6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you'll find in the barracks - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Life in the barracks blows. You’re crammed into as tight of a space as possible so your superiors can keep an eye on you. There’s always something going on so you never get sleep. And you often have to share a tiny room with someone.


But never underestimate the power of a bored private. If you can think of it, it’s probably going down in the barracks at this moment. While most of the shenanigans aren’t against any rules, they definitely make the lack of BAH worth it.

 

TVs as big as the wall

There are plenty of terrible purchases made by boots when they get their first paycheck. And it’s no different when the boot comes back from deployment with plenty of spending money.

The average barracks room is barely large enough to have a massive 90-inch widescreen 3D TV but that won’t stop most troops who just got back stateside.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Technically, some do allow you to have fish or lizards. All depends on the specific command.

(Photo by Tech Sgt. Michael Holzworth)

Pets

The barracks is usually a pretty disgusting place as it is. The moment the NCOs leave, it goes back to the same filthy condition that it was in the day before.

Pets are already unclean creatures that require constant maintenance…but troops don’t care!

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

If you’re cool with them, they’ll share.

(Photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

Some barracks have nearly an entire kitchen

There’s always one person in every barracks that knows how to and will cook for everyone. Sometimes they’re not even an actual chef — doesn’t matter.

Being the barracks chef takes a lot more appliances than just a hot pad and coffee pot. These guys do it all in style.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

If they’re drinking in the barracks, it means they’re not driving back home. No DUIs! Everyone wins!

(Photo by Cpl. Jonah Lovy)

Enough alcohol to cause liver failure in a lesser man

There’s nothing wrong with someone over the age of 21 drinking alcohol on their time off, as long as they do it responsibly.

On average, a single barracks has more alcohol in it than any bar off-installation.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

And we all know how well that usually goes.

(U.S. Army Photo)

Firearms in the barracks? 

It’s your god-given right as an American to keep and bear arms. Only problem is that many units have a “no firearms in the barracks” policy.

That’s not to say that troops living in the barracks can’t own firearms. They just need to store them in the arms room.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Good luck not getting caught during a “random” inspection.

(Photo by Senior Airman Christian Thomas)

Unauthorized guests…

The barracks room isn’t exactly prime real estate for a single person, let alone multiple troops living in a room similar to a studio sized apartment.

And yet, troops will occasionally keep a local they got a thing for in there with them.

Military Life

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

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

1. Waiting in line

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

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

2. E5 and below working parties

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

3. Who drinks more

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

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

4. The gym

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Trevor Hagan, an assaultman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, exercises in the gym.

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

5. Extra duties makes everyone extra petty

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

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

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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
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.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Samantha Corcoran

Military Life

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Officers in the military don’t always have the best reputation. Company Grade Officers, or “CGOs,” might have it worse — at least there’s some heft behind a full-bird; lieutenants are like wee babes in the wood.


In the four or five years we’re training and partying at frat houses earning degrees, our enlisted peers go on multiple combat deployments and conduct real mission operations.

Related video:

So when you show up as a brand new elle-tee with them shiny butterbars, that is decidedly not the time to pull rank; it’s the time to earn the respect the rank commands.

Here are a few ways to do that without being a dirtbag:

1. Be cool, man. Just…be cool.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

CGO’s do not need to swagger. You do not need to throw that commission around. If you show up barking orders, you will be resented. The ideal goal is for there to be mutual respect, and it starts with you.

2. Find a mentor.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Probably someone in the E-4 to E-6 range. These guys know the ropes, they’re experts in their career field, and they’ve been taking care of personnel issues since you were a cadet singing your way to chow.

Learn from them. Take their advice into consideration. Every CGO needs a Yoda.

3. Know your people (and their jobs).

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

There’s a fine line between stellar leadership and stalking. (Image via 20th Century Fox)

You should know the name, marital status, secret hopes and dreams, and blood type of everyone you are responsible for. If they have an injury, you need to know it.

