Service members spends countless hours stomping across the base, running in formation while yelling a repetitive song at the top of their lungs. Military cadences, or close-order drills, date back hundreds of years as a way to keep troops aligned as they march onto the battlefield. Today, it’s primarily used to keep service members in step as they run, landing their feet at the same time to create a motivating, captivating rhythm.
Not only are these repetitive songs catchy as f*ck, but they’ll also test out your creative side as you can make up the lyrics on the spot. A good cadence call will ignite your fellow troops’ morale, helping them make it through the miles and miles of running we do each time we gear up for PT.
It teaches leadership and confidence
The cadence caller has an important job when they’re running on the left side of the formation. They need to make sure the troops are in step as you emphasize each of the word being yelled out. It’s excellent practice how to lead a pack of service members toward an objective at once, and no signal-caller wants to be seen following out of a run.
You can talk sh*t to other units
The military is full of competition, and we love it. On that note, we commonly run through other areas of the base that our military rivals call home. Since we can easily control what lyrics we yell during our PT sessions, we’re sometimes guilty of creating sh*t talking ones as we move in and through those areas.
No grunt wants to be seen falling out of a run in a near a POG barracks. That just looks bad.
It helps you control your breathing
Since we commonly yell out the cadence lyrics at the top of our lungs, this act helps expel the CO2 out of our lungs and allows us to gain endurance. The more controlled our breathing becomes, the more oxygen we can deliver to our bodies. It also helps troops take their mind off the fact they are running for miles if the troop is concerning on repeating the cadences correctly.
It’s also pretty motivating, and we use that to get us through those tough runs.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Chief Master Sgt. Alan Boling, Eighth Air Force command chief, visited Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 10-11, 2017. During his visit, Boling spoke with 5th Bomb Wing Airmen and visited facilities including the fire department, phase maintenance dock, bomb building facility, dining facility and parachute shop.
French Alphajets, followed by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and two F-22 Raptors, conduct a flyover while displaying blue, white and red contrails during the Military Parade on Bastille Day. An historic first, the U.S. led the parade as the country of honor this year in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I and the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S.
A U.S. Army airborne paratrooper from the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry division prepares to jump out of the open troop door on a U.S. Air Force C-17 from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., July 12, 2017 in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. The purpose of TS17 is to improve U.S.-Australian combat readiness, increase interoperability, maximize combined training opportunities and conduct maritime prepositioning and logistics operations in the Pacific. TS17 also demonstrates U.S. commitment to its key ally and the overarching security framework in the Indo Asian Pacific region.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, deputy commanding general for Army National Guard, U.S. Army Europe, talks with Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, North Carolina National Guard during Getica Saber 17 on July 7, 2017 in Cincu, Romainia. Getica Saber 17 is a U.S-led fire support coordination exercise and combined arms live fire exercise that incorporates six Allied and partner nations with more than 4,000 Soldiers. Getica Saber 17 runs concurrent with Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise that spans across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania with over 25,000 service members from 22 Allied and partner nations.
Sailors refuel an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is currently underway acquiring certifications in preparation for their upcoming homeport shift to Sasebo, Japan where they are slated to relieve the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands and 26,000 military and civilian personnel.
Landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, offloads Marine equipment on a beach as a part of a large-scale amphibious assault training exercise during Talisman Saber 17. The landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, launched from USS Green Bay (LPD 20) that enabled movement of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) forces and equipment ashore in order for the MEU to complete mission objectives in tandem with Australia counterparts.
A Marine, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departs the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of a large-scale amphibious assault during Talisman Saber 17. The 31st MEU are working in tandem with Australian counterparts to train together in the framework of stability operations.
Four people are transferred from a sinking 30-foot recreational boat to Coast Guard Station Menemsha’s 47-foot Motor Life Boat off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, July 17, 2017. The vessel was dewatered and returned to Menemsha Harbor under its own power.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Keola Marfil, honorary Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Bishop and Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Dickey walk to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a search and rescue drill at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, July 8 2017. Fulfilling Bishop’s wish to be a rescue swimmer, they hoisted a hiker and simulated CPR while transporting him to the air station.
Insane work environments, low-income housing, cafeteria food, and a general tone of condescension from leadership, combined with big personalities from all over the United States and beyond, have produced the “best” rank in the Marines — the lance corporal.
