The critical role of women in the military - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

The critical role of women in the military

Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles in the military. Women have served on the frontlines since the Revolutionary War – Margaret Corbin, famously defended Fort Washington in 1776 – but it wasn’t until 1901 that women were allowed to serve in the military in any official capacity.

“Albeit only in certain branches and typically in wartime,” Captain Veronica Bean, Public Affairs Officer for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Drum, told We Are The Mighty. “Since then, we’ve seen major legislative and institutional changes, including the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, which allowed women to serve during peacetime and the Department of Defense’s 2013 decision to allow women to serve in combat roles.”

World War I was the first time the military opened to women on an official level by the Army.

Women were allowed to serve in the military when the need for manpower grew too large to ignore. “The country realized we needed all hands on deck to support the war,” Bean explained. “As women successfully completed their original duties, more and more jobs opened up to them. World War I served as a turning point where the nation saw how valuable women were to the war effort. It set the conditions for WAVES, WAACS and WASPS in World War II and generations of future service.”

Trailblazers from each branch include: Deborah Sampson, U.S. Army; Esther McGowin Blake, U.S. Air Force; Genevieve and Lucille Baker, U.S.Coast Guard; Loretta Walsh, U.S. Navy; Opha May Johnson, U.S. Marine Corps.

“The first women to serve in the armed forces enlisted in the Navy in 1917,” Bean shared. “While the women served stateside, they were afforded the same benefits and pay as their male counterparts. The military was one of the first institutions to offer equal pay between the sexes. This was a groundbreaking social change—remember, this was three years before the U.S. ratified the 19th amendment which grants women the right to vote.”

In January 2013, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, lifted the ban on women in combat roles and gave the military two years to complete integration.

The critical role of women in the military
Capt. Kari Asai, an F-15E weapons officer assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England, stands in front of her aircraft following a training mission during Red Flag 13-3, March 6 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Asai’s unit is working with allied nations to gain combat experience over the skies of Nevada’s Test and Training Range. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Newell)

“Limiting the roles in which women could serve in the military effectively capped female career progression,” Bean said. “Take into consideration that the most senior strategic leaders – the chiefs of staff or combatant commanders for example – historically have combat arms backgrounds, which is why these positions were filled only by men until just a few years ago. The Department of Defense’s decision to allow women to serve in all capacities of the military freed women to also serve at all levels of leadership. As women progress up the ranks and fill these senior leader positions, we’re starting to have women, for the first time, impact decisions that ultimately affect the entire force.”

Today, women serve in all facets of the armed services. 

The critical role of women in the military
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Martineau, Staff Sgt. Sarah Ledwith and Senior Airman Marissa Vanzee pose for a photo March 6, 2016. They form an all-lady weapons load crew and in a recent evaluation earned accolades for being “best loading operations seen to date.” Their supervisor said that their “work ethic and sense of urgency was instrumental to the 158 AMXS Weapons Section shining during Combat Hammer 2016.” (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Greenia)

“Gender diversity in the military makes us better, because it allows a myriad of experience and perspective to be included in the planning and decision-making process,” Bean explained. “More importantly, allowing women to serve in the same fashion as their male peers breaks down stereotypes about what women can and can not do both physically and professionally.”

Bean told We Are The Mighty that as a woman in the military, there are many women who currently serve or have served that inspire her.

“Army Gen (Ret.) Ann E. Dunwoody was the first woman in the military to achieve the rank of general. Needless to say, she was a trail blazer and an inspiration to all the women who have followed in her footsteps,” she said. “More recently, U.S. Army Reservist, LTC Lisa Jaster was the first female reservist to complete Ranger school -and the third of all components. I really admire her for her grit and tenacity, but especially because she took on that challenge – a school whose motto is “not for the faint or weak of heart” – at age 37 after having two children. The average trainee is 23. She’s a reminder that the only limits we have are the one we put on ourselves.”

Although the military has come a long way in equality, there is still work to be done.

