Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob 'The Eagle" Gallagher - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

In March of 1968, SEAL Team TWO Detachment Alpha had been operating in the area of My Tho, in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, since the previous year. The commander of 7th platoon, Pete Peterson, along with assistant platoon commander Ron Yeaw, led SEAL operations out of My Tho, targeting Viet Cong forces in the area. The platoon’s senior enlisted man was SEAL Senior Chief Robert T. Gallagher, who Peterson described recently — on the occasion of Gallagher’s passing away this month at the age of 83 — as SEAL Team TWO’s gold standard as far as how to be a warrior in those early days of the SEAL teams.

According to the citation that accompanied Gallagher’s award of the Navy Cross — the nation’s second-highest award for valor — on March 13th of that year, Gallagher distinguished himself while acting as the Assistant Patrol Leader for a night combat patrol of 7th platoon SEALs. The patrol infiltrated at least two miles into a Viet Cong battalion-sized base camp area and located a barracks building housing approximately 30 armed Viet Cong insurgents. Gallagher and two other SEALs, while attempting to infiltrate the barracks, were discovered by a sentry, and the whole patrol became engaged in a fierce running firefight with the superior force.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Mekong Delta, Vietnam – SEAL team members move in on their target, an enemy bunker complex on Tan Dinh Island, during Operation Bold Dragon III. March 26, 1968 (National Archives)

During the battle, both SEAL officers Peterson and Yeaw were wounded, as was the platoon’s Vietnamese combat guide and interpreter, Minh. Gallagher took command of the entire force, and though suffering a number of his own wounds, including in both legs, managed to lead the patrol a half-mile through enemy territory, with wounded SEALs in tow, to an open area that would facilitate helicopter support. Gallagher then repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire while coordinating helicopter attack and evacuation assets.

Wounded yet again, Gallagher continued to lead the patrol, and through his actions, facilitated their safe extraction, including all of the wounded members, each of whom survived the operation.

Platoon Commander Peterson is one of those who survived that operation, and who also wrote the citation for Gallagher’s Navy Cross, and who is still with us today. He recently recounted how Gallagher was approached about the award many years later, and the possibility of it being upgraded to a Medal of Honor.

According to Peterson, Gallagher responded by saying that “if I was not deserving of a Medal of Honor then, nothing is different now.”

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Navy SEAL Bob Gallagher, second from right, stands with members of SEAL Team TWO in My Tho, Vietnam. (SealTwo.org)

Peterson went on to recount how Gallagher, after he felt he had recovered sufficiently from his wounds received that night in the Mekong Delta, snuck out of the Naval hospital in Yokosuka, stole a navy chaplain’s uniform, and hopped a flight back to My Tho to rejoin the platoon. Gallagher would serve five total combat tours in Vietnam, according to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, and was also awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and five Purple Hearts for his actions there.

Gallagher was also a part of one of the SEAL Teams’ first Mobile Training Teams, in 1962; an early manifestation of what would later come to be known as the Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission. In that role, as a Chief Petty Officer, he helped train the Turkish navy’s very first frogmen, and according to multiple of Gallagher’s former teammates, the man remains revered within the Turkish SEAL community to this day. They call him the “Father of the Turkish UDT,” according to one former teammate.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Navy SEAL Bob Gallagher

Rick Woolard, a former ST-2 teammate of Gallagher, and later Commanding Officer of the team, described how Gallagher acquired his nickname, “The Eagle.” According to Woolard, Gallagher’s gaze was piercing, and behind his eyes was a fierce intensity. Gallagher himself told Woolard that it was because he had unusually sharp vision, both day and night, but Woolard was sure it was more than just that.

As the SEAL community continues to lose its last few remaining Vietnam-era heroes, it is worth paying special tribute to this icon of SEAL Team TWO, and the Teams writ large. Along with Rudy Boesch, few other men stand as one of the earliest legends of the then-new unit of SEAL Team Two “devils with green faces.” Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

Articles

This is how a vet can go from a battlefield to a pit crew

Veterans often wonder what to do when they leave the military. Sometimes finding the right job can be tough, but for some, perhaps motor sports may be an option, if not as a career, then as a way to help recover from the invisible wounds of war.


According to Racer.com and USA Today, a number of efforts to encourage veterans to get involved in various types of auto racing have emerged recently. One is MilitaryToMotorsports.com, a venture from Andretti Autosports. The Andrettis are one of the biggest names in the auto-racing world, and this team has won the Indianapolis 500 four times, captured four IndyCar championships, plus two X-Games Gold Medals.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Auto racing legend Mario Andretti observes flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a visit to the ship as part of the centennial celebration of the Indianapolis 500 auto race. The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater cooperation efforts.