Also known as “third from the bottom,” lance corporal is one of the most common ranks in the Marine Corps. Despite the number of Marines who have received this humble endowment, the lance corporal is often called the “best” rank by those who have served in the Corps.
Today, this would be similar to calling a Marine salty. The rank spawned from a need to establish small-unit leadership on the ground. Lance Corporal, as a rank, was used in medieval Europe for the same purpose. When one became a Corporal, they would receive their own horse and lance with which to ride into battle.
The horse became a symbol of rank, but if the horse died and the soldier was grounded, what was there to separate them from the rest? Thus, lance corporal was established to distinguish corporals on the ground by giving them a lance.
In the U.S. Marine Corps, lance corporal didn’t officially become a rank until 1958, when Congress amended the Career Compensation Act of 1949. However, the rank has a much longer history than that. In the 1830’s, Lance Cpl. was used as a billet title for Marines that were on track to become corporal.
It wasn’t until the rank of private first class was established in 1917 that Lance Cpl. was almost totally removed from Marine rank structure. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the time, felt that the rank of Pfc. ended the usefulness of Lance Cpl., although the rank dies hard, and one writer on Marine Corps tradition asserts that privates were being detailed as lance corporals as recently as 1937.
Despite its turbulent past, the rank has been immortalized not only by heroic actions but also by the ridiculous conduct of Marines who wear its chevron with crossed rifles. Make no mistake — there is a reputation that goes along with this rank, and it has many sides.
Yes, it is the senior-junior rank, yes, many great leaders bear the mosquito wings with honor, however, the rank is also synonymous with those who will do anything to get out of a working party. They’re also the one ones who have the best liberty stories, barracks room socials, and an endless stream of comments ridiculing anything the Corps can come up with.
Every Marine who served as a Lance has stories detailing the debauchery consistent with the rank, and if they didn’t serve in the rank, like an officer, they have stories of a young Lance Criminal acting accordingly.
Lance Corporal is considered the best because of the distribution of responsibility amongst its ranks.
When you wear the rank, you are among the highest density of eligible working party Marines, creating an environment primed for skating. It is here that legends are born. These legends range in notoriety from the heroic medal of honor recipients to hilarious battalion level shit-baggery. One of them has even become a dark lord of the Star Wars universe.
Only those who have served in the USMC will ever really know just how much of an impact a Marine Lance Cpl. can have with the proper amount of motivation and creativity, and it is in the name of those hard chargers that we honor the history of the Corps’ best rank.
For more reference, check out the Terminal Lance comics by Maximilian Uriarte, a former Marine Lance who has been chronicling the mind and spirit of the USMC E-3 in the most comprehensive way (comic strips) for years.
The moments leading up to a bloody engagement are frightening. Troops, knowing the end may be near, stand and wonder what lies beyond the next bend.
Every so often, Hollywood recreates this moment on film. Invariably, we see our hero take to ramparts to deliver a rousing speech. It takes some well-written words of encouragement to lower troops’ stress levels and get them ready for the fight.
These are a few of the best battle speeches to ever hit the screen.
Directed by Cy Endfield, this classic film follows a group of outnumbered Welsh infantrymen as they defend a hospital and supply dump for 12 long hours from a massive force of Zulu warriors.
In this case, the battle speech was more like a war song. Each man belts out lyrics to grant them the courage they need to take on the brutal, blade-wielding charge.
6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Directed by Peter Jackson, the third installment of this juggernaut trilogy dominated the Hollywood box offices for weeks on end and, hopefully, taught a lesson to a few military leaders on how to deliver speeches to their troops.
Directed and starring Mel Gibson, this Oscar-winning film centers around one poor Scotsman as he rallies a country to fight against English oppression — and it all started with this famous battle speech.
It’s a good thing that, in modern war, we don’t to ride into battle on horseback or clash with enemy swords. However, if we did, we’d want to hear words of encouragement from a general who isn’t afraid to fight alongside his men.
3. Independence Day
If the earth is ever attacked by aliens, someone better revive this exceptional battle speech word-for-word to rally up the troops. The world might feel like it’s legitimately going to end, but it only takes a few minutes of a truly inspiring speech to get everyone on the same patriotic page.