“Being a female service member can be a lonely experience,” Bean said. “It’s quite common to sit through a series of meetings in which I am the only woman in the room. But despite this, or perhaps because of this, the bond which is shared between sisters-in-arms is stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced outside of the military. The mentorship and support that military women provide each other aren’t talked about enough.”

Looking toward the future of women in the armed forces, Bean is hopeful.

“Today’s military recognizes that our strength lies in our diversity, and our senior leaders are making significant changes to grooming standards, uniforms, and training programs in order to recruit and retain women,” she said. “I’m excited about what the future holds, and I hope more young women will consider joining the profession of arms.”

Military Life

6 things you need to know about being stationed at K-Bay

Being an infantry Marine stationed in Hawai’i is a blessing and a curse. If you get stationed out there, civilians will sarcastically tell you how hard your life is and fellow service members will glare at you with jealousy, but they don’t know the truth — not unless they read Terminal Lance, that is.

When you get orders to Hawai’i, you’ll probably feel excited right off the bat. If you grew up in the mainland United States and you’ve never visited, you’ve likely heard of it as a beautiful, tropical vacation spot. Once you get there, you’ll start to realize that, in some ways, it’s far from an island paradise.

So, to get you prepared, here are a few things you should know about being stationed out there:


The critical role of women in the military

Luckily, you’ll get compensated for the cost of living.

Everything is expensive

Mentally prepare yourself now for paying insane prices for things like milk or gasoline. If you’re a smoker, you might as well kick the habit now because you’ll be paying for every pack at the exchange on base. If you ever plan on leaving to explore the island, you’ll pay much more than that.

The facilities suck

Marine Corps Base Hawai’i is small and its size can likely be attributed to the fact that it was originally built to be a Marine Corps Air Station. Only after the fact was it then turned into a full-fledged base equipped to house with infantry battalions and artillery batteries. As you might imagine, there aren’t many options for shopping or entertainment on base.

The critical role of women in the military

You’ll become well acquainted with those humid jungles, don’t worry.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

It’s always humid

Hawai’i is an island nation covered with a lush rain forest and surrounded by ocean. Not only is the heat intense, but the humidity is thick, making matters much worse. Not a day will go by where you won’t sweat — unless you spend the whole day in an air-conditioned building.

The critical role of women in the military

At least the sun will be gone for a bit of time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isabelo Tabanguil)

It’s always raining

Remember how it’s always humid? It’s because it constantly rains. If you’re infantry, you already know that rain is somehow magically, meteorologically attracted to where you are in the world so, don’t expect that to change at all in Hawai’i.

The locals hate you

A good amount of them, anyway. If they’re not a tattoo artist or business owner, they’ll probably have a disdain for you being a part of the United States military. Don’t take it personally and just ignore it because there’s no point in getting yourself into trouble when, at the end of the day, you’re not there by choice, anyway.

The critical role of women in the military

It won’t take long before you start to feel the claustrophobia.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Luke Kuennen)

You’re stuck on an island

Your ass belongs to the Corps, so you best believe you can’t leave that island chain without permission. You can’t really even leave O’ahu unless you do some paperwork, so get used to those islands feeling like a prison.

Enjoy!

MIGHTY FIT

This is the ‘stress hormone’ that’s making you gain weight

Testosterone, estrogen, and leptin are just a few of the hormones that our bodies naturally produce. These hormones allow us to grow muscle, regulate our reproductive systems, and boost our metabolisms so we can lose weight. However, the stress generated by deployment cycles and our hectic schedules causes the human body to also produce a complex stress hormone, called cortisol.

This vital hormone is created by the adrenal glands, which are located just above your kidneys.

Cortisol dictates how your body manages the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that you intake during meals. It lowers the amount of inflammation in your body and is one of the contributing factors to the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response.

Experiencing chronic stress makes for increased levels of this powerful hormone. Having too much cortisol results in mood swings, “brain fog,” interrupted sleep patterns, and increased visceral fat (fat stored within the abdominal cavity).

But don’t worry — getting rid of those extra layers on your tummy doesn’t have to be difficult.


The critical role of women in the military
The infamous pinch test.

