6 things not to do while getting an Article 15 - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

For better or worse, non-judicial punishment (NJP) is exactly what the name implies. As authorized by Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a commander may discipline their troop without the need for a court-martial.

On the one hand, a commander is keeping things at the lowest level possible and punishments can only be so extreme (depending on the type of NJP, of course). On the other, due process is sidestepped and the judge, jury, and executioner is a single person.


But there are a few ways to make sure your Article 15 process goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Why the hell would there be such a glaring loophole that says you can’t be in trouble if you don’t want to be?

(Photo by Naoto Anazawa)

Don’t think not signing means you’re in the clear

It’s an embarrassingly common misconception. Some people think that signing an Article 15 is an admission of guilt. It’s not. It’s just saying that you agree to go down that route. More often than not, depending on the circumstances, you’ll want to just take the NJP.

Escalating the hearing to court-martial means that you’re putting yourself at risk of confinement and possibly an administrative discharge. If you are facing just a summarized Article 15 (the least severe of NJPs), the most you can get is 14 days of extra duty, 14 days of restriction, and an oral reprimand.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Every situation is unique, but it’s more than likely that you want to stay at just the NJP level.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Carter)

Don’t cry for a lawyer

Your civil rights are still a thing when facing a NJP, but it’s not always the best course of action to call for a lawyer when the punishment can be kept in house. You are allowed legal representation (if you’re not facing the extremely light summarized), but remember, you’re not convincing a military judge who has heard many trials.

Instead, you’re trying to convince your commander who has long been with you and should (probably) know who you are as a troop by now. You may bring spokesmen, evidence, and witnesses and you should probably let the person who knows the commander best do all the talking.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Why would you want to upset the one person who holds your career in their hands?

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Donte Busker)

Don’t mouth off to your commander

Now is not the time to pop off with an attitude. If you know with 100% certainty that you are innocent, explain the situation as calmly and soundly as possible. If you know you’re guilty and the commander has you dead-to-rights, then don’t dig your grave deeper.

Actual judges and justices must hide emotion and let the facts do the talking. Your commander doesn’t want the unit to look bad and is doing what they must. The fact that they allowed you to just take an Article 15 instead of automatically going to court-martial means they’re at least a little bit on your side.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Just hide back in the formation and keep your nose clean.

(Photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty)

Don’t scoff at the chance of a suspended punishment

Another element unique to an Article 15 is that the commander may suspend the punishment. Meaning, if they choose, a commander can put you on probation without any actions taken against you. This probation can last up to six months and, at the end of those six months, the commander may believe your punishment was paid for with a very stern lecture (if your behavior’s been good).

Thank your commander if they give you this option and keep your word when you say, “it’ll never happen again.” One slip up and your actual punishment begins. This could even happen for something small, like being a minute late to PT formation.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Each link on the chain may be more and more time consuming…

(Photo by Master Sgt. Joey Swafford)

If you feel you were unjustly punished, don’t forget to appeal

But let’s not give every single commander the benefit of the doubt. We’ll admit it; there are bad apples who may drop the hammer for a slight infraction because they hold a grudge against you. You always have the right to appeal the verdict, escalating the issue to the next highest level.

If you appeal within five days, your case will be brought higher. Worst case scenario, your appeal gets denied. If it gets accepted, then the worst case is that your punishment stays the same. You don’t really have anything to lose by appealing.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

But your buddies will still laugh with you. Or at you, depending on what you did.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

After two years (or you PCS/ETS), don’t bring it up again

This final tip is for E-4 and below. After two years (or if you PCS/ETS), an Article 15 is destroyed and can’t be used against you.

E-5 and above, unfortunately, have the Article 15 on their record forever (unless you have it expunged). If you messed up as an E-3, took it on the chin like an adult, and now you’re thinking of staying in, just keep that embarrassing blemish on an otherwise clean career to yourself and nobody will give a damn.

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This is why players in the Army-Navy Game learn to sing their rival’s alma mater

No matter what the outcome of the annual Army-Navy Game, the day always ends the same way. The winning team turns to face the stands with the fans of the defeated team and sing the “enemy” alma mater – a tradition known as “Honoring the Fallen.”


6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

That’s not happening at the end of the Red River Shootout, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, or even the Holy War. No way. But it happens at the end of the Army-Navy Game.

The beginning of the game features a glee club made up of both Cadets and Midshipmen singing the national anthem, a reminder that in the end, all the young officers-to-be are playing for the United States. That team spirit show through when it’s time to Honor the Fallen.

“Honoring the Fallen” actually features both teams. First they sing to the defeated fans, then to the victorious fans. This would never happen anywhere else in college football. Not that other teams aren’t good sports or that they’re sore losers. The Army-Navy tradition is about more than the rivalry, it’s about a mutual respect that goes beyond their ability to play football.

