Here's the military's incredibly painful 'OC spray' training - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Being “OC sprayed” is an absolutely terrible experience.


OC, or Oleoresin Capsicum — better known as pepper spray — is used to train military and law enforcement personnel as a necessary exercise, so they know what it feels like and can continue to function if they are sprayed.

“It may be the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” former Marine Ben Feibleman told WATM. Echoing this sentiment, WATM’s own Mike Dowling described it as “the worst day of his life.”

Despite the suffocating and searing sensation of the face, it’s a non-lethal form of policing, riot control, and personal self-defense. In most cases, the worst that will happen is irritation of the skin, temporary blindness, pain and the psychological effect of fear, anxiety and panic. As part of their training, troops are subject to voluntary OC spraying and asked to perform crowd restraint exercises.

The active ingredient in most OC sprays is a high concentration of pepper and alcohol, which is why “pepper spray” is commonly used to identify the spray. The only way to mitigate the spray’s effect is a direct stream of water to the eyes to flush the chemical out. In most cases – depending on the chemical concentration – the average effect lasts 30 minutes, according to SABRE, a brand of OC spray.

Here’s what a typical OC spray qualification is like:

The pepper spray is voluntary. He may look calm…

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: Cpl. Manuel A. Estrada/USMC

… but here’s what he’s really feeling.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

 

Next, nearly blind from the pepper spray, the trainee must take down a threat by submission.

 

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: Seaman Apprentice Brian H. Abel/US Navy

Then, the trainee must simulate fending off a potential threat.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: Cpl. Manuel A. Estrada/USMC

Once training is complete, it’s off to rinsing your face with water.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn/USMC

No matter how much pepper spray hurts, don’t be this guy:

 

Military Life

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

In March 1999, NATO announced that coalition forces would begin a massive air war and bombing campaign against Serbia. Within hours after the first round of strikes, an A-10 squadron received an urgent call that one of America’s stealthiest aircraft had been shot down — the F-117 Nighthawk.


It was reported the stealth pilot managed to bail out in time but was trapped deep behind enemy lines.

As rebel forces assembled to hunt down the American pilot, allied forces gathered and quickly began designing a search and rescue mission to locate their missing brother.

“One of the things I have to do as the on-scene commander is figure out if he’s ready to be picked up,” Air Force pilot John Cherrey explains.

Related: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

Since landing an A-10 in enemy territory was impractical, using Black Hawks to pick up the missing pilot was the only option. But with Serbian missiles on high alert, there was no way helicopters could outrun enemy defenses.

The rescue mission must be handled with extreme caution or risk losing more men, so developing a clever plan was in order.

The Warthog’s commanders decided to create a diversion that would prompt Serbian anti-air missile radar to look in one direction, while the slower Black Hawks swooped in through the enemies’ back door.

Also Read: That time American POWs refused a CIA rescue mission in Vietnam

Their plan worked as the two Black Hawks managed to sneak their way to the downed pilot and egresses out of the Serbian air space. Once the A-10s were notified the pilot was safe, they bugged out and went home. No additional casualties were reported.

Mission complete.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see how Allied forces went on this daring rescue mission for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Military Life

8 stores that let you know you’re near a military base

Military installations are built to be self-sustaining. Many have their own water and power supplies, housing facilities, and enough entertainment options to keep troops on the installation. Just off-post, however, you’ll always find the same selection of stores that easily let anyone on TDY know that they’ve found the right place.


Many of these shops are helpful and offer troops better deals than they’d find on-post. Others, however, cater to a troop’s less-than-helpful needs. It’s not to say that all shops off-post are sketchy — but plenty of them are.

Here’s just a handful of the shops that thrive off of having a huge population of troops just a stone’s throw away.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

It’s more than likely that any given Marine has the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattooed on them — but not all tattoos are the same. Don’t be the guy with the worst in the platoon.

(Courtesy Photo)​

Tattoo parlors

Troops love to show off their ink. Plenty of tattoo parlors around military installations are home to masterful artists who approach each job with pride. They take their labor of love seriously and put their best work forward for America’s war fighters.

