Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do - We Are The Mighty
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.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
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

14 photos that show how deployed troops watch the Super Bowl

The military is filled with sports fans, and few days are as important to sports followers as the Super Bowl. So the U.S. military goes to great lengths to ensure that troops around the world are granted the opportunity to watch the big game (as long as they aren’t currently wrapped up in a mission…probably).


Here are 14 photos that show how troops around the world watch the ultimate football game each year:

1. Sports fans around the world watch the game on the Armed Forces Network, a U.S. military satellite channel. Some of these watching parties even allow minor uniform alterations, such as the wear of sports jerseys.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Capt. Joe Beale, a systems automation officer assigned to the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, cheers as the Seattle Seahawks score a touchdown during Super Bowl XLVIII, Feb. 2, 2014, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army Cpl. Alex Flynn)

2. The watch parties are held wherever a TV and suitable seating can be set up, including chow halls…

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Sailors watch Super Bowl 50 (fun fact: this was the year the Super Bowl decided to take a break from using roman numerals because the stand-alone “L” raised some confusion) between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos in USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) mess decks. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago)

3. …theaters or briefing rooms…

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Deployed troops watch the “big game” during a Super Bowl 50 viewing party at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 8, 2016. The Airmen, soldiers, and civilians enjoyed the game and got to meet Miami Dolphins cheerleaders and former players during the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

4. …and even ranges.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Marines with 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment take a break from their Integrated Training Exercise to watch the Super Bowl at the Combat Center’s Range 215, Feb. 3, 2012.

5. The luckiest viewers get to watch in sports bars on base.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Community members react to the Super Bowl 50 game with Carolina Panthers versus Denver Broncos Feb. 8 at the CZCC. (U.S. Army photo by Lance Davis)

6. The game-watching parties are usually supplemented with other activities.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Marines with 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment take a break from their Integrated Training Exercise to watch the Super Bowl at the Combat Center’s Range 215, Feb. 3, 2012.

7. For obvious reasons, football games are a common choice.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Marines with 3rd Battalion 4th Marine Regiment take a break from their Integrated Training Exercise to watch the Super Bowl at the Combat Center’s Range 215, Feb. 3, 2012.

8. But other games are commonly set up.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Pfc. Oscar Ramero plays pool at a Single Marine Program Recreation Center at Camp Pendleton, Feb. 7, 2016. The center hosted a Super Bowl party which included free food and games for noncommissioned officer ranks and below. Ramero, from New York, is a student with Assault Amphibian School Battalion, School of Infantry – West. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)

9. Some bases will even get special visits from USO tours, like this NFL All-Star Cheerleaders line-up.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
NFL All-Star Cheerleaders perform for the Super Bowl 50 party Feb. 8 at the CZZC. (U.S. Army photo by Lance Davis)

10. Concerts are fairly common as well.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
The Smokin’ Scarecrows play a cover of a song Feb. 7, 2016, in the Ramstein Enlisted Club, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The band was part of the pre-game entertainment before the 2016 Super Bowl. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

11. Prize giveaways are big at watch parties, especially overseas.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Vonetta Weatherspoon, community member from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, received the grand prize of two round-trip tickets to the U.S. from United Airlines at the Super Bowl 50 party Feb. 8 in the CZCC. (U.S. Army photo by Lance Davis)

12. Electronics, plane tickets, and other prizes are given out.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Prizes for the patrons of the Super Bowl 50 Madness party rest on a table Feb. 7, 2016, in the Ramstein Enlisted Club, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Prizes included National Football League lawn chairs and money. Club members could also receive furniture, additional cash, LED televisions, and gaming consoles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

13. Of course, no Super Bowl party is complete without snacks.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson chaplains hosted a Super Bowl Sunday Party with a large variety of food and drinks at the Wired Cafe, on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Feb. 1, 2015. The Super Bowl Sunday Party there is an annual tradition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Christopher R. Morales)

14. But it is the military, so not everyone gets a party or even a chance to watch the game. Some guys have to pull duty, like these paratroopers getting ready for an airborne operation on Super Bowl Sunday.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
While the rest of the country was watching Super Bowl 50, hundreds of Airborne Artillerymen assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery rushed down to Green Ramp to conduct sustained airborne training in preparation for a zero-dark-thirty airborne operation the following morning of Feb. 8, 2016., on Fort Bragg, N.C. (Capt. Joe Bush, 82nd Airborne Division Artillery/ Released.)