If you think your body is having trouble regulating cortisol production, you can go to your doctor and request a saliva test that monitors stress and hormone levels. Even if you don’t have stress-induced love handles, this might be a test worth taking. After all, having too little cortisol can also have negative affects on the body. Low cortisol may result in lowered blood pressure, a loss of appetite, and general fatigue.

The critical role of women in the military
Home tests are available,u00a0but a doctor can better explain the all the details.

Maintaining a healthy cortisol level is as easy as working out a few times per week, improving your social life, and finding time to relax whenever possible. Our bodies weren’t designed to endure constant stress, but the occasionally worry sits with us just fine.

Articles

6 reasons why veterans would gear up and head back to war

As veterans, we’ve all thought about signing back up at one time or another. But what would it take to truly get us back in uniform, to don all that heavy gear and take the fight to the enemy as we’ve always done?


Though we all have to take into consideration all the formations, bull-sh*t we receive from the chain of command — and let’s not forget all those wonderful uniform inspections. Everyone loves those.

With all the crap that comes with serving, many veterans still miss some aspects of military life.

Let’s gear up and go to war! (Images via Giphy)

Check out our reasons why we would gear back up to take on the bad guys.

1. If another major terrorist attack happens

The Sept. 11 attacks stirred up patriotism in millions of Americans, and some joined the military during that period just to get a little revenge.

I represent ‘Merica! (Image via Giphy)

2. For a huge bonus check

Everyone wants to line their pockets with extra beer money.

And a case of beer! (Image via Giphy)

3. If your military family went as well

The military brother and sisterhood have a very tight bond, you f*ck with one brother or sister — you f*ck with whole while family.

You said it girl. (Image via Giphy)

4. If you just couldn’t find a good enough job that suits you

Because office work just didn’t satisfy that inner combat operator in you.

These guys were all former snipers. True story. (Image via Giphy)

5. To feel that combat adrenaline rush again

Shooting and blowing up the bad guys makes an operator feel great about themselves. It’s a morale booster.

He nailed every shot too. He’s that good. (Image via Giphy)

6. To get some adventure

Post-military life is hard to adjust too. Sometimes you just want to leave the homeland and get back into the sh*t.

Can we go with you? (Images via Giphy)To all of our military family already forward deployed — we salute you.

Can you think of any more reasons to throw those cammies back on? Comment below.

Articles

This is how the U2 spy plane is taking the fight to the enemy

Nicknamed the “Dragon Lady” and developed by Lockheed Martin, the U-2 spy plane was made famous in the 1960s when one was shot down conducting a reconnaissance mission over the Soviet Union.


Today, the surveillance jet continues its duty as it searches for threats in Afghanistan. Once the pilot detects a potential hazard to coalition forces, it locks onto the attacker’s location and sends the signal 7,000 miles away to Beale Air Force Base in California. Once the base receives the incoming traffic, the surveillance analysts decode the information and track the enemy movement.

As the analysts locate the threat, the surveillance team quickly intervenes and relays the vital information down to ground troops. With the highly sophisticated onboard radio system, the U-2 spy plane can then assist in choreographing with nearby fighter jets to initiate a strike tactic on enemy forces below before they manage to assault allied forces.

With its incredible versatility, the spy plane can conduct its mission from an altitude of 70,000 feet.

Related: Here is the spectacular view from a U2 spy plane

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to witness how the U-2 Dragon Lady fights the enemy from high above the clouds.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Also Read: Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

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.

The critical role of women in the military

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!

The critical role of women in the military

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.

The critical role of women in the military

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.

The critical role of women in the military

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.

The critical role of women in the military

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.

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.”

The critical role of women in the military
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 you should have enlisted as a ‘Fister’

If you’re considering joining the Army or you’re sick of your current MOS and thinking of reclassing, there are so many options to chose from that it’s a headache to decide.


Maybe you’re picking your MOS based entirely off what you can get, maybe you’re picking it off what would be best suited for your eventual transition back to the civilian world, or maybe you’re following in the footsteps of someone you admire. For those that choose their MOS by counting “cool points,” there’s one MOS that towers them all: (13F) Fire Support Specialist, or ‘Fister.’