Based on the life of the legendary Gen. George Patton, the opening speech to 1970’s Patton is one of the best pieces of motivational dialogue ever recorded on film.
300 follows a small squad of elite Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, as they stand their ground against a massive Persian army. After the King’s death, a Spartan named Dilios delivers a speech that motivates the crap out of the rest of the men to take out the remaining Persian army.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Aerial Port Airmen from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, load cargo on a C-17 Globemaster III during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Oct. 17, 2017. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The aircraft can be outfitted to perform tactical airlift, airdrop, and aeromedical evacuation as missions require.
A U.S. Air Force KC-135 performs a dry contact with a C-17 Globemaster III during an aerial-refueling training exercise over Germany, Oct. 19, 2017. The training exercise was done in support of the Strategic Airlift Command operated out of Papa Air Base, Hungary. Strategic Airlift Command consists of 12 NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
The setting sun at Grafenworh, Germany, shines through the trees as Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade fold the American flag as a part of the retreat ceremony.
U.S. Soldiers with the 615th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade conduct a dismounted patrol at the 7th Army Training Command’s Training Area Grafenwoehr, Oct. 18, 2017.
An EA-18G Growler assigned to the “Cougars” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is underway on a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
The amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) departs Naval Station Norfolk to participate in Bold Alligator 2017 (BA17). Improving Navy-Marine Corps amphibious core competencies along with coalition, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Allied and partner nations is a necessary investment in the current and future readiness of our forces. BA17 will take place Oct. 18-30, 2017, ashore along the eastern seaboard.
Firefighters from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni respond to a simulated casualty during a chemical exposure drill as part of exercise Active Shield at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 17, 2017. Active Shield is an annual exercise designed to test the abilities of U.S. and Japanese forces to work alongside each other to protect and defend the air station and other U.S. assets in the region.
U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 (MWSS 371) participate in a simulated aircraft salvage exercise during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Yuma, Ariz., on Oct. 14, 2017. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.
Coast Guard responds to barge on fire approximately three miles from Port Aransas, Texas, jetties Oct. 20, 2017. A Coast Guard Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin and HC-144 Ocean Sentry are searching for two missing crewmembers.
Coast Guard field responders Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Jessup and Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Basham assess a partially-sunk vessel for pollution in Crown Bay, St. Thomas, Oct. 18, 2017. More than 200 vessels in the area were identified by the Coast Guard and partner agencies as sunk or partially sunk as a result of the recent hurricanes.
Travis Manion Foundation empowers veterans and families of fallen heroes while striving to strengthen America’s national character. The non-profit was named for 1st Lt. Travis Manion, a Marine who was killed by an enemy sniper while saving his wounded teammates on April 29, 2007.
Today, Travis Manion Foundation exists to carry on the legacy of character, service, and leadership embodied by Travis and all those who have served and continue to serve our nation.
Now, three Gold Star family members are carrying on the legacy of their own fallen loved ones through Travis Manion Foundation. Ryan Manion, Amy Looney, and Heather Kelly sat down with Jan Crawford from CBS This Morning to share how they are working to impact their local communities, strengthen America’s character, and empower veterans.
When asked what they would say to other family members suffering the loss of a service member, Travis’ sister Ryan said, “Your suffering is probably the most horrible thing that will ever happen to you but there is a light ahead.”
Over the past decade, TMF has helped over 60,000 veterans, and it began with a phrase Travis said before he left for his final deployment. “If not me, then who?” He is not the first person to speak those words, but in many ways, he captures the spirit that our military takes to heart when they volunteer to serve.
A testament to Travis’ impact, in fall 2014, at the age of 73, Sam Leonard set out to walk across the country to raise funds for the Travis Manion Foundation. He began in Florida but was forced to stop in Houston when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He sadly passed away four months later. Albie Masland, the TMF west coast veteran service manager reached out to his good friends and TMF ambassadors Nick Biase and Matt Peace, to see if they wanted to help honor Sam by completing the last 1,500 miles of his journey and raise money for the TMF on his behalf. They finished the trek in 30 days at the USS Midway and on the anniversary of Travis’ death.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anna Albrecht/ Released)
Travis Manion Foundation volunteers help by cleaning up communities here at home, building houses in underdeveloped countries, and inspiring school-aged children growing up in America. The organization is defined by its core values:
Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat
Purpose begins with passion
Out of many, one
We are fueled by gratitude
Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo
Travis Manion Foundation is launching a Legacy Project, with ten projects over ten days beginning April 20, 2018. Volunteers can make a difference in their own communities by joining an Operation Legacy Project.