According to the MilitarytoMotorsports.com site, veterans can apply to be anything from a motor transport driver (perfect for folks who drove a HEMTT in their service) to a machinist to hospitality staff to being on a pit crew. In other words, the job you did in the military could have a lot of applications in helping an IndyCar driver win the next Indianapolis 500!

The chairman of Military to Motorsports is Navy veteran David Tilton, whose lengthy career included a tour on the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2) and a tour with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He retired after a back injury in 2003, and first became involved with Andretti Autosports in 2015.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Staff Sgt. Doug Miller and Master Sgt. Scott Dolese, aircraft structural maintenance technicians, work a jack support box repair from the inside and outside of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, May 17 at the 167th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard phtoo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

“I am very excited to be part of the launch of the Military to Motorsports Program with Andretti Autosport,” said Tilton. “This program will give well-deserved military personnel the opportunity to utilize their skills and discipline, gained during their service, as part of one of the most successful teams in motorsports.”

NASCAR is not being left out, as a number of NASCAR drivers and teams have become involved with Hope for the Warriors, a Veterans Service Organization founded in 2006. According to USA Today, the drivers and team invite veterans like ex-Marine Ryan Harshman, a combat-wounded vet, to races.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
A US Army MH-6 Little Bird at a NASCAR race. (DOD photo)

“NASCAR events can be very organically therapeutic. If you can challenge somebody’s hesitations by putting them in an environment like that where they’re very excited to be there, it helps. They are distracted from the chaos, but the chaos is actually helping to ease the PTSD and the noise issues and so forth,” Hope for the Warriors President Robin Kelleher told USA Today Sports.

Today, Harshman is working at an outdoor store, and remains involved with the charity.

MIGHTY SPORTS

How one of the NFL’s greats honors fellow Cardinal Pat Tillman

It was a big weekend for the Arizona Cardinals. The team has been struggling this season and they were looking to roll into Green Bay and hand the vaunted Packers their first loss at home. It was a special game for a number of reasons, but for Larry Fitzgerald, it allowed him to participate in the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign.

The star wideout is one of the greatest players in the NFL today, and his cleats bore the name and likeness of one of the NFL’s legends – Pat Tillman.


NFL uniform wear is incredibly strict, and the league is known to hand down steep fines to players who step onto the field out of regs. But during the “My Cause, My Cleats” weekend, 800 select players get to sport customized cleats that raise awareness and funds for their personal causes, from fighting colon cancer to ending sex trafficking. Larry Fitzgerald wanted to honor the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.

As an Arizona Cardinal, that meant honoring the legacy of Pat Tillman.

Fitzgerald’s cleats were custom-made by Miami, Florida-based Marcus Rivero of Soles by Sir. He incorporated an image of Pat Tillman himself, as well as the name of former Arizona Senator, John McCain, who died earlier in 2018. The designer also added the name of Fitzgerald’s grandfather, who served in the Korean War.

Beyond simply making and wearing the custom cleats, the Cardinals wide receiver gave a special experience to two U.S. Army veterans and Pat Tillman scholars, Joseph Wheaton and Jameson Lopez. Wheaton is a native of northern Maine who joined the military after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Lopez is member of the Quechan Tribe from Arizona’s Colorado River Valley.

The Cardinals wide receiver gave the two scholars a tour of the Cardinals facility, a chance to meet the trainers and staff, and presented them each with a Pat Tillman Cardinals jersey.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

Fitzgerald’s custom “My Cause, My Cleats” wear, honoring Pat Tillman, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and his own grandfather, a Korean War veteran.

The mission of the Tillman Foundation is to empower military veterans and military spouses to become the next generation of great American leaders. More than 580 Tillman Scholars around the country are tackling the widespread issues surrounding national security, healthcare, technology, civil rights, and education.

“I’ve always just had so much respect for everything the organization and foundation has done,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald and the Cardinals improved to 3-9 with a win over Green Bay at home as Fitzgerald caught three passes for 48 yards wearing his custom Pat Tillman-inspired cleats.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what the proposed ‘Atomic Veteran Medal’ could mean

Many of the side effects of war go unaddressed by those outside the military and veteran community. Recent veterans have been exposed to deadly chemicals released from burn pits. Vietnam War veterans fought for decades to get recognition of the impacts of exposure to Agent Orange. But finally, there can be some solace for veterans who have been exposed to nuclear radiation.

The first sort of federal acknowledgement of the unfathomable health concerns involved with being in close contact with nuclear waste, radioactive elements, and even nuclear blast testing came in 1990 with the establishment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). Now, with the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, radiation-exposed veterans will be honored with the colloquially named “Atomic Veterans Medal.”


Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

It means that the government is finally saying that being this close to a nuclear explosion is, apparently, “bad for your health”

(US Navy)

H.Amdt.648 to the H.R.5515 requires the Secretary of Defense to design and produce a military service medal to honor retired and former members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to radiation — or, as the amendment calls them, “atomic veterans.”

