No shortcuts to the top - A life-long lesson in grit - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

In Greek mythology, there’s a long-told story about Sisyphus, a king who twice cheated death only to be handed a terrible eternal punishment. For all of time, he was forced to roll a boulder up a hill without ever cresting the top. Each day was the same. Push the boulder up, up, up, straining against its weight. Then, watch the boulder near the hill’s highest point before slowly rolling back to the bottom. Repeat again, and again, and again.

Shelly understands the lesson in this story perhaps more than she ever wanted to. 

The daughter of two young parents, Shelly grew up in Alabama during the 1970s and was athletic and adventurous from an early age.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

She loved superheroes and idolized them for their exceptional strength and abilities, not knowing that she would later rely on herself for these very same traits. Throughout her adolescence and teenage years, she craved to do great things with a sense of purpose, dreaming of making an impact on the big, wide world in front of her.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

“Joining the military seemed to be the best fit. [It was] a path to help me cultivate a deeper sense of direction, focus, and a sense of duty and honor while belonging to a greater cause,” Shelly said. 

After enlisting during the Gulf War, she served in the US Navy for eight years (two years active-duty and six years reserve). Shelly was stationed at a small base detachment in the dry, low desert of California, assigned to a specialized Naval Supply Group. She logged many hours in a supply warehouse, spending 12 hours a day, six days a week in the same enclosed environment. It was here that her narrative would shift and Shelly’s sense of purpose would take on new meaning. It was here where she started rolling her proverbial boulder. 

A big part of Shelly’s role involved cataloging aircraft parts and materials, including incoming hazardous materials coated with anti-corrosives and degreasing agents. 

Unbeknownst to her, the many hours she spent meticulously retrieving parts for shipping and receiving — ensuring that her fellow servicemen and women could perform at the highest level — were also slowly making her sick. 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

Over the next several months, Shelly repeatedly experienced excessive and atypical fatigue, nauseousness, dizziness, breathing issues, and a host of other unusual symptoms. Despite these numerous physical setbacks, and under conditions where weaker-minded people would have given up, Shelly continued to do what Shelly does. She showed up. She pushed forward. She continued rolling her boulder. 

Like the superheroes she revered in her childhood, Shelly showed exceptional strength and ability. She maintained a rigorous six days a week, 12-hour schedule throughout her tenure with the Navy, all while battling chronic fatigue and respiratory challenges in the very environment that changed the trajectory of her life forever.

Though she initially pursued traditional medical options, she knew it wasn’t the best long-term plan. Later, she turned to more holistic, lesser-known treatments that led to marginal improvements in her health, but they came at a cost. These treatments were expensive and never provided complete relief from her symptoms. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Immune Dysfunction, Reactive Airway Disease, and more. Yet, she continued rolling her boulder. 

Through these trials and tribulations, Shelly was focused on her dream of becoming the first member of her family to obtain a college degree. It didn’t matter that she was oftentimes bedridden for hours of the day, or that she would become winded and fatigued performing the simplest tasks, Shelly knew what she wanted and she was going to get it. 

She was accepted into her local university, attending two classes each semester that left her exhausted and physically spent. After 14 years, Shelly graduated with her college degree – the first in her family to do so. Think about that – 14 years of heading to class each day, fighting to take a full breath and battling through increasing fatigue, all because the dream was bigger than the struggle. Remarkable strength and tenacity became her modus operandi. She continued rolling her boulder.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

Now, with a military career behind her and a college degree in-hand, Shelly had earned the right to take a much-needed break. But that’s not Shelly. She has her sights set on a new goal, one that seems challenging for the most active of people, and one that seems nearly impossible for her. After all, tenacity and willpower can only take you so far when your body is physically keeping you down. Imagine, a once active lifestyle fraught with the demands of chronic and debilitating disease. Could you keep going? Would you? For Shelly to accomplish her lofty goals, there has to be a better way. Lucky for her, Chive Charities donors answered the call.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

With your help, Shelly received a $23,760 grant for a hyperbaric chamber and Nidek Oxygen Concentrator. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a powerful medical therapy that produces phenomenal results for a wide range of health conditions, including those that have so greatly impacted Shelly’s life. Through this unique and generous grant item, she will have a better quality of life. Because of you, she can truly breathe easier. 

Better yet, she hopes it will one day allow her to pursue her latest ambition: the famous El Tour de Tuscon, Arizona’s longest-running bicycle event, and one of the longest rides in the United States. Exceptional strength and ability. A superhero.

The consequences of COVID-19 are not lost on her, either.  Before the global pandemic hit, Shelly was able to seek treatment within her community, and her subsequent lack of access to those facilities has caused a noticeable decline in her overall health and wellbeing. This grant item will allow her to safely and effectively treat her illnesses from home, which is especially impactful given her susceptibility to COVID-19-related issues. 

“The hyperbaric at-home medical equipment is a far more sustainable solution to effectively manage my ongoing health challenges and greatly improve my overall quality of life more permanently,” Shelly said. 

“While my condition is expected to become exacerbated with age, the at-home hyperbaric treatment equipment is a long-term approach to help slowly quell this chronic disease.” 

