30 million vaccinations is a big job – and VA can handle it
About six million enrolled Veterans use VA health care, and VA has successfully given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to more than two million of those Veterans, with more getting vaccinated every day.
But there’s still more to do: VA will vaccinate every Veteran and spouse and caregiver.
In recognition of our success, Congress passed and the President signed the SAVE LIVES Act. This act gives VA the job of delivering vaccine to all Veterans in America – whether they’re enrolled in VA health care or not – as well as their spouses and their caregivers.
Within 48 hours after the President signed that bill, we began testing our existing vaccination delivery systems in order to determine how long it will take us to get about 30 million additional people enrolled and vaccinated. In two days of testing, we safely and successfully vaccinated 1,000 Veterans, spouses and caregivers who would not normally be eligible for a VA vaccination. That vaccination rate will only increase as we expand our capacity and take delivery of more and more doses of vaccine.
It’s a big job, but we can handle it
As we do that, I’d like to ask you for a bit of patience. It’s a huge task, but VA health care can handle it, as we have handled every new challenge during this pandemic. We just need a bit of time to make sure that Veterans, spouses and caregivers who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination can sign up and get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
We will continue to update you as we move ahead. Thank you for trusting us with your care and with your vaccination.
Dr. Richard Stone is the acting secretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration. He is a retired Army major general and Veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He was born and raised in Michigan and is a proud alumnus of the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
At face value, it seems like no two professions could be further apart. The sniper lives in the world of slow and steady (if they move at all). Conversely, the NASCAR driver’s world is fast-paced and requires quick-thinking to react to new situations within fractions of a second. But life behind the wheel, just as behind the trigger, requires nerves of steel.
“Anyone can shoot a rifle, that’s probably the easiest part of the job,” says Mike Glover, a former U.S. Army Special Forces sniper. “But the mindset, the physical capabilities, the craft… those are all important elements to being a Special Forces sniper.”
(We Are The Mighty)
Kurt Busch is no slouch himself. He won the famous high-speed, high-stakes Daytona 500 in 2017.
“To be a NASCAR driver means you’re one of the elite drivers in the world,” Says Busch. “It’s a special privilege each week to go out there and race the best of the best.”
Now, Busch is working with one of the U.S. Army’s best: a former Green Beret.
Glover recently took NASCAR’s Kurt Busch to the shooting range to teach him how to shoot a sniper’s rifle using a spotter. Busch, who drives the #41 Monster Energy Ford, quickly took to Glover’s instructions.
Busch hit his target with his second shot — only one correction required.
He credited the preparation Glover provided him, as well as having the proper fundamentals explained to him. The teamwork, of course, was key. It turns out they have a lot more in common than they thought.
(We Are The Mighty)
“When you’re zoned in to your element, that’s when everything slows down,” Busch says. “That’s when you’re able to digest what’s around you.” Glover agrees.
“That internalization, that zen approach, is how we [Special Forces] release the monster within.”
Watch Kurt Busch take Mike Glover for a ride in his world, doing donuts in a parking lot, at the end of the video below.
Former Marine First Lieutenant William Broyles deployed to Vietnam, served as an infantry platoon commander and earned a Bronze Star and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star before his illustrious Hollywood career began. Broyles is known for creating the TV show China Beach and for writing such great screenplays as Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard. Broyles also wrote Castaway and Polar Express, both directed by Robert Zemeckis, Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes and Flags of Our Fathers, directed by Clint Eastwood. Broyles’ films have won Academy Awards for their merits.
Broyles starts off our interview saying, “I will do anything for the Corps,” which led the interview to take off as quickly and smoothly as an F-4 Phantom. Broyles was born during World War II and his parents were both very young. His mother learned of the Pearl Harbor attack while coming home from a football game with her then-boyfriend. Broyles grew up in a blue-collar factory town outside of Houston, Texas, named Baytown, home to the largest refinery in the world. Most of his friends’ fathers were World War II veterans. He idolized them in their experience of the war. Broyles shared, “It was this sort of mysterious experience they had all had and I kind of inhaled. I didn’t particularly want to repeat it. I was just fascinated by it.”