At first glance, this seems like a paltry concession for someone who has lived a lifetime of hardships stemming from irradiation. It is, in essence, a ribbon, a piece of metal, and a paper that says, “that sucks — we’re sorry that happened!” That sort of thing is of little importance in the minds of atomic vets.

But it means far more in the bigger picture.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

One fire screwed over 16 million vets well over 45 years later.

(Department of Defense)

Federal acknowledgement is paramount. The fact that, according to the House voting record, 408 congressmen agree that this amendment should be included and that the government should do more for atomic veterans is huge.

Care for atomic vets has been an issue swept under the rug for years. That care was made even more questionable after the National Archives Fire of 1973, which saw the destruction of military personnel files for over 16-18 million veterans in a single night. Because of that fire, many cancer-stricken veterans were denied healthcare as it was impossible to prove that they were, in fact, within the proximity of a nuclear blast.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

One hill at a time.

(United States Air Force photo)

The first radiation exposure act gave atomic veterans the ability to receive special, priority enrollment for healthcare services from the VA for radiation-related conditions. The amendment in 2013 allowed even more veterans to be covered by RECA by including veterans who were downwind of nuclear tests. The wording of the medal seems to allow for all veterans who’ve been affected by radiation in some manner.

This alone is a huge win as it now gives treatment for the veterans who’ve long been denied access to medical care. With legislation like this receiving overwhelming support, it’s only a matter of time before Agent Orange veterans and the Burn Pit veterans also get their acknowledgement.

Veterans

Army veteran looks back on service while paying it forward

In 2006, Afghanistan saw one of their most violent years of war. TIME Magazine’s photo of the year wasn’t a celebrity, it was United States troops after battle. Veteran soldier Matt Nauss was there. 

Nauss was adopted after his birth parents lost parental rights due to drugs and abuse. He grew up on a farm, one of five other children. The military was his way of moving forward in life and affording college. “My brother and I, we both joined the Army at the same time. He’s my twin,” he explained. “I was in AIT [Advanced Individual Training] when 9/11 happened.”

That changed everything. “I ended up in Iraq when I was 19 years old,” Nauss said with a laugh. He did get to see the world, though, like he hoped. After being a recruiter a few years, he was assigned to Special Operations Command in Tampa. “Once I was assigned to Special Ops, that was it. I was there for my whole career.” He had the opportunity to travel to 30 different countries.

Matt Nauss

In 2006, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Nauss had no idea what was waiting for him there or that it would follow him for the rest of his life. Jake Tapper wrote a book about the Outposts in Afghanistan and the hell the troops endured. Made into a major motion picture, The Outpost shows you one of the most horrific battles. But long before Outpost Keating and that film’s events viewers see reenacted, Nauss lived through the initial attacks that started it all. 

Two weeks into his Afghanistan deployment, it was on. “We had nothing, sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags. The bugs were destroying us,” he said. “After those initial weeks of quiet and nothing happening we got attacked by almost 360 degrees. 15 RPG’s within 30 seconds and that was just the initial attack. It was about five and a half hours of small arms fire. Two of my soldiers got injured and had to be airlifted out. After that day, we got attacked every single day. It never stopped.”

The TIME picture seen around the world happened after another battle the first month his boots were on the ground. One of the injured soldiers laying in the gator was their platoon’s only medic. Nauss can be seen holding the IV fluids up and caring for those who were injured. “You see that picture? That happened half a dozen times…some stories – they don’t make it to print,” he shared.

The United States Armed Forces suffered seven straight years of high casualties and deaths after that battle. In Afghanistan alone, we’ve lost 2,000 service members since 2006. The cost of war is high and those who survive without physical injury aren’t left unscathed. 

In December of 2013, Nauss decided to leave the Army. “They were going to send me out in the middle of nowhere with a team. I couldn’t do it anymore…I was suffering from PTSD, it took me three or four years to get that from the VA. Regardless of that, I was suffering from it the entire time,” Nauss said. 

When he got out of the Army as a Staff Sergeant, his transition wasn’t good. “I don’t think I made the right choices and I don’t think they prepare you,” Nauss said. He shared that he went on over 50 job interviews with no success, eventually losing a home and facing harsh challenges. There was a bright spot in all of this toughness, though. Jay Peak.

Jay Peak is a mountain located five miles from the Canadian border in Vermont known for challenging ski and snowboarding runs on one of the highest peaks while offering its visitors the magic of a small town. For a veteran like Nauss processing through his PTSD, it brings healing.  “It was a release for me. The peace and quiet with the ability to focus on the outdoors while snowboarding, it was great therapy for me. It detaches you from everything,” he explained. 

Through some networking, Nauss was eventually able to find employment. His efforts grew that company’s revenue to 14 million. A few years later, he was ready to start his own business. An IT in the Army, he knew his way around technology. 