Yet again, she continues rolling her boulder. 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

Ultimately, Shelly, like Sisyphus, has found meaning in the struggle and exudes grit and determination through every obstacle thrown at her. Despite the numerous challenges she has faced, Shelly consistently looks for small ways to keep moving forward, inching that boulder up the hill one day at a time. Our donors are a lot like that, too. One dollar here, 20 dollars there, it all makes a difference in moving us forward inch-by-inch.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

What can you do to help us move the boulder? As always, you can DONATE HERE to support future recipients like Shelly. And now, if you’re active duty or a federal employee, you can donate to Chive Charities through payroll with the Combined Federal Campaign

Chive Charities is committed to supporting the veteran community. Like We Are the Mighty, serving those who serve is core to who they are. If you or someone you know could benefit from one of Chive Charities’ life-changing grants, CLICK HERE to learn more + apply.

Articles

This Green Beret is starring in the first-ever story mode for ‘Madden 18’

For the first time ever, EA Sports’ “Madden” franchise will feature a story mode in “Madden NFL 18.” Called “Longshot,” the story is about overcoming all odds, not just winning football games or scoring the big contract.


“Longshot” is the story of Devin Wade, a quarterback who played at the University of Texas but joined the Army in the middle of his college career. While in, one of Wade’s commanding officers encourages him not to give up on his dream of starting in the NFL.

The captain in “Longshot” is played by a real Green Beret, whose story is very similar to that of Devin Wade. Army veteran Nate Boyer was a Special Forces soldier who played at Texas after leaving the Army.
“It was  a big coincidence that the storylines were so similar, especially with him going to University of Texas,” Boyer told We Are The Mighty. “Some things are switched around. Devin Wade went to college first and then joined the army and now is going back to try and play football in the NFL. But still, it was kind of weird.”

Boyer is joined in the cast by “Moonlight” and “Luke Cage” actor Mahershala Ali, who plays Devin’s dad, Cutter, as well as real pro players J.R. Lemon and Dan Marino.

Even the title “Longshot” resonates in Nate Boyer’s life. ESPN featured Boyer and his story in a piece called “The Longshot.”

ESPN’s feature documented then-34-year-old Boyer trying to get on the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper after leaving the University of Texas.

“When I came out of the army I was 29 and I never played football in my entire life,” Boyer recalls. “I just wanted to try and make the University of Texas roster. That was like my first goal: Just make the team.”

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
Boyer as a Green Beret in Iraq and later as a long snapper with the Seattle Seahawks.

Then Boyer wanted to get on the field. He did. Then he wanted to start. For three years, Boyer was the starting long snapper for the Longhorns. He even made Academic All Big-12 during his tenure.

Now Boyer will play Capt. McCarthy, U.S. Army. He’s part-mentor to Devin, part-life coach. Like Boyer, McCarthy pushes his troops to live without regrets – that they could do anything if they want it badly enough.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

“Captain McCarthy was kind of like the voice in my own head,” says Boyer. “The good voice. The angel, not the devil on the other shoulder, sort of pushing myself and encouraging myself and wanting me to believe in myself.”

The story mode in “Madden 18” is a simplified version of the game, according to Kotaku. The plays are called by the computer and there are no time outs. You can only control Devin and whichever receiver gets the ball. But you do get to play a pick-up game in a deployed location.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
(EA Sports)

To any aspiring “Devin Wades” out there who might be wearing the uniform of the United States right now, but who hope to wear an NFL uniform (or any uniform) in the future, Boyer recommends fearlessness and hard work.

“No matter what it is you’re interested in, if it’s something positive and it challenges you, just go for it,” he says. “Even if you’re a little afraid to pursue it, just put everything you have into it. Take the things you overcome and accomplish, the sacrifices you make, and apply that moving forward. The military is a stepping stone, not the pinnacle of your life. Find that next challenge.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

How troops and vets can get free Tampa Bay Rays tickets

Tampa Bay, Florida is an important part of our country’s great defense strategy. It’s not always a highly visible part, but it’s an effective part.


No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
You might have heard of it at some point.

But whether you’re stationed in Tampa Bay, got out of the military in Tampa Bay, or just happen to be passing through Tampa Bay, the local baseball team wants you to stop by. So much so that the Tampa Bay Rays are giving away free tickets to active duty troops, retirees, and honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
Yes Coasties, this means you, too. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A lot of organizations have a salute to service program, but the Tampa Bay Rays are offering something special. You can pick up two complimentary tickets to any of seven Monday home games, with three possible additional bonus dates and special ticket offers throughout the season.

In case Tampa Bay isn’t your home team to root for, the possible games are with teams from around the country, from Cleveland to Los Angeles and Baltimore to Texas. Just go to the Rays Salute to Service game listings and pick them one week before the scheduled game date.

If you’re the forgetful type, you can have the site notify you when the tickets become available. So if you’re stationed in the area and want to come root for home team or are planning a trip through the area and want to have truly unique Tampa Bay experience with a friend or loved one, the Tampa Bay Rays will love to host you.

