Podcast

How to stay fit and not get fat after you get out of the military


In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Army veteran and fitness expert Jennifer Campbell on what veterans can do during their busy day to stay in shape — especially when going to morning PT isn’t an option.

“Veterans have a 70 percent higher chance of developing obesity than the general public,” Jennifer Campbell says.

The reason for this statistic is due to the dramatic change in a veteran’s daily habit. The majority of the veteran community have been known to cease fire on their work out plans, which creates a negativity jolt the body’s system.

In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:

  • [2:00] The daily regiment of a fitness instructor to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still staying “loose.”
  • [2:40] Information about “Merging Vets & Players,” the growing fitness organization that connects troops and professional athletes.
  • [4:50] Some positive traits of working out versus taking certain medications.
  • [6:20] What “Overtraining Syndrome” consists of and how to avoid it.
  • [10:00] How structured dieting and workouts are necessary for those looking to get into the fitness industry.
  • [11:40] How to properly test your genetic makeup.
  • [13:25] If you want to cheat on your diet — a.k.a. cheat days — here’s how to do it the right way.
  • [18:20] What you can learn about yourself from your genetic markers.
  • [19:20] Important tips how to stay in shape while working in an office space setting.
  • [23:20] Some dietary buzz words that freak everyone out.
  • [30:25] How we can stay looking young using our new health and fitness tools.
  • [34:45] What type of alcohol we should be drinking if you’re trying to stay in shape.

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran

This episode originally ran in November 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

New ‘Bill and Ted 3’ movie casts wounded warriors as extras

Whoa! Wounded warriors have been cast as extras for the new “Bill and Ted 3” movie. The excellent news was first tweeted by CNN news anchor Jake Tapper on Aug. 13, 2019.

Tapper, a longtime Homes for our Troops’ supporter and mission ambassador, enlisted the help of friends, namely movie stars and entertainment icons, to arrange an extensive assortment of auction items to benefit the organization back in November 2018. One of the auction items was a tour of the “Bill and Ted 3” movie set.

But screen writer Ed Solomon wanted to do more for veterans than just a tour. He also cast several wounded veterans in the film, and Tapper thanked him on social media for the righteous move.


It’s still unknown what part these veterans will play in the upcoming film starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, but judging by the smiles on their faces the Hollywood experience has been epic.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Teddy Roosevelt IV became a Navy SEAL to fight in Vietnam

Like it or not, the United States has political family dynasties that extend across generations. Despite all the focus on the Bush and Clinton dynasties at the end of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century, it’s still hard to forget the greatest American family name to ever appear on a ballot: Roosevelt.


Roosevelt is the family that brought us terms like square deal, new deal, and Rough Riders that we use to this day. From Theodore’s then-progressive views on preserving the natural beauty of the United States to Franklin’s cool leadership through our toughest decades since the Civil War, Roosevelts have long stood for everything that is good about America, even if the two most notable members sat on different sides of the political aisle.

The later generations weren’t as politically active as their presidential ancestors, but their dedication to service never diminished. Roosevelts have served in the Army and Navy, as state legislators, the CIA and its forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services, just to name a few. Roosevelts fought in the trenches of World War I and landed at Normandy during D-Day.

There was even a Roosevelt silently stalking the Viet Cong in the jungles of Vietnam: Theodore Roosevelt IV.

Even as a Frogman, it’s hard to outshine the original TR.

TR-4 (as he’s called by some in the special operations community), graduated from BUD/S class 36 and deployed to Vietnam with UDT 11 as a Navy officer for two years. During his time in Vietnam, SEALs were becoming proficient at kill-or-capture missions against mid-level Viet Cong leaders. The VC were trying to form a shadow government in South Vietnam, in preparation for an eventual U.S. withdrawal and reunification of the country. The SEALs collected intelligence and then traced them to their hideouts among the civilian populations.

TR-4 today.

In the years following his service in the Navy, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service, serving in Washington, DC, and what is now Burkina Faso. Like his great-grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt IV advocates for conservation issues and works in favor of non-partisan anti-corruption efforts. TR-4 doesn’t seek public office, he’s an investment banker and a member of numerous political and public policy-related groups.

And yes, there is a Theodore Roosevelt V.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Japan’s F-35 aircraft carrier will be a Chinese navy killer

Japan on Dec. 18, 2018, announced what everyone had long suspected: Its Izumo-class “helicopter carriers” would host F-35B short-takeoff, vertical-launch stealth jets, and the platform will be transformed into a weapon Tokyo hasn’t wielded since 1945.

Japan announced on Dec. 18, 2018, that it would change its defense guidelines and buy 105 more F-35A stealth jets, as well as roughly 40 F-35Bs that can take off vertically from its flat-decked Izumo ships.


Japan said it would retrofit its two Izumo carriers to handle the extreme heat and pressure of the F-35B’s vertical launches from the decks in a pivot from its post-World War II pacifist stance, citing rising threats from China, Russia, and North Korea.

Japan has long sought a long-range, fifth-generation aircraft to defend its far-flung island claims as Russia and China routinely test its borders with fighter jets buzzing its borders, but the US hasn’t yet offered it anything that can do the job.