Army and Navy are playing for the same team. Sooner or later, they may meet each other on a different field: the battlefield. Where else in college football does a team of 20-somethings need to prepare for that kind of meeting?

Few traditions in life are as touching as two intense rivals coming together in a show of esprit de corps like Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen do every yer.

Game on: The ‘Prisoner Exchange’ is the coolest Army-Navy tradition no one talks about

That doesn’t mean they all want to sing their alma mater first. In an effort to break Navy’s winning streak, the 2011 Army team sewed “Sing Second” in the inside of their uniforms. Singing second means the Army wins the game.

Maybe Wolverines fans should learn Carmen Ohio and Buckeyes fans should learn The Yellow and Blue.

But I’m not counting on it.

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Why you should stop chugging so many energy drinks

We’ve all seen them before. The cans, small shots, and uniquely packaged energy drinks that promise to give you an energy boost during the most important parts of your day. At first glance, it seems like a great idea: chug it down and get reinvigorated for the day. But, if you go beyond wanting to simply stay alert and begin to overindulge, you could wind up doing some serious harm to your body.


 

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Spc. Kyle Lauth, assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, sips an energy drink before a dismounted patrol through the Hussainiyah town of the Istaqlal Qada district northeast of Baghdad, Dec. 29, 2008. (Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class JB Jaso)

Energy drinks became the beverage of choice for many service members during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research analyzed data collected during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 and found nearly 45 percent of deployed service members consumed at least one energy drink daily. Nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day.

Related: Here are 5 healthy habits to work into your busy military lifestyle

Many of the most popular energy drinks are heavily marketed to young people, including military members. The marketing is sexy, the packaging is slick, the flavors are sweet like fruit drinks children crave, and the beverages are readily available on military bases and down range.

But, there are real reasons to avoid overusing energy drinks.

Energy drinks can cause drastic side effects

Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and too much of it isn’t good for you. Dr. Patricia Deuster, professor and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, warns service members to avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine every four hours. That means service members should add up the caffeine in their energy drinks, plus any other caffeinated beverages they may drink, like coffee and soft drinks.

“If it’s got more than 200 mg of caffeine, don’t use it,” cautions Deuster.

Deuster also warns female service members to be cautious about using energy drinks, noting the amount of caffeine you ingest relative to body weight is an issue for women. “Women get a higher concentration [of caffeine] since they tend to be smaller,” she said.

“Doctors don’t know what the effects of [energy drink] ingredients are in larger doses,” Deuster noted. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to the long term effects question.”

High amounts of caffeine can lead to increased blood pressure, panic attacks, heart palpitations, anxiety, dehydration, insomnia, and even bowel irritability when energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.

What is clear is consumers need to be more aware about what they’re putting in their bodies when it comes to energy drinks.

Energy drinks can activate your sweet tooth

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Service members should use caution when consuming energy drinks due to their potential health risks. Most drinks average about 200 calories, which can lead to weight gain. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Heather Johnson)

Energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar — two thirds of the recommended daily maximum for men, and 2 grams more than the maximum doctors recommend for women. Some service members can double or even triple that if they drink more than one energy drink per day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend keeping your intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

They can make you pack on the pounds

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Spc. Kevin Alexander of 138th Quartermaster Company grabs an energy drink at the Camp Atterbury Post Exchange. Most energy drinks contain anywhere from 70 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. The daily recommended intake of caffeine is no more than 300 milligrams. (Army photo by Sgt. David Bruce)

All of that extra sugar can cause your blood sugar to increase. Even the sugar-free versions of energy drinks can lead to weight gain, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar, too.

Your body can also begin storing fat, especially if you’re unable to increase physical activity.

Energy drinks + alcohol = a dangerous cocktail

Energy drinks have become popular mixers for alcohol, raising concerns for health experts.

“A lot of the young people mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, then you’ve got a wide awake drunk,” says Deuster.

The CDC warns that when alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, the caffeine stimulant can mask the effects of the alcohol, which is a depressant. Often, the person drinking doesn’t even realize that they’re actually drunk. According to the CDC, that means people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than those who don’t mix alcohol with energy drinks. Experts warn motor skills can be affected and some people engage in riskier behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and energy drinks. Additionally, both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration if you’re not careful.

Some companies sell pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks which have the same sweet or tart flavors as standard energy drinks. As the Army notes, the alcohol content in these beverages can be significantly higher than what’s found in beer.

These energy drinks with alcohol may appeal to underage drinkers because they’re cheaper than hard liquor and they’re marketed with a message that the drinker can last all day or all night long. The sugary nature of the beverages also makes drinkers feel they can imbibe longer than if they were having harder alcohol.