One of the most common threads among troops wanting to leave a unit (or the military in general) is toxic leadership. Although high ranking officers and senior enlisted have always tried to pluck toxicity out of the system because it goes against every military value, it still rears its head, typically in the form of the “good ol’ boy” system.
There are many fair and impartial leaders within the military. I, personally, served under them and would gladly fall on a sword if they asked — even all these years later. These leaders would vehemently agree that their peers and superiors who exhibit obvious favoritism are in the wrong and are, frankly, undeserving of their position. This is why.
The cost of not playing is heavy
Superiors that follow the good ol’ boy system rarely make an effort to hide their favoritism. If they do pretend it doesn’t exist, troops will catch on and word will spread quickly through the ranks.
Trying to play by the rules under that “leader” is impossible. Instead, most troops will eventually break down and take the easy route of prioritizing the buttering up of their superiors. Rules are paramount to maintaining order and uniformity in the military. When they play second fiddle to keeping your superiors personally happy, something’s wrong.
Rewards are unearned
Two troops are up for awards: One has worked their ass off, day in and day out. They are a master at what they do and have not just helped others with problems, they’ve taught others how to fix those problems for next time. They don’t get in trouble with command, but they’re not the most people-friendly person you’ve met. The other unimpressively slides through work but goes fishing with the commander on weekends.
Logically speaking, the first troop should get a higher award than the second. Realistically, they probably got the same recognition, despite the difference in effort.
Justice is not dealt
The Uniform Code of Military Justice is very clear. If someone is accused of wrongdoing, it’s up to a jury of their peers to determine their fate. Simply put: If someone does something wrong, their ass is grass. There aren’t any “ifs, ands, or buts” about it. A problem arises, however, when a leader decides to sweep an issue under the rug.
The law is clear and yet, somehow, different troops aren’t held to the same standard for the same crimes.
Bubbles are formed
Every good leader should be looking for means to positively improve the unit, no matter how minor the change. If a toxic leader surrounds him or herself with only people that nod, agree, and kiss their ass, they’ll see no need for improvement.
Troops do conduct evaluations of their superiors that get sent higher on the chain of command. In practice, these should give an accurate and fair assessment of a unit. This is an opportunity for troops to vent legitimate problems. However, too often these are disregarded because superiors are told things are fine by the sycophants.
Cliques face off
All troops aren’t always going to get along. That’s just a fact of life. But, when two groups of “good ol’ boys” butt heads, everyone else now needs to play along with their stupid game — no matter how petty.
As long as there’s still a working relationship, rivalries between units are fine. It builds espirt de corps. When there are divisions within a single unit because someone “doesn’t like that guy for something personal,” the unit has a serious problem.
A recent decision by the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has been met with universal praise: No more stupid, mandatory training programs!
In fairness to the now-defunct online classes, yes, Soldiers should be aware of the risks inherent in traveling, the dangers of misusing social media, and that human trafficking is still a concern in 2018. But did the process of taking a four-day pass really need to include a mandatory class about why seat belts are important? Probably not.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)
In his April 13th, 2018, memo, Secretary Mark Esper wrote,
“Mandatory training will not have a prescribed duration for conducting the training. All mandatory training must have alternative methods of delivery which do not require the use of an automated system or project system.”
To be clear, his decision is not cancelling all military training — that’d be ridiculous. It’s just stopping the online classes that are, essentially, glorified PowerPoint presentations. These are the classes that need to get done just so a box is checked, regardless of whether a troop actually learned the lesson or not.
(Photo by Sgt. Ashland Ferguson)
So, let’s break this down to a boots-on-ground level for a regular private first class trying to see his or her family over leave. According to older standards, the Soldier would have to log on the website, click “Next” repeatedly until they reach the end, and hope they can get at least a 60% on the final quiz.
Now, the responsibility is back in the hands of the NCOs. If a sergeant feels the need to break down, Barney-style, why a wearing a seat belt reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, then it’s on them. If they don’t feel the need to re-explain obvious traffic laws, they can instead spend the two hours that would otherwise been used on clicking “Next” for, you know, actual military training.