These are the 5 reasons why you should enlist as a Fister:

5. The name is perfectly acceptable for use in polite company.

Derived from “Fire Support Team” or FiST, this MOS’s name is the source of innumerable low-brow jokes in field artillery.

While everyone else watches their tongue, taking care not to offend, you get a free pass to say something that could be confused for a violent sex act every time you talk about work.

The critical role of women in the military
Finally! A hoodie for every occasion! (Image via CafePress)

4. It’s actually like Call of Duty, except you constantly get kill streak bonuses.

It happens at every recruitment station. There’s always that one kid who comes in thinking he’ll be living his favorite video game before he’s struck with the harsh reality that life isn’t a video game.

While other MOSs are less fun in real life — you can’t just to wait behind a rock to heal and stealing enemy weapons is generally frowned upon — fisters have it better. They don’t get told “sorry, you need to kill a few more bad guys before you can rain hell on your enemies.” They just do it. It’s their job.

The critical role of women in the military
Just like Call of Duty, kid. Don’t worry about the imminent stress of getting the exact coordinates right using a crappy laser finder that barely works. You’ll get a sixth sense for those things sooner or later. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

3. You get paid to watch things go boom from a good, safe distance.

Speaking of raining hell on your enemies, that’s what you’ll be doing.

You’ll be attached to whatever unit needs a guy to say, “that thing right there? I don’t like it. Let’s get rid of it with enough firepower to remove an entire grid-square off the map!” This means you’ll be working with damn near everyone from Armor to Aviation to Infantry to Cavalry, all while being left alone to do your badassery.

The critical role of women in the military
Safe is a relative term. (Image via Reddit)

2. All the benefits of being a grunt with less of the downsides.

There’s a constant rivalry within the Army between grunt MOSs and the soft ones. Grunts mock others for being weak and POGs mock grunts for being idiots with relatively low promotion point standards.

Some MOSs are just handed the title of “grunt” and no one will ever question it, like infantry. Some have to earn the respect of other grunts to get it, like a hard-ass commo or medic. Then there’s the fister. No one ever questions the balls it takes to be a fister.

They’re out there kicking it with the infantry, while also having the brains to do advanced math on the fly to get the birds blowing up the right spot. Oh — and their promotion points are a lot lower, so you’ll pick up rank faster than a POG.

The critical role of women in the military
Pro: You’re a badass. Con: You have to do math. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Joseph Robinson, Company Fire Support Officer)

1. SFC Jared C. Monti and SSG Ryan M. Pitts are some Bad. Mother. F*ckers.

In Afghanistan alone, two fisters have made their brothers proud by being awarded the Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Monti and Staff Sergeant Pitts.

Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti received his Medal of Honor posthumously on Sept. 17, 2009 after his patrol was ambushed by around 60 Taliban fighters. He radioed in for artillery and close air support on their position, but it would take time for the heat to arrive. In the ensuing firefight, several of his men were struck by enemy fire. He was successful in getting recovering one of his men, but was gravely wounded in the process. When the artillery finally arrived, it took out 22 insurgents and dispersed the rest.

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts received his Medal of Honor when well over 200 Taliban forces swarmed his base at the Battle of Wanat in July, 2008. Though critically wounded by shrapnel, he continued to lay down suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. This bought him the time he needed to crawl to a radio, with no regard for his own life, so he could describe the attack to Command and call for indirect fire.

The critical role of women in the military
Left: Paul and Janet Monti presented the Medal of Honor for their son’s, SFC Jared Monti, actions. Right: SSG Pitts is presented the Medal of Honor (Images via NPR and People)

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of February 17th

In the military, it’s impossible to say what the next week will bring. Thankfully, the ranks are chock-full of talented photographers that are always capturing what life as a service member is like, both in training and at war.