If Private Jones gets shin splints, don’t make him do parade practice — make him go to the doc. It’s your job to keep your people mission qualified, and to do that, you need to know the best and worst of them.

You also need to know their mission. You’re probably not going to know all the details they know, but you need to understand what they’re doing every day and you need to be able to communicate it up the chain.

4. CGOs- ask questions. Seriously. 

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

If you don’t know something, don’t bluff your way through it. Acknowledge the information gap and go find the answer. This demonstrates that you are willing to learn and grow, but more importantly, it demonstrates that you are trustworthy.

5. Be a sh*t shield.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Back to Pvt. Jones and his shin splints. It’s your job to recognize that Jones’ medical treatment is more important than a Change of Command ceremony — but that doesn’t mean the commander will see it that way.

It’s on you to convey the needs of your people up the chain of command, and to shield those below you from any backlash.

This is rarely a simple task, but luckily you’ve already proven yourself to be true to your word and earnest in your desire to grow (right? RIGHT??) — the commander will see that, too.

Not being a dirtbag is appreciated up and down the chain.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 7

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


Air Force:

Tech. Sgt. Michael Christiansen, a 100th Security Forces Squadron assistant flight chief, draws back a bow and arrow March 28, 2017, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Christiansen was selected to represent U.S. Air Forces in Europe at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago where he will compete in the rifle, pistol, recurve archery and sitting volleyball events.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

Retired Air Force Col. and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, flies with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, April 2, 2017, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz

Army:

A U.S. soldier surveys a training ground near Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 14, 2017. The Soldier was part of a security detachment supporting Afghan Tactical Air Coordinators and advisers with Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air. As part of Resolute Support Mission, TAAC-Air works in tandem with Afghan counterparts to foster working relationships and fortify confidence in the mission.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – U.S. Army Soldiers and European military candidates observe the chemical decontamination portion of the U.S. Army Europe Expert Field Medical Badge evaluation in Grafenwoehr, Germany on March 20, 2017. Approximately 215 military members from the U.S. Army and eleven European partner nations attended this biannual evaluation in hopes of achieving the coveted U.S. Army EFMB.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt Brian Kimball

Navy:

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (April 7, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 4, 2017) Sailors clean and maintain an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship and its carrier strike group are underway conducting a sustainment exercise in support of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Neo Greene III

Marine Corps:

CAMP BEUHRING, Kuwait – Lance Cpl. Alexander Seick, a communications specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), closes the feed tray of an M240B medium machine gun after conducting a functions check during a sustainment training exercise near Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, March 5. Marines can use the M240B’s high rate of fire to provide suppressive fires, subduing enemy threats while moving toward an objective. The 11th MEU is currently supporting U.S. 5th Fleet’s mission to promote and maintain stability and security in the region.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Xzavior T. McNeal

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

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Santino Martinez

Coast Guard:

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles conduct night time hoisting training on April 4, 2016. Crews conduct weekly training to remain proficient at hoisting, even in adverse weather conditions.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Logan Kellogg

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Warner, a rescue swimmer at Air Station Kodiak, performs an ice rescue during training at Upper 6 Mile Lake on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 17, 2016. During the training, members from Air Station Kodiak, Sector Anchorage and the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, Mich., worked together to perform ice rescues from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Meredith Manning

Articles

A firefighter’s secret identity reveals a Marine veteran – and gourmet chef

Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.

But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.


In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
The two sides of Lt. Bill Joerger… (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
…and both are delicious. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.

But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.

“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”

Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Articles

Here’s how medical aid stations handle mass casualty situations

When you’re forward deployed fighting the enemy, people are going to get hurt— it’s the nature of the job. One aspect our military excels at is reaching its severely wounded troops with medical treatment quickly.


A mass casualty situation, however, is a problem. A mass casualty situation means any amount of injured patients that exceeds the number of resources available.

For example, if five soldiers become wounded on the battlefield and there is only one medic or corpsmen on deck, and they’re unable to treat their victims quick enough, that’s a mass casualty or “mass-cas.”

It happens more than you think.