Military Life

See the Navy haul its crew’s vehicles on the USS Ronald Reagan

The United States Navy’s aircraft carriers are huge ships. This isn’t just for show; they need to be large to operate four squadrons of multi-role fighters plus other assorted planes, like EA-18G Growlers, E-2 Hawkeyes, and helicopters. But all of that space is useful for transporting other things, too. After all, we’re talking over four acres of sovereign United States territory.


Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles onto an aircraft elevator of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

For instance, when the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) was switching homeports from Bremerton to San Diego (before being deployed to Japan as the forward-based carrier), she did a solid for all of the sailors who man her — she gave their rides a ride.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Sailors’ vehicles are parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Many sailors have vehicles. But when you’re sailing a ship, your options for vehicle transportation are limited. Sure, you can have your vehicle shipped — but you’ll have to pay a fee. Yeah, you can ask a buddy to make the road trip out to your new home port, but what if something happens along the way? Or, you could always sell your car and buy a new one, but that’s a hassle and a half — plus, you don’t want to shed that sweet Mustang, right?

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Since it was just a short trip up the coast and since they didn’t need to operate the air wing, the sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan were allowed to park on the ship. Without the air wing, there’s a lot of room for helping the crew get their vehicles to the new home port.

For one brief coastal cruise, the Ronald Reagan became a $5 billion, nuclear-powered car carrier. The sailors saved money, the Navy didn’t have to pay contractors to move the vehicles, and we got some cool photos out of the deal. That’s a win-win-win all around.

Articles

17 images that perfectly show the misery of returning your gear

Over the past few days, you’ve been collecting exit signatures for your check-out sheet, and low and behold, you’re almost home. The process has been relatively straightforward up until this point.


The last item you need to get signed off is from the Central Issue Facility, or supply, where you need to check in all of your gear. Supply is one of the last stops a service member makes before obtaining their official DD-214.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong. If one aspect of your gear is not check-in ready, integrating back into civilian population will be delayed.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

So check out our list of what it typically takes to check in your gear and move on with your life.

(This is based on many true stories)

1. What it looks like when you’re on your way to the central issue on a Friday afternoon.

Oh, come on. (Images via Giphy)

2.When you walk inside and all you see are other troops waiting in a long a** line.

There’s too many to count. (Images via Giphy)

3. To add insult to injury, everyone who works there looks slow and grumpy.

Why do I hate life? (Images via Giphy)

4. After waiting what felt like an eternity, you finally haul your heavy gear over to the counter and begin the checkout process.

So heavy. (Images via Giphy)

5. You make it to the counter, and just as your morale has been boosted, you realized you’re at the slowest worker’s section.

Please, hurry the f*ck up! (Images via Giphy)

6. The clerk starts to review all your gear, pulling everything out piece-by-piece — most of which you never used.

And we mean most things. (Images via Giphy)

7. After completing the inventory, the clerk finds an issue with your almost squared away paperwork. All of your gear is clean enough to pass, but there’s a missing signature.

No way freakin’ way. (Images via Giphy)

8. Your superior officer’s signature is missing for an expensive piece of gear which got destroyed while you were deployed. The clerk informs you that you can either pay for it yourself or get the signature before you can get out of the military.

You can’t believe what you’re hearing.

I ain’t paying for sh*t. (Images via Giphy)

9. You speed back to your company HQ to find your CO.

Pedal to the metal. (Images via Giphy)

10. You dash into the HQ in search of the man or woman who can set you free.

Where are they? (Images via Giphy)

11. You find your superior, he or she signs the paperwork and then your emotions take over.

This may be wrong but it feels right. (Images via Giphy)

12. Now that you got your signature, it’s time to head back to central issue.

Almost to the finish line. (Images via Giphy)

13. You get back the central issue building and attempt to eyeball the person who helped you earlier to avoid waiting in line again.