He went to a segregated high school, which deeply impacted his world view. He went to Robert E. Lee High School where the marching band wore confederate uniforms and the school’s fight song was Dixie. He saw photographs of Blacks protesting segregation so he began to question his identity and got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. When the Vietnam War started, he went from the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-Vietnam war movement. In January 1968, he was in a basement of the Oxford University where he was a Marshall Scholar at the school, and witnessed a news report on the Battle of Hue in Vietnam that deeply affected him. Broyles shared about the Marine he saw on TV being interviewed about his survival:
“I thought, ‘Oh my God! That is the same kid I went to high school with….so many of my friends went to Vietnam. Some of them had been wounded and some had been killed. It sunk in on me then that I had this moral clash that I didn’t believe in the war, but also my deferment meant that other kids I knew were going instead and I was taking advantage of that with the privilege I had to avoid it. It was just confusion.”
Broyles had two ethical values that clashed: one, all humans being equal in the sight of God and, two, he thought the Vietnam war was wrong. He joined the Peace Corps, but that was eliminated as a deferment. In October 1968, Broyles got his draft notice. He decided he was going to serve and not try to go to Canada — he thought dodging was morally wrong. He went to multiple different branches in an attempt to find what fit him. The Coast Guard, Air Force and the Reserves were unavailable. He walked by the Marine Corps recruiting office, which didn’t have a line and decided to walk in. The Marine recruiter was reading a novel by Charles Dickens which surprised Broyles. Upon speaking to the recruiter, Broyles was amazed at the Marine’s depth of knowledge and worldliness. The recruiter discussed with Broyles about how the Corps has programs for educated young men and women to serve the Corps with the opportunity for distinction. Broyles joined the Corps right then and there, and showed up to serve on January 2nd, 1969, in a coat and tie “to look presentable.” He recalled his Officer Candidate School (OCS) experience:
“…of course, we are sitting in there (a hall) and these enlisted guys are very helpful….to fill out this application….we are sitting there, and it is just really quiet. Suddenly these double doors at the back open and we all turn around. The wind blows snow in and we hear, ‘Get the F&$# out of here you maggots you have two minutes.’ So, we all jumped up and I don’t know where my suit is. Lost in the snow.”
Broyles graduated OCS and worked extremely hard to be the number two officer out of the 250 in his class at The Basic School so he could go to the Defense Language Institute to utilize his Masters in English from Oxford. He was assigned to report to Vietnam per his paperwork. His roommate got into the DLI instead of Broyles. Broyles was told by the Colonel of TBS that his leadership was needed in Vietnam with Marines in the fight. He was sent to a three-week Vietnamese language course before heading to Vietnam, which was offered to him by the colonel. He was stationed up close to Da Nang and then he was sent to a small outpost. The camp had been bombed the night before his arrival and was shot up pretty bad. Broyles said,
“Of those 55 guys I spent six months with, they were 18, 19, 20, 21. I might have had 15 high school graduates and I learned more from them than I did from Oxford. We were so tight. The only question they had about me was not my resume or what I did…they just wanted to know if this guy will get us killed….the war was winding down at that point…it was almost lost…what really comes out is that whole bedrock Marine Corps ethic of brotherhood…as an officer you eat last, you take care of your men’s feet before you take care of yours…. I was the only officer….the whole time we were out I might have seen my company commander….two times. My radio man, a 19-year-old kid from Jersey, totally had an attitude, he saved my ass a couple of times. Totally. I am still in touch with him. A few weeks before we had been hit I went into Da Nang to visit some guys in the Naval Hospital….I saw this window into the Naval Hospital in Da Nang and it looked like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where they take the Ark of the Covenant into the warehouse and all you can see is boxes, all you could see was wounded teenagers….to see a concentrated thing… I literally fainted and broke my nose.