“I started Modern Business Consulting which has transformed into Dolomites Consulting Group,” he said. The company offers business strategy, web design and so much more. Now located in the heart of Downtown Tampa, Florida, it boasts 3500 square feet of cowork or executive office space. He and his veteran business partner didn’t stop there, though. They have another office opening in Jacksonville and later on in 2021, Seattle. 

Matt Nauss

Nauss hopes to bring his opportunities and success to other veterans, offering internships to those transitioning. “I wanted to create DCG for these kids getting out who have skills and jobs that don’t necessarily transition to the civilian sector. They are going to be at a serious disadvantage. They need something to fall back on,” he explained. “DCG is by veterans, for veterans and ran by veterans…you’re in an environment where you can be comfortable, we are all prior military…I actively look for veterans to work with.”

His focus other than his business and close relationships is paying it forward. “I ask companies all the time what they are doing to give back…You are taking from the community, they see that. I am a strong believer in giving back,” Nauss shared. Part of his give back? Bringing the he peace found at Jay Peak to other veterans.

“Why not share this experience with everyone? I went from thinking about just buying a place to alright, let’s make this a project,” he said. Nauss is actively scouting property in the Jay Peak area to develop into a retreat and program for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Although he is forever impacted by his experiences at war, Nauss wouldn’t change anything and tries not to hold onto his past experiences. These days, he’s looking forward to the future and hoping to help other veterans on their path of doing it too. 

To learn more about Dolomites Consulting Group, click here.

Articles

How an aspiring sergeant major became a stand-up comedian


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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Mitch Burrow, a funny burly-guy who went from being a Marine to becoming a stand-up comedian.

When we join the military all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we have sort of an idea of what we want to do with our lives — but we change our minds dozens of times before landing a career that we hopefully love.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Mitch Burrow doing his monthly workout. (Source: Mitch Burrow)

Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.

So why did Mitch decide to jump on stage and be a comedian after getting out of the Marines?

“I love stand up comedy, so I was like you know what? If this is working at a party or a social group, let me try it on stage,” Mitch humorously recalls. “So I drove down to San Diego to the Comedy Store in La Jolla and had three shots of tequila, and I drank a couple of Budweisers then I got on stage. I’ve been told it went pretty good.”

Also Read: Dale Dye wants to make this epic World War II movie with veterans

To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: Mitchburrow.com.

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Humor

4 unusual tasks Corpsman do that their recruiters left out

When men and women around the globe enlist in the Navy with a contract to become Corpsmen, it’s a pretty good feeling.


Good recruiters can make chipping paint and shining brass sound bad ass (“think of the adventure!”), but let’s be honest: they have quotas to fill each month, people.

For the most part, they’ll tell you the truth about what will be asked of you while you serve, but there are some details that don’t make it into the recruiting pamphlets.

As a “Doc,” you’ll get to work alongside and assist Doctors, nurses, and IDCs (Independent Duty Corpsmen), gaining knowledge from them to support your career moving forward; but that’s not all you’ll have to do.

Check out these unusual tasks Corpsmen never saw coming.

Also read: 6 tips to get a ‘sick in quarters’ chit in the military

1. The silver bullet

Probably the most popular slang “medical” term in any branch. Typically, temperature is taken orally, but if someone falls out of a hike or PT because of heat exhaustion…standby for the bullet.

Feared by all

2. Having sick call in your barracks room

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
And the day after that and the day after that… (Image via giphy and Simpsons World).

When Corpsmen get stationed with the Marines (also known as the Greenside), you typically live with them in the barracks. This also means a lot of your medical gear is right there in the room with you.

If your Marines love you, which most of them do, they tend to show up at your barracks door at 0400 for an I.V. treatment to “rehydrate” them an hour before mandatory PT.

The B.A.S. or Battalion Aid Station isn’t open on nights, weekends, or early mornings — just normal office hours.

3. Bore punching

Working sick call as a boot Corpsman, you’ll get exposed to some interesting on-job-training. Bore punching is a euphemism for swabbing male genitals for an STD with a 6 inch Q-tip. Yup! Right down the pee hole.

If your Chief or Lieutenant are “too busy” and they say you need to do it for a patient — you need to do it.

Welcome to the Navy, baby!

4. Finger waving

No, this isn’t the newest break dancing move or a classy way to hit on someone at the bar — it’s the alternative name for a rectal exam. It is shocking what the Navy allows Corpsman to do after only 12-16 weeks of training.

Don’t forget the lube! Can you think of any more? Comment below. And don’t forget to include all the slang terms for Corpsmen.
MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Throttle Therapy’ is a thing — and it works

The topic of combat-related trauma is finally being addressed in mainstream medicine across the United States. After seventeen consecutive years in overseas conflicts, trauma is both a reality and a devastation for our troops. As the stigma previously attached to mental health challenges fades, we’re finally coming together collectively to help support the men and women who serve in our military.