The real problem is the medical aid stations (or battalion aid stations) only have so many personnel on deck and can’t take care of everyone at the same time — that’s when it’s time to call for back-up.

Boom!

An IED just went off a few miles away from the medical aid station. The medic or corpsman on deck is unhurt but now has to spring into action and rapidly start checking the wounded to account for the worst injuries. After they check their patients, the R.O., or Radio Operator, will call up a medevac, sending vital information to the aid station about the incoming troops.

Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
The interior of an aid station. Hopefully a place you’ll never have to visit.

Medical aid stations work like a well-oiled machine, and the staff members know their exact roles.

Typically, an aid station consists of a few doctors, a few nurses, and a few medics or Corpsmen. Once the wounded enter the medical station, their life status is quickly re-determined. Although the medic did this earlier in the field, the aid station will reassess using the same process of triage, as the patient’s status could have changed during transport.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Mass casualty triage cards

The color that’s issued reflects the order in which the patient is seen. Treatment can be especially challenging because medical stations are temporary facilities and they don’t always have the most advanced technology; most get their power from gas-powered generators.

Also Read: This is how medical evacuations have evolved over the last 145 years

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
U.S. Army soldiers litter transport a simulated injured patient to the Charlie medical tent during Joint Readiness Training in Fort Polk, Louisiana.

In the event the casualty needs to move to an upper echelon of care, a helicopter will be called up to transport them to a more capable hospital. This could also have happened while in the field. Since time is the biggest factor, getting the wounded to the closest aid station is key.

Based on the triage label color issued by the medical staff, that evacuation could take minutes or up to 24 hours. So you may have to sit tight if you’re just nursing a broken arm.

Articles

This airman is a survivor — and a leader

Air Force Staff Sgt. Srun Sookmeewiriya — or “Sook,” as many people know him — may seem like a happy and carefree airman at first glance.


The 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron’s noncommissioned officer in charge of reports regularly puts forth an earnest effort here to keep his unit alive and running, so his dark past and his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts come as a surprise to many.

“He’s like the morale person — that’s what everybody else refers him to,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Melissa Vela, the 313th EOSS NCO in charge of console operations. “He’s so full of energy. He’s so infectious, he makes everybody laugh.”

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Air Force Staff Sgt. Srun Sookmeewiriya, 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of reports, holds a picture of himself with his younger brother, Thana, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 16, 2017. Sookmeewiriya, who attempted to commit suicide twice, said he draws inspiration from his brother to remain resilient and encourages airmen to open up about their struggles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

Unknown to many of his wingmen, Sook’s current persona is possible only because he recovered from serious trauma he experienced as a young man. When Sook still lived in his native Thailand, both of his parents committed suicide. He witnessed his mother’s suicide, and he found his father’s body after his father had taken his own life and attempted to kill Sook’s younger brother, Thana.

“I saw him lying there in bed,” he recalled. “I wasn’t sure what happened. I tried to wake him up to see if he was still alive. I thought I was alone, and I didn’t know who I would go to now. My head was just spinning at that point. It was a shock.” Thana survived the gunshot wound, but was never the same, physically or mentally, Sook said.

Suicide Attempts

With his mother and father gone, Thana was the only family Sook had left. He went to a boarding school, where he said depression haunted him and other children bullied him for not having parents. This led to a suicide attempt by ingesting a large amount of over-the-counter medication. He was in a coma for two days.

Sook finished boarding school and eventually immigrated to the United States, where Thana would join him soon afterward. Sook spent his early time in the U.S. with relatives from his father’s first marriage. He would bounce from family to family because of his troubled personality, he said, and he also felt as if he was just an outsider because of his status as a “half-relative.”

“I felt like I didn’t belong, because I wasn’t a part of their family,” Sook said. “I didn’t feel any emotion when I hugged them.”

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Trauma can take many forms; in recent years the military is striving to raise awareness of its symptoms and provide treatment.

The feeling of being an outsider overwhelmed Sook, and he tried to kill himself again.