“I came to with this nurse and thought, ‘How can you do this? You volunteered.’ When I came back (from the hospital)… I was on this ridge (in the jungle outside of Da Nang) and I was lying there thinking all night – friends from Oxford or college they are not here… they are going to law school, starting to work at Goldman Sachs, they are becoming doctors or dentists…and here I am in the mud with my guys…my platoon. I had such high hopes for myself and this is the end. You are going to buy it here and all those things you want to do are hopeless. I saw this light streaking across the star….thought it was a shooting star…to cut to the future that experience in the hospital was the basis for the TV show China Beach and that light that went across the sky was Apollo 13 on its way to the moon. So, at that moment when I thought my whole life was over…at that moment of deepest kind of failure and despair…at the same time I couldn’t feel like that because I had all these men, I was responsible for. There was the groundwork for the best things I did in my future.
“If I had been in law school or had been some schmuck at Goldman Sachs, I wouldn’t have met those guys and had that experience and I wouldn’t have learned what I learned in the Marines Corps…the pillars of my life were formed there and as well as my sense of discipline and teamwork and loyalty down. Lots of people have loyalty up, but loyalty down….my commanders were always just guys on the radio…that sense of loyalty down and how we are all in it together and each person counts….to see this kind of love these guys had for each other….they would give their last drop of water in the canteen or their last c-ration or their lives really for each other. It was exactly what I had not wanted….but it is exactly what I needed. It’s what made me who I am….also the best Marine officers I met in Vietnam….were some of the smartest, disciplined, most on task, most focused people I have ever met up to this day. The sense of commitment to your work and to the people who depended on you and to see what you do in your life not as a job but as a calling, that made an impression on me that I have never forgotten.”
Broyles said the most specific thing he learned from his time in the Corps was if you think you can’t take another step and keep going, you can. Put your foot in front of the next one and keep going. He describes this thought process as a “muscle” that is not easy to teach people. Broyles believes people have to experience it for themselves just like he did, and many others have. He also shared that when in command to lead with body language. “[You have to] project a sense of confidence, not just in yourself but in them. It was key to my leadership learning in magazines, Newsweek, Texas Monthly and TV shows. You don’t learn that in college, you don’t learn that sitting in a classroom.”
Broyles believes showing up on time is simply a great leadership trait to have and he believes people that pull rank in a military setting are “very ineffective.” He said, “If you have to say you are the boss or say you are in command, chances are you are really not.” Broyles felt his Marine experience in Vietnam was more of a horizontal command structure in many ways because it was so collaborative — the decision was passed along to him for final call. He believes to get buy in by leading by example and not ordering others around. He stated, “I could order people around in my platoon, but if I ordered them around too much, I would have gotten a grenade rolled under my hooch and that was it.”
Broyles learned skills to take care of every specific item. He recalled learning to sew, something he didn’t know how to do before the Corps. He reflected upon how if he got things wrong with his Master’s in Philosophy, people could tell him he was just “wrong,” but if he got things wrong as a lieutenant in the mountains of Vietnam, he could get people killed. He believes a leader must be aware of the conditions and morale of a team, which he learned in the Corps.
He loves China Beach, Castaway, Apollo 13, Jarhead and Unfaithful. Castaway was the most collaborative, with so many people at the top of their game. Broyles feels that as a writer, sometimes the reality of the film falls short based on expectations and who is involved while other times it exceeds expectations. He shared, “You can have a wonderful time and make a bad movie. You can have a miserable time and make a great movie…when you have a great time and make a great movie then you are blessed. You are blessed with your collaborators, Tom Hanks, Bob Zemeckis, Don Burgess our DP, everybody was at the top of their game. China Beach was close to the heart because it was the first one and also used Vietnam…it was that nurse. To try to honor the women that have been ignored and done so much in the war as nurses or support.” Broyles said about Castaway, “…it was my coming home from Vietnam movie.”