And then there’re the parlors that offer dirt-cheap ink that won’t cut deeply into a young, dumb boot’s beer money. Remember, you’ll get exactly what you paid for.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

The chances of you getting spotted at one of the thirty-seven now-open liquor stores is slim.

(Courtesy photo)

Liqour stores

Since military installations are exempt from sales taxes, it would make sense that buying highly taxed items, like liquor, almost exclusively at the Class 6 (on-post liquor store) is a no-brainer.

But those lines are long and no one wants to run into their first sergeant while you’re both carrying a bottle of Evan Williams on a Tuesday night.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

“You’re trying to sell me a vintage poncho liner used by Gen. Mattis himself? Best I can do is .”

(Courtesy Photo)

Pawn shops

Troops are constantly moving between installations and, along the way, they may want to shed a few household goods. Conversely, they may not want to spend the extra cash on buying something new if they know they won’t have it for long.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Do you want to get made fun of for buying a car at 35% interest rate? Because that’s exactly how it happens.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

Used-car dealerships

In the military, everyone needs a car to get around. When troops come back with some extra “play money” they earned on deployment, they’ll upgrade their ride.

Many used-car dealerships aren’t as altruistic as they seem. If the only selling point they have going for them is that “E-1 and above are approved,” then you know that you’re about to get hammered on interest rates.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Which kinda defeats the purpose of having a privately owned weapon, but whatever.

(Photo by Michael Saechang)

Gun shop

Military and gun cultures go hand in hand. So, it makes sense that gun shops find a happy home just off-base.

Not to burst any bubbles among the lower enlisted who live in the barrack, but personally owned firearms and weapons are prohibited in living quarters — rules are rules. So, if you want one, you’ll need to store it in the unit’s arms room and hope you can convince the armorer to come in when you want to go hunting.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

That, and their lines are a lot shorter when you’re scrambling to get back within regs after a 4-day weekend.

(Photo by Joe Mabel)

Nail salons/barber shops

In the civilian world, nail salons are plenty. Barber shops are also plenty. But you won’t find the two mixed as often as you do near military bases.

Sure, it’s more expensive than on-base options, but sometimes it’s worth it. Especially if you want a haircut that says, “maybe I’m an officer, maybe I’m just a specialist.”

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Who knows? Maybe you’re buying the exact poncho liner that “went missing?”

(Photo by William Murphy)

Military surplus stores

These stores almost always claim first dibs outside of the main gate. Here, you’ll always find a good deal on something that you’re trying to avoid getting a statement of charges for. Why pay the to Uncle Sam because someone took your poncho liner when you can buy and immediately turn in a one found at the surplus store?

Now, we’re not openly accusing any military surplus stores of unintentionally fencing stolen, military gear, but some of the shadier ones are the go-to spots for blue falcons.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

By going to a payday loan spot, you’re essentially paying to avoid getting help from the people trying to help you.

(Photo by Pvt. Yoo, Jinho)

Payday loan offices

There’s a silver lining to most of the places on this list, especially if they’re owned and operated by veterans of the installation they service. Then there are the payday-loan scammers that prey on troops like vultures in a desert.

There are far too many alternatives available to troops that don’t involved being nickeled-and-dimed to death in the name of scrounging up a few quick bucks. If you are really hurting for cash, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your commander and see what options are available through your branch’s version of an emergency relief fund.

Military Life

5 types of recruits you’ll encounter at your first PFT

When recruits first arrive at boot camp, they run an initial Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to determine the capabilities of each prospect. The Marine PFT consists of pull-ups, crunches, and a timed, three-mile run. They will repeat this test a few times over the course of their stay in boot camp and results are carefully monitored by drill instructors, who track individual improvements.


If a recruit fails the test, they’ll fall behind in training, prolonging the time spent at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot — a place where no young man or woman wants to spend any extra time.