President Donald Trump signed a bill April 19 to temporarily extend a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector, part of an effort by the president to deliver on a campaign promise.
The extension will give Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin time to develop a more comprehensive plan to allow veterans to more easily go outside the VA health system for care. Under the bill Trump signed into law, the VA will be allowed to continue operating its Choice Program until the funding runs out, which is expected early 2018.
The program was scheduled to expire on Aug. 7 with nearly $1 billion left over.
Trump said veterans have “not been taken care of properly” and that the program will continue to be able to see “the doctor of their choice.”
“You got it? The doctor of their choice,” he repeated for emphasis.
Shulkin, who attended the bill signing, has said the money is needed to pay for stopgap services while he works on the longer-term plan. He said April 19 that the plan is due in the fall. Congress would have to approve any changes to the VA health system.
Shulkin said the extension is important because it gives veterans another avenue for care.
“It’s this approach where veterans can get care wherever they need it that really is the way that we’re going to address all the needs and honor our commitments to our veterans,” he said after Trump signed the bill.
The Choice Program was put in place after a 2014 scandal in which as many as 40 veterans died while waiting months to be scheduled for appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center.
The program is intended to provide more timely care by allowing veterans to go outside the VA network only in cases where they had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Yet the program itself often encountered long wait times of its own.
The new law also calls for changes to alleviate some problems by speeding up VA payments and promoting greater sharing of medical records.
Major veterans’ organizations and Democrats support a temporary extension of the Choice Program, but are closely watching the coming VA revamp of the program for signs that the Trump administration may seek greater privatization. Those groups generally oppose privatization as a threat to the viability of VA medical centers.
Trump had pledged during the presidential campaign to give veterans freedom to seek care “at a private service provider of their own choice.”
Mark Lucas, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, commended Trump for upholding a campaign promise to make veterans a priority, but said more needed to be done. Lucas said the Choice Program was a well-intentioned “quick fix” to the Phoenix scandal, but that it remains flawed and has forced too many veterans to seek care at what he termed failing VA facilities.
“Congress now has some time to work with Secretary Shulkin on broader, more permanent choice reforms that will truly put the veteran at the center of their health care and remove VA bureaucrats as the middlemen,” Lucas said. “We look forward to supporting legislation that will let veterans go outside the VA for care when they want or need to.”
Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., said more than 1 million veterans have made 7 million appointments with health care providers in their communities under the Choice Program. He said those appointments would have otherwise “lagged” in the VA scheduling system.
More than 1 million out of 9 million veterans in the VA system use some Choice care, with agency data pointing to even greater use this year.
McCain, a Navy veteran, said the extension “sends an important message that we will not send our veterans back to the status quo of unending wait-times for appointments and substandard care.” He said more work is needed, but called the legislation “an important first step.”
Shulkin has said he would like to expand veterans’ access to private care by eliminating the Choice Program’s current 30-day, 40-mile restrictions. At the same time, he wants the VA to work in partnership by handling all the scheduling and “customer service,” something that congressional auditors say could be unwieldy and expensive.
Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.
April is designated the “Month of the Military Child,” established in 1986 by then Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. Blue Star Families and USAA are bringing awareness to the military’s children and their needs.
In 2009, Kathy Roth-Douquet founded Blue Star Families alongside a few other military spouses and remains its CEO. Her mission and passion for the organization has remained the same, even 12 years later. The issues military families are facing have remained the same as well. “Month of the Military Child is really about bringing awareness to the challenges and the strengths of these military kids,” she explained. “This COVID year has been a challenging year and it hit military families harder than most people.”
Around a third of military families move every single year and despite the pandemic, that continued. “Isolation came to everybody…for military kids, you were putting isolation on top of isolation. They were already vulnerable,” Roth-Douquet shared. She also touched on the recent data suggesting that almost 50% of employed military spouses lost their jobs due to the pandemic. For a population already underemployed, this was catastrophic.
“The loss of the spouse’s income and needing to provide food at home more often meant that as many as 27% of our junior enlisted families who participated in our survey said they were experiencing food insecurity,” she explained. Food insecurity wasn’t happening to just them, either. Roth-Douquet also stated that even the mid-level enlisted and noncommissioned officers were experiencing it as well.