F-35B prepares for a vertical landing.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Dana Beesley)

The F-22, the US’ first fifth-generation fighter, came across as an ideal solution for Japan’s defense needs, but the US refused to sell, saying the cutting-edge technology was too critical to share.

The F-35, of which Japan wants to become the world’s second-largest buyer, has much of the F-22’s stealth and avionics prowess, but has much shorter range.

But according to Justin Bronk, an aerial-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, putting F-35s on a carrier at sea that can close range to island flash points, Japan may have finally solved its problem.

“This is about being able to put capable air power near some of their island possessions, especially given that there’s a lot of Chinese capability being specifically developed to hit forward air bases,” Bronk told Business Insider, referencing China’s growing rocket force.

“Having something mobile that’s harder to hit that can deploy fifth-generation air power makes a lot of military sense,” Bronk said of the carriers.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Izumo.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaila V. Peters)

Not just island defense, but a navy killer

Japan’s Izumo carriers occupy the traditional role of launching an amphibious attack to take or retake an island with while providing air power overhead, but the F-35s bring something that attack helicopters just can’t do.

China has deployed a “great wall” of missile defenses around the South China Sea and its mainland. China’s ever-growing navy also patrols the water with increasingly powerful air defenses.

“Basically, any naval task group worth the name is, from an airman’s perspective, a formidable mobile air defense network,” Bronk said. China’s navy ships have “powerful radars, very large interceptor missiles, and are designed to defend against swarming attacks,” he said.

Unlike air-to-air missiles limited in size by the jets that have to carry them, ship-based missile interceptors can measure more than 20 feet in length and have powerful boosters giving them better range and speed. Additionally, recent Chinese navy ships have emphasized these kinds of missiles and have deep magazines and many vertical launch cells for the aircraft-killing missiles.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey with the JS Izumo (right) on the South China Sea.

(US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann)

But China’s navy likely has very little experience fighting stealth aircraft with its sea-based radars.

The stealth design of the F-35B will allow Japan’s military to “to operate at reasonable risk tolerance of advanced air defenses,” said Bronk, who called the jets “a lot more survivable in high-end warfare” than Japan’s fleet of F-15s.

In the future, Bronk said Japan will most likely leverage the F-35B’s extreme surveillance and recon capabilities to provide weapons-quality target information to other platforms, like Japanese or US warships, which can fire off their own missiles and allow the F-35Bs to stay in stealth mode without opening up the weapons bay.

For Japan, the new class of F-35B carriers signals a major shift in defense posture and the acknowledgement that defending their island claims may require high-end warfighting against China’s navy.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This epic Slip ‘N Slide went from a C-130 to the ground

A team of skydivers funded by Canon experienced the world’s ultimate Slip ‘N Slide: One that goes out of a C-130 in flight and then picks up on the ground, with both ends covered in hilarious pool toys, like rainbow unicorns. The gap is the middle is a fall of at least a couple of thousand feet — yes, with parachutes.



facebook.com

The C-130 was supposed to be a stopgap during the Korean War, a rushed design to give the Army the capability to put paratroopers and other soldiers on a plane, fly it a medium distance, and land it on the short airstrips available in the mountains and jungle.

But the thing defied every expectation and proved itself capable of operating everywhere from the Himalayas to aircraft carriers. The U.S. uses it for jobs from firefighting to airborne command and control to bombing (yeah, the C-130 can drop bombs). Lockheed Martin has made over 2,500 of them in 70 variants for militaries across the globe.

But it’s still most often used for moving cargo and troops. Turns out, however, that it’s also pretty good for allowing skydivers to do some sweet tricks. Canon wanted to advertise their new line of mirrorless cameras and, apparently, they decided the best way to do so was to teach the C-130 new tricks.

A C-130 Hercules taxis on the runway in Wisconsin in 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Cameron Lewis)

Since C-130s have already been used as flying radio stations to support ground commanders in combat and disaster relief in Haiti, finding a new angle was a tall order.

The resulting video is pretty great, and will almost certainly make a bunch of jumpmasters start wondering what they could get away with in flight. (Hint: There’s probably a reason the skydivers didn’t use a military C-130. The Air Force probably won’t like this idea.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Green beret dies after IED blast in Afghanistan

A Washington-based Special Forces soldier has died from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near him during a recent combat patrol in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion, 36, died Aug. 12, 2018, as a result of injuries he suffered in Helmand province on Aug. 7, 2018, according to an Army news release. Transfiguracion was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.


He was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class and awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal, according to the news release. It was Transfiguracion’s second Purple Heart.

No additional information was immediately released about the incident that caused his injuries. It remains under investigation.

Transfiguracion, of Waikoloa, Hawaii, was born in the Philippines. He enlisted as a motor transport operator in the Hawaii National Guard in 2001 and deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006.

Purple Heart Medal.

In 2008, Transfiguracion joined the active duty, deploying again to Iraq from 2008 to 2009. From there, he spent six months supporting Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines from 2010 to 2011.