These are the best photos of the week:

Air Force:

Airmen from multiple aeromedical evacuation squadrons treat a patient during a mock emergency scenario in route to Jackson, Mississippi, Feb 14, 2018. Airmen from multiple aeromedical evacuation squadrons formed teams to coordinate and work together for the PATRIOT South exercise.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Terrence Clyburn )

Army:

A competitor in the 2018 Best Warrior Competition – Japan takes aim and fires his M4 rifle at his target during a weapon qualifying round held on Feb. 12 aboard MCB Camp Hansen.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S. Army photo)

Navy:

Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Andy Blessing, from Katy, Texas, assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, surveys the waters surrounding the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) from an MH-60S Sea Hawk during a routine flight to support Exercise Cobra Gold 2018. Bonhomme Richard is participating in CG18 alongside Royal Thai Navy ships and personnel, conducting a range of amphibious operations that will enhance tactical expertise of participants and flex combined capabilities to respond to contingencies. Cobra Gold is an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand held this year from Feb. 13-23 with seven full participating nations.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gavin Shields/Released)

Marine Corps:

Lance Cpl. Matthew Yaw and Military Working Dog Bbutler practice “out” drills Feb. 13 at the Marine Corps Installations Pacific K-9 kennels on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Out is a command that military dog handlers give their MWD to release an object. Handlers and their dogs practice training through the obedience course to consistently instill instant, willing obedience. K-9 units are a visual and psychological deterrent which helps keep military installations narcotics and explosive free. Yaw is a military police officer and a dog handler with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCIPAC- Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. Bbutler’s unique name came from Lackland Air Force Base’s signature doubling of the first letter of the MWD’s name.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S Marine photo by Lance Corporal Tayler P. Schwamb)

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Richie Salinas demonstrates a tire flip during the Force Fitness Instructor (FFI) Course culminating event at The Basic School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., February 12, 2018. The FFI course is made up of physical training, classroom instruction, and practical application to provide the students with a holistic approach to fitness. Upon completion, the Marines will serve as unit FFIs, capable of designing individual and unit-level holistic fitness programs.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Marnell)

Coast Guard:

Five boaters sit on a capsized 26-foot pleasure craft while a Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet crew and good samaritans approach the vessel to assist the boaters Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, 3 miles east of Lake Worth Inlet. The Coast Guard rescue recovered all 5 boaters from the water and transferred them to awaiting emergency medical services at the Lake Park Marina near Lake Worth.

The critical role of women in the military
(U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Lake Worth Inlet.)

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.”

The critical role of women in the military
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.

The critical role of women in the military
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.”

Articles

7 items every Marine needs before deploying

Your orders just posted and you’re shipping out on a 7 to 13-month deployment. Good luck with all that!


The checklist your first sergeant passed out is several pages of stuff you just cram into the bottom of your sea bag — like extra PT gear, running and shower shoes — just to mention a few.

Pretty much all work and no play items. That’s no fun.

The critical role of women in the military
Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit embark aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera).

There’s another list the NCOs don’t hand out; the list of stuff you’ll actually use on a day-to-day — one that will make that long deployment more manageable and fun.

Remember, you won’t have much storage where you’re headed off to, so plan accordingly.

1. Extra undies

While manning the front lines, there’s no guarantee when you’ll have free time to do laundry. It’s amazing how wearing a clean, dry set of underwear can boost morale.

2. 550 cord

Also known as “Paracord,” this traditional interwoven cord gets its name from the 550 pounds of heavy tension it can withstand and its ability to tie stuff together. The versatile cord was even used by Space Shuttle crews to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

You’ll use it as a multi-tool, including to tie down cammie netting, attach extra gear to your body armor and air dry your laundry.

The critical role of women in the military
24th December 1956: The laundry at the United Nations (UN) camp in Abu Seuir, Egypt.

3. Shock resistant camera

Deployments are life changing experiences. You’re going to want to capture the moments, but not any camera will do.

The critical role of women in the military

Shock resistant Cameras are designed for rugged outdoor use and are great when ambushing ISIS. They tend to run a little more expensive than traditional digital cameras, but when you’re on patrol and take heavy fire, these little bad boys shouldn’t let you down when recording your personal history.

That’s badass.

4. A Cheap laptop

Deployments can be boring, with loads of downtime if you’re lucky. Consider bringing a cheap laptop with as many movies as your external hard drive can hold. Don’t spend too much money on one; chances are dust and debris will ruin it after too long.