Luckily, there are many forms of treatment. Throttle therapy happens to be one of them — and a high octane one at that.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Eli Tomac flies high at the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross.

“Throttle therapy” is the term for time spent on a motorized bike with the intent to enjoy feelings of euphoria that may exceed the capabilities of prescription or illegal drugs. According to the nonprofit Veteran Motocross Foundation, or VetMX, “Research has shown that physical experiences which are thrilling and physically demanding can re-center human brain chemistry.”

In other words, sports like Motocross can help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, especially for veterans.

“It’s not something radical we’ve come up with,” said Dustin Blankenship, an Air Force veteran with a paralyzed left thigh. “There’s proof that riding a motorcycle helps people. It’s almost like you’re in a trance state on a motorcycle. It’s like meditation.”

Blankenship discovered that his injury doesn’t hold him back when he rides.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
2nd Lt. Michael Reardon poses in front of a race track in Maize, Kan. Reardon has competed in motocross races for nearly three years and has been riding since he was 10 years old. (U.S. Air Force photo)

He’s not the only veteran to experience a transformation when he rides. Then-2nd Lt. Michael Reardon told the Air Force that motocross racing was the ultimate stress reliever and the perfect adrenaline rush — within reason: “[Motocross] is only dangerous if you let it be dangerous. The sport is much safer if you don’t exceed your own limits.”

Brothers Greg Oswald and Eli Tomac, a C-17 pilot and a Supercross champ respectively, know a thing or two about getting in a machine and letting everything else fade away. Check out the video below to hear about how they support each other on the ground, in the air, or on a racetrack:

MIGHTY HISTORY

World War I created millions of conscripted Veterans, improved benefits

World War I marked the fourth time Congress declared war, but just the first time America instituted a draft. The “Great War” also created a new series of benefits for Veterans–some that exist in different forms today.


Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

A story from The Cook County News-Heraldfrom Grand Marais, Minnesota, July 4, 1917, referring to World War I registration slackers.

VA

World War I and the draft

April 6 marks the start of the U.S. involvement in World War I, which 4.7 million Americans fought in.

President Woodrow Wilson asked for a declaration of war April 2, 1917. The Senate voted April 4 and the House of Representatives voted to adopt the war resolution April 6.

Despite the declaration, American men did’nt volunteer in large numbers. Because the U.S. needed to organize, train and equip a force to fight Germany, Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which started U.S. conscription.

Following the May 18 passage, the first draft registration day was June 5, 1917, for the 48 states and Washington, D.C. In July, the first draft registration for Puerto Rico, Alaska and Hawaii started. This period also started the round up of draft evaders, called “slackers.”

According to the Library of Congress, over 70% of American Army troops were conscripts.

Of the 4.7 million Americans who fought, 116,000 died in service and 204,000 were wounded.

New benefits

Veterans did see new benefits arise out of their World War I service. Congress amended the War Risk Insurance Act of 1914 in 1917 to offer government-subsidized life insurance for Veterans. Additional legislation provided Veterans a discharge allowance at the end of the war.

The War Risk amendments also established authority for Veterans to receive rehabilitation and vocational training. The benefits focused on Veterans with dismemberment, sight, hearing, and other permanent disabilities. Injured service members remained in service and trained for new jobs.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1918 provided vocational rehabilitation training for honorably discharged disabled World War I Veterans. The act also gave special monthly maintenance allowances for Veterans who couldn’t carry on a gainful occupation. In 1919, a new law fixed Veteran medical care. It gave the Public Health Service greater responsibility, transferred military hospitals to the Public Health Service and authorized new hospitals.

The war also produced another benefit for service members: information. For 17 months, The Stars and Stripes newspaper informed American service members about the war. Over 100 years later, the publication still provides independent news and information to active duty, Department of Defense civilians, Veterans, contractors and families.

Current day

For information on VA life insurance, visit https://www.va.gov/life-insurance/options-eligibility/.

To learn about VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, see https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/.

To read about the current Military Selective Service Act, last amended July 9, 2003, go to the Selective Service System website.

Listen to what the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is working on to report to Congress on the military selective service process.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA is running out of money for Veterans Choice health care program — again

Weeks after a veterans’ health initiative received $2.1 billion in emergency funding, the Trump administration says the private-sector Veterans Choice health care program may need additional money as early as December to avoid a disruption of care for hundreds of thousands of veterans.


The Department of Veterans Affairs said in a statement Sept. 26 that it hoped to move quickly on a proposed long-term legislative fix that would give veterans even wider access to private doctors. The proposal, under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would seek money to keep Choice running for much of next year as VA implements wider changes.