After attending Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Transfiguracion was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a horizontal construction engineer. There, he was selected for Special Forces.

After completion of his Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Transfiguracion joined his last unit as an engineer sergeant. He’s been deployed to Afghanistan since March.

His other awards and decorations include the Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Achievement Medal (third award), Army Good Conduct Medal (third award), Combat Action Badge, Army Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantry Badge and Air Assault Badge.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

popular

5 military jokes that will crack you the ‘F’ up

Everyone loves to laugh. It’s in our DNA and it’s great way to relieve stress after a hectic day.

You can be hard at work, hellbent on finished the task at hand until someone walks up and says, “did you hear that one about…”

Once you hear those magical words, your attention shifts in hopes of hearing a hilarious joke. So, check out these jokes that we’re confident you’ll repeat later.


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The retreating trooper

A troop dashes over a hill, rounds a corner, and runs right smack into the arms of a superior officer. “Where do you think you’re headed off to?” the officer inquires.

“I’m sorry, but the firefight was just too intense, captain,” replies the troop.

“What do you mean Captain? I’m a General!” the officer responds, insulted.

“Wow,” says the soldier. “I didn’t realize I ran that far backward.”

Giphy

These three lovely women

Three beautiful ladies are talking as they walk down the street. The first lady gets stung by a honey bee, and her whole arm swells up. The second lady says, “I got stung by a bumblebee once and my whole arm swelled up, too.”

The third lady says, “that’s nothing. I once got stung by a Seabee and my whole belly swelled.”

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Having pee hands

A Naval officer and a Marine gunny are in the head, taking a leak.

After the two finish, the gunny walks out and proceeds back down the hall. The Naval officer catches up with him and says, “in the Navy, they teach us to wash our hands after taking a piss.”

“No sh*t,” the gunny replies. “In the Marine Corps, they teach us never to piss in our hands.”

Stuck in the freakin’ mud

During a training exercise, a lieutenant was driving his Humvee down a muddy, rural road when he encountered another truck that was stuck in the mud with a red-faced colonel sitting behind the wheel. The lieutenant pulls his Humvee alongside and asks, “is your Humvee stuck, sir?”

The superior officer steps out, holds out his hand, keys dangling, and says, “Nope, but yours is.”

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The old-school colonel

A young Marine is working late at the office one evening. As he finally makes his way out and into the night air, he spots a colonel standing by the classified document shredder in the hallway, paperwork in hand.

“Do you know how to work this thing?” asked the colonel. “My secretary’s gone home and I don’t know how to use it.”

“Yes, sir,” the young Marine replies.

He turns on the machine and takes the paperwork from the colonel, who says, “Great! I just need one copy of each” and walks away.

MIGHTY HISTORY

What the Korean War can teach us about the future

While often labeled “the forgotten war,” the Korean War left a distinct stain on the collective memory of the American military community.

The short, but extremely bloody, conflict saw hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians die from combat and non-battle causes—forcing America to reevaluate how it had approached the war. The first war in which the United Nations took part, the Korean War exposed discrepancies between calculated diplomacy, a nation’s moral imperative, military readiness, and the innate complexities of warfare—all issues that T.R. Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War examines in detail.


Fehrenbach’s book has been regarded as essential reading by military-minded leaders in America, including Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, a Marine Corps Reserve lieutenant colonel who served in Afghanistan, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. While North and South Korea seem to have found some kind of peace as they recently agreed to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, Fehrenbach’s work—as a definitive and cautionary tale about the promises and perils of military action—is still a particularly timely perspective.

Read on for an excerpt from This Kind of War,which offers a blow-by-blow account and analysis of America’s past military action in the Korean Peninsula.

This Kind of War


More than anything else, the Korean War was not a test of power—because neither antagonist used full powers—but of wills. The war showed that the West had misjudged the ambition and intent of the Communist leadership, and clearly revealed that leadership’s intense hostility to the West; it also proved that Communism erred badly in assessing the response its aggression would call forth.

The men who sent their divisions crashing across the 38th parallel on 25 June 1950 hardly dreamed that the world would rally against them, or that the United States — which had repeatedly professed its reluctance to do so—would commit ground forces onto the mainland of Asia.

From the fighting, however inconclusive the end, each side could take home valuable lessons. The Communists would understand that the free world—in particular the United States—had the will to react quickly and practically and without panic in a new situation. The American public, and that of Europe, learned that the postwar world was not the pleasant place they hoped it would be, that it could not be neatly policed by bombers and carrier aircraft and nuclear warheads, and that the Communist menace could be disregarded only at extreme peril.

The war, on either side, brought no one satisfaction. It did, hopefully, teach a general lesson of caution.

The great test placed upon the United States was not whether it had the power to devastate the Soviet Union—this it had—but whether the American leadership had the will to continue to fight for an orderly world rather than to succumb to hysteric violence. Twice in the century uncontrolled violence had swept the world, and after untold bloodshed and destruction nothing was accomplished. Americans had come to hate war, but in 1950 were no nearer to abolishing it than they had been a century before.

U.S. Marines move out over rugged mountain terrain while closing with North Korean forces.