Energy drinks can ruin your good night’s sleep

Deuster raises concerns about a problem in the military with energy drinks and sleep. And, the data back up those concerns. While service members may initially use energy drinks to make up for a lack of sleep, overuse can lead to a harmful cycle. Excess consumption of energy drinks can cause sleep problems and hamper performance.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 8 sleep during a C-17 Globemaster III flight from Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe)

 

Dr. Nancy J. Wesensten, from the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research, tells Army Medicine that research on caffeine shows that it can be effective if used properly. However, Wesensten notes “because caffeine impairs sleep, individuals should stop all caffeine consumption at least 6 hours prior to scheduled sleep. Otherwise, sleep could be impaired without the person even being aware of it.”

As caffeine is the major ingredient in energy drinks, the CDC reports service members who drink three or more of the drinks per day were significantly more likely to report sleeping fewer than four hours per night. They were also more likely to report disrupted sleep and other illnesses. Lack of sleep can impact memory and a service member’s ability to pay attention when it matters most. Research indicates service members who drank three or more energy drinks each day also had difficulty staying awake during briefings or on guard duty.

The Army’s Performance Triad offer tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, including controlling light and temperature, as well as leaders ensuring service members have time for quality sleep.

You really don’t know what’s in them

These drinks are not regulated as dietary supplements. While the cans have nutrition labels, many do not list supplement information.

 

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
The Human Performance Resource Center cautions energy drink users to be aware of the drink’s ingredients. (Operation Supplement Safety graphic)

 

One area that’s concerning to Deuster is the ingredient taurine. The chemical compound is an amino acid found in animal tissue. Many manufacturers purport the ingredient will enhance mental and physical performance. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center report little is actually is known about taurine’s neuroendocrine effects.

So, what should service members use instead of energy drinks?

 

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough water. The amount of water necessary to keep someone hydrated depends greatly on the weather, the amount of physical activity, and an individual’s physical fitness level. The symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, headaches and lack of energy. (Army photo by Sgt. Timothy R. Koster)

Deuster keeps it simple: “Good old water.” Appealing to service members’ frugality, she adds,

“If you want to save money, drink water.”

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Military Life

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do

“Steady as she goes… hold the line.” The words resonated off the screen at me in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Secretary of Defense Mattis, Mad-Dog, father of many marine and soldier warriors, a hero to many and a non-tarnishable example of service and patriotism — had, in those simple words, spoken straight to my heart.


You see, we live in a time where our lives as spouses can be carried out in front of hundreds, thousands, millions of people at a time. Social media, TV-shows, major Hollywood producers — they all try to capture what it is to be and to live the life of a military spouse. Yet none have ever come so close as the man who uttered these words, “Steady as she goes…”

Also read: 4 things you should never say to a military spouse

While news networks and politicians were balking at trivial things that in a hundred years won’t be remembered and while each political side was chewing at the others throats with vile and empty words, Secretary Mattis knew (like the father many see him as) who would be affected the most by a government unable to fund itself.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
A spouse kisses her husband prior to a welcome home ceremony. (Ohio National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Us. The spouses. Yes, the service member flinches and grumbles in disgust — but they have a job to do and they put their heads down and their boots on to do it. It’s the spouses, though, who will sit and worry. It’s the spouses who pour over budget, bills, and pantries in secret when they know no one will be looking; because in front of everyone else, we smile, we shrug, we will be ok. We are steady.

Related: 5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

“…hold the line.” How my heart swelled at these words. These simple words that summed up the core of what we as military spouses do. We hold the line. We hold the hands of the men that kiss us goodbye. We hold the tears of the children who miss out on time. We hold the phone calls from family members who ask questions and worry. We hold our prayers and our worries and our fears, and we do not break.

Mattis knew this. He knew in that, in the end, no matter what the result was of a vote or a bill or a law that passed, we would be the ones to deal with the fallout or the blessing. The spouse, the caretaker, the widow; he spoke to all of us in that memo and in that moment I knew that someone truly understood what Hollywood producers, actors, and even some spouses fail to grasp.

We are steady.

We hold the line.

Never forget that.

Articles

Why WWII soldiers nicknamed the Sherman tank ‘death trap’

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


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

Related: 9 tanks that changed armored warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the competition for special operations experts

Who are the best commandos in the Western Hemisphere? Throw Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers, Marine Force Recon, the Marine Special Operations Command, or even Air Force Special Tactics airmen into a ring and find out. Sort of.


Which is kind of what happens during an annual competition called Fuerzas Commandos. It’s been held 13 times. In 2017, Honduras took the trophy from Colombia, an eight-time winner of the 11-day event.

So, what, exactly goes down at these commando Olympics?

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Team Colombia, winners of Fuerzas Comando 2016, return the trophy to Paraguayan Brig. Gen. Hector Limenza at the opening ceremony for Fuerzas Comando 2017 in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay, on July 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christine Lorenz)

First, there is an opening ceremony during which the trophy is returned to an officer of the host nation.

This year, 20 countries (Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Uruguay) competed, sending over 700 commandos.