On Capitol Hill, the House Veterans Affairs Committee was already anticipating that the emergency funding approved in August may not last the full six months, according to spokespeople for both Republican and Democratic members on the panel. They cited the VA’s past problems in estimating Choice program cost. That committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said they were closely monitoring the situation.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Photo courtesy of VA.

“It’s disheartening,” said Carlos Fuentes, legislative director of Veterans of Foreign Wars, citing his group’s continuing conversations with VA about Choice funding. “Imagine if a veteran has to cease chemotherapy treatment during Christmas.”

Garry Augustine, executive director of Disabled American Veterans’ Washington headquarters, said recent discussions with VA also gave him little confidence.

Related: Now the VA will let you schedule an appointment with your smartphone

“It’s always a concern,” Augustine said. “Legislative action needs to be done sooner rather than later.”

In its statement to The Associated Press, VA said it could not say for certain when Choice funds would be depleted, but acknowledged that it could be as early as December or as late as March. Earlier this year, the VA began limiting referrals to outside doctors as money began to run low and veterans reported delays in care.

The VA proposal for a long-term fix is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
VA Secretary David Shulkin. Photo by Robert Turtil, Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We have a long agenda, a lot more to do,” VA Secretary David Shulkin told veterans last week at an event near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “This fall, our major legislative focus is getting the Choice program working right.”

The latest funding woes come amid political disagreement over the future direction of VA and its troubled Choice program, which was passed by Congress in 2014 in response to a wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center that spread nationwide. Some veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees manipulated records to hide delays. The controversy spurred Congress to establish Choice as a pilot program designed to relieve pressure at VA hospitals.

Choice currently allows veterans to receive outside care if they must wait 30 days or more for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. But the program has encountered long delays of its own.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Marines, veterans, and care providers watch as the American flag is walked to the flagpole at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ. Photo by Sgt. Justin Boling

In a sign of a political divide, the left-leaning VoteVets ran a $400,000 ad campaign earlier this month in 13 states that warned viewers, “Don’t let Trump privatize my VA.” The American Federation of Government Employees has been staging rallies to bring attention to VA job vacancies left unfilled.

The VA said it remains committed to filling agency positions even as it finalizes plans to revamp Choice. VA said it had about 34,000 vacancies, which officials attributed in part to a shortage of health professionals.

Also read: New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Legislative proposals to fix VA have run the gamut, including one backed by the conservative Concerned Veterans for America that would give veterans almost complete freedom to see an outside doctor. Another plan could create a presidential commission to review closing some VA medical centers.

“Congress can either double-down on the failed VA policies of the past or they can go in a different direction and empower veterans with more choice over their health care,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director of Concerned Veterans for America.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nolan Kahn

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to fix the VA by bringing accountability and expanding access to private doctors, criticizing the department as “the most corrupt.” At an Ohio event in July, Trump promised to triple the number of veterans “seeing the doctor of their choice.”

More than 30 percent of VA appointments are made in the private sector.

Carrie Farmer, senior policy researcher for the RAND Corp., said the Choice debate raises broader questions about the role of government-run health care in treating veterans. To many former troops, the VA health system is a “medical home” where patients feel more understood by doctors specially trained to treat battlefield injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Significantly expanding Choice could upend that government role as caretaker, she said.

“The big question is ultimately who will be responsible for our veterans’ care?” Farmer said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The mission to accelerate veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs

Want your veteran owned business to succeed—fast?


Check out Patriot Boot Camp with their next event in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 16-18, 2018.

The program welcomes 50 veteran and mil-spouse entrepreneurs from around the country—and offers an intense 3 day education, mentoring, and networking experience designed to help their businesses succeed.

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) was started by Taylor McLemore as a volunteer effort to help veterans and mil-spouses gain access to mentors, educational programming, and a robust community of experts and peers. It was built to help them innovate and build impactful technology businesses.

Also read: Officers and enlistees confess the best and worst about each other

Charlotte Creech, a veteran spouse, and the CEO of Patriot Boot Camp, discusses the impact of the program for entrepreneurs.

“I am continually impressed by the determination and mission-focus of the entrepreneurs that come through Patriot Boot Camp, as well as the magnitude of the problems they aim to solve.”

Creech adds that most veteran and military spouse founders don’t merely set out to build a business; rather, they work to make the world a better place and it’s inspiring to hear the stories of what motivates them to succeed and to follow their progress along the entrepreneurial journey.

“What makes the program so powerful, is when we combine these talented, mission-driven entrepreneurs with a community of peers and mentors that are dedicated to helping them achieve their business milestones and goals. By the end of the event, we all leave with new insights and new network contacts that will help us advance and overcome the challenges of startup life.”

The core, three-day program is modeled after the popular Techstars accelerator and continues to leverage the Techstars network to empower and advance military/veteran and spouse founders.