But two great bloodlettings, and the advent of the Atomic Age with its capability of fantastic destruction, taught Americans that their traditional attitudes toward war—to regard war as an unholy thing, but once involved, however reluctantly, to strike those who unleashed it with holy wrath—must be altered. In the Korean War, Americans adopted a course not new to the world, but new to them. They accepted limitations on warfare, and accepted controlled violence as the means to an end. Their policy—for the first time in the century—succeeded. The Korean War was not followed by the tragic disillusionment of World War I, or the unbelieving bitterness of 1946 toward the fact that nothing had been settled. But because Americans for the first time lived in a world in which they could not truly win, whatever the effort, and from which they could not withdraw, without disaster, for millions the result was trauma.

During the Korean War, the United States found that it could not enforce international morality and that its people had to live and continue to fight in a basically amoral world. They could oppose that which they regarded as evil, but they could not destroy it without risking their own destruction.

Because the American people have traditionally taken a warlike, but not military, attitude to battle, and because they have always coupled a certain belligerence—no American likes being pushed around—with a complete unwillingness to prepare for combat, the Korean War was difficult, perhaps the most difficult in their history.

In Korea, Americans had to fight, not a popular, righteous war, but to send men to die on a bloody checkerboard, with hard heads and without exalted motivations, in the hope of preserving the kind of world order Americans desired.

Tragically, they were not ready, either in body or in spirit.

They had not really realized the kind of world they lived in, or the tests of wills they might face, or the disciplines that would be required to win them.

Yet when America committed its ground troops into Korea, the American people committed their entire prestige, and put the failure or success of their foreign policy on the line.

This article originally appeared on Explore The Archive. Follow @explore_archive on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

A retired airman met her sister for the first time at the Warrior Games

She’s competing in track and field and indoor rowing, but medically retired Air Force Senior Airman Karah Behrend couldn’t concentrate on training for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

For the first time, Behrend was going to meet her 19-year-old biological sister, Crystal Boyd, who lives in Puyallup, Washington.

After training, Behrend anxiously waited until she was whisked off to the hotel for the meeting, which she said was surreal.

“I have been picturing this moment for a long time and for it to finally happen, I couldn’t be happier,” Behrend said. “We keep in touch through social media but we’re trying to make plans for me to meet our dad and have them meet my family.”


“I’ve been extremely excited but I knew it would happen sometime. I just didn’t know when,” Boyd said. “Throughout the time I’ve known her, she’s gone through so much and watching her overcome everything right in front of my eyes, in person here at the DoD Warrior Games, is an honor. She’s always had the strength and now she’s going out and doing what we all knew she could do. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Medically retired Air Force Senior Airman Karah Behrend prepares to throw discus during the 2018 DoD Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2018. The sisters met for the first time in person at the games.
(DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

Boyd said she also can’t wait to meet Behrend’s family. “We’ve already talked about me visiting her and her family in Texas,” she said. “I’m excited to meet my nieces.”

Call to Service

Claiming Gilford, Connecticut, and Bradenton, Florida, as her hometowns, Behrend, 24, said she grew up moving around as a kid. She was adopted when she was four years old by an Army Ranger.


“My brother and I were adopted because when my biological dad got back from Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he wasn’t really the same person. So my mom spilt with him pretty rapidly to get us out of the situation,” she said. “As my mom told me about him, I was like, ‘I need to meet him. This is half of me. I don’t know who he is.’ We somehow got in contact with him. I think through his sister randomly. I talked to him for two hours that night and found out I had a sister.”

“Our dad told me about her and our brother while growing up, so I always knew about her. I just didn’t know her. She actually got in contact with me. I never knew how to find her so I just waited,” Boyd said.

Behrend said she’s tried to meet up with her sister a few times throughout the years, but it’s been difficult since she has been in the Air Force for the past six years.

Shared Service

Behrend said she joined the Air Force as a communications signals analyst because of her family’s military legacy. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “My grandfather served during the Vietnam era. My biological father was in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My adopted dad was a Ranger down in Panama for the Panama crisis. It’s just something our family does.”

When Behrend reconnected with her biological dad, she said they had that military bond. “It was an immediate, talk about everything bond,” she said. “I can call him and say, ‘This is going on; what do I do?’ He tries; we’ve been working on rebuilding that relationship. He said he will always be thankful that someone was able to come in and step into our lives to make sure we’re OK.”

In 2015, Behrend had a surgical complication that resulted in reflex sympathetic dystrophy. She said the neurological disorder impacts her involuntary functions such as temperature control, blood pressure, heart rate, pain, inflammation, swelling and other functions that a person doesn’t actively control. When she runs, she said she feels like her leg will go out from under her.

Medically retired Air Force Senior Airman Karah Behrend, right, and her sister Crystal Boyd pose for a photo at the 2018 Defense Department Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2018.
(DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

“It causes a lot of pain, instability and weakness in my right leg,” she said. “I also had a spinal injury from a car accident so it messes with my left one too.”

Her sister has epilepsy. Behrend said her disability is rare but since both of their disabilities are neurological, it’s an extra bond they can share and talk about.

