interest

Military stories tend to drag on forever. Now, this isn’t because they’re boring, but rather because the storyteller vividly remembers nearly every detail.

Sometimes, those telling the story feel the need to check in on the listener to make they’re absorbing it all. Most vets do with this a little nudge.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Basically how it works.

(Comic by Broken and Unreadable)

Filling in the blanks with “because, you know… Army”

It’s hard to nail down every minute detail of military culture, like how 15 minute priors really work.

Some things can only be explained with a hand wave and a simple, “because, you know, that’s how it was in the service.”

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

Or they could just be full of sh*t. But who cares? If it’s a fun story, it’s a fun story.

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Finishing the story in a way that fosters one-upsmanship

Veterans’ stories aren’t intended to over-glorify past actions — even if that’s how it sounds to listeners. Generations upon generations of squads have told military stories as a way of a team-building, not as a way for one person to win a non-existent p*ssing contest.

Whether the storyteller knows it or not, they often finish up a tale by signaling to the listener that it’s now their turn to tell an even better story. Just like their squad leader did for them all those years ago.

MIGHTY MONEY

Army reports lack of training as biggest setback to readiness

Earlier this month, the Army’s top general in charge of supplying units with troops blamed a lack of readiness on limited time for training, adding that lack of funding isn’t the biggest challenge.


Head of Army Forces Command Gen. Robert Abrams said the lack of training stems from lawmakers making policy that commits the service to engagements around the world without an eye toward keeping the force healthy and trained up.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
U.S. Soldiers of Rider Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade record information while conducting a brief during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 11, 2016. The exercise is designed to train the Army’s regionally allocated forces to the U.S. European Command. Combined Resolve VII includes more than 3,500 participants from 16 NATO and European partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Caleb Foreman)

Abrams explained that soldiers were expected to deploy more and have less time home because of downsizing.

“Our goal has always been … one month gone, two months back,” Abrams said, adding that the Army is currently experiencing a ratio of “deploy-to-dwell” that trends closer to one month gone, one month back.

“Our commitments worldwide across the globe in support of our combatant commanders remains at a very high level while we continue to simultaneously downsize the total force,” Abrams told an audience at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

“Our number one constraint for training is time available.”

Recent budget cuts have forced the Army to reduce its total active duty soldiers to 450,000 while still meeting its obligations worldwide. As a result, the operational tempo for soldiers is higher and more demanding — ultimately requiring soldiers to train more, for longer periods of time, in addition to more and longer deployments, Army officials say.

“The impact of non-standard missions continues to have a degrading effect across our force in being able to sustain proficiency in combined arms maneuver,” Abrams said.

Because soldiers are experiencing a minimal deploy-to-dwell time, there isn’t enough time for soldiers to maintain the training the Army requires.

“We struggle today to maintain and meet Department of the Army standards in our critical combat fleets,” Abrams explained before highlighting unmet requirements within the Army’s aviation and ground fleets. He was quick to explain that in aviation in particular, the problems do not lie with the aviators. The problem stems, instead, with plans to restructure the way the Army finances those fleets, impacting training requirements, upkeep on aircraft, and overall readiness of aviators.

While Abrams was very careful not to blame funding shortfalls for the readiness issues facing the Army, he did not hesitate to blame the readiness of the National Guard in particular on lack of money.

“We’ve dug ourselves this hole because of funding,” Abrams said.

Despite the tough times, Abrams said the Army has made tremendous strides in the last year in terms of readiness and overall capabilities.

“Last year at this exact forum, one of underlying themes was that as an army in terms of our joint war-fighting capabilities, we were pretty rusty,” he said. “I’m happy to report today that we have made progress in our ability.”

Articles

An elite French flying team will hit the skies over the Air Force Academy

A French air force flying team will roar over the Air Force Academy on April 19 to celebrate the nations’ bonds built in the sky during World War I.


Patrouille de France, that nation’s equivalent of the Air Force Thunderbirds, will arrive over the academy about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 19, for a brief air show. It’s a big flying team with eight Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, a twin-engined light attack fighter that’s known for its nimbleness.

“I think folks in Colorado Springs will get a great miniature airshow,” said Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, an Air Force Academy spokesman.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
The Patrouille de France flying over Paris during Bastille Day 2015. (Photo by wiki user XtoF)

This year marks the centennial of formal U.S. involvement in World War I, with America declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German monarchy on April 6, 1917.

The first Americans to reach the aerial battlefields of France, though, were American airmen of the French air force’s Lafayette Escadrille, a fighter unit with American pilots that was established a year before the United States entered the war.