Participants take part in both an Assault Team Competition and a Sniper Team Competition.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
A member from Team Uruguay during the physical fitness test, which includes push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 4-mile run. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elizabeth Williams)

The Assault Team Competition features a number of challenges. One is a physical fitness test.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Colombian competitors sprint through the finish line of the obstacle course event, taking a step closer to securing the Fuerzas Comando 2017 championship, July 24, 2017 in Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Menegay)

There is a “confidence course” and an obstacle course is run as well.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Peruvian competitors run the 14-kilometer ruck march while picking up and moving various objects, ending with team marksmanship at a firing range. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

Close-quarters combat skills are tested and there is a rucksack march.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Costa Rican competitors clear a room in a live-fire shoot house where they must clear a building and rescue a simulated hostage as efficiently as possible. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

Don’t forget the aquatic events or the hostage rescue events.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
A Guyanese sniper loads a round into his rifle while his teammate scans the range for targets. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elizabeth Williams)

The Sniper Team Competition features marksmanship.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
A Mexican soldier looks over his ghillie suit before the beginning of a stalk-and-shoot event July 20, 2017 during Fuerzas Comando in Ñu Guazú, Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tonya Deardorf)

Then there is concealment.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Competitors drag litters 100 meters then work together to haul them onto a platform. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

They also have a physical fitness test and there’s a mobility event.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Honduran, Colombian, and U.S. Soldiers commemorate a successful Fuerzas Comando on July 27, 2017, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joanna Bradshaw)

This year, Honduras won the title, Colombia finished second, and the USA took third place. Next year, Panama will host Fuerzes Commandos. Will Honduras defend their title, will the Colombians make it nine out of fourteen, or will there be a surprise winner?

Articles

Air Force wife named 2017 ‘Military Spouse of the Year’

Brittany Boccher, the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Air Force Spouse of the Year, was named the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year today in a ceremony held in the Hall of Flags at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.


Boccher, who lives with her husband and two children aboard Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, has been a military spouse for 11 years.

The president of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club and a board member for the LRAFB Thrift Store, Boccher has devoted years to her military spouse community. In 2016, she helped raise $20,000 in funds and donations with her fellow board members, increased LRSC participation by 800 percent, and providing backpacks for over 300 military children, and more.

Boccher was key to the passage of Arkansas’ House Bill 1162, a law designed to offer tax relief to military retirees who settle in Arkansas.

She is the founder and director of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition, a non-profit organization that creates a partnership across Arkansas between other Down Syndrome organizations in order to better advocate for children with the disorder.

Boccher was also advocated for changes to playgrounds and commissaries aboard LRAFB, pressing the installation to make the playgrounds ADA accessible and to secure Caroline Carts for special needs patrons of the commissaries.

In addition to her philanthropic work with military spouses and special needs children, Boccher has her Bachelors Degree in Community Health Education and Kinesiology, a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, and runs two companies, Brittany Boccher Photography and Mason Chix apparel.

According to her nomination acceptance, Boccher hopes to spend her year as the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year advocating for the Exceptional Family Member Program families and to continue empowering military spouses to success.

Humor

15 last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas from actual military spouses

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Pfc. Harley Dennis, of Anderson, who serves with the Missouri National Guard’s 276th Engineer Company in Pierce City, assists Sgt. 1st Class Eric Corcoran to deliver more than 300 Valentine’s Day balloons to area school kids in the southwest Missouri town. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Chambers/Missouri National Guard)


In our house, Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing. As a general rule, the Marine isn’t home for the “holiday,” and since there are a lot of holiday’s he spends away, courtesy of the USMC, this is one day we just don’t really concern ourselves with.

But this year we ran into a snag. Their names are Bethany, Zachary, and Christopher — also known as the three youngest members of the Foley Fire Team.

On the edge of the dreaded teenage years, Bethany came home a few days ago armed with a love note from her “boyfriend” (that asshole), and sat down with her younger brothers to plot out “The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever;” it apparently consists of a lot of bacon (they DO take after their mother, after-all), and a seven-hour nap time while they’re at school. Because adulting is hard.

They presented their plan to the Marine, and then waited with bated breath for him to tell them his grand scheme for the Day Of Love.

“I just bought Mom curtains and a new curtain rod. I suppose I could hang them up before she wakes up?”

The two youngest of the fire team promptly ran off to tattle on Daddy. Not buy Mom a “love” gift? He’s practically an abomination to them right now.

While the boys were relaying the horrifying ordeal to me, I wondered how the Marine was going to get out of this one. It’s perfectly fine to explain to the 12-year-old that sometimes Dad just doesn’t really subscribe to romantic things. As a girl she’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that dudes like him really do exist.

But try explaining that to two 8-and 9-year-old boys who are currently at the dining room table gluing pink and red hearts all over their camouflage Valentine boxes because they know that, while they like camo and guns, girls sometimes like hearts. How Daddy doesn’t understand this is totally beyond their capacity.