Behrend has two little children as well as her sister to keep her motivated. “I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that if something happens, you just stop your entire life,” she said. “It’s not what life it about. Life it experiences. I don’t even see them as positive or negative anymore. Just experience it. It pushes me in one way or another but I grow.”

She encourages others to push themselves as well. “It doesn’t matter how early or late something happens or what he magnitude is. As long as you do it with all of your heart and you put everything you have into it, no matter what, it’s going to work,” she said passionately.

“Just because you have some kind of disability doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it,” Boyd said. “You can’t allow it to stop you from doing the things you want to do and the things you want to do. Even with obstacles, you can overcome whatever you truly put your mind to. Neither Karah nor I let our disorders define us. It’s a part of us, but it is not us.”

DoD Warrior Games

So far at these Warrior Games, Behrend has earned gold medals in her disability category in the women’s discus and shot put competitions. She broke a record in shot put in her category.

Boyd said she’s inspired not only by her sister but by the athletes at her first games.

“Watching everyone here inspires me,” she said. “These athletes decided to serve our nation, and even after they’ve been injured in some way they still continue to serve by inspiring everyone around them.”

Boyd added, “Even though you have a disability, it doesn’t define you. With a good support system, anything is possible. As long as you put your mind to it, give some effort and trust those around you, things will start moving. Don’t forget things take time. Don’t stress if things don’t happen as fast as you want them to.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier is finding his dream job through the US Army

Sit across the table from Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili for just a few seconds and you’ll see a basic outline emerge fairly quickly. His manners and easy smile, the way he leans forward when he talks, and — not least of all, of course — his affection for Starbucks Doubleshot energy drinks make him the typical — almost archetypal — 30-year-old soldier; busy, eager, and always ready for the next task, the next challenge. But dig a little deeper and you will see, quite clearly, the details that color the world inside that simple sketch. To map the entire terrain, however, you’ll need to travel some 15,000 miles.

“I always wanted to be a soldier,” says Dzamashvili, sitting in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade on a warm September morning. “When I was a kid that was always something I thought would be cool, being a soldier for the American Army.”


Those words, and indeed his affinity for the Army and America as a whole, are repeated so often and with such calm conviction that he could almost double as a motivational speaker; one specializing, perhaps, in writing simple daily mantras for busy professionals to read on their daily commutes. Instead, Dzamashvili is a board-certified medical doctor who enlisted in the Army just last year, in early 2018. It’s a commitment, he says, that doubles as a gift to the country that gave him opportunities he never would have had in his native Georgia — a tiny, still-emerging country located at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili speaks with a coworker at his desk located in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade.

(Photo by Mr. Ramin A. Khalili)

“Honestly,” says Dzamashvili, “the reason I wanted to become an American soldier is because America has given my family everything.”

The first 5,000 miles

“When I was born in Georgia,” says Dzamashvili, reaching back to the late 1980s, “it was still part of the U.S.S.R. This was just before the U.S.S.R. split up, and so there was instability and there was upheaval … there was an ongoing fight for power.”

It was that atmosphere of decline that Dzamashvili’s father, Konstantin, sought to flee when he reached out to a friend living in Chicago for help in the early 1990s. Political and cultural strife in the country of — at the time — barely more than four million people had led to the breakdown of living conditions and, in some cases, the basic application of law. And so Konstantin, a neurologist by trade, was hoping America could provide safety for his wife, son, and young twin daughters.

“My father was waiting in breadlines for hours just to feed the family,” says Dzamashvili. “So when he came here, it was for a better life.”

But that opportunity came with a catch. In order to pay for his family’s move to America, Konstantin had to travel to the U.S. alone first in order to save up enough money. He wound up bunking with that same buddy in Chicago for a year —eventually re-starting his medical career at 40-years old — before bringing the rest of the family to Illinois.

Says Dzamashvili of his father, “He was out there for a year, alone, while we were still in Georgia, until he had passed all his boards and started his residency program, which would then fund us coming over here.”

And so at age five, Sergo was finally in the place he wanted to be all along … for a little while, at least.

Return to Georgia

For Sergo, it all started with his grandfather — his father’s father. He was the catalyst, the inception point. He passed away when Konstantin was in his late teens and so Sergo never got a chance to meet him, but he did have pictures — volumes of mementos from Georgia.

“I would always hear stories about his bravery,” says Sergo, “about what kind of man he was. From early on, I was always intrigued — the way he was standing there in his [military] uniform with all these medals.”

Those pictures, coupled with Sergo’s newfound affinity for the United States, stuck with him during his formative years and carried through to his entrance into medical school — which he ultimately chose to attend at David Tvildiani Medical University back in Georgia.

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili (foreground, right) conducts Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) drills during the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

The decision to both leave home (to leave again, in a manner of speaking) and reconnect with family roots was daunting to say the least, as Georgia had been rife with the same political instability from Dzamashvili’s youth up until pro-democratic forces rose to power in the mid-2000s. The tiny, burgeoning country was still — much like Sergo at the time — moving through its adolescent years.