The Rays are one of Major League Baseball’s most fun teams – after all, this is the team that set their batting order to 8-6-7-5-3-0-9, for funsies one time. They didn’t win the game that night, but a lot of people learned how numbers are assigned to baseball’s defensive positions, and Tommy Tutone got stuck in every one’s head one more time.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
Now it’s in my head. And yours too. Admit it.

This isn’t the first time the Rays offered free tickets to the military-veteran community. The team has been offering them for years, and also offers free tickets for first responders and teachers (but they get honored on different days, of course).

So grab a few seats, a cold one, and some peanuts and make a trip to the old ball game. Go Rays!

MIGHTY TRENDING

12 great jobs for veterans, with or without a degree

Returning to civilian life after years of service is bittersweet. Having more time with family is a blessing, but after getting used to an intense job that comes with lots of rules and regulations, it’s unnerving for some to suddenly have the freedom to do, well, anything! Starting a new career can be intimidating, especially for those who joined the military straight out of high school.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of employers who go out of their way to hire veterans and current service members! These are just a few of the awesome jobs that put your military expertise to good use.

1. Customer Service Representative

Median Annual Salary: ,300*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Customer service reps chat with customers and potential new ones to explain available products and services. They also often help troubleshoot products and solve problems, all while calming down frustrated customers. Military-grade problem solving is a big help for this one!

What You’ll Need: High school diploma plus training on the job and basic computer skills. Communication skills are a must, too! Entry-level positions don’t pay much, but many veterans climb the ladder quickly into more lucrative leading roles.

2. CDL Driver/Operator

Median Annual Salary: ,340*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 6% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Always a popular choice for veterans, truck driving is a no-brainer if you need a job fast. Companies are almost always hiring, and it’s an ideal job for someone strong who’s used to working long hours.

What You’ll Need: High school diploma or GED and a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. For a boost in pay, consider getting a Class A CDL to allow you to drive big rigs.

3. Sales Account Representative

Median Annual Salary:

Technical/Scientific Products: ,980

Wholesale and Manufacturing: ,140

Services/Others: ,490*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-14% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Sales reps convince new customers to purchase products or sign up for services. Sometimes this is on the consumer level, but it can also be between businesses and to large organizations. Highly motivated, performance-driven individuals will thrive in this field.

What You’ll Need: High school diploma or GED, sales experience a plus. Some employers train new sales associates, but the most successful reps are naturally persuasive and charismatic.

4. Automotive Technician/Mechanic

Median Annual Salary: ,470*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 6% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Technicians and mechanics examine the inner workings of automobiles and make any necessary repairs. You don’t have to be an engineer, but you do need to be good at problem-solving and decoding repair manuals.

What You’ll Need: Formal training and industry certification is usually required. In some cases, relevant military training is enough.

5. Security Systems Technician

Median Annual Salary: ,330*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 10-14% growth through 2026.

What They Do: If repairing, programing, and installing important security and fire alarm equipment sounds like your cup of tea, becoming a security systems tech is a great choice. They keep these systems running smoothly and make sure they comply with codes to keep everyone in the building safe.

What You’ll Need: Relevant military training or on-the-job experience may already have you covered. If not, vocational school will get the job done.

6. Construction Technician

Median Annual Salary: ,480

The Forecast: The BLS projects 18% growth through 2026.

What They Do: In between a construction manager and civil engineer, construction techs wear many hats. Job responsibilities may include managing projects, scheduling inspections, and estimating build expenses.

What You’ll Need: Construction technicians can often learn on the job and work their way up, but you can also get an associate’s degree in construction technology.

7. First-line Supervisor: Mechanics, Installers & Repairers

Median Annual Salary: ,540*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: It’s a long title, but this type of first-line supervisor is really just an expert mechanic in charge of other mechanics.

What You’ll Need: A high school diploma or GED, plus relevant experience. In many cases, military training will already make you a strong candidate.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

1. Operations Manager

Median Annual Salary: ,310*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: The specifics vary widely by industry, but operations managers are in charge of keeping large-scale business operations running smoothly. Their goal is to coordinate between multiple departments to maximize efficiency.

What You’ll Need: A bachelor’s degree and experience in management is usually required, but military leadership roles will give you a big leg up.

2. Computer Information Systems Manager

Median Annual Salary: 5,800

The Forecast: The BLS projects 10-14% job growth through 2026

What They Do: For the computer geeks out there, computer information systems management is an excellent option. These managers are responsible for assessing the digital activity of an entire company and deciding what technological improvements could help them meet their goals.

What You’ll Need: A bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in computer or information science. It’s also critical to be up to date on all the latest technology.

3. First-line Supervisor: Office & Administrative Workers

Median Annual Salary: ,340*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 2-4% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: This type of first-line supervisor manages offices. Companies that have many employees or departments need someone to manage the office, which is where the supervisor comes in to oversee administrative and clerical workers.