Look at me. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

15. It worked. The clerk spots you and waves you over. You hand her the signed paperwork, she looks it over and now you wait.

The anticipation grows. (Images via Giphy)

16. The clerk slowly stamps your paperwork. You’re clear.

You want to get mad, but you can’t at this point. (Images via Giphy)

17. You did it! Now go get your DD-214 and move on with your life.

Five years of college here I come. (Images via Giphy)

Articles

The US military’s 2017 New Years Resolutions

We all have a few things we need to work on. The U.S. military is no different. A new year is a new beginning, especially with a new Commander-in-Chief in control. It’s time to finally get around to doing all those things we said we were gonna do.


If sequestration is the household equivalent of cleaning out the garage, those old paint cans aren’t gonna move themselves. Here are some more of the military’s 2017 New Years resolutions.

1. Get in shape.

Ah fitness…the eternal struggle…as many of us veterans (whose old uniforms don’t fit as well as they used to) know.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
(20th Century Fox)

In 2016, an Associated Press piece asked if U.S. troops were “too fat to fight,” thanks to a study by the Army research center. The VA is addressing the issue with a standardized weight management program going into place at VA centers across America.

The Army is instituting a Combat Arms fitness test, as well as a fitness test for those changing their MOS. The Marines can now retake PFTs as much as they want while the Air Force re-measured their running tracks.

The bottom line is the military asks a lot of its troops, and physical fitness is a huge factor in readiness. Time to get get them gains..

2. Get our financial situation together.

There’s a new sheriff in town. And he’s not paying for a new Air Force One.

First Boeing, then Lockheed received the brunt of the Donald’s ire. Someone apparently told him about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s price tag, because that was his next defense contractor target on Twitter.

The military is going to have to play with the toys they have or hope the military-industrial complex bows to the incoming President’s demands.

3. Work on our relationships.

Let’s be honest. In the last few years, we have not been as good to our allies as we could have.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
She’s not celebrating her shoulder rub.

Nor have we been all that upfront with our competition.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Watch the world’s two most powerful men chat like they’re waiting for the bus. (Kremlin photo)

We can do better. We just have to be ourselves — the shining example to the rest of the world that we know we can be. That doesn’t mean we have to wear our heart on our sleeve. We’re the United States. Our military wears their heart on our sleeve.

From the very top of the chain of command to the very bottom, we need to be more upfront and less touchy-feely.

4. Finally finish our education.

We have one more history class before we can finally finish up that degree. Now…time to learn about this “graveyard of empires” we heard so much about…

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
A 120 mm mortar round flies out of the tube as U.S. Army soldiers take cover at Observation Post Mustang in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province on Jan. 26, 2016. (U.S. Army photo)

It doesn’t need to be a literal graveyard, after all.

5. Spend more time with family.

Because together everyone achieves more!

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Members of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, work at dislodging their M-777 155mm howitzer from the three-foot deep hole it dug its spades into after firing several rocket-assisted projectiles. The huge weapon weighs 9,000 pounds and can launch projectiles over 30 kilometers. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar)

Heavy deployment tempos, long tours, short tours, or just intense work schedules (especially at a less-than-ideal assignment) places a heavy burden on service members and their loved ones. Let’s focus on that in 2017 and keep in touch, even if it’s just via Skype.

Also, there are just some things your military buddies will do that your civilian BFFs won’t. It’s important to maintain those relationships.

6. Drink less.

Let’s be honest, unless we’re talking about Rip-Its, cutting down on booze is probably the first resolution out the window, but after alcohol related events (like that time Japan imposed prohibition on all U.S. sailors), it might be time to consider looking at our drinking habits.

Then again, Rip-Its are the unofficial fuel of the U.S. military, so that’s probably out too.

 

Long live Rip-Its.