There was contrasting comfort, however, in the medical training itself. Turns out Dzamashvili’s chosen university not only came highly recommended from family friends practicing medicine in Chicago, it was designed specifically to cater to regional students who wanted to ultimately enter U.S.-based medical professions. To that end, all university textbooks were written in English and, further, the overall cost of schooling was substantially less than a U.S.-based medical education — all perks unavailable to his father just a decade-or-so earlier. Ironically, Georgia would eventually, in 2014, become home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia, a subordinate command of the USAMRDC’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

“Going back to Georgia really brought me that perspective,” says Dzamashvili. “There was a long time where my family wouldn’t go back, even though we had a chance to go back in the 90s.”

Just twelve years after touching down in America’s Heartland — and just a few years after becoming an American citizen — Sergo was back on a plane at age 17 for a new and different journey.

Homecoming, part II

When you ask him how Georgians speak — ask about the language they use, the way they talk, the casual slang terms they use, even — Dzamashvili is quick to make it clear that Georgia is a singular and unique entity; a hard-fought identity that he clearly still respects.

“Georgians have their own language,” he says quickly, almost as a sly-but-gentle rebuke to those who think the country may still be hindered by its turbulent past in any way. “They have their own alphabet, everything — and so I had to re-learn how to read and write, essentially, when I went back for school.”

Dzamashvili’s university stay would last for six years until his graduation in 2013; at which point he’d not only navigated the rigors of initial medical training, but had reached a poignant understanding of the country of his birth (“people there are very hospitable,” he says), gained a greater understanding of the government’s democratic efforts (“I see hope,” he says), and, with regards to cultural differences, had also determined that Georgia had substantial culinary shortcomings as compared to the U.S. (“I did miss burritos over there,” he says).

U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili assigned to HHC, 21st Signal Brigade, conducts M9 weapons qualification as part of the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

Touching back down in Illinois, Dzamashvili eventually passed his medical board examinations, shadowed professional doctors, and even performed clinical research at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. But when it came time for residency training, instead of waiting a year to attend either Loyola University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago, he opted for a different path: the U.S. Army.

“Screw waiting,” says Dzamashvili of his mindset at the time. “I’m going to join the Army. I was always told the fastest way to get into the Army was to just go and enlist anyways, so that didn’t bother me to go enlist for a couple of years as long as I got into the medical field.”

Desire, meet destiny

Now, after thirty years and medical training efforts on two different continents, Sergo Dzamashvili is both a medical doctor and a member of the U.S. Army; his first assignment is here at Fort Detrick. His unique qualifications have bred an understandable eagerness to move forward — a chomping at the bit, of sorts — as, indeed, he’s already started the process of entering the Army’s medical occupation; taking the steps required to become a physician. But if you think the man who’s waited nearly three decades to realize his dream is put off by a little time in the waiting room, then you don’t know Sergo.

“My ultimate goal is to practice medicine in the Army,” says Dzamashvili. “That’s what I want, to give back. I’d like to serve for at least eight years, to give back that entire time in service.”

Just how long it will take to reach that goal is yet to be seen, though it should come as no surprise that Dzamashvili has already attempted to plot the arc of his military medical career even before his training has been completed. Even now, serving as a Human Resources Specialist in the S-1 Office until his next assignment, he finds in each day’s shift what so many others would gladly welcome into their own lives: a sense of purpose, the feeling of belonging, and the satisfaction of a job that truly has meaning.

In the end — if these kinds of stories can have an end — the service career of Sergo Dzamashvili is, in reality, just beginning. It would be an exaggeration, perhaps, to say that Dzamashvili has already lived multiple lives; though it wouldn’t be such a stretch to say that’s the truth, either. In any capacity, his life’s work as currently constructed already stands as an impressive feat; a soldier coupling the desire to serve America with the talent required to make a lasting impact.

Not too bad for a typical 30-year-old.

Says Dzamashvili, “If there’s nothing else I do in my life, I can always say I was a soldier. That’s the way I look at it. If there’s nothing else that I accomplish, I will always know that I served my country.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are some of the most amazing homemade tanks ever

When you think about tanks, images of the German Tiger, the American M1 Abrams, or the Russian T-72 come to mind.


But tanks can be homemade, Mad Max affairs as well. And while they may not be packing the firepower of an Abrams, they can still be very hard to stop, and make for nightmare for opposing forces without any armor.

Why would someone want a homemade tank? Well, the reasons can vary. In 2008, a Kettering University student wanted a decisive advantage during paintball tournaments. So, he and some friends built a half-scale Tiger tank with an air cannon and 360-degree turret. Yeah… if you see this, you know you’re coming out second-best in the paintball competition, the only question is if you will be clean or dirty when you collect your participation trophy.

This homemade tank was built to dominate the paintball arena! (Youtube screenshot)

Other times, the home-made tanks are made for movies. In one case, movie directors made a full-scale replica of a Tiger tank. The movie was called “White Tiger,” and it featured a Tiger tank as the villain. It is of interest to note the video below features a number of Tiger tanks in it, whether they are 40 percent scale models or full-size.