“I didn’t want to deal with the state I was in: not feeling welcome and not feeling like I was part of the family,” he said. “At that time as a kid, I thought that the best way was to just end it all and leave.”

Sook said he tried to hide his attempted suicide, but his relatives eventually found out and sent him to a doctor to get help. His half-sister, Kim, was especially appalled, and confronted him about what he done. She asked, “What about your brother?”

Also read: 5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

“When she mentioned my brother, I totally thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m leaving him behind,'” Sook said. That’s when he decided to turn around and confront his issues instead of running from them. Sook described his brother as his inspiration in his fight against depression.

“He was the only family I had up to that point. It was me and him. He has been through a lot tougher things than I had. Because of the gunshot wound, he was scarred for life. He didn’t grow up normally, but he never gave up. That’s one reason why I should not and will not give up on him, because he didn’t either.”

Strength in Recovery

As part of his recovery process, Sook found strength in his faith and from Kim, who helped him get back on his feet.

“It took me a while — basically, a couple years,” he said. “I think I’m still bouncing back to this day. I think of this tragedy as a lesson, and that lesson is to not repeat the same thing that [my parents] did.”

Sook joined the Air Force as a civil engineer airman, and cross-trained to be an air mobility controller. He adopted Thana as his dependent, and eventually married and started a family. He noted that although his life still has its ups and downs, he copes by confiding in his wife. He also expressed gratitude for the support his coworkers give him continuously.

“Having a good work center in the Air Force actually helped me out a lot,” he said. “When I have other issues, they continue to help me out.”

Vela described how surprised she was when Sook opened up to her about his past, saying that she would have never guessed that an airman like Sook would have experienced so much trauma.

“I was speechless the whole time he told his story,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, are you OK?’ To me, I can see the strength in his words and his actions. Seeing the strength that he had to come forth and tell his story is amazing.”

Encouragement for Others

Sook shares his story occasionally with the public, hoping to encourage people suffering from depression to seek help and not to try to survive on their own. He said he emphasizes how important it is to open up to people who care, and that many people are standing by at agencies on the base ready to assist in their battle against depression.

“Don’t bottle up those issues,” he added. “If you stress out, talk it out. Find somebody who is willing to listen.”

Sook said he encourages airmen to look for a cause and to do what it takes to survive so they can continue to fight for it.

“Don’t give up. Look for what you’re fighting for,” he said. “I fight for my brother, my wife, and my kids. It’s their future and my future.”

Military Life

How to save when you’re living paycheck to paycheck

We all know we ought to save, but the idea of saving when we don’t feel like we have anything left in our bank account at the end of the month can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to get your savings on track when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.  

Start with an emergency fund.  

Confused about where to start your savings journey? Sometimes it’s hard to know what to prioritize. What should we save for first – our retirement, our kids’ education or should we pay down debt? 

Why not start with an emergency fund? It can be a lifesaver – literally. A rainy-day fund can stand between you and financial ruin.  

An emergency fund should be at least $500-1,000 that is set aside in a separate savings account, one that you can access if necessary, but is not the same account you pay bills from. 

Save automatically each pay period. 

This is the quickest – and most painless – way to save. By setting aside an amount to be deducted from either your paycheck or transferred from your bank account each pay period, you can steadily build up your savings. You won’t miss it because you won’t ever “see” it or be able to spend it.  Even saving $20 each pay period will get you to a $500 emergency fund in less than a year. Once you’ve built up your emergency fund, move on to other goals and not worry about living paycheck to paycheck. 

Cut back whenever and wherever you caand REALLY transfer that money to your savings account. 

There are dozens of ways to cut back on your spending: you can start by ordering out less often and doing away with unnecessary subscription services and memberships. But the key is once you have reduced that expense, transfer those savings to your savings account. Otherwise, the extra money is way too tempting to spend!  

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Finances are super personal, and for some reason are seen as a taboo subject. We have all struggled with saving, and we all need help sometimes. The good thing is that military families have lots of resources available to them. Every military installation has a financial counselor and there’s free, confidential financial counseling available through Military OneSource and when you take the Military Saves Pledge, the start of a simple savings plan.  