The initial test is taken within a week or so of arriving. While there, recruits will likely see a few of the following archetypes in action.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Recruits of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, push forward during the three-mile run portion of their Physical Fitness Test aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.
(Photo by Marine Sgt. Benjamin E. Woodle)
 

The marathon runner

Some recruits barely meet the physical requirements of the screening process at MEPS — others show up to boot camp in tip-top shape. Once the drill instructor gives the platoon the signal to start the three-mile run, you’ll quickly notice the endurance runners pull ahead of the pack.

The overrated bodybuilder

This guy or gal sports layers upon layers of muscle. They look tough and can probably lift a truck and a half, but this mass becomes a problem when it’s time to complete the timed run. This recruit probably maxed out on the pull-ups and sit-ups without problem, but they’ll be breathing heavily after about a mile’s jog.

On the flip side, these recruits are great when it comes time to lift the log.

www.youtube.com

 

The “Pvt. Pyle”

We meant it when we said some recruits show up to boot camp after just barely satisfying the requirements of a MEPS physical exam. This recruit isn’t remotely prepared for the physical demands of the Marine Corps — they’ve got a long way to go. This type of recruit makes the mediocre boots look pretty sh*t-hot.

But, as the saying goes, “you don’t have to finish first, just don’t finish last.”

The skinny kid with upper body strength

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to do well at the PFT. In fact, being skinny can actually help you crank out numbers on the pull-up bar and smoke everyone else during the timed run. Conversely, however, it’s a good idea to get those legs stronger in preparation for all those fun hikes you’ll go on — especially if you’re headed to San Diego for basic training.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Drill instructors with Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, encourage recruits to push their limits as they finish the final part of the initial physical fitness test aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
(Photo by Marine Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane)

 

The sh*tty counter

It may be frowned upon by the Corps, but if you’re lucky, your platoon mate will count by twos during your PFT. We know, it doesn’t sound so ethical, but it happens all the time. Conversely, some recruits live life by the books and make their platoon mates actually do every single sit-up on their way to reaching the goal of 100.

Articles

Marines will ride to future battles in these new ships

Some people joke that “Marine” stands for “My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment.”


Surely that’s been the case. To get to Iwo Jima, the Marines needed to sail in on transports. And what was true in 1945 is no less true in 2017.

Later this month, Marines will be testing a lot of new technology, from landing craft to robots. But the new gear won’t just be painted green. The big gray pieces of Navy equipment that Marine butts ride in are also changing. When the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) entered service in 1989, the AV-8B Harrier was very young – the AV-8B+ with the APG-65 radar and AIM-120 AMRAAM capability was still years away from a test flight.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) returns to Huntington Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula, Mississippi (USA), after completing sea trials. | U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Lawrence Grove

Today, the Wasp is nearing 30 and she has six sisters, and a half-sister, the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in service with her — plus the USS America (LHA 6), the lead ship of a new class of big-deck amphibious assault ships. Everything on board will have to go in by air. Both the America and later the Tripoli will lack well decks for the hovercraft (LCACs) used to land troops, making them, in essence, light carriers on the order of Japan’s Izumo or the Italian Conte di Cavour.

Oh, each still holds 1,871 Marines, according to shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls.

So, we now shift to the future. The future USS Bougainville (LHA 8) has been ordered and is expected to enter service in 2024. The Navy also announced the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) in March 2016, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Artists’s impression of the future USS Bougainville (LHA 8). (Scanned from Huntington Ingalls handout)

The LHA 8 and LPD 28 represent the future of amphibious ships. LHA 8 is the first of the more permanent class, while LPD 28 is going to be a transition vessel from the San Antonio-class amphibious transports to the LX(R) program that will replace the Whidbey Island and Harper’s Ferry landing ships.

The LHA 8 will correct an omission in the first two America-class amphibious assault ships: It will have a well deck capable of holding two LCACs. Getting that means a bit of shuffling – Huntington Ingalls notes that 1,000 compartments have been eliminated, added, or moved around. The ship will have a smaller hanger than the USS America (18,745 square feet versus 28,142 square feet), but it will have over 12,000 more square feet to store vehicles.