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This airman is a survivor — and a leader

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


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

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

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Air Force Staff Sgt. Srun Sookmeewiriya, 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of reports, holds a picture of himself with his younger brother, Thana, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 16, 2017. Sookmeewiriya, who attempted to commit suicide twice, said he draws inspiration from his brother to remain resilient and encourages airmen to open up about their struggles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

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

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

Suicide Attempts

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

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

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

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Trauma can take many forms; in recent years the military is striving to raise awareness of its symptoms and provide treatment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strength in Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for Others

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 ways airmen party while deployed to Afghanistan

Whether you’re on a small FOB — let’s face it, most airmen won’t be here — or a military base, Afghanistan deployments can either be the most boring or a little bit exciting, depending on how you play your cards. Okay, fine — it’s going to be a little boring no matter what.


Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
That reminds me, you will probably play a lot of cards.

Yes, deployments are most often filled with binge-watching TV on time off or working out multiple times a day, but these are some tips that can make time in the sandbox a little more exciting.

That is, if you can get away with them and not get an Article 15 or court-martial.

4. Alcohol in mouthwash bottles.

Everyone knows that drinking while deployed is against general orders — meaning this you could get in heaps of trouble if you’re dumb and get sh*t-faced. Tip: Don’t be dumb.

It’s easy to get alcohol into Afghanistan if you utilize everyday items to smuggle it in and send it through regular mail. Just don’t go around swigging out of the mouthwash bottle or else someone is going to figure out what’s up.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
It’s not just for cruise ships and prisons anymore!

And if you’re going to share, make sure the ones you share with don’t f*ck it up by opening their mouths to supervisors.

3. Befriend a loadmaster.

Okay, okay — this might only work if you have access to a loadmaster or if you work near the flightline, but networking saves the day in dire times.

Make friends with a loadmaster — or heck, even a pilot — and they’ll willingly bring you back anything you want from wherever they go, probably for a price. Obviously, you’ll pay the price of whatever they bring back, but you might find yourself owing them a favor later (No, not that kind of favor, sicko. Just be willing to help them when they need it).

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Spot the contraband in this photo. (Hint: It’s green). (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Hang with the foreign military.

Any chance you can spend time with military personnel from different countries, do it. New Zealand is particularly delightful because they can drink on deployment and their accents are easy on the ears (ladies).

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
If David Boreanaz were in a military, he would join the New Zealand Air Force and fit right in. Just sayin’.

Besides the allure of alcohol and the accents, getting to know others from other countries just opens up new lines of communication, and meeting people kills time. You might also end up with some cool challenge-coin swag and squadron T-shirts by the end of deployment.

1. Last Resort: O’Doul’s at the BX and binge watch TV shows.

If you’re not daring enough to do any of the above for fear of a court-martial or an Article 15, stick with a couple of O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beers and watch movies on your laptop or smartphone. The Air Force Exchanges are notorious for selling almost anything you can get at a Walmart, so go wild, go crazy, and buy some fake beer.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
The only acceptable surrender.

It might sound boring and pointless, but at least there are no general orders being broken. So, airman, crack open that O’Doul’s and re-watch Dexter for the third time, because that might be as good as it’s going to get.

Articles

10 responses vets can use when asked, ‘Have you ever killed anyone?’

Over the years, I’ve had my nerves scraped raw by Americans who flippantly ask the question, “Have you ever killed anyone?” The fact that those who ask completely fail to understand or truly care about the veteran experience has calloused my soul just enough to optimize the efficacy of humor as a deflection device and coping mechanism. Let my pain be your lesson and follow me to disgruntled depths!

Imagine you’ve stopped off at the gas station to grab a pack of smokes and are striking up a casual conversation with the attendant when he suddenly hits you with, “Hey, what was the worst thing you’ve ever experienced? Any recent deaths in the family? Any childhood or sexual trauma? No? Haha. Okay, well Kit-Kats are two for $1 if you’re interested.”