Each military relief society (AERCoast Guard Mutual AssistanceNavy–Marine Corps Relief Society, and Air Force Aid Society) has emergency grants or interest–free loans available, both way better options than turning to high interest credit cards or loans. 

Want more inspiration and information on growing your savings? Take the Military Saves Pledge and then visit www.militarysaves.org or follow us on social media. 

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s pilots will get huge bonuses for staying in

Hey, want to make an extra $175,000? Well, if you’re a Navy fighter pilot and you’re willing to spend another five years in the service, that pile of cash can be yours! Now that we have the big-ass headline and the promise of a lot of moolah out of the way, let’s get down to the fine print.


6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
E-2C pilots are among those eligible for up to $175,000 in bonuses under the Aviation Department Head Retention Bonus. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Langholf)

According to a Navy release, the active-duty component is offering big cash in the form of Aviation Department Head Retention Bonuses and Aviation Command Retention Bonuses. The aim here is to keep talented, hardworking pilots on active duty. The Navy, essentially, is looking to avoid ending up in the same dire straits as the Air Force in terms of personnel shortages.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Pilots of multi-role fighters, like this F-35, are eligible for big bonuses. (U.S. Navy photo by Dane Wiedmann)

Here’s how the bonuses will work, according to NAVADMIN 065/18. The Aviation Department Head Retention Bonus is open to any aviator selected for promotion to lieutenant commander. Pilots have the option of signing a contract of either three years or five years. Those who sign five-year deals prior to ADHSB selection results going public can get a bonus of up to $35,000. Your best bet for getting the big money is to fly F/A-18C Hornets, F-35 Lightnings, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, or E-2C Hawkeyes. MH-53E Sea Dragon pilots, a minesweeping version of the CH-53E Super Stallion, are also eligible to for big bonuses.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Pilots of the MH-53E Sea Dragon are also eligible for the $175,000 over five years – the only rotary-wing pilots who get the big money. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle)

Those who sign up for the Aviation Command Retention Bonus can get $100,000 over three years ($34,000 for the first year, $33,000 for the other two). Eligibility is limited to those officers who hold the rank of commander and who have been screened for becoming the commanding officer of an eligible operational, operational training, or special mission command. They agree to stay on for three years, which will include a tour after their squadron command. The obligation ends at the end of that post-command assignment or 22 years of active service, whichever comes later.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
EA-18G Growler pilots can get up to $175,000 bonuses. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Perlman)

Aviation duty incentive pay (better known as flight pay) is also getting a boost, especially for those who are in administrative milestone billets. That only could net you a cool $1,000 in cash per month!

Those interested in the opportunity to earn big-money bonuses should get more details on the Navy’s website.

Articles

Why WWII soldiers nicknamed the Sherman tank ‘death trap’

The Sherman tank was a powerful force to be reckoned with on the battlefields in WWII; it was fast and mobile and it shelled out plenty of firepower.


It provided just enough cover for American ground troops as it stomped through the German front lines. The Sherman was designed to patrol over enemy bridges and it was easily transported on railroad cars.

Related: 9 tanks that changed armored warfare

When the U.S. decided to invade Europe, General Patton selected the Sherman as his particular tank of choice and wanted as many to roll off the assembly lines as possible. Nearly fifty thousand were produced between 1942 and 1945.

Weighing in at 33 tons, it sustained a speed of 26 miles per hour and housed 2 inches of armor. Many saw the image of the Sherman tank to be invincible just like the American war effort, but the brave soldiers who served as tank crew members believed that it had too many engineering flaws and was far inferior compared to the German’s Tiger and Panther tanks.

The Sherman tank was equipped with a fully-transversing 75mm turret short barrelled gun that fired a high explosive shell 2,000 feet per second. Compared to the German tanks that shot accurately at 3,500 feet per second, the enemy’s armor piercing ammo was 2-3 times more effective.