Over 1,600 Marine butts will ride in this ship.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
A comparison of the sterns of USS America (LHA 6) on the left and the future USS Bougainville (LHA 8) on the right – showing the major difference between the two ships. (Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The LPD 28 is a San Antonio-class ship. But in some ways she is a lot like the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, a half-sister to USS San Antonio and her 10 other sisters intended as a bridge to the LX(R) program. Huntington Ingalls is proposing a version of the San Antonio hull for the LX(R) program – largely to avoid growing pains.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Arist’s impression of the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28). (Scanned from Huntington Ingalls handout)

The most visible change is her masts – LPD 28 will have traditional masts as opposed to the stealthy masts on the other San Antonio-class ships. She will also have simpler roller doors for her helicopter hangar, and an open upper stern gate. She will carry 650 Marines to their destination.

In short, these new ships will continue to haul Marine butts to their eventual destinations. Even as technology changes, some things will remain the same.

Articles

These simple sponges seal battle wounds in no time

Innovations in battlefield medicine are constantly advancing. With deadly conflicts popping up all over the world, it’s vital to treat the wounded and get them to a safe and secure location as soon as possible.


Traditionally, field medics and Corpsman would manually pack deep wounds with Quik Clot and gauze to pack wounds, or use tourniquets to stop major bleeds. Wound control would consist of treating the damaged tissue by externally cramping large amounts of coagulated material with high hopes that your helping more than hurting.

But a new invention using these little sponges may be the key to prolonging life until the injured is transported to the next echelon of care.

FDA approved in 2015, the XSTAT hemorrhage control system is making its way into military hands. Specially designed to treat narrowed-entrance wounds like bullet holes, these circular sponges are housed in an injectable syringe and plunged into any deep wound and rapidly expand after coming into contract with liquid.

With the average wound packing time approximately three-to-five minutes, the injectable sponges cut application time down to just seconds. The sponges then completely fill up the wound and self-compress themselves outward soaking up the bleeds they come in contact with.

The XSTAT, which contains approximately 92 sponges, can treat wounds in areas tough to treat with a tourniquet and can be injected into nearly every part of the body without causing additional soft tissue damage.

“XSTAT 30 is cleared for use in patients at high risk for immediate, life-threatening, and severe hemorrhagic shock and non-compressible junctional wounds, when definitive care at an emergency care facility cannot be achieved within minutes,” – FDA
(CNN, YouTube)What do you think of this life-saving invention? Leave us a comment.
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.”

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.”

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.”

Articles

Beware the American booby trap rigger in Vietnam

Booby traps are terrifying weapons of choice for the troops who want to seriously wound their enemies without having to spend precious time waiting for them to show up.


Placed at specific areas on the battlefield where the opposition is most likely to travel, these easily assembled devices have the ability to take troops right out of the fight or cause a painful delayed death.

Snake pits, flag bombs, and cartridge traps are just a few of the creative inventions the Viet Cong engineered to bring harm to their American and South Vietnamese adversaries.

With mortality rates in Vietnam reaching almost 60,000, trip wires or land mines contributed to 11% of the deaths during the multi-year skirmish.

Related: These are the most terrifying Vietnam War booby traps

Although VC troops were productive in their dead trap concepts, Americans like Tom Schober were just as creative and clever.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Tom Schober cooling himself down in a Vietnamese river (Source: Wisconsin Public Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

“The VC weren’t the only ones who rigged up booby traps,” Schober admits, “We got pretty good at rigging up mechanical ambushes with claymores.”

Sporting a 1st Cav jacket throughout his time in the war, Tom managed to use the basic materials the Army gave him to get some much-earned payback against his VC enemy.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Proud American and Vietnam veteran Tom Schober (Source: Wisconsin Public Television/YouTube/Screenshot)

“I feel kind of strongly that we all owe a debt to those who didn’t make it,” Schober says. “To live our lives better.”