He believes you would never know watching it, but it’s about a person living their life normally, and is drafted into a new world that he had no idea about. He had experiences he couldn’t share with other people and then he was brought back to the world. When the person comes back, the world he had left was the same, but the man wasn’t, which is the story of Castaway on one level. As Broyles said, “….my plane didn’t crash like it did in Castaway it just left me in Vietnam.” Broyles describes Hanks’ character as being in one place and his mind is still back on the island, similar to his Vietnam experience and he didn’t want to make a traditional coming home from Vietnam experience. Castaway had similarities to the truths Broyles lived coming home from Vietnam and the Corps. Castaway to him had many similarities to the Marines Corps with people working together in the prime of their careers. He said,
“I have great learning experiences out of all the ones that have gotten film and still have senses of loss about the ones that haven’t been made…I have gotten 10 made out of 30 scripts I have written….which is like a .333 batting average. That gets me into the Hall of Fame….I feel pretty lucky about that.”
When asked about Apollo 13, Broyles smiled. He was speaking with Jim Lovell when Lovell shared when things started going wrong on the mission it was time to focus on the problem and fix it. Broyles likened this mindset to the Marines when things go wrong it is time to think, adapt and improvise. The astronauts were on their own in many ways and had to work the problem out. Understanding the thought process of the astronauts as engineers helped, “…the tonal quality of the script…there would be no drama in the capsule…the antagonist was not a traditional human being….it was the problem and then outer space.” He wanted to show everyone working for a common goal in Apollo 13.
For Jarhead, Broyles put the Vietnam Veteran getting on the bus at the end in the film because of how he felt as a Marine having served in Vietnam. The scene in the film about the Marines watching Apocalypse Now was a recruiting film scene even though it is really an anti-war film. Jarhead was the opportunity to do a Samuel Beckett play into a film. One scene in Jarhead that reflects Broyles’ experiences was when the Swofford character played by Jake Gyllenhaal sees a group of Iraqi soldiers burned to a crisp sitting in a circle — likely where the Iraqis were eating their food rations. Broyles said of that scene, “I am always fascinated with what it is that lets us treat other human beings as less than human…we are raised to not kill.”
He returned to Vietnam in 1984 to make peace with his experience. He purposely sought out people he fought against to make peace with those of the NVA and VC. The Vietnamese didn’t rotate home; they were in the fight for seven or eight years. Broyles wanted to meet these men he fought while in Vietnam over tea or food. A point of the film Jarhead was: what is the point of training for war and then not employing your training — which in turn makes the Marines angry for not getting to use their training. Flags of our Fathers is the opposite of Jarhead as it features mythical characters Broyles experienced in his coming of age as a Marine. Those Marines fought the great war and won, he fought in the jungle and didn’t.
Broyles believes we need to find good stories and especially good Marine stories to tell. Hollywood is cyclical as well with the types of stories the film industry wants. We are currently in the longest war we ever fought with Afghanistan which makes people weary. He stated, “People aren’t just going to see a Marine Corps film they are going to go see a great film that features a great story that features Marines. It’s just getting good stories. If you do a really good story and a really good script it will eventually get noticed.” Broyles is incredibly proud of Texas Monthly, China Beach,Castaway, Apollo 13 and Jarhead, but mainly he is proud of his five children and of “…having raised really good human beings in the meantime.”
A few interesting notes, Broyles has a Marines Corps award named after him titled ‘The Lieutenant William Broyles Award’ and it is given for a distinguished play or screenplay by a playwright or screenwriter dealing with U.S. Marine Corps heritage or Marine Corps life. The award is given yearly through the Marines Corps Heritage Foundation. Broyles’ son David served as a Pararescue Jumper in the Air Force and conducted special operations missions during the War on Terror. David is now a writer in Hollywood and has worked on History’s TV show Six. Broyles also got to hear President Kennedy speak at his college, Rice University, about the plan for the United States to go to the moon.