In 2020, USAA gave $30 million to all of the military relief organizations. Recognizing the negative impacts of the pandemic for military families, they stood ready to serve. Justin Schmitt is the Assistant Vice President for USAA’s Corporate Responsibility.
Schmitt comes from a family with deep military ties, although he is not a veteran himself. “I almost feel guilty about not serving,” he said. “What I’ve learned with over 14 years at USAA is that you don’t have to wear a uniform to serve our country…the cause of supporting military families is one of the noblest of causes for the civilian community.”
This means recognizing the sacrifices of the military families in the name of American freedom.
“When a service member serves our country, really their spouses and their children serve as well. We really believe that the well-being of the family unit is essential for the service member to do their job,” Schmitt said. “Our philanthropic strategy is focused on strengthening the military family’s resilience…many civilians may not realize the simple act of friendship and welcoming a military family that has moved onto your street or has joined your school…can make a huge impact on the mental health and well-being of the military family.”
Nonprofit organizations like Blue Star Families have remained committed to collecting the data and then creating measurable and impactful solutions to the issues military families are facing. With the underemployment and unemployment of the military spouse mainly linked to childcare, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed immediately, according to Roth-Douquet.
“Unless we really deal with this, we will not be able to keep women in the service coming up and we will not be building strength over all. That’s an enormous issue we need to tackle,” Roth-Douquet explained. The other concern not often broached by committees is the vital need for mental health resources for military children.
“We are coming to understand that, with over 20 years of combat, we’ve been raising kids in an atmosphere where we really haven’t understood the fall out that comes from it. We need to provide more understanding, support and intelligence on how we help our military kids,” she said. It’s something that we haven’t really grappled with as a country but something Blue Star Families plans on taking on in the future.”
Schmitt echoed that comment, sharing that he’s grateful for the partnerships of national nonprofits working together to find solutions to these problems.
For Roth-Douquet, Blue Star Families was born of a concern for her community and her own children. “I felt like I couldn’t solve problems for them by myself. I needed to look at it in a broader way and get my community involved,” she explained. “People love their children and worry about their children…for me, that’s where the passion comes from and that’s why it’s motivating to keep doing the work. Action can be therapy. If you feel like you are making a difference then you are going in the right direction.”
As we continue to celebrate Month of the Military Child, look for ways to uplift and encourage this often-forgotten population. For their courage and sacrifice is awe-inspiring. Let us recognize it and support them as their parents continue to answer the call that others cannot or will not.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jojie Arcega, a loadmaster with the 36th Airlift Squadron, pushes a practice bundle from a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 8, 2017, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Over the course of 12 days, members of OCD provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands, impacting about 20,000 people covering 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area.
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stands by for takeoff Dec. 5, 2017, at Gwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea during Exercise Vigilant Ace-18. Vigilant Ace gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and ROK partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats.
Soldiers assigned to the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct a parachute insertion and foot march on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 5, 2017. The jump was part of a larger situational training exercise to test the Soldiers proficiency with combat related tasks.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, dismount an M-1 Abrams tank during training Dec. 6, 2017 at Smardan Training Area, in Smardan, Romania. The crews are required to qualify as a team if any member leaves or joins, or re-qualify every six months.
U.S. Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class James Washington, from Dallas, left, and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Cole Sams, from Salem, Ore., lower the ensign aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as the ship departs Naval Air Station North Island, Dec. 6, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security.
An MH-60R Sea Hawk attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 descends to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship is in port Norfolk, Virginia, conducting routine maintenance after a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
Marines sight-in on a target with an M777 A2 howitzer during a direct-fire exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 4, 2017. The M777 provides timely, accurate and continuous indirect fire support, while having the capability to engage targets directly in the event of enemy contact. The Marines are with 1st Battalion 10th Marine Regiment.
U.S. Marines conduct simulated village raids at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, December 5, 2017, during the 3rd Marine Division Annual Squad Competition. The raids were a timed event in which the Marines had to hike and raid the village within two hours. The squad competition is conducted to test and compare each unit to see which is the fittest for combat. The squads are with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and Combat Assault Battalion.