Also Read: Once upon a time, this ‘little kid’ was a lethal Vietnam War fighter

Check out Wisconsin Public Television‘s video for Schober’s thrilling tale of how he would use an old battery, blasting cap, some string and a spoon to help take down the enemy.

(Wisconsin Public Television, YouTube)
MIGHTY HISTORY

Abraham Lincoln’s wrestling skills made him the John Cena of his time

You know Abraham Lincoln as the emancipator and one of America’s greatest presidents, but a wrestler?


At 6-feet-4, 180 pounds, the frontier man was a highly regarded grappler who went 12 years with only one defeat in approximately 300 matches. According to Lincoln biographer Carl Sandberg, Abe was also an accomplished trash talker once challenging an entire crowd of onlookers after beating a foe: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.”

Related: Here’s what America’s 6 sailor presidents did when they were in the fleet

Historians recount Lincoln’s badassery to as early as his teenage years. At age 19, he defeated the Natchez thugs by throwing them overboard during their attempted to hijack Lincoln’s stepbrother’s river barge. Ten years later, while working for an enterprising storekeeper in New Salem, Illinois, he doubled as a prize fighter for his boss who promoted his famous match against county champ, Jack Armstrong. Lincoln won by knockout when he threw Armstrong off his feet.

Lincoln was neither the first nor last president to succeed in wrestling. At age 47, George Washington famously defeated seven members of the Massachusetts militia during the American Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt cross trained in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and William Taft were also champions, wrote Jennie Cohen for History.

Legend has it that Lincoln once beat a man by picking him up and tossing him 12 feet during a campaign speech. This American Heroes Channel video perfectly shows why you don’t want to get into a scuffle with honest Abe.

Watch:


American Heroes Channel, YouTube
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.

Articles

The 7 enlisted jobs with awesome entry-level salaries

Serving in the military can be very rewarding personally and professionally, but a lot of potential recruits want to know which jobs make the most cash. The military pay tables are here, but in the meantime, here are seven of the most lucrative military jobs for new enlistees:


1. Army Military Working Dog Handler

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo by Pierre Courtejoie

Military working dog handlers train and work with dogs that specialize in finding explosives, drugs, or other potential threats to military personnel or law and order. They train for 18 weeks after the Army’s 10-week basic combat training.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits.

2. Air Force Histopathology Specialist

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David Miller

Histopathology specialists in the U.S. Air Force prepare diseased tissue samples for microscopic examination, aiding doctors in the diagnosis of dangerous diseases.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

3. Marine Corps Engineer

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. John McCall

Engineering Marines build and repair buildings, roads, and power supplies and assist the infantry by breaching enemy obstacles. There are different schools for different engineering specialties including Basic Combat Engineer Course, the Engineer Equipment Operator Course, and the Basic Metal Workers Course.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

4. Navy Mass Communications Specialist

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Kamaile Chan

Mass Communications Specialists tell the Navy story through photography, writing, illustration, and graphic design. They educate the public and document the Navy’s achievements.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

5. Army Paralegal Specialist

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Army Sgt. Darryl L. Montgomery

Paralegal Specialists assist lawyers and unit command teams by advising on criminal law, international law, civil/administrative law, contract law, and fiscal law. The are experts in legal terminology, the preparation of legal documents, and the judicial process.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

6. Air Force Firefighter

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Kathrine McDowell

Firefighters in the Air Force have to combat everything from building fires to burning jets to forest fires. They operate primarily on Air Force bases but may also be stationed at other branches installations or be called on to assist civilian fire departments.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

7. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Crewman

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Photo: US Navy Geoffrey Patrick

Light armored vehicles support the Marine Corps mission by carrying communications equipment, Marines, and mobile electronic warfare platforms. The heart of the LAV mission is the LAV crewman, who drives, maintains, and operates these awesome vehicles.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

Articles

This airman uses horses to help troops and their families adapt to service

Air Force Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan remembers running around the woods of North Carolina trying to catch a wild horse while she was a kid. She had fallen in love with a flea-bitten, little gray Arabian horse that nobody could manage to catch — except her.