“Maybe Daddy is planning a surprise and he doesn’t want to ruin it,” I whispered conspiratorially. The boys nodded and agreed that that’s exactly what was happening. It was the only thing that made sense to them.

“You’re going to want to brain storm some last minute ideas, dude,” I told the Marine later.

“Can you do that crowd-sourcing thing you do on your Facebook and I’ll pick something from that?” he asked.

So that’s exactly what I did, and let me say, I was surprised. Not one girl said she wanted flowers, chocolate, jewelry, or even anything expensive or time consuming, and a lot of their gift suggestions included food.

In fact, because I know the Marine isn’t the only one out there who is finding himself in a gift pickle at the last minute, here’s what actual military spouses said they really want for Valentine’s Day, word for word and complete with all their annoying little emoji things:

1. Bacon roses

Because Valentine’s Day just screams “pork,” right?

2. Not celebrating Valentine’s Day at all.

Jeesh, more “romance” in our marriage/dating? We already have enough of that already…

3. Homemade vouchers for cool stuff

How about a movie night, a kiss and makeup session no matter how upset I am, free kisses anytime all day, etc.

4. Stay at home “date”

My husband is hitting up the USO tomorrow during lunch for flowers and cheap chocolate. ?. Yes he told me he wants to do that. He’s ridiculous. Lol. But in seriousness, even a nice walk or living room picnic on the floor. Super cheap, corny, and fun

5. Waffle House

Hands down. If you sneak them like $10, they’ll let you smuggle in wine sometimes (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything).

6. Beach stroll

This year we are going to take a few hours during the day to run to the beach and just put our toes in the sand before kids get home from school.

7. Mom time

Netflix movie, homemade desert, and pjs. 🙂

8. Cheap sushi

We went to Hamazushi last night because it’s very inexpensive (most items are ¥100 a plate), all you can eat, good quality sushi. Plus it’s all served on conveyor belts and ya can’t beat the novelty of that. 😉 Also, [He] started college again and has a lab tonight, so he won’t be home for “actual” Valentine’s date stuff.

9. A cuddle

After being apart—just being together is enough. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s so the truth. Being preggo and sick, I’m hoping our date will include pj’s and our couch and the latest “this is us” episode.

10. Couch time

We spend all our budget on the kids. We will stay home with popcorn and a movie to celebrate it.

11. Old School necking

In the car…in the driveway!! ??

12. A load of beef … with love

I’ll make him his fave meal at home… meat loaf!

13. Learn something new

We are taking a couples cooking class tomorrow ❤️

14. A full-on pizza and bubbly extravaganza

[He] & I have done the same thing every year since we’ve been together: Heart-shaped homemade pizza (with mini heart pizzas for the puppies) + our favorite prosecco (the same brand from our wedding) and chocolate covered strawberries (sometimes homemade, sometimes from HEB)… and then turning on a cheesy movie or tv show on Netflix.

It started out the first year or two as our “thing” because we really couldn’t afford too much else. But now it’s a special, almost sacred ritual for us. I wouldn’t trade our little cozy tradition for a world-class meal. It’s just too important to me. I should clarify and say “every year he was actually HERE to celebrate.”

15. Some shootin’

Well, we got married Valentine’s day. We celebrate by hanging out and we go to dinner either the day before or the day after (since payday is always afterwards)because it’s always less crowded. This year is our 20th and we both took the day off. We’re having a range and lunch date. Since it’s a work day, lunch isn’t as crowded and definitely cheaper.

So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

And if the Marine is reading this, bacon roses are totally appropriate.

Military Life

Can single parents join the military?

I’ve always had a great deal of respect for men and women of service. They put their lives on the line to protect the lives of others, and that in itself is an incredible sacrifice. For service members raising families at home, the sacrifice is even greater. While most who enlist in the military return from deployment safe and sound, some fathers, mothers, husbands and wives do not. Even those who do are often gone for months at a time. As a single parent myself, it never even occurred to me that joining the military myself was an option. 

Technically, single parents can join the military, but it’s not an easy route.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a mother who adores being a grandparent. She spends the majority of her time with my daughter so I can work. But even with that amount of support, I couldn’t waltz up to a recruiter and sign up today. To join the Reserve National Guard, I could apply for a waiver and cross my fingers. To join any other branch, I would have to give up my parental rights before they’d give me a shot. 

This is all hypothetical, but for me, that would be an instant dealbreaker. For others, it might not be. A 15 year-old mom left her then 2-year-old in the care of her own parents to become a parachute free jumper. She was incredibly daring and made a permanent mark on the field. That was, however, in the early 1900s. Today, the regulations are much more stringent.