How would you respond to some stranger casually prying into the darkest moments of your life? If your knee-jerk reaction is to rip out their trachea and bugle their death song as they fade into the abyss, you might be a veteran. The first time a sniveling college kid asked if I’d ever killed someone, I completely fumbled my response. It was C-minus at best. I regret it every day. I’m better than that. It was my first time, and I just got a little nervous.

As the bloodthirsty, village-burning, baby-killing assassins that we American veterans (apparently) are, our response to this utterly tone-deaf question is important, and it’s our duty to rise to the challenge and represent our community when the time comes. Fortunately, I’ve worked up 10 responses any vet can use when asked the most astoundingly inappropriate question in the history of traumatic events.

Knock ’em dead!

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Marlon Brando as Col. Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Screenshot from YouTube.

HOW TO RESPOND TO “HAVE YOU EVER KILLED SOMEONE?”

1. Become visibly nervous, lean forward, and then whisper, “So you see them too?”

2. “Only the short ones.”

3. Note the color or feature of their shirt. “Only people in [insert their shirt color] … There’s just something about that color …” follow with dead silence and a disconnected gaze.

4. “Yup! Wait, you meant like in the war? Haha. Oh no, I was supply.”

5. “Not on purpose.”

6. Pull out a coin and stare at the individual. Actually, you’re not trying to stare at them, you’re staring into them. Gaze deeply into their very soul and hold the coin out until the tension in the room is palpable, then simply ask, “Heads or tails?” Flip the coin, catch it, and intensely stare at the palm of your hand without letting them see the coin. Shake a little bit for dramatic effect if you want. After several moments suddenly change your expression to light and happy, then inform them that they were correct.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men. Screenshot from YouTube.

7. Really emphasize the word “people” in this one — “What like people? No, I’ve never killed any people.” Do not elaborate. If they persist, make a loose reference to aliens, something like “We don’t know what they were” will work fine. End with “I’ve already said too much,” and walk away.

8. If they’re young, say, “Yes, and I was one short of unlocking the Chopper Gunner.” (They’ll get it.)

9. “With what?”

10. “I’ll only answer your awkward question if you answer one of mine first.” Then proceed to ask them one of the following:

  • Have you ever heard your parents having sex?
  • In 200 words or more, describe your last shit.
  • What’s the last thing you cried about?
  • Can you meet me in the bathroom and tell me if this rash looks serious? I can’t show you here.

11. Bonus answer perfect for post-pandemic dinner parties: “Only when we were hungry.”


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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.”

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
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.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
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.”

popular

Who is ‘Roger?’ Military lingo explained

Between colloquial humor and slang, the military says some weird stuff (don’t even get me started on acronyms), but some of the lingo has origins in so-called “voice procedure” and actually kind of makes sense.


Voice procedure is a set of techniques, protocols, and phrases used in two-way radio communications to reduce confusion and maximize clarity.

Here are a few of the big ones:

1. Roger

Saying “Roger” over the radio is shorthand for “I have received your message or transmission.”

If you’ve ever tried spelling your last name over the phone with someone, you know that the English alphabet has letters that sound the same, so phonetic or spelling alphabets were created to convey letters.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do

In the ’50s, this alphabet was standardized to the alphabet NATO militaries use today (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc), but when the radio use in the military became prevalent, the word ‘Roger’ was used for “R.”

The “R” in “received” was conveyed with “Roger” — and even though today “Romeo” stands for “R,” good ol’ “Roger” stuck.

2. Mayday

“Mayday” is a signal word used to convey distress. It was deliberately chosen for this purpose in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford, a senior radio official in England.

At the time, much of the radio communication was between French and English speakers, so Mockford needed a word that would be understood in both languages and wouldn’t be commonly spoken.

“Mayday” is a rather unique phrase in English, but is also similar to the French word for “help me.”

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops doThis is an appropriate time for the use of ‘Mayday.’ (Painting by Pierre Dénys de Montfort, 1801)

To further reduce confusion, “Mayday” is used three times in the beginning of a distress call. It is reserved for incidents where loss of life or craft is imminent — misuse is considered a serious crime.