Since its first program in 2012, nine Patriot Boot Camp alumni have been accepted into the Techstars accelerator programs, with many others gaining acceptance to prominent accelerators including Y Combinator and Vet-Tech.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

Four of PBC’s alumni have appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank television show, and five have had successful exits via acquisition.

Creech adds: “It’s inspiring to see these alumni achieve great business outcomes, but what’s really powerful about the PBC program and network is that our high-performing alumni continue to come back to PBC as mentors and guest speakers to share their lessons learned and coach new entrepreneurs to success.”

The boot camp works as follows:

The Patriot Boot Camp staff facilitate the planning and execution of the program where they organize external guest speakers and mentors to provide the educational content and workshops.

Each PBC program is entirely unique because the speakers vary in each 3 day intensive. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend multiple programs to continue learning as the needs of their business change over time.

If you’re interested in learning more or applying for this year’s Patriot Boot Camp, visit http://patriotbootcamp.org.

Articles

Stolen valor: Marine steals another combat vet’s Purple Heart story

A former Southern California Marine has been handed a 21-month federal sentence for faking a Purple Heart and lifting from another Marine’s combat story to get disability benefits and a free house.


In a rare prosecution under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, a 35-year-old Iraq war veteran will also have to pay back more than $300,000 to the U.S. government and a Texas charity.

Brandon Blackstone served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in August, during a period of fierce fighting on the Syrian border.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher

So did Casey Owens, another 1/7 Marine.

But that’s where the similarities in the two Marines’ stories end — and where Blackstone’s fabrications began.

Prosecutors and fellow Marines say Blackstone fashioned a tale of blast injuries and combat stress based on a horrific explosion that nearly killed Owens and cost him both of his legs.

Owens was in a Humvee that triggered a double anti-mine bomb while responding to a downed U.S. serviceman in September 2004.

Blackstone was in the area and likely witnessed the event. But he wasn’t injured in that attack — or in any other combat incident — according to people who were there, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, and Blackstone’s own lawyer.

In fact, he was evacuated from Iraq after a month with appendicitis.

Also read: This is how the Pentagon had over 120,000 extra Purple Heart medals

But starting at least in 2006, Blackstone began spinning a story of suffering traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after his Humvee hit a mine in Iraq.

He even fabricated two witness statements to support his claim for U.S. Veterans Affairs Department disability benefits that he received from 2006 to 2015, prosecutors said.

Worse, in the eyes of his fellow Marines, he began showing the photograph of Owens’ mangled Humvee as part of his story about how he was wounded.

“This scumbag lied to try to get s–t. You don’t do that. It’s not honorable. It’s not how we are. It’s personal for me, especially, as a friend of Casey’s,” said Andrew Rothman, a 1/7 Navy corpsman who was a key player in exposing Blackstone’s fraud.

“This kid essentially stole from all of us. And the honor part is bigger to us than the money and the house.”

Blackstone was awarded a 100 percent disability rating and, by claiming to have a Purple Heart, his application for a mortgage-free house was granted by Texas-based Military Warriors Support Foundation.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, Owens tried to make the best of his life with a double leg amputation and brain injuries, among other medical complications. He moved to Aspen and competed as a Paralympics skier.

But Owens was still in pain. He did national TV interviews describing how he struggled to get the care he needed for his mental and physical wounds. His right leg required additional surgeries that took more of it away.

In October 2014, Owens used a gun to kill himself.

But things for Blackstone were going well. He became a mentor at a Missouri-based veterans charity, Focus Marines Foundation. He even started his own nonprofit group, called The Fight Continues, with two other post-Sept. 11 veterans.

But those brushes with others in the veterans community led to his downfall. His story, including video testimonials he was giving about his combat injuries, didn’t sit right with other 1/7 Marines who dedicated a Facebook thread to discussing it.

Related: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Eventually, Rothman tipped off the Warriors Support charity that was poised to grant Blackstone the deed to the donated house.

Blackstone pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud and one count of fraudulent representation about the receipt of a military decoration for financial gain.

At his sentencing last month, a federal judge in Texas called Blackstone “shameful,” but gave him credit for accepting blame for his actions. Sentencing guidelines limited his incarceration to 27 months or less, according to news reports. His was given credit for time served since February, so he will serve 18 more months.

Blackstone’s defense lawyer, Justin Sparks, said his client was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a head injury in Iraq — but not in combat.

The head wound happened when a superior roughed him up in the barracks and he hit his head on a dresser. There were other injuries while in uniform that weren’t related to combat but required surgery, Sparks said. While in the hospital, a higher-ranking Marine informally gave Blackstone a Purple Heart medal to acknowledge his pain — but it wasn’t an official award.