America’s first flying aces came from the small French unit, including Maj. Gervais Lufberry, who was credited with downing 16 planes before he was killed over Francein 1918.

The relationship built over the trenches between French and American pilots is still celebrated at the Air Force Academy today.

Herritage said the school has a French officer on the faculty and French exchange cadets on the campus. One of the pilots on the French flying team, Maj. Nicolas Lieumont, was an exchange student at the Colorado Springs school.

“We feel lucky to have them stop in Colorado Springs,” Herritage said. “It marks our nation’s longstanding relationship with France.”

The academy is inviting locals to get a better view of the French team. Visitors are welcome at the academy on April 19 and can watch the show from a viewing area near the Cadet chapel.

Military Life

5 reasons why your battle buddy is your ‘best friend for life’

In one of the many nonsensical attempts at micromanaging every aspect of a troop’s life, some higher-up established the “battle buddy” system. The idea is that one troop, if made accountable for their buddy’s actions, would watch over the other and, hopefully, stop dumb things from happening.


In theory, it must’ve sounded great. Troops would keep tabs on each other, quickly share information, and build stronger camaraderie. In practice, however, it often means the First Sergeant has to pick up two idiots from the MP station instead of just one. I’m convinced that they ironically keep the silly “battle buddy” name because of how irritating the cutesy moniker is to higher-ups when they watch their beautiful system go to sh*t.

1. They were there with you from the beginning

The moment a troop arrives at their first duty station, their NCO looks around the platoon for another new guy and says, “there. You two are battle buddies now. Exchange contact info.”

This off-handed selection turns into a lifelong commitment.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Your friendship will always stick, no matter where you go or what ranks you achieve. (Photo by Joseph Eddins)

2. They’ve saved your ass — literally and figuratively

When grunts are out doing grunt sh*t, the saying “all you’ve got is the man to your left and right” rings true. But it doesn’t take a life-or-death situation to solidify a friendship — that happened long ago.

Mistakes are never easily forgiven and accusations are convictions. But when sh*t gets tough, if your battle buddy backs you up, you’re in the clear.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
They’ll be there to save you, whether you want them to or not. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Crough)

3. They want to kill Jody more than you

When you’ve gone your entire military career suppressing emotions, it’s nice to have an emotional mirror who does the expressing for you. Sure, your battle buddy might make some extreme suggestions now and again, but they’ve got the best of intentions.

For example, let’s say a troop’s spouse is being unfaithful. It’s not easy news to stomach and, chances are, the betrayed troop is going to spiral into a depression. It’s at times like these that nothing beats meeting your battle buddy in the smoke pit to imagine up some grandiose revenge plots.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
All those times you guys play-fought in the tent are about to pay off. (Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu)

4. If you want to do anything fun, you need them

Want to go off-post while you’re stationed outside the US? You need a battle buddy. Want to go to the gym after hours while deployed? You need a battle buddy. Need to use the latrine? Battle buddy.

The military’s reliance on the buddy system basically means if that a troop wants to make some trouble, they’re required to bring a friend.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
And they’re immediately down for whatever if it sounds funny enough. (Photo by Capt. Robert Taylor)

5. Their best stories involve you

Every story starts out the same way: “No sh*t, there I was… Me and my buddy over here were…” You guys have forged a bond and when you’re gone, they’ll miss you and talk about you all the time to their new friends. But these new guys aren’t their bro; you are.

Do your buddy right: Call them up, get together occasionally, and tag them in a meme every now and then.

Articles

Marines will get upgraded personal water filters

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


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

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

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

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Master Sgt. Kevin Morris prepares the Individual Water Purification System II for safe, drinkable water straight from the source. IWPS II is an upgrade to the current IWPS issued to all Marines. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

This is how the Growler disables an enemy’s air defense system

In modern air warfare, having the biggest caliber machine guns or the best heat-seeking missiles around may not be the only reason a pilot wins a dogfight.


When a mission requires the opponent’s air defense system to be rendered useless so allied forces can get into enemy territory undetected, the EA-18G Growler gets called up.

Related: Here’s how the EA-6B Prowler rules the skies

The Growler is a key factor in every attack squadron because of its ability to shut down ground radar with electronic jamming.

It’s equipped with receivers built on to each wing tip which search for radar signals to locate the enemy’s surface-to-air missile systems.

Inside the cockpit, the Weapon Systems Officer monitors the computer system that scans, analyzes and decides whether the signals it picks up are either friend or foe.