Each branch has slightly different requirements, but all require relinquishing custody. For the Navy, you can’t enlist for six months after the court order goes into effect. For the Marines, you’re not eligible for a full year. For the Army and Air Force, you must pledge that you do not intend to try to regain custody after basic training. If you do, you could be discharged and might face charges of fraud. 

It’s also strongly discouraged, or even prohibited by some branches, to give up your parental rights specifically to join the military. The military can’t have people trying to shirk their parenting responsibilities by running off to join the Air Force, right? The custody agreement has to be in place prior to enlisting. No recruiter will advise you to give up your rights to be eligible for active duty. 

Is the policy fair?

It may sound harsh, but the no single parent policy is there for a reason. The military relies on its members to report for duty wherever, whenever, without hesitation. They don’t have time to excuse a service member who can’t deploy because something came up with their kids. For that reason, they need to have legal assurance that your commitment to serve is your top priority. 

Parents who are already on active duty when they get divorced aren’t completely exempt from these regulations. They have to establish a Family Care Plan guaranteeing that someone non-military is ready and willing to care for your child 24/7 without notice. If they don’t, they’re discharged.

Admittedly, newly single military parents have more leeway in comparison to single parents who hope to enlist, but there’s a reason for that, too. If you’re already on active duty, you’ve already demonstrated that someone else is available to care for your kids. For new recruits, it’s more of a gamble. 

If you have enough support, enlisting as a single parent is possible.

If you’re determined to enlist and you have a very healthy relationship with your child’s other parent, giving up physical custody might be a reasonable option. Grandparents or other close relatives are solid options too, as long as they’re willing to become full legal guardians. As long as they’re on board, it’s an option worth considering.

That said, once you relinquish custody, there’s no going back. You’re handing over your voice as a parent to someone else, so it had better be someone you trust, and someone who fully supports your decision to enlist. 

Why would a single parent want to enlist anyway? 

For all the same reasons as anyone else would, really. Some are longing for a sense of purpose, or to be part of something bigger than themselves. While serving your own children gives many parents a sense of purpose, some long to serve on a much larger scale. 

If someone else already has full physical custody of your children or if it’s a reasonable option for your family, joining the military can be beneficial for you and your kids. Military parents set an example of commitment and perseverance – and the benefits don’t hurt, either! 

At the end of the day, about 8% of active duty military personnel are single parents. If you do decide to enlist, you’ll be in good company.

If you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to be a single parent in the military, check out the video below.

Military Life

Why it’s okay to hate your duty station

Some military families love to PCS. The sense of adventure that comes with moving to another duty station every few years is exciting to them. Even when they receive orders to a location not on the top of their wish list, they find a way to embrace the suck and learn to love their new home until military orders move them once again.


Being positive about the process is an important coping skill, but what happens if you find yourself really unhappy? What if you just can’t shake truly hating your duty station?

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Minot. Am I right? (Image via Parks and Recreation)

It’s okay.

Seriously.

My husband’s final duty station was at an Army base in Arizona. As a Florida native, and as someone who loves the south and being close to the beach, I tried to embrace the new high desert landscape. I firmly believed it was best to make the most of where we were. But in reality, I loathed being stationed there. It was extremely dry, the temps were super hot in the summer (dry heat or not, 110 is miserable) and we got snow in the winter.

Also read: These are the 10 best duty stations for beer lovers

I missed all of the tall trees, greenery, and water I was accustomed to. We were also 2-3 days drive from our family. That had always been a difficult aspect of military life for me, but we had been blessed with orders within a days drive in the past, which made it bearable.

I was miserable.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
True story. (Image via giphy)

And I felt like a spoiled brat. My husband was home and out of the fleet. Friends at other duty stations were saying goodbye to their spouses for yet another deployment, and mine was home every night. How dare I be so miserable because the beach was not close by. 

And then I realized that me feeling guilty and forcing myself to pretend it wasn’t so bad, was making it worse. There is nothing wrong with having a preference when it comes to where you live. I wasn’t being a spoiled brat because I desperately missed the area I called “home,” but I did need to survive it without being completely miserable or making those around me the same.

Related: If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

So I accepted that I was never going to love the place.

Instead, I focused on the people. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be good people. We joined a Cross Fit gym, I sang with a local community choir and we made an effort to get to know our neighbors. 

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
It’s called friendship and I won’t be judged. (Image via giphy)

I focused on the opportunities. We traveled to southern California, the Grand Canyon, and other places we would probably not have the opportunity to visit after retirement. We visited interesting local spots like Bisbee and Tombstone frequently.

I focused on the future. With retirement just a few years away, we started to pay off debt in anticipation of buying our first home. We started to dream about what our lives would look like when we were able to plant permanent roots in an area we both loved.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
You gotta start somewhere. (Image via giphy)

And we survived. Acknowledging that Arizona was not my favorite has made me appreciate  our forever home location even more. In the summer when we have 100% humidity, I am reminded how miserable that dry heat was for me. In the winter when it drops to 20 for a few days, I am reminded how I hated all that snow. And when I am at the beach, I appreciate it’s beauty in a way I didn’t before.