It was recommended that to defeat the Germans, the tank crew had to speed up and flank around their battlefield rivalry and get within 600 yards range to be effective.

Captain Belton Y. Cooper, author of Death Traps and a member of the 3rd Armor Division maintenance unit, recounts knowing how inferior the Sherman was after seeing its physical destruction firsthand. He knew it was no match for the Nazi’s arsenal.

“We lost 648 tanks totally destroyed in combat, another 700 knocked out, repaired and put back into action,” Cooper says. “That’s 1,348 tanks knocked out in combat. I don’t think anyone took that kind of loss in the war.”
(HistoryAndDocumentry, YouTube)
Military Life

9 reasons you should have joined the Navy instead

Every day, young men and women walk into a recruiter’s office with the prospect of serving their country. While some decide against joining, others sign their name on the dotted line and ship off to boot camp- and they don’t always know for sure whether the Army, Air Force, Marines or Navy are the right pick.


Most people didn’t take the time to think about what the military branch can do for them — they were just eager to join.

If you didn’t pick U.S. Navy, you freakin’ missed out, and here are nine reasons why.

Alternate opinion: 9 reasons you should have joined the Air Force instead

1. We have rating badges, so there’s no confusion of what the sailor’s job title is. So you always know who is walking around with the silver bullet or a spatula.

 

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

2. Navy Corpsman has the most Medal of Honor recipients than any other job title in the entire military — 23 and counting (including Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers).

3. We have the most elite combatants in the world: the U.S. Navy SEALs…need we say more?

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

4. We have nuclear powered floating cities that can sail to ends of the earth — and back.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

5. Duh, we have Top Gun. It’s really called the Naval Fighter Weapons School, but you get the point.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

 

6. We freakin’ use trained dolphins to mark bombs and other hazardous crap under the water.

7. We have subs that can survive underwater for days without resurfacing.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

Also Read: 9 reasons why you should have joined the Army instead

8. Navy football dominates the Army’s in this historic rivalry…and also in life in general. Zing!

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

9. We can serve alongside every branch of the military to any location that needs us because we’re highly trained and well-respected.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks

So join the f*cking Navy if you want to better yourself.

Military Life

This is how Coast Guardsmen mark victories over smugglers

Fighter pilots and naval crews paint crossed-out insignias of the enemies they’ve defeated on their vessels. Turns out, the Coast Guard does the same, but their enemies are often drug lords.


Coast Guard cutters typically mark their hulls with a crossed-out marijuana leaf for every marijuana bust and a crossed-out snowflake for each cocaine bust. We’ve also seen crossed-out droplets for heroin busts and crossed-out lab equipment for crystal meth, but they’re less common.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
There’s also a ceremony to commend Coast Guardsmen for a job well done. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sabrina Laberdesque)

Drug busts are extremely dangerous and are often met with enemy fire and high speed pursuits at all hours of the day. In Aug. 2017, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Stratton made 25 separate seizures. The combined 50,000 pounds of cocaine and heroin they confiscated was worth an estimated $679.3 million. Their largest bust, valued at over $1 billion, was made back in Aug. 2015 and, just as recent as last week, they seized more than $721 million worth of cocaine.

“The seizure of this cocaine means tens of thousands of pounds won’t make it to our communities and hundreds of millions of dollars won’t make it into cartel coffers,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said in an official statement. “To drug traffickers who may think they are invisible in the middle of what seems to be a vast, empty ocean: You are not alone.”

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
In case you ever wondered what $1 billion of cocaine looked like. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Bryan Goff)

Each decal that’s placed on the hull of a USCG Cutter serves as a warning to every drug smuggler. But funnily enough, only one decal is awarded per bust. Whether the bust stops $1 billion or $20 billion from going into cartel hands, it still only counts as one decal.

6 unnecessary (but awesome) things you’ll find in the barracks
Keep up the good work, Coasties! Amazing stories like these are how you guys earned your spot in the U.S. Armed Forces. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

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