If a threat is detected, the Growler activates one of three jamming pods stored underneath the jet’s centerline that overwhelms the ground radar by sending out electronic noise allowing coalition aircraft to sneak by undetected.

Also Read: This bomber made the B-52 look puny

But it doesn’t just jam the enemy’s radar, it also has the capability of delivering physical destruction as well.

The Growler comes equipped with an attack missile called “HARM” which stands for “high-speed anti-radiation missile.” Once this rocket is launched, it locks in on the ground radar’s electronic signal and explodes directly over its intended target.

The Growler’s impressive systems can locate, jam, and destroy enemy radar in under a minute.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to see the EA-18G Growler work for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
Articles

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

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


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

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

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

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

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
In 2014, 6 of the 20 veterans per day committing suicide were users of VA services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said 20 veterans per day are lost to suicide.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz/Released)

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

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

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

In 2009, Burke was a Marine infantryman in Afghanistan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military Life

The best military Meals Ready-To-Eat, ranked

Ah, the MRE. Known by such illustrious nicknames as “Mr. E,” “Meal, Rarely Edible,” and “Meal, Ready to Excrete,” the military meals ready-to-eat aren’t exactly known for their delightful taste.


Luckily, the taste of (at least) some MRE’s has improved over the years. Troops these days don’t have to deal with the terror that was the “Four Fingers of Death” — aka hot dogs — or the bean burrito. If you are opening a box of meals out in the field, these are the ones to look for.

#6: Chili with Beans

It’s got a Ranger Bar! Sadly, this bad boy comes with cheddar cheese and snack bread — which sucks — so you should probably trade that out with the one weird guy in your platoon who actually likes snack bread. Oh, and the chili is kind of good too.

#5: Maple Sausage

This is obviously better around breakfast time, since most of the contents are geared toward that very important meal of the day. The sausage, if heated up, isn’t half bad. But the big takeaway here is the Maple Muffin Top. Unfortunately they couldn’t jam a full muffin in there, but hey, the top is the best part anyway.

This also has the trail mix, crackers and cheddar cheese, and orange beverage powder. Don’t eat it all in one sitting.

#4: Cheese Tortellini

There are so many MRE’s with totally crappy main meals. I’m throwing it out there right now: I actually like the cheese tortellini. Unless you don’t heat it up. Not only is the main meal pretty damn good, but it’s got all kinds of goodies, including wet pack fruits, a first strike protein bar, peanut butter and crackers, and beverage powder.

And if you are feeling extra brave, throw that extra hot hot sauce on top of the tortellini. Just make sure a port-a-john is on standby.

#3: Beef Ravioli

If you are Italian, you are going to hate this meal, since calling this concoction ravioli is probably a grave sin. But for the rest of us, it’s actually a decent meal when it’s hot. But the best part: Bacon cheese spread. In the field, you can probably sell that stuff and make serious bank.

#2: Meatballs in Marinara

Just like the beef ravioli, this one is pretty decent. It also has jalapeno cheese spread and tortillas, and who doesn’t like that Jal-op-eno? The potatoes au gratin are fairly terrible, but at least there’s a first strike bar, and beef snack strips. Unless you are a fatty who eats the entire meal, there’s lots of trading opportunity here.

#1: Chili and Macaroni

Chili Mac is the best. There’s no question. Main meal: delicious. But wait, there’s more. This has a pound cake, jalapeno cheese spread and crackers, candy, and beverage powder. Even the accessory packet is the best: There’s coffee AND matches in there. Brew up a cup of joe then burn things when you’re bored.

There are way more Meals Ready-to-Eat in existence of course. We didn’t rank them all. If you want to see what’s in the current batch, you can check out MREInfo.com.

Military Life

Family bonds through generations of military service

As the mother of an Army National Guard soldier and the daughter of a former Army captain, Nancy Craker-Yahman sees the resemblance between her son and father. 

“Over the years, many would mention how our son inherited his grandfather’s smile … Often referred to as ‘Little Lyle’ [after my father, Lyle] I never did mind the comparison. Not only did he inherit his award-winning smile but also his nose and a few of his other facial features and expressions,” she said. 

Craker-Yahman’s son is a specialist in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. She has found that, in addition to their shared expressions, they have other commonalities.

“Both are hardworking, adept at learning new things, responsible, are kind and giving, sympathetic, caring, enjoy keeping active, and have a love for dogs,” she said. 

Zachary, Craker-Yahman’s son, always loved listening to his grandfather speak about his time in the service and often seeks his advice when it comes to military training or experiences, which brings them even closer together.