It could be worse: The worst duty assignments for every branch of the military

Hating your duty station? Embrace it. Focus on the people, opportunities, and the future.

It’s okay. I promise.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Soon. Soon. (Image via Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Military Life

West Point central to family legacy

In 1991, 18-year-old June Copeland was brushing her teeth when her twin brother, Jerry Copeland, asked her to join the Army with him. Her answer? A resounding “No.” After much cajoling, the two agreed to enlist together for maybe three to four years.

While Jerry served his commitment and entered civilian life, June ended up making a robust career of it. She would go on to graduate from West Point and become an adjutant general. Nearly three decades later, Col. June Copeland has made both education and the Army central to her family’s legacy. 

Currently, June is stationed at the Pentagon. When you ask her about her greatest accomplishment, she points to her three daughters  June Alyxandra, Jasmyn, and Jeilyn  all of whom have graduated from or are currently attending West Point. 

June’s drive for excellence and her grounding comes from family, particularly her mother. 

“When my ancestors were freed, we decided to stay on the plantation in Georgia. So, my grandmother was born there,” she said. Her mother grew up during Jim Crow and was one of 12 students who integrated schools in Savannah, Georgia. “She always talked about the benefits of education . . . Her biggest emphasis was always on getting a good education, making it count, and working towards a goal.” 

While at basic training, June was crestfallen to learn that her first assignment would be in Germany. She called her mother in tears worried that she wasn’t ready for such a big step. 

“When you are in basic training you see about five colors: brown, brick, dirt, tan, and green. All of a sudden, I saw all of these colors, pink, yellow, red, purple, just floating around and I was mesmerized,” she said. 

Suddenly, June realized that it was her mom dressed in the most beautiful floral shirt. While her brigade was performing drill and ceremony, her mother and 10 family members were there to cheer her on and encourage her. Her mother served as a literal bright spot in the drab world of basic training. 

Today, June serves as a mentor, cheerleader, and bright spot for her own daughters.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

“Everyone loves our story,” June said. “The thing I love the most about the girls is that they are good people. They are amazing human beings. They are good people to their hearts,” she said. 

For June, the values of West Point just make sense for her family. “The values: don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Be an honorable person. Character matters. These are all things that my parents instilled in me and I made sure I instilled them in my children. It works,” she said. 

When her oldest daughter, June Alyxandra, was a sophomore in high school, the two mapped out a plan for her educational and career goals. 

“It wasn’t until we sat down and talked about the future that I really thought about West Point,” June Alyxandra said. 

A 2020 West Point graduate, 2nd Lt. June Alyxandra Copeland is now 23 and stationed at Fort Drum, New York, where she serves in the 10th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion of the Combat Aviation Brigade. 

Twenty-year-old twins Jasmyn and Jeilyn Haynes were eager to follow in their big sister’s footsteps. Both are currently juniors at West Point. Jasmyn, an IT major, is on the dance team and Jeilyn, a history major, is on the debate team. 

“I would have loved to make the debate team, and I think she would have loved to be on the dance team . . . but we had to part ways,” Jasmyn said with a smile. “There was a lot of teasing.” 

All three girls say that the institution provides a structure for success. 

“They teach you how to fail so they can figure out what you’re good at so they can help you discover where you need to work to succeed,” June Alyxandra said.  

Jeilyn says that West Point presented many challenges physically, academically, and in terms of time management. “However, the one thing where we never struggled with was the character and moral values because our mother raised us. She taught us character. She taught us courage.”

“Resilience!” Jasmyn interjected. “She taught us resilience! So when we did fail, we would always get back up.”

“Education is very important to our family,” Jeilyn added. “So are the values of duty, honor, country. What’s astounding about my mom is that she took those values and she raised us with them. So going into West Point, when people found out our mother was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, people looked at us like these West Point Simbas.”

“Yea, like we grew up low crawling to breakfast,” June Alyxandra interrupted with a laugh. 

June says that while there have been many lessons for the girls, education remains at the heart of her family’s priorities. 

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

“One thing my mother would always say is that the key to changing your life, the key to elevating yourself and your family, and [taking] your legacy to the next level is always making sure you have an education. Once you get that piece of paper, it can never be taken away from you,” June concluded. 

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

Military Life

Veterans can win cash in this new competition

Salsa dancing and the military…it’s so crazy it just might work.

In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, Univision Communications Inc. and We Are The Mighty are teaming up to create a Salsa #InVETational, a dance competition for active duty servicemembers and veterans.

There are three reasons why this is actually pretty cool:


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1. Cash prizes

Servicemembers and veterans will be the main event as they compete alongside their dance partners, showcasing their best Latin dance moves for Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata and vying for 1st place prize of id=”listicle-2565272073″,000 in each category and 0 for 2nd place.