3. Copy

“Copy” has its origins in Morse Code communications. Morse Code operators would listen to transmissions and write down each letter or number immediately, a technique called “copying.”

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
(Image via Public Domain)

Once voice communications became possible, ‘copy’ was used to confirm whether a transmission was received. Today it still means “I heard what you said” or “got it,” similar to “roger.”

4. 10-4

10-4″ does not actually have its roots in military-speak. Then ten-codes are used primarily by law enforcement to communicate common situations with brevity. For example:

10-4 Message Received

10-9 Repeat

10-10 Fight In Progress

10-32 Person With Gun

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Be careful: ’10-4′ has…alternative meanings…according to Urban Dictionary. (Image via imgflip)

What are your favorite or most baffling military terms?

Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mozer O. Da Cunha

Military Life

8 things you realize leaving drill life

Coming off the trail is a strange period in a military family’s life. After putting years into an OSUT unit — yes the WHOLE family puts in time — suddenly it’s about to be over. Back to normal working hours … well normal military working hours. Back to a life where you’re not constantly supervising. And now, after putting in so much blood, sweat and tears, after losing so much sleep, things are different. On the other side of drill life has somehow changed, all for the better. Because now you’ve had a fulfilling experience, helped grow the military, helped change lives and make stronger soldiers

  1. It’s an EMOTIONAL experience

You never knew just how much you had invested in this gig until it’s over. Do you hear that sound of deafening silence? It’s relief overtaking your entire body. Let it soak in. That is, if you can hear it over the sound of your still-yelling voice. Remember, it’s now ok to talk at normal decibels. Carry on. 

  1. You feel bad for the new guys

Each new drill and their subsequent family — they’re coming in with a long road ahead. Even the mention of how long their stint is can make you cringe. It’s best to take a deep breath and walk on.

  1. Your career will never be as entertaining

Never underestimate the stupidity of a private … that’s a saying for a reason. I mean, it’s not their fault — they’re the new guy who doesn’t know any better. (What dumb moves did you make as a private?) But in the same light, their moves brought endless entertainment. So much so that it’s likely to never be beat — that is, unless you promote and return to basic once again. 

  1. There’s no use in repurposing the hat

Unless you catch a job as Smokey the Bear, there’s no re-using the brown round. And good riddance to the things, too. They’re hot, they’re heavy, and they serve little purpose other than identifying you to your trainees. Put them on display or blow them up in the field, that’s your call. 

drill life
  1. If you haven’t lived it, you won’t understand

Families who haven’t lived drill will never understand what it’s like. It’s a far cry from “normal” military life. And unless you’ve been there personally, it doesn’t hit quite as close to home. Anyone who says it’s “not that bad” should be promptly told where to go. Anyone considering volunteering should be patted on the back and wished the best of luck. 

  1. You made less than minimum wage

All that extra drill pay everyone talks so much about? Yeah, you didn’t know it would be accounting for all hours of the night, endless stints of the field, and really never getting a clear day off. Count in the pandemic and you may or may not have felt like you’d never go home again. Our best advice is to NOT do the math on how much you’re actually making per hour. It’s beyond depressing. 

  1. Your sanity still exists

Don’t worry, it’s still in there, somewhere. Once you come off the trail, life somehow settles. That crazy feeling you had from lack of sleep? It’s gone. That shakiness from too much caffeine? The blinking and your kids grew three inches and learned 10 new skills? The wanting to pull your own hair out because you cannot just relax and have a “chill day.” All that — it’s gone and comes back … eventually. 

  1. You made great friends along the way

Leave was non-existent unless it was the holidays (and we don’t mean four-days, what are four-days anyway? Lolz) — we’re talking about the big ones: Christmas, Haunnaukah, New Year’s — that’s your annual leave. Two weeks of freedom is all. That meant spending time off — rare as it might have been — with fellow families on the trail. And in some big moments in life, you were all each other had. It made you close and wonderful memories were made. 

Military Life

6 things platoon medics absolutely hate

Navy Corpsmen and Army medics are some of the best medical professionals in the world who go above and beyond to render care to sick and wounded troops in the line of duty.