The critical role of women in the military
Movie time!

What better way to spend a Friday night with your brothers then huddling around a 15-inch screen watching an action movie. The more variety of movies you have in stock the better.

5. Calling cards

No, we don’t mean that unique object you leave after getting away with a heist.

A calling card or phone card allows you to make calls from any working phone without charging the expenses to the receiver. It can get pretty expensive that way.

The critical role of women in the military

Many foreign bases around the world have USOs set up for deployed members to call home or use the internet. Some require the purchase of calling cards so have one handy dandy if you walk into one where Uncle Sam is too cheap to fit the phone bill.

 6. Music player

Self-explanatory, because everyone likes music.

7. Magazine subscriptions

Having new magazines show up during mail call is one of the greatest gifts a Marine can receive. Especially, when you’re in an all-male infantry unit stationed in the middle of  bum f*ck nowhere and Maxim magazine arrives. Everyone celebrates.

Can you think of anymore items? Comment below.
Military Life

4 most annoying regulations for women in the military

It might seem that women would have it easy when it comes to regulations in the military — I mean, how hard is it to stick your hair in a bun, slip on your boots, and head out the door?


It’s actually pretty restricting once you realize how many regulations are placed on women in the military.

Granted, regulations are nothing new, and everyone has to follow them, but let’s take a look at a few that women in all branches of service have to abide by on a daily basis.

4. Hair

Women’s hair must be professional and steer clear of unnatural colors and eccentric styles. Yes, this means no fad hairstyles, no blinged out barrettes and bobby pins, which makes sense, to an extent. This regulation might be the hardest for women to comply with because the description is so broad and is ultimately up to the interpretation of supervisors to potentially escalate a breach of regulation (“No sir, my hair is not red — it’s Auburn”).

Heck, sometimes it might just be easier to chop it all off like GI Jane (newsflash that’s against regs too, no buzz cuts for women!). Looks like a bun it is!

The critical role of women in the military

3. Nails

Nails might seem like a menial regulation to gripe about, but it becomes tedious when supervisors are out to get you for anything that they can. Regulations call for natural nail polish, and the length must be no longer than ¼ of an inch. Imagine being called into a supervisor’s office for your nails being too long or wearing too pink of a polish. It happens to women in the military more often than you would think.

The critical role of women in the military
I like where your head’s at, but it’s still a no. (Photo via MarineLP)

2. Makeup

Women must not wear makeup that isn’t flattering to their skin tone or unnatural. Again, this regulation is so broad that it allows for misinterpretation or someone to deem others choice in makeup “unnatural.” Everyone has his or her own opinion of what natural and unnatural makeup looks like, and it’s hard to pin this one down.

Of course, there’s no blue eye shadow or purple eyeliner (duh), but there are many shades that are open to interpretation. Women usually adapt and figure out that no makeup, or close to no makeup, is the best way to stay out of trouble in this area.

The critical role of women in the military
Go with this look to play it safe.

1. Nametag/ Ribbon Rack Alignment

Nametag and ribbon rack alignment might be one of the most annoying regulations of them all. Men have pockets on their formal shirts to align their nametag and ribbon rack perfectly. Women don’t get pockets on their formal button-down shirts, and it makes it almost impossible to align because of the nuisance of, well, boobs.

The critical role of women in the military
Everyone should just wear flight suits.

Every woman has them and some more than others, which makes uniform wear, and abiding by small details frustrating. Women usually go to the lengths of sewing dots onto their shirts once they find the perfect alignment, because who knows if they’ll ever find that sweet spot again!

Props to all the women in the military who put up with these regulations and don’t let the details impede on their work performance, even though they might want to say shove it to their supervisors when they get called out for their eyelash extensions or the length of their fingernails.

Articles

The snowball fight with snipers I’ll never forget

It was a typical winter morning in northern Afghanistan. The sky was clear, and the blinding sun slowly climbed into it. The sun was bright, but it didn’t do much to fight the biting cold that pumped down the turret opening in our Humvee and chilled us all.