What You’ll Need: While it’s possible to work your way up to this position, it commonly requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

4. Electrician

Median Annual Salary: ,720*

The Forecast: The BLS projects 9% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Electricians handle anything electrical. Installing wiring, repairing fixtures and outlets, troubleshooting outages, and making sure electrical systems are up to code are just a few of the responsibilities of an electrician.

What You’ll Need: If you don’t have military training as an electrician, a vocational school is the way to go. You’ll also need to be licensed in your state before you start job searching.

5. Aircraft/Aviation Technician

Median Annual Salary: ,270

The Forecast: The BLS projects 5% job growth through 2026.

What They Do: Aviation techs are the people who keep airplanes from falling out of the sky. They maintain aircraft, diagnose and repair mechanical problems, and assess numerous complicated pieces of machinery.

What You’ll Need: Military vocational training will do the trick, but if you trained in a different area don’t sweat it. You’ll need to earn a mechanic’s certificate with an airframe rating, power plant rating, or both.

Veterans

These 14 expert tips will help you nail your military transition

The military is a tough act to follow and finding the right job takes effort and focus. And just like life in the fleet, having a battle buddy or a wingman to help get it right is important. So to get you thinking right, here are 13 tips from transition experts, recruiters whose job is to get you a job.


 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

1. Approach the job like long-term relationship, not a rebound

The question I most often am asked is “How much am I going to make?”. That question is a natural reaction because people are nervous when transitioning, but statistically many leave their first transition job within nine months because they jumped at the first dollar amount that met their requirements. To avoid this, you need to be thinking long-term. Look deeper than the paycheck and ask about a company’s growth potential. Research their culture and values. Where you start within a company is not where you’re going to finish.

Don’t self-select out of job descriptions that say you must have corporate experience or degree. Look for ways to circumvent or meet those requirements. The military is one of the largest corporations in America, and you worked for it. If a job requires a master’s degree, start pursing your masters and indicate that on your resume.

LinkedIn offers premium membership to veterans so you can find geo-specific job opportunities and obtain certifications. You can find a list of veteran friendly companies on Hiring our Heroes’ website.

— Charles “Chuck” Hodges, Hiring our Heroes, Senior Director for Events and Programs

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

2. Use your spouse as an asset

Greatest assets a transitioning service member has is their military spouse. So when they are in their final stages of transition, if we are empowering spouses with jobs and employment, it allows the service member to be more selective in their selection and oftentimes a spouse has flexibility – if they need to move ahead to wherever they have decided to retire (from the military) to, they have that option and flexibility.

Military, military spouses and veterans can sign up for a free account at Hiring Our Heroes for resume building tools, job listings, and more.

— Elizabeth O’Brien, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Director of Military Spouse Program

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
(Photo: U.S. Army)

 

3. Leverage your military status

Be confident. Military applicants hold a stronger position in the hiring process than ever before. You’re a valuable asset. There are companies that offer mentorship programs for transitioning servicemen and women. They are prepared to assist you in you fine-tuning your resume and can help you tell your story in civilian terms. Start identifying those companies six months before you transition, they will want to see a first draft of your resume, so be ready for that.

Military, military spouses and veterans looking for a job in the transportation industry can check out Trucking Track.

— Stan Hampton, VP Driver Personnel, J.B. Hunt Transport

(Click here to find career opportunities at JB Hunt.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

4. Tailor your resume for each submission

A common mistake that veterans make is they will generate a generic resume that applies to everything and they use they same resume for every job they apply for.  Instead, take your time, read the job description and really highlight your skills as it relates to that role that they are applying to.

US Chamber of Commerce and My Next Move for Veterans are great resources for veterans.

— Michael A. Alexander, Military Recruiting and Engagement Lead, Comcast NBCUniversal

Click here to find career opportunities at Comcast NBCUniversal.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

5. Answer interview questions like a S.T.A.R.

Most organizations tend to use behavioral based interview questions. When answering your interviewer’s questions, try to use the ‘S.T.A.R.’ format: Situation, Task, Action and Result.  This will help differentiate yourself from other candidates.

Afsheen Saatchi, Military Recruiter, Starbucks

(Click here to find career opportunities at Starbucks.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

6. Spouses, own the gap in your resume

I encourage military spouses to indicate somewhere on their resume that they are a military spouse. Some are nervous to do that because they think companies may discriminate against them, but I tell them – you don’t want to work for a company with that kind of culture anyway. There are companies that do look out for military spouse resumes, and will overlook those gaps and take their volunteer experience into consideration.

— Lauren Bacon, Hilton Worldwide, Manager of Military Programs

(Check this site to find military spouse friendly companies: MSEP Jobs.)

 

7. Look for a company that provides a path

You need a process that allows you to transition and progress. Many companies are inviting veterans to apply, but make sure they are able to do more than just hire you. When you’re speaking with company representatives be looking for them to provide a path for you – a detailed timeline that provides a clear sequence to a meaningful career. Avoid companies that are unable or unwilling to do this.

— Dave Harrison, Military Program Management, J. B. Hunt Transport

(Click here to find career opportunities at JB Hunt.)