Also, this event is totally free for active duty military and veterans.

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2. Dancing is awesome AND YOU KNOW IT

Watch this video of Army vet and double amputee Noah Galloway performing and don’t get choked up. I dare you.

“Salsa dancing nights have long been enjoyed by active duty military and veterans alike not only for therapeutic purposes, but as a cultural connection within the military community,” noted David Gale, CEO Co-Founder, We Are The Mighty.

The arts are a powerful way for vets to heal after military service, and dance in particular adds the physical element we grew accustomed to on active duty. Dancing puts us back in our bodies, pushes our comfort levels, and connects us to music in very intense ways.

Plus, it’s fun. And sexy. ?

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3. It celebrates Hispanic culture

Hispanics have a longstanding tradition of military service to our country. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs 2014 Minority Veterans Report, Hispanics comprise 12.4% of Post-911 veterans with more than one million Latinos currently in uniform.

Learning about our American mixing pot makes us stronger, united, and worldly.

Plus, we’re talking about a culture that knows how to flavor its food, baby — and there will be plenty of it at the event.

The event will take place on May 12, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.

Military and veterans interested in participating with a partner must be at least 21 years of age. The next qualifying round is May 6, 2018, at Arjon’s International Club. Registration starts at 8 p.m. and the contest kicks off at 9:30 p.m. Five couples from each category will advance to the finals on May 12.

For anyone who cannot attend, you can help veterans in the San Antonio area by supporting the Lackland Fisher House, a home-away-from-home for the families of seriously ill or injured patients receiving treatment at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, San Antonio Military Medical Center or other medical facilities in the San Antonio Area at no cost.

Military Life

Why the term ‘every Marine is a rifleman’ needs to stop

The 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alfred M. Gray Jr., once stated, “Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.” The problem here is that being a skilled shooter doesn’t equate to knowing how to handle the job of an infantry rifleman.


To be fair, when the statement was issued, it was probably true. In a type of war where the battlefield is all around you and every soul out there is equally subject to the harvest of death, like the Vietnam War, grunts were taking many casualties on the front lines. The powers that be had to start pulling Marines from POG jobs to be riflemen to fill the ranks.

But, in the modern era, the more accurate statement is, “every Marine knows how to shoot a rifle,” because they’re taught to do so in boot camp. But being a Marine rifleman is so much more than just shooting a gun well.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

Related: 6 ways for a POG to be accepted by grunts

Now, it’s important to note that there are plenty of POGs who can shoot better than grunts but, if all it takes to be a rifleman is accurately firing a weapon in a comfortable, rested, and stable position, then why have the Infantry Training Battalion?

Why spend so much time and money to teach a Marine to be a rifleman if they learn the skills they need in boot camp? It’s because the job of the rifleman is not so simple. What POGs need to understand is that when they don’t know the fundamentals well enough, they become a liability on patrol.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

If you find a desk-bound POG who thinks they’re superior because of their shooting ability, ask them the preferred entry method of a two-story building. Ask them what the dimensions of a fighting hole are and why. Chances are, they’ll try to remember something they learned back in Marine Combat Training, but won’t be able to. This is where the divide is — this is why riflemen are so annoyed with this statement. We know our job is much more complicated.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Not that you would want to dig a fighting hole anyway… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lukas Kalinauskas.)

General Alfred M. Gray Jr.’s iconic statement has become, frankly, kind of insulting to the job of the rifleman at this point. It’s really annoying, as a 21-year-old lance corporal walking around the base in a dress uniform with ribbons from deployment, to pass a 19-year-old POG sergeant with two ribbons that thinks, for some reason, that they’re better than you because of rank.

The rank deserves respect, absolutely, but when you sit there and think you rate because of rank, you’re an arrogant prick and no grunt is going to want to work with you.

The most annoying argument we hear is along the lines of, “I’m better than a grunt because I have to do their job and mine.” First off, it’s flat-out false. You don’t do our job; you do your job and the only time you get anywhere close to ours is the annual rifle range visit. And even then it’s immediately clear who the POGs are (hint: they’re the ones with the messed-up gear, usually no mount for night vision goggles, and rifles that look like they just came out of the box).

Second, if you were better than a grunt, you wouldn’t look so damn lost when you do patrols or any infantry-related tasks.

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15
Exhibit A: What’s wrong with this picture? (Image via United States Grunt Corps)

Also Read: 6 easy ways for a grunt to be accepted by POGs

The statement, “every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman,” is an insult to the job of an infantry rifleman. The notion that POGs take away from this statement, that they’re equal just because they know how to shoot a rifle, is absolutely not true.

The new Battle Skills Test is a solid step in the right direction, but POGs need to realize that their job is not more or less important and stop trying to feel better about not being grunts. After all, we’re all on the same team.