I was in a light infantry reconnaissance platoon, made up of an almost even split of snipers and recon guys. We were on our way to a large forward operating base just south of Kabul. Our specific skill set had been requested by the commander there so we crammed into our cold Humvees and headed into the unknown.

Related: 19 pictures of troops braving the cold that will make you thankful to be indoors

We pulled into the base later that morning and were shown to the tent that we’d call home for at least a day or two. After unloading all of our gear and equipment, me and the other lower enlisted guys made ourselves at home while our senior leaders went to work out the specifics of the mission we’d be supporting.

We hadn’t been there long before sudden pounding winds seemed to threaten the integrity of our tent. One soldier leapt up from his cot and ripped open the door flap of our tent. The clear sunbathed sky had faded behind a thick sheet of dark clouds and snow was collecting quickly on the ground outside.

The soldier fastened the door flap shut as we all looked at each other in amazement. “This mission has got to be scrapped” quipped one soldier. “There’s no way we’re going out in this” added another. Assuming the mission was a no-go, we settled back into our cots and pulled out our books, iPods, magazines and other essentials needed to ride out the storm.

Just as we were all getting comfortable and cozy in our sleeping bags, a red-faced and snow covered staff sergeant barreled into our tent. “Get your cold-weather gear on and get outside”. The staff sergeant stormed out of the tent just as rapidly as he’d come in.

We tossed our creature comforts to the side and began tearing through our bags for heavy jackets, pants and beanies. Questions and confusion filled the frantic tent. Once suited up, we all funneled out of the tiny tent opening into the storm and lined up in front of the two stone-faced staff sergeants.

We stood there silently as they divided us up between them. Reading our confused expressions, the staff sergeants laughed and explained what was about to happen.

“You guys go with him” he said gesturing at the other staff sergeant and his group. “And you guys come with me. We’ll have 15 minutes to build up our arsenal of snowballs and then it’s on. If you get hit, you’re out. You can be revived by a teammate once, but if you’re hit again, you’re out until the next round”.

The critical role of women in the military
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar

Before our shock could fade, we were elbows deep in snow mounds, hastily and inefficiently shaping snowballs with our gloved hands. The 15 minutes were up and my group had established three separate caches of snowballs in case one were to be compromised. Our hodgepodge of recon and sniper guys made it difficult to establish a quick plan of attack. Me and the other recon guys suggested we move between tents to find a good ambush point. The snipers suggested we push to a small hill top and take advantage of the high ground. The infighting put us at a disadvantage.

When the other team started lobbing snowballs, strategy turned into self-preservation and it was every man for himself.

A number of my recon teammates had been taken out of the game so I retreated to the hill top where a few snipers were dug in. The high ground gave us the upper hand, and the continuing snowfall guaranteed we wouldn’t run out of ammo. We had the other team pinned down and just when we thought we had the game won, we were flanked and wiped out.

The critical role of women in the military
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher McCullough

The snowball fight went a few more rounds and the longer we were out in the storm the more exhausted we got. Our honed military training and tactics gradually devolved into a laughter filled display of “soldiers on ice” as we slipped and fell endlessly.

When the snowball fight was over, we sluggishly made our way back to our tent, shed our cold weather gear and collapsed onto our cots.

The mission we came for had officially been scrapped, so we quietly retrieved the creature comforts we had discarded earlier and tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. The next morning the bright sun rose and melted most of the snow. We gathered all of our equipment crammed ourselves back into our cold Humvees, and headed to the next outpost.

That day was rarely talked about in the months that followed. It was as if we were all safeguarding a cherished memory and if we spoke about it, the day would somehow seem less special.

I’m sure the snowball fight meant something different for everyone on the battlefield that day. For me, its meaning has evolved over the years. What was once just another story from my time in Afghanistan has grown into a meaningful narrative about the human moments soldiers often experience while deployed but are rarely reported.

For me this day was important because it helps me show that not every war story is a tale of heroism or tragedy.

When the winter months creep by here at home, I look forward to an impromptu moment where I’ll look out on a large snow covered field, and I’ll tell whoever will listen, about my snowball fight with snipers.

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