 

8. Find a career coach

As a recruiter, many approach me a job fairs and say: “Here’s my resume, what do you have?” Transition is a time where military service members have a choice to make. They can work for the government or get defense contracting job, or move to an entirely different industry, at which point they don’t have the expertise to move into a lateral position. It’s good to have a career coach, they can rely on their MOS, and can also reach out to others who have transitioned and begin a dialogue.

Here’s an online resource for transitioning military and veterans to find an industry-specific virtual mentor: ACP AdvisorNet

— Abie Chong, Military and Veteran Recruiter, Hilton Worldwide

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

9. Start the application process a year before you get out

Understand no employer will wait for you, but the more you apply, the more practice you get, and the more confident you will become. You may even get a few pre-screening interviews, do them for practice, it will take out the nerves out of the whole ordeal. Applying for jobs sooner than later will also help you gather information on what skills are needed in the field you’re looking to transition to, and will give you ideas on how to fine-tune your resume.

Jonathan Morales, Production Standards Training Specialist, Lufthansa Technik

(Click here to find career opportunities within Lufthansa Technik.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

10. Explore industries you may never have considered

Expose yourself to different industries, because you may have a preconception about a particular industry and when you delve into it, you may be surprised on how many different career paths and jobs there are.  For instance, running a hotel is like running an Army base where all different departments that come together to make it operational. Military personnel can really translate what they do currently into any operations position when they transition. It’s all logistics.

If you’re about to transition or transitioning watch:  Reinventing Michael Banks

Melissa Stirling, Director of Military Programs, Hilton Worldwide

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

11. Lead with your leadership experience

Think beyond your MOS, AFSC, or whatever. Whether you’re getting out after two years or a thirty-five year career, be able to break down how you lead and how you manage. For example, if you’re a cook, explain what you do in that role because recruiters who don’t have military experience may not know what that job really entails – you handle food safety, quality control, acquisitions, and leadership management of a time-pressed, no-fail team. Military are able to plan and analyze future threats and opportunities, showcase that on your resume and talk about it in interviews.

Turn your military skills into a certificate: Institute for Veterans and Military Families

Dave Gualin, Director, Military Veteran Affairs, Comcast NBCUniversal

(Click here to find career opportunities at Comcast NBCUniversal.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

12. Focus on companies that have committed to hiring veterans

There are companies who have committed to hiring a certain number of veterans a year, so make sure your service is in the objective (top section) of your resume so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.

— Grant Johnston, VP Business Development, Airsteams Renewables, Inc.

(Click here to find career opportunities at Airstreams Renewables.)

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

 

13. Take the time today to plan for tomorrow

You 16 hours or more a day, but planning for your transition is essential in ensuring your success.  As you get closer to retirement from the service, let your friends and family know that you’re looking, they can be a great asset for you. Set a timer for thirty minutes a day to focus on what you’re going to do when you get out of the military. Purpose to apply for one job a day.

Jeff Duff, President, Airstreams Renewables, Inc.

 

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
(Photo: U.S. Army)

 

14. Remember, you’re not alone

There are resources out there for all the challenges you face during your transition and beyond. Find them and don’t be afraid to call on them. For example, the American Legion is the nation’s largest veteran’s organization and has a presence in each community with over 14,000 posts across the country.  If you’re about to transition into a new community, find the post nearest to where you will be and let them know you’re coming. They are there to help. We are more than a banquet hall, we are a community resource.

Verna Jones, Executive Director, American Legion

(Click here to find career opportunities and other resources through the American Legion.)

 

Articles

5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

In 1993, US forces consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos stormed into Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and key members of his militia.


During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 Americans were killed, and 73 were wounded.

Director Ridley Scott brought the heroic story to the big screen in 2001’s “Black Hawk Down” which portrays aspects of the power of human will and brotherly bonds between the soldiers in the fight.

Peel back the layers of the film and check out a few nuggets of wisdom you may have missed in the story.

Related: Here’s how Hollywood turns actors into military operators

1. Never underestimate the enemy

US forces tend to believe because a nation is poor, they don’t have any fight in them. Remember that the enemies we typically fight have home field advantage.

2. Don’t f*ck with Delta Force

Enough said — and probably the coolest line in the movie.

3. Understanding what you can’t control

It’s a common misconception that the ground troops know why they’re sent to a fight.

The truth is — there’s always a mission behind the mission. But that doesn’t matter, because it boils down in the end to surviving and taking care of your men. That’s real leadership.

4. Life doesn’t always make sense

After watching one of the hardest scenes in the film, a Ranger’s death, Sgt. Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) questions himself and over-analyzes his own leadership. Honestly, no matter how much you train, you can’t predict sh*t.

Also Read: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

5. Why we do it

It’s nice to be told “thank you for your service” by civilians every now and again, but truthfully we don’t like it. Hoot (played by Eric Bana) clears it up in one line — why grunts do what they do.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hundreds attend a funeral for a Vietnam vet with no family

There’s an unspoken creed within the military-veteran community: no veteran should ever be buried alone.

The U.S. military is a system designed to break its members of the individuality that defines Americans to create members of single team — a unit. This bond endures as veterans transition out of the service. It’s one of the defining characteristics of veteran life.