The Tiger tanks came in two main varieties. Each had an 88mm main gun and two 7.92mm machine guns.

Other home-built tanks were done as shells for wheelchairs or even a full-sized car. The fact is, these home-build tanks bear a resemblance to the earliest tanks built – in essence, armored tractors. One was an original design, and another was based on a go-kart.

In any of these cases, we imagine the local police have had some interesting thoughts on the matter.

This has to be the toughest go-kart ever! (Youtube screenshot)

Lists

The 5 dumbest military references in pro wrestling

Professional wrestling is a crazy world of gimmicks, pageantry, and explosions, and only that last one fits in with most people’s view of the military. However, wrestling caters to a very patriotic crowd and this, obviously, goes hand-in-hand with the armed services.


Characters supporting America abound. Even if they have the same entrance music.

WWE has honored the United States Military on many occasions, giving back to the troops through multiple charity efforts. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for these five stupid storylines, which mocked the military far more than they paid tribute.

5. Corporal Kirchner

After future WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter left for the AWA in the mid 1980’s, WWE hoped to mimic his success by creating a new military character in Corporal Kirchner. The blatant Slaughter knockoff claimed to be a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division and a present member of what they called the “3V Division,” standing for vigilance, vengeance, and victory.

Kirchner showed up covered in lame camouflage and used the word patriot repeatedly (as if that made him one). The combination of an actual army division with something so patently cartoonish and made-up made a joke of the military instead of paying tribute.

4. Sgt. Craig Pittman and Cobra

WCW used to compete with WWE tooth-and-nail and they had their share of stupid military references as well. WCW’s first military gimmick was Sgt. Craig Pittman, an angry drill sergeant-type bad guy, who feuded with Cobra. Cobra was one of Pittman’s apparently rankless and nameless fellow soldiers, who Pittman abandoned in the Gulf War before joining the ranks of professional wrestling.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x6ixFuL5N4
(Monsoon Classic | YouTube)

The two wrestled a quick match at WCW Fall Brawl 1995 and both disappeared shortly thereafter. While the other items on this list may actually offend real servicemen, this one just leaves us scratching our heads and wondering what the point was. The idea of a sergeant abandoning his men at war is too serious of a crime to be tossed off and forgotten.

3. The Misfits in Action

While minor stars, like Sgt. Craig Pittman, appeared on WCW Saturday Night for years, the military appeared as a centerpiece in WCW storylines when Hugh Morrus turned into Hugh G. Rection and formed the “Misfits in Action” along with Booker T, Chavo Guerrero, and a few others.

Still not the worst chain of command I’ve ever encountered.

The actual military influence of the gimmick was relegated to the M.I.A. wearing fatigues and the wrestlers being renamed with silly, offensive stereotypes (Guerrero became “Lt. Loco,” Booker T was “G.I. Bro,” and do we need to repeat, “Hugh G. Rection?”). Like many things in WCW, this not only managed to offend the military crowd to whom it was supposed to appeal, but found shocking new ways to offend people completely unconnected to it in any way.

2. The Steiner-Nowinski Iraq War debate

The War in Iraq has always been highly controversial — especially closer to its inception. A very popular notion in the United States at the time was to support the troops, but not the war. Although a sensible and understandable position for many conflicted over a war with no clear end in sight, Vince McMahon and WWE felt otherwise, vehemently supporting the war effort at all costs.

Your Dean of Admissions.

Although their hearts were likely in the right place, this particular attempt at sharing their patriotism has got to be ranked as one of the lowest moments in the history of WWE Monday Night Raw. A debate was held over the merits of the war, between actual Harvard graduate Christopher Nowinski and actual walking-billboard for steroid abuse, Scott Steiner. In the most poorly thought out part of their plan, Steiner was arguing for the War and was expected to get cheered, despite the fact that his “arguments” seemed to imply he didn’t know which war they were talking about.

This is totally who I want teaching International Relations.

Flustered, Steiner resorted to screaming nonsensical Rambo quotes, threatened to beat up the Dixie Chicks, and then told everyone who disagrees with him to go to France. It made WWE and anyone who supported the war effort look like a misinformed blowhard, probably the exact opposite of their intention.

1. Sgt. Slaughter turns traitor on America

Sgt. Slaughter is a WWE Hall of Famer, and his stern, drill-sergeant character reached beyond the squared circle and into pop culture history by appearing on G.I. Joe. His patriotism and military service were always the focus of his character, leading to immense popularity in the 1980’s.

You might have heard of him.

Unfortunately, the peak of Slaughter’s fame was a short-lived turn as an Iraqi sympathizer in 1991. Teaming with former enemies, Colonel Mustafa (The Iron Sheik) and General Adnan, Slaughter turned his back on America and vocally supported the efforts of Saddam Hussein, winning the WWE World Championship shortly after doing so.

WHAT is this insane bullsh*t?