Although the armed forces’ “docs” have earned tons of combat decorations throughout their proud history, not every part of the job feels valorous or glamorous. In fact, many docs must accomplish tasks they absolutely hate in order to do their job well. Here are just a few of unpleasant functions the job requires.


Taking care of a bad guy

The Geneva Convention requires that docs care for wounded bad guys, regardless of how they were injured. It’s no fun knowing you’re helping a guy who just might take a pot shot at you later.

Not being in the safety vehicle during a mandatory hike

Realistically, there aren’t many troops out there who look forward to a mandatory conditioning hike.

Several miles into the excursion, when your feet are beyond swollen, you’ll start to curse (in your mind) when you see the smiling faces of personnel in the safety vehicles. They’re just chilling.

Sick-call commandos

We dislike those weak-minded troops who show up and waste the medical staff’s time. The truth is, so-called “sick-call commandos” fake illness to get out of responsibilities, taking time away from other people who need to see the doctor because they’re actually ill or injured.

No one like these guys.

A troop showing up to sick call 5 minutes after its secured, but we still have to treat them

Monday through Thursday, having a sick or injured troop come in late isn’t a big deal. However, imagine it’s 1700 on a sunny Friday evening and someone who could technically wait until Monday morning shows up for treatment — not cool.

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Not cool, man. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Smith)

Having to ‘bore punch’ a patient

If you’re not familiar what a “bore punch” is, you’ll want to ask the kids to leave the room before we tell you. Okay, they’re gone? Cool.

Bore punching is when the doc uses a giant cotton swab to take a sample from inside a male patient’s urethra to test for bacteria. It’s unpleasant for both parties.

When a Navy Corpsman gets called a ‘medic’

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do
Similar, yes. The same? Call a Corpsman a medic, and you’ll find out.

There’s a perpetual debate on the differences between Corpsmen and medics. The truth is, they’re very much alike aside from the branches under which they serve. That, and Corpsmen are way more decorated… and sexy.

That said, they hate being called a “medics” instead of the proper term, which is “Corpsman.” “Doc” works, too.

Articles

6 newbie boots you wouldn’t want in your infantry squad

Hollywood war movies are usually comprised of strong and versatile trope elements like the wise seasoned soldier, the good decision makers, and the flawed protagonist who needs a solid character arch before the credits roll.


There’s also the cast of characters that are considered the weaker links, or they’re just so naïve audiences sigh with relief when they die off.

So here’s our list of newbie boots we wouldn’t want taking point on patrol with us.

1. Conrad Vig (“3 Kings”)

He’s the funny, goofy guy who also talks too much and no one takes him seriously until you get annoyed by his presence.

Great movie, but bad karate kick. (Image via Giphy)

2. Corporal Upham (“Saving Private Ryan”)

He stops himself from saving a fellow brother because his fear got the best of him, but to add insult to injury, he gave up an easy kill shot and let the German soldier off the hook. Unacceptable!

Unfreaking believable. You had him, Upham! (Image via Giphy)

3. Gardner (“Platoon”)

We knew this over-weight character was going to perish sooner rather than later — no way his stature meets physical regs. No squad wants the guy who can’t hold his own weight — literally — on their team.

He ain’t gonna make it! (Image via Giphy)

Related: The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

4. Norman Ellison (“Fury”)

Although this character wasn’t meant to be a “tanker”, the situation called for it. There’s nothing worse for an infantry squad than the guy who refuses to do his job — killing the enemy.

Good for nothing. (Image via Giphy)

5. Fergus O’Donnell (“Jarhead”)

He’s the Blue Falcon that managed to burn down a weapons cache when all he had to do is sit and listen to Christmas music.

The ultimate Blue Falcon (Image via Giphy)

6. Gomer Pyle (“Full Metal Jacket”)

Also known as Leonard Lawrence in the film, Pyle was hated by his fellow recruits and they held an awesome blanket party in his honor.

This poor bastard. (Image via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.

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