Nowhere else in life is this more true than in death. For those without family buried in Arlington Cemetery, the Arlington Ladies will make sure they aren’t alone. But Iowa-born Vietnam veteran Stanley Stoltz wasn’t going to Arlington and had no known family. Then, his obituary went viral.


Stoltz was 73 when he died on Nov. 18, 2018 in Bennington, Nebraska. His obituary in the Omaha World-Herald said that he had no family. Although he worked in Bennington, he spent the end of his life around medical caregivers. While it was eventually revealed that Stoltz had a brother and an ex-wife, hundreds of people who never knew the deceased came out to pay their last respects.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

Unfortunately, Stoltz didn’t get to see the outpouring of respect and appreciation for his service that he and so many other Vietnam veterans sorely lacked upon returning home from the war.

“No vet deserves to die alone,” attendee Dick Harrington told WOWT-TV, the Omaha NBC affiliate. “We looked around and said, ‘Here’s his family.’ It’s true. Veterans. We’re all family. That’s just the way we roll.”

Despite the frigid Nebraska weather, hundreds of people who never knew Stanley Stoltz — including many who have never met a Vietnam veteran or a veteran of any war — flooded Bennington to ensure he received the send off worthy of his service to their country.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

(WOWT- TV Omaha)

The cemetery estimated that upwards of 2,000 people came to the funeral. The services were even delayed so stragglers to the event wouldn’t miss a moment. Traffic was backed up, bumper-to-bumper along Interstate 80 to give a final salute to a passing veteran.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA needs Arizona veterans to tell their stories in Tucson

The Make the Connection team is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking support for mental health challenges and take part in a national mental health campaign.


The same obstacles that may at first seem insurmountable to an individual are much less daunting when faced by a team. More than 500 Veterans and military family members have already stepped up to be that team for their brothers and sisters by sharing their stories in videos on MakeTheConnection.net, a mental health website from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Make the Connection helps Veterans and their loved ones realize that reaching out for support and seeking mental health treatment is a sign of strength, and thousands of Veterans have found help to overcome their challenges.

The Make the Connection team will be conducting more on-camera interviews in Tucson, Arizona on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 and is looking for Veterans who want to share their stories about seeking help and overcoming mental health and other challenges. Veterans who participate in the video shoot will receive a stipend to offset their expenses for time and travel. When the videos are posted on the Make the Connection website, only the first names of participants are used.

Since its launch six years ago, the Make the Connection campaign has spread positive stories about Veteran mental health via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Veterans featured on the website and in social media have served in every branch of the armed forces and in every U.S. conflict since WWII through today’s current military engagements. They also represent the full diversity of the military community. Each Veteran has coped with conditions such as addiction, anxiety, depression, serious mental illness, PTSD, and the effects of military sexual trauma and traumatic brain injury.

Veterans who want to tell their stories to help fellow Veterans should email their name, phone number, and email address to outreach@maketheconnection.net or call our outreach team directly at 1-520-222-7518 by Friday, April 13th in order to be considered.

To learn more, please visit www.MakeTheConnection.net/Outreach.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Running to prevent Veteran suicide – virtually

The Battle Creek VA Alive and Running VA5K for Veteran Suicide Prevention Awareness kicked off in a different fashion this year. Instead of having hundreds of participants together at once, the kick-off was done on Facebook live. The runners and walkers will be doing their part virtually to help raise awareness.

While it may be too late to register for a T-shirt and medal, it is not too late to do your part. Everyone can still participate virtually by walking, running or sharing information to raise awareness for Veteran Suicide Prevention.


Packets were distributed on Sept. 19, which would have been the normal day of the event.

“While this is not how we pictured our 8th Annual Alive and Running VA5K… we are so grateful we can come together like this to support our Veterans and Service Members while raising awareness for suicide prevention,” said Lindsey Cord, suicide prevention coordinator.

In the photo above, suicide prevention coordinator Mathew Raad presents a VA5k bib and medal to Jennifer Quinn.

You can participate until October 3

Even if you weren’t able to register for this event, you can still participate with us and go run, walk or ride 5K until Oct. 3. Tag our Facebook page and Hashtag #BeThere #AliveandRunningVA5k.

“Our team is focused on the community health approach to suicide prevention.” said Michelle Martin, medical center director. “Together, we can all Be There for Veterans. We appreciate the help of individuals, groups or organizations who help us raise awareness on this important topic.”

The Alive and Running VA5K is another way that the community can be involved. The event organizers hope to return to an in-person event next year but did not want to lose momentum on this important topic. Suicide is preventable. Together, we can all make a difference.

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

Veterans

Virtual event honors WWI Veterans, opens National WWI Memorial


The virtual First Colors event paid homage to World War I Veterans and opened the National World War I Memorial on April 16.

Hosted by actor Gary Sinise, the ceremony featured remarks from several guests, including President Joe Biden.

“Let’s remember all that was sacrificed, all that was sanctified, by proud, brave Americans who served in World War I,” Biden said. He added that the war transformed America into a country willing to send military members into harm’s way.