Everyone knows pro wrestling is just entertainment, but rumor has it this move actually lead to Bob Remus, the real man behind the character, receiving death threats. Of course, we don’t support that, but it isn’t super surprising — having a lifelong patriot become an actual traitor is a bit much, even for wrestling.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What the possibility of a new Army PT test actually is

The Army has had a love-hate relationship with its PT tests. It seems like every few months, soldiers catch wind of a new APFT that is definitely coming, so they should start getting ready. This has been circulating through the Private News Network for over a decade and has steadily been covered by military journalists since 2011.

While the actual events in proposed tests differ from year to year, each potential revision generally includes adding to the existing three staples (push-ups, sit-ups, and a 2-mile run) some events more consistent with the military lifestyle. They also usually change up the grading system to either being a single, unified scale for everyone in the Army or something so convoluted that no one can easily figure them out at 0530.


Also unanswered: “Is the VA cool with all of the back-problem claims they’re about to receive?”

(U.S. Army National Guard photos by Sgt. Brittany Johnson)

Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey has been very open about feedback and answering soldiers’ questions about the test, as seen in an article on Army Times. Nonetheless, the ever-looming question of, “will it actually happen this time?” remains unanswered.

But at least scoring a 300 gave soldiers their very much owed bragging rights.

(U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Seong Joon Kim)

The Army Physical Fitness Test was first introduced in 1858 at West Point and has been evolving ever since. In the 20s, it was standardized and the 40s gave us a seven-event system that was bonkers. There were minor changes made to the system until the APFT as we know it came into being in 1980.

The current test focuses on three fitness groups: upper body, core, and endurance. You are then scored according to the average performance of others of your age and gender, giving you a rough idea of how physically fit you are. The test is combined with a “tape test” to measure body fat, but this portion is often skipped if the soldier is obviously not overweight.

The main criticism of the test that’s been in place for 38 years is that it doesn’t accurately identify if a soldier is fit for combat. A scrawny 18-year old could score a 300 and still won’t be able to carry anyone else in the unit should the worst happen.

According to Army Times, here’s what the new test will look like. Note that all events are now graded on a “go/no-go” scale. From the moment the first dead-lifts start, soldiers are only allowed brief rests before moving to the next event. The entire test would take 50 minutes.

  • Deadlift between 120 and 420 pounds, depending on the individual soldier. You must do three reps in five minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Standing power throw. You’ll be required to toss a 10-pound medicine ball overhead and backward. You’ll have three minutes to make one practice throw and two for a grade. The longest distance is recorded.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Hand-release push-ups. You lower your chest to the floor and lift your hands off the ground between each rep. You’ll be required to do the most reps in three minutes.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Sprint-drag-carry. In four minutes, you will go 25 meters out and 25 meters back five times. Each repetition will include a different activity. Meaning you’ll sprint, drag a sled, run a lateral shuffle, or carry two 40-pound kettle bells, and then sprint again.
  • Two-minute rest.
  • Leg tuck. You will be required to hang from a pull-up bar and, with your body parallel, pull your knees to your elbows. Do as many reps as possible within two minutes.
  • Five-minute rest.
  • Two-mile run on a track or a paved, level road, with a 20-minute maximum.

In the very likely scenario that this will happen (because my faith in some soldier’s intelligence is laughable) please send those photos to US Army WTF Moments.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Army Sgt. Priscilla Desormeaux)

See any red flags in there? The overhaul brings about some serious concerns that have been largely avoided with the three-event test. The sit-ups are out entirely and the regular push-ups have been modified into “hand-release push-ups,” in which you must clap your hands mid-rep.

There’s an obvious risk involved in rushing a company full of soldiers through a mandatory test while instructing them to blindly throw a heavy-ass ball behind them. There’s a less obvious risk involved in requiring dead lifts. The fact is, if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, an improper dead lift is going to devastate your back. There’s also the risk of soldiers slipping up on the hand-released push-ups and eating pavement — which is nothing more than funny if it doesn’t involve a trip to the dentist.

While it’s only in the hearsay-phase, if the test were to be in ACUs, it’d make things even worse.

Then there’s the cost factor. Only two of the seven events don’t require some sort of special equipment to perform. In order to keep up with the “two-minute rest” condition in the test, units are going to need to dish out a metric a*s-load of cash to buy enough equipment to test everyone. Add to that the money needed to store all that equipment when it’s not in use and the costs of keeping all the equipment in working order — the bill is starting to add up.

This is all without addressing the most polarizing aspect of the new test: it uses a single grading system for all soldiers. There’s a reason for the current grading system — it’s based off of averages for each gender and age group. Realistically speaking, a 41-year old female who’s been in the military her entire adult life would obviously not do as many push-ups as a fresh, 18-year-old football jock.

The current test compares her to women in her age group. It accurately tells the command that, yes, her 300 score means she’s kicking all of her like peers. Pitting her in a dead-lift competition against Mr. Teenage Quarterback just doesn’t make any sense.

There are many, many roadblocks ahead for an updated PT test. Since the onset, critics have been vocal and yet many problems remain unaddressed, so don’t hold your breath on this one happening by 2020 as projected. Army brass is keen on this test so, if it does happen, expect a lot of backlash, back problems, high costs, and countless classes on proper dead-lift form.