There’s no explaining why Blackstone lied about the Purple Heart or applied for the free home, knowing he wasn’t qualified, the former Marine’s lawyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“There’s not really a good answer for that. He was in a very, very tough time in his life and reached a pitfall there,” Sparks said this week.

Sparks said his client seemed to lose his grasp on reality as the story spun on.

There’s a symptom of PTSD where you are living your life in the third person. You’re always convincing yourself about what is reality,” he said. “It’s almost a coping mechanism.”

Sparks said his client is still rated at 70 percent disabled by the VA.

The lawyer disagreed that Blackstone was appropriating Casey Owens’ story.

“Brandon never claimed his lost his legs,” Sparks said. “The only common elements in the two stories are PTSD, the Purple Heart, and head injuries. There must be at least 1,000-plus soldiers who have those three things.”

Blackstone’s fellow troops don’t buy the PTSD explanation for his behavior. Several of them also were disappointed by his sentence.

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
A Marine salutes the memorial stand for his fallen brother. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“He was in the grip of his own lies,” said Eric Calley, a former Marine who used his own money to start The Fight Continues with Blackstone.

“That judge should be ashamed. I think (Blackstone) deserves a life sentence for what he did to our veterans.”

Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink, Owens’ sister, said her family was hoping for closure from a tougher sentence but didn’t get it.

Kleibrink said she has no doubts that Blackstone was trying to at least bask in the association with her brother’s reputation.

“He was a thief and Casey’s story was a means to get what he wanted,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week.

Further reading: Here are the criteria that entitle a service member to the Purple Heart

“What Brandon doesn’t understand is that it’s ripped open our wounds once again,” Kleibrink said. “Anyone who makes my mother cry like this … He may have joined the Corps, but he was no Marine.”

The Military Warriors Support Foundation said it was the charity’s first brush with stolen valor in awarding more than 750 homes to combat-wounded veterans.

“This was an unusual case, in that even official VA documentation was inaccurate,” said spokesman Casey Kinser. “That said, we are constantly reviewing our processes to vet our applicants more accurately and efficiently.”

The Fort Worth-area house that Blackstone nearly owned has been awarded to another Marine family.

Veterans

4 scary possibilities every veteran faces

Getting out of the military is a great day for most. You’ve been anticipating this day for years and it’s finally here — but now what?

Is it all peaches and cream once you’re on the other side? It might be, but there are some bleak possibilities that many veterans face on the other side of service. Now, we’re not here to frighten you, but these are things you should be aware of.


Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
This is absolutely the number one fear of many veterans, no matter how successful or far removed you are from this reality.
(Photo via Veteran Action Network)

 

1. Homelessness 

Sadly, homelessness is as real a possibility awaiting veterans as a life of prosperity. Homelessness in America is a serious issue — and the homeless population is about 11% veteran, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Of that total, 70% are on drugs, and 50% suffer from some type of psychological ailment.

There are programs in place to help, but you can only offer help to those who seek it, and there’s a general mistrust of these organizations in the veteran community.

Considering that the veteran population accounts for around 1% of the country, the amount of homeless veterans is extremely alarming. If you or anyone you know is homeless or on the verge of homelessness, there is help for you.

2. The mysterious misadventures of the VA

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
The VA can be a tricky beast. This guy came in for a simple check-up.
(Photo by Senior Airman Krystal Walker)

Going to the VA is a key part of post-service life. For many, it’s the only form of health insurance we have in the years immediately following service and is an absolute must if you experienced any adverse or lingering effects of service.

The VA is supposed to help, and for the most part, it does, but navigating the many avenues can be daunting. Hell, knowing where to start can be a task by itself. Setting up an appointment can take months and filing for your proper disability rating can take years… literally.

The best advice for dealing with the VA is patience and perseverance.

3. School daze

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
How it feels trying to fit in with classmates who were in grade school or younger when you joined service.
(The Montecito Picture Company)

 

One of the best things about honorably serving your country is that you get the opportunity to go to school afterward (mostly) on Uncle Sam’s dime. But going back to school isn’t as easy as showing up for class and doing your assignments. Depending on where you land, you might feel like you stand alone as the only adult in an ocean of children.

The fun part comes when you realize that you’re closer in age to your classmates’ parents than your classmates themselves.

4. Unsure wonderland

Navy SEAL community loses another legend: Bob ‘The Eagle” Gallagher
What do I see? Just a bunch of veterans trying to find their way.
(Walt Disney Pictures)

Leaving the military is different for everyone. Some have planned for their exit for years; others never considered a life outside of the military. It isn’t uncommon for veterans to take a few years to get themselves truly together and on track.

Be ready for a period of self-reflection. Figuring out what you actually want to do can take more time than anticipated, and that’s fine. Try not to feel like you need to be at a specific point just because you’re a certain age or you’ve been through certain things. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done, but as long as you keep moving and searching, you’ll find your way.

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