Not yet tall enough to put the halter on, she remembers, she would put the rope around the horse’s neck and look to her dad for help.

For Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, this is where her passion for horses began, and that passion continues to be a blessing in her Air Force career.

“She can pick up on a horse’s personality in a second; she has a natural gift with them,” said Teresa Nolan, the airman’s mother. “Lauren would always get up really early. By the time I woke up, she would already be out in the pasture to see her horse and have her tied up, grooming her by herself.”

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, poses for a photo with her horses, Tiz and Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. When Nolan moved to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. her first duty station she had her horses shipped to the area and now boards them off-base in the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas since 2015, Lauren has two horses that occupy her time: Tiz Sunshine, 4 years-old, and Shoobie, 6 years-old — both off-the-track thoroughbreds. She boards them in the local community and spends her off-duty time taking care of them and training them for barrel racing.

“When I leave work, if I’m not helping out at the barn, I’m working with them on barrels,” Nolan said. “Shoobie is a diva, and Tiz is a little doll button. If you’re trying to teach Shoobie something and she doesn’t understand, she’ll give you attitude right back. Tiz will do whatever you tell her; she doesn’t care. She will stand there, look at you and stick her tongue out at you — she is so quirky.”

Much as a military training instructor develops civilians into airmen, training horses takes the same time and perseverance, although it’s a milder process. Nolan works with the horses almost every day, and has even set individual goals for them. She wants them to be patterned with the barrels and running well by the spring, she said.

“I have to have a lot of patience,” she added. “You can’t take a 1,200-pound animal and turn it into a superstar overnight. It takes months and months, but it’s very rewarding to take a horse that didn’t really have a chance, work with it and make it into something.”

Nolan also uses patience at work. She works in an office ordering aircraft parts for the KC-135 Stratotanker. The stress of having the responsibility of ordering millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and the potential for mistakes can be somewhat daunting. If she has a bad day at work, she said, her outlet for stress is in the dusty barn and muddy pasture.

“It’s very relaxing to go and just hang out with them and get rid of all the stressors of the day,” Nolan said. “My family is over 1,000 miles away. I can’t see them but once a year, so the horses mean everything to me. Tiz and Shoobie have helped me more than anything else ever could.”

With the unique challenges military members face, from frequent moves to deployments, everybody needs a way to unwind. Spending time with the horses is Nolan’s way, and realizing how much Tiz and Shoobie help her, she is sharing this experience with others.

“Every once in a while, I’ll take airmen out to see them so they can have their little getaway,” she said. “They could come ride them, brush them or just interact with the horses to help them cope with whatever they’re dealing with.”

Nolan also brings airmen’s families out to see the horses. She specifically wants to help first-term airmen who are new to base, as well as children with deployed parents, she said.

“I take anybody out to see the horses who needs it,” she added. “Being on base and in military life is stressful for a lot of the people. It has impacted and helped everybody I have ever brought out there — you can see it. The kids grin, laugh and giggle the whole time. It’s instant. They get all giddy the moment they see them.”

Just as Nolan takes pride in her work as an airman, she has pride in her horses. When she brings other people out to the barn to see Tiz and Shoobie, she said, she wants them to look their best.

“It’s in her nature, it’s who she is and what she loves,” Teresa Nolan said. “Lauren will do whatever she has to do to keep them healthy and well-fed, even it means she’s not going to have something, just to take care of the horses.”

She gets off work and switches from combat boots to cowboy boots. When she gets to the barn and heads to the pasture to round up the horses, she stops in her tracks. She’s got fellow airmen coming to the barn to see the horses and Shoobie looks like a walking mud puddle from rolling on the ground after a night of Kansas rain.

With a sigh, a few words mumbled under her breath and a hint of smile, she gets the watering hose and brush. Here they go again.

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.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training
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.

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