“When his grandfather spoke about his life experiences and his time serving as a captain, Zachary paid close attention. When he had questions or needed his grandfather’s opinion about his soon-to-be military experiences, he always offered a thoughtful reply,” Craker-Yahman said. 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Lyle Craker

Craker-Yahman’s father has continued to have a significant role in her son’s life after he enlisted in military. 

“When the time came for our son to take the oath of enlistment, his grandfather was a proud guest of honor. Once the oath was official, a firm handshake took place between the two along with the sharing of smiles,” she said. 

The family members often spend their time together looking through old photographs and enjoying root beer floats and apple pie. They value listening to each other’s shared experiences, even generations apart. To Craker-Yahman, her son and her father’s shared smiles are just another display of their connected spirits. 

“Moments of meaningful discussion are never wasted,” Craker-Yahman shares. 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Spc. Zachary Yahman.

“Like so many soldiers, my father and son are competent, brave, and talented servicemen. They are humble individuals and not attention seekers. I appreciate it when we come across photographs of my father and our son, who stand proudly in their uniforms surrounded by loved ones, battle buddies, and lifelong friends. While the photos feature them displaying serious-looking faces, the ones where they flash a proud smile are the ones I have placed in frames in my home office. Having them near me in this way brings me comfort. I will always be proud and supportive of their service, their sense of duty, their love for family, how they willingly lend their helping hands, and the selfless care they share,” Craker-Yahman said.

She adds that she hopes the sense of duty and commitment passed down through the generations will continue as the family grows. She supports her son daily by way of writing, taking photographs, scrapbooking, and displaying an Army National Guard flag at the front of her home. 

“I remain hopeful that generation number four is just as lucky as the ones before us and that they will inherit their great grandfather’s smile and carry on the tradition of proudly serving in the military,” she said. 

Military Life

7 of the worst phrases to hear from your leadership

There’re certain things that come down the chain of command that hurt your very soul when you, the lowest “link,” hear about them. Of course, “deployment extended” and “Dear John” have firmly secured their place on the podium of most-hated phrases, but these ones burn the ears, regardless of circumstance.


Nothing good ever comes from these 7 phrases.

1. “Make it happen.”

Every now and then, an impossible task becomes an imperative in someone’s eyes. This leads to the phrase that shuts down all conversation.

Doesn’t matter. You’ll have to beg, borrow, or steal whatever you need to, well, “make it happen.”

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

 

2. “We’re expecting little-to-no resistance.”

While you’re deployed, this one sentence seems to jinx everything.

The platoon could just be out doing ‘atmosphericals’ (basically, you roll around an area of operations and just poke around to see if anyone wants to come play) for months and nothing will happen. The moment your platoon leader says this phrase, every enemy decides to make an appearance.

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

 

3. “Why didn’t you square away your battle buddy?”

This is always uttered when your squadmate does something stupid, unsafe, criminal, or a combination of the three.

And yet, blame gets shifted from the one who’s actually at fault or the NCO in charge on to the battle buddy who was probably in their barracks playing video games.

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Because yeah, military regulations are what troops talk about in the ‘Bs’ (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Morales)

4. “It’s time to embrace the suck.”

Things are about to get real and the sh*t is about to hit the fan.

Oddly enough, and not to pass judgment or anything, but the staff officer who jokes about the imminent sh*tstorm usually seems to make it out squeaky clean.

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Don’t worry though. That staff officer will at least hand out water at the end of the ruck march! (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

 

5. “This shouldn’t take that long.”

This has two different meanings depending on when it’s said.

If it’s used when you’re told to go empty a shipping container (connex), that means they don’t understand shipping containers. If it’s while you’re sweating your ass off while emptying that Connex and they come out of nowhere to say it, they’re as**oles.

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

 

6. “Weapons draw at zero too-f*cking early hundred.”

This always comes down the moment before the range, field op, or something similar.

Sure, weapons draw may be at 0400, but the armorer won’t show until 0635, you won’t get to the Motor Pool until 0830, and, just to put a bit more salt on that wound, the command team already planned on SPing out at 1030. All the while, you probably didn’t roll into bed around midnight and didn’t get a lick of sleep.

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton

 

7. Anything involving “100% accountability” when off-duty.

This means that something terrible happened or that someone did something terribly stupid.

It comes in all shapes and sizes — “Ladi dadi, everybody” and “All-hands on deck.” This always sucks because your leadership probably aren’t heartless machines. They enjoy weekends and time off, too.

 

5 places every boot needs to hit while at Camp Pendleton
Even your First Sergeant wants to spend the weekend NOT at their desk yelling at idiots. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Dana Beesley)

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