A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew searches the Gastineau Channel in Juneau, Alaska, for two men in the water after their skiff capsized Dec. 6, 2017. Five people were aboard the vessel when it capsized, one of which was rescued by the Coast Guard and two were able to safely swim to shore.
Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba crew stand next to approximately 12.4 tons of cocaine Dec. 7, 2017, aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba offloaded the cocaine in Port Everglades worth an estimated $378 million wholesale interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between mid-October and late November.
Whenever soldiers go on leave, it always plays out exactly the same:
“O! You’re in the Army? My friend from work’s brother is in the Navy, so I know allllllll about it…”
This is followed by a in-depth one-sided discussion about what people think they know about the Army, usually followed by some uncomfortable questions.
Here’s a list of assumptions we get that leave us sitting there thinking, “No, dude. Not even close.”
6. “You’re exactly like the other branches of the Armed Forces.”
This one stings.
It’s not that it’s entirely wrong. There is plenty of overlap between soldiers and other branches. But we still have our own mission and they still have theirs. Especially the stupid Navy.
The best analogy you can use is like the relationship between EMT, nurse, and doctor. They all have a very similar purpose in life, but they each have a different part to play in the grander scheme of things.
5. “You’re all hard ass SOBs with who can ‘John Wick’ someone with a pencil.”
No matter what a soldier did while serving, when they get out they probably won’t correct someone if they hear, “You don’t want to upset him man, he was in the Army! He could snap you in half!”
Many soldiers are required to go to Combatives Level 1 and eventually Level 2 (depending on their unit.) And yes, physical training is a thing everyone does in the morning, and many soldiers also enjoy going to the gym after work ends.
While it’s definitely frowned upon, we still have soldiers that look like they should have cheeseburgers slapped out of their hand to make height and weight regulations. Even on the other end of the spectrum, there are also plenty of scrawny soldiers in the Army as well.
4. “You’re all wounded and fragile shells of who you once were.”
War is hell. There’s no denying that. But very rarely are soldiers as truly broken as the civilian world thinks we are.
When civilians think about soldiers and PTSD, the worst-case-scenario comes to mind. While there are veterans who suffer from acute PTSD symptoms, most service members have the tools to treat their service-related conditions, and nearly all are still functional members of society.
3. “You’re free to make decisions like where you want to live.”
Back to the lighter and funnier side of things, it is always hilarious whenever people say things like, “Why can’t you just call in sick?” or “You’ll be able to take this day off, right?”
Sure, you have the occasional “Army of One” jerk who thinks he can get away with skating. But no. We don’t choose whether or not we want to go to work. We don’t choose days off without a long drawn-out process. And even if you reenlist for a new duty station, chances are, you won’t get to decide where you live in the world.
That’s just the way things are and soldiers get used to it.
2. “You’re a master of foreign affairs and know what the military is doing constantly.”
Most soldiers couldn’t even tell you what their Joes are currently doing, let alone what the Special Forces are doing in [Country Redacted]. Even if you were talking with a senior advisor at the Pentagon, they still couldn’t even tell you what every little detail of the Army is up to.
The Army is just way too big and way too diverse, even within itself. When civilians start throwing our opinions into it we’ll either stare blankly or make something smart up.
Also, we don’t like talking about work during leave.
1. “You’re all constantly training.”
Nothing blows a civilian’s mind quite like the fact that there actually is down time in the military and that we do more than just shoot weapons and practice kicking in doors.
Want to hear what 75% of a lower-enlisted’s day looks like?
Wake up to work out with the platoon at the weakest guy’s level. Pretend to check our equipment that hasn’t been touched since the last time we pretended to check on it. Quick hip-pocket training by a sergeant that was just reminded that they’re a sergeant (“How to check that equipment you just checked,” or “Why DUIs are bad”.) Then wait that for same sergeant to get out of a meeting where they’re told that nothing happened but they should watch out for their Joes getting in trouble. Finally go back to the barracks to do all the things their sergeant was warned about.
We’ve all heard the term “boot” blurted out at one point or another during our military career. It means that guy who graduated boot camp, completed all their courses in their speciality school, and is now headed off to their very first unit.
In the naïve mind of a boot, the majority think they know everything, what with all that intense training and all.
The truth is, you probably don’t know your elbow from your a-hole, and you’re going to make plenty of dumb mistakes between now and forever.