“In some ways, the Great War shifted America’s thinking about ourselves and redefined our place in the world,” he said. “We grappled with what we stood for, what we’re willing to fight and die for to defend, principles of freedom and democracy. We confronted a terrible cost of war in an age of new and deadly technologies. But the commitment and valor of the American women and men who stepped up to serve, whether here at home or on the front lines in Europe, was the same spirt that’s always defined American service members.”

World War I was a national call to service. More than 4.7 million men and women served and 116,516 died.

“In just six months of decisive combat, more would die than in a decade of war in Korea and Vietnam combined, with a higher casualty rate than World War II,” Sinise said.

Army Gen. John J. Pershing led the U.S. troops during World War I, and at the event, his granddaughter, Sandi Pershing, said the memorial will honor Veterans who have long passed. She mentioned that Frank Buckles was the last surviving U.S. Doughboy, passing in 2011 at the age of 110, and that while cameras focused in on her grandfather and people like George S. Patton and Douglas MacArthur, many did not.

“I’m so happy that we’re going to get this built to recognize all the people who nobody has paid any attention to,” Pershing said. “That was just such an altruistic group of people.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the memorial is a testament to the American people.

“It is our duty to remember what they fought for and why they fought,” Army Gen. Mark Milley added.The Harlem Hellfighters of World War I.

The Harlem Hellfighters of World War I.

About the memorial

At the core of the memorial stands the 58-foot, 38-figure bronze sculpture, A SOLDIER’S JOURNEY. The sculpture – by sculptor Sabin Howard – tells the story of America’s participation in WWI through the eyes of a father who leaves his family to go to war.

Behind the sculpture is the Peace Fountain. Inscribed on the wall with its cascading water is a quote by Archibald MacLeish reminding visitors to remember their sacrifice:

WHETHER OUR LIVES AND OUR DEATHS WERE FOR PEACE AND A NEW HOPE OR FOR NOTHING WE CANNOT SAY; IT IS YOU WHO MUST SAY THIS. THEY SAY: WE LEAVE YOU OUR DEATHS. GIVE THEM THEIR MEANING. WE WERE YOUNG, THEY SAY. WE HAVE DIED. REMEMBER US.

The bronze sculpture A SOLDIER’S JOURNEY is positioned above the waters of a basin and an island-like viewing platform. In the center of that platform is another quarter-inch-deep water scrim.

The conceptual center of the National WWI Memorial is what is known as the Belvedere, an overlook that provides a commanding view of the memorial elements, from the Pershing statue to the Soldier’s Journey sculpture and the flagstaff proudly flying the colors. With a distinctive WWI Victory medal at its center, this area also provides a gently sloping accessibility ramp down to the lower plaza.In addition to all the tributes, the memorial will also have a field of poppies. Following World War I’s end, poppies started growing on the battlefields. The poppy is now an international symbol to recognize those who died in service.

About the flag

In the northeast corner of the park, the flagstaff stands upon a berm inscribed with a quote by President Woodrow Wilson:

NEVER BEFORE HAVE MEN CROSSED THE SEAS TO A FOREIGN LAND TO FIGHT FOR A CAUSE WHICH THEY DID NOT PRETEND WAS PECULIARLY THEIR OWN, BUT KNEW WAS THE CAUSE OF HUMANITY AND OF MANKIND.

The flag first flew over the U.S. Capitol April 6, 2017, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of when the U.S. entered the war. The American Battle Monuments Commission then flew the flag at nine World War I cemeteries in Europe. Those sites include Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, the burial site for American aviators who volunteered even before America declared war. Another site was Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, on the legendary battlefield of Belleau Wood. This site was one of the hardest-fought American victories in the war. Finally, representing the coming home of nearly 2 million soldiers who returned from Europe, the flag returned to the United States to fly at the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Learn more

World War I created millions of conscripted Veterans, improved benefits.

National World War I Memorial honors 4.7 million Veterans.

This article originally appeared on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Recent investigations show that the Department of Defense has issued thousands of other-than-honorable discharges to veterans with mental health and behavioral health diagnoses.


U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and seven other senators introduced legislation to change that.

On April 3, Murphy, veterans, and advocates for veterans held a press conference in Connecticut and called upon Congress to take action.

“I can’t stand the idea of a veteran risking her or his life for this country, suffering the wounds of battle, and then being kicked to the curb as a result of those wounds,” Murphy said. “But that is exactly what has happened to tens of thousands of men and women who have fought and bled for our country.”

“This is common sense,” Murphy added. “We are breaking our promise to those who served.”

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
In 2014, 6 of the 20 veterans per day committing suicide were users of VA services.

Murphy said there is also a stigma that comes with an other-than-honorable discharge that is a heavy burden for veterans to live with. “A lot of these so-called offenses are very minor,” Murphy said.

The legislation Murphy helped introduce would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health and behavioral health services to diagnosed former combat veterans who have been other-than-honorably discharged. The bill would also ensure that veterans receive a decision in a timely manner and requires the VA to justify to Congress any denial of benefits that they issue to a veteran.

Up until recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Murphy said, denied it had the legal authority to provide any care to former combat veterans who received OTH or Bad Paper discharges.

The VA has reversed course on the matter, Murphy said, adding that now it’s time for Congress to act to ensure mental health and behavioral health services are provided to these veterans.

Since January 2009, the Army has “separated” at least 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Murphy.

“These soldiers who fought for our country suffered serious mental health problems or traumatic brain injury as a cost of their service. And we turned our back on them,” Murphy said, adding that they also return home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But instead of being directed to the care and treatment they need, they’re being given other-than-honorable discharges or so-called “bad paper discharges,” disqualifying them from VA care, especially the mental and behavioral health services many of them desperately need, said the senator.

Murphy’s strong support for the bill was echoed by Blumenthal, who is a sponsor but was not at Monday’s press conference.

“This bill will make crystal clear that all combat veterans should have access to the full array of mental and behavioral health care they need and deserve,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot wait for a crisis to provide essential mental health to veterans suffering from the terrible invisible wounds of war.”

He said 20 veterans per day are lost to suicide.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz/Released)

One of those in attendance at the press conference Monday was Conley Monk, a Vietnam veteran from New Haven who developed PTSD as a result of his military service.

In 2014, Monk and four other plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit because they were issued OTH discharges. They won the suit, which was brought on their behalf by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and the Pentagon agreed to upgrade their discharges to honorable.

Another veteran to speak Monday was was Tom Burke, president of the Yale Student Veterans Council and a U.S. Marine corps veteran.

In 2009, Burke was a Marine infantryman in Afghanistan.

It was when he was in the Helmand Province that he witnessed deaths of many young children who were killed by an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade. One of Burke’s responsibilities was to cart away the dismembered bodies.

“I began smoking hash,” Burke said, adding that in a matter of weeks he was charged for misconduct for his drug use and was told he would be kicked out of the Marines.

Burke said he “tried to commit suicide a few times.”

He said he was later locked in a psychiatric hospital and subsequently given an OTH discharge later in 2009.

In 2014, Burke said he applied for an honorable discharge, but was denied.

Burke tells his story often, these days, not to elicit empathy for his own case, but to try and draw attention to the bigger issue of the thousands like him who are being denied benefits.

“Veterans are dying,” Burke said. “These aren’t men and women who are trying to take advantage of the system.”

Margaret Middleton, executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, said veterans need relief.

Under the current system, a veteran trying to get an honorable discharge often “requires the expertise and cost of an attorney and lengthy research,” something that veterans returning from combat shouldn’t be forced to endure, she said.

Murphy concluded: “Our veterans made a commitment to our country when they signed up. I introduced this legislation to make sure that the VA keeps its commitment to help veterans with mental and behavioral health issues. I won’t stop fighting until they get the care and benefits they deserve.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Military retirees, those who receive disability or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal retirees, and social security recipients will see a 2.8 percent pay raise in their monthly checks in 2019.

It is the biggest Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) increase in seven years, equaling as much as $369 a month for those at the top of the retirement pay charts.


Each year military retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan Annuities, VA Compensation and Pensions, and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation.

Retirement pay increase

Thanks to the increase, the average military retirement check for an E-7 with 20 years of service will go up by a month, while an O-5 with the same time in uniform will see a 6 monthly increase.

No shortcuts to the top – A life-long lesson in grit

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather L. Rodgers)

Retirees who entered military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986 and opted in for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan), have any COLA increases reduced by 1 percent, so they will see a 2019 increase of 1.8 percent or monthly for an E-7 with 20 years of service, or each month for an O-5 with 20 years of service.

VA disability increase

Disabled veterans will also get a bump. The average VA disability check will go up about per month for those with a 10 percent rating, and for those rated at 100 percent.

Other federal retirees and beneficiaries

Military retirees and VA beneficiaries aren’t the only ones who benefit from the COLA increase. Civil Service retirees, and Social Security recipients will also see the 2.8 percent jump in their monthly checks as well.

For Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will mean an extra per month for the average beneficiary.

Largest COLA bump in years

This annual COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measurement of a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year, if there is an increase there is a COLA. If there is no increase, there is no COLA.

The COLA affects about one in every five Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees, and retired military members.

In 2017, the COLA increase was 2.0 percent; in 2017, retirees saw a 0.3 percent increase.

Keep up with military pay updates

Military pay benefits are changing all the time — make sure you’re up to date with everything you’ve earned. Join Military.com for free to receive updates on all your military benefits, delivered directly to your inbox.

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

Articles

This is what happens when celebrity Lidia Bastianich cooks for WATM’s vets

Over the holidays, the Emmy award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich prepared a world-class cuisine for the troops aboard the USS George Washington.


But leading to the holiday festivities, she traveled the country meeting veterans and learning their incredible service stories.

Related: Back in the day a soldier’s chow came in a can

“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.

One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.

For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.

Here’s a short clip from our visit with Lidia:

Lidia Bastianich, YouTube

Watch the full hour-long documentary special on PBS to see how Lidia pays homage to the men and women of our military and the sacrifices they make. 

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