Just days after the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861, Peter Conover Hains graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At a time when officers and cadets were deserting the U.S. military in favor of serving their home states, especially those who seceded from the Union, this Philadelphia native stayed put — and the U.S. Army would get their investment back in spades.
After 26 of his 57 classmates left to join the Confederacy, Hains became an artillery officer, firing off the first shot of the Battle of Bull Run. There, he fought bravely, even though the Union Army lost terribly. After as many as 30 smaller combat engagements, he eventually found himself in the Army Corps of Engineers and the United States would never be the same.
During the 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, the Union’s Chief Engineer fell ill and was unable to fulfill his duties. So, the responsibility shifted to then-lieutenant Hains. The engineering at Vicksburg would be crucial to the Union victory, so there could be no mistakes. The 12-mile ring of fortifications and entrenchments around the city kept the 33,000 Confederate defenders bottled up and isolated from the outside world. The surrender of Vicksburg, after a 40-days-long siege, along with the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg sounded the death knell for the Confederacy.
Grant promoted Hains to captain for his work.
In the postwar years, he was appointed Engineer Secretary of the U.S. Lighthouse Board and his constructions were so sound that many still stand to this day, undisturbed by rising sea levels or tropical storms. He also fixed the foul-smelling swamp that was Washington, D.C. by designing and constructing the Tidal Basin there, a sort of man-made reservoir that flushes out to the Washington Channel.
Still in the Army by the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, he served as a brigadier general of volunteers, but no known record of deploying to fight exists. Before and after the Spanish-American War, Hains served on the Nicaragua Canal Commission and was responsible for successfully arguing that such a canal should be built in Panama.
He retired from the Army in 1904 — but the Army wasn’t done with him. World War I broke out for the United States and in September, 1917, Peter Conover Hains was recalled to active duty one last time. For a full year, he managed the structural defenses of Norfolk Harbor and was the district’s Chief Engineer. At age 76, he was the oldest officer in uniform.
His sons and their sons all continued Hains’ military tradition, attending West Point and serving on active duty. He, his sons, and his grandson are all interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
A Marine Corps veteran, Ray Guasp is no stranger to serving others. He founded Veterans Response, a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization made up of former military personnel and first responders. He is emblematic of the military veteran who continues to serve his country after leaving the service, as highlighted in the #StillServing campaign launched this year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
#StillServing aims to bring attention to and honor the continued commitment and sacrifice of America’s veterans. In fact, The Corporation for National & Community Service’s 2018 Volunteering in America Report shows that veterans volunteer 25 percent more time, are 17 percent more likely to make a monetary donation and are 30 percent more likely to participate in local organizations than the civilian population.
“All those skills I learned in the military transfer right over to disaster response,” Guasp said. “Veterans Response gives me and other veterans and first responders an environment that we are accustomed to — mission-forward, mission-centric, focused and disciplined.”
Ray’s story began at age 18 when he joined the United States Marine Corps and served in Operation Desert Storm. He took those problem solving and leadership skills and founded Veterans Response, with the mission to deliver timely and appropriate emergency services to disaster-stricken communities. A Veterans Response team deploys into communities suffering catastrophic events helping to meet immediate and longer-term needs, everything from water and temporary shelter to rebuilding homes and communities.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria were both Category 5 storms that struck within two weeks of each other in the fall of 2017, devastating the Caribbean and parts of Florida. Within a week of forming Veterans Response, the organization raised ,000 and purchased and installed a water filtration system in Puerto Rico. Using any source of freshwater, contaminated or not, the system can produce 250 gallons of clean water per hour. Veterans Response also provided residents with reusable water bottles to use with the system and worked with residents to monitor and maintain the system when the organization’s team is no longer on site.
The next phase of Guasp’s plan for Puerto Rico is to focus on providing stricken communities with mental health services; services he realizes were needed after his own experiences in Desert Storm.
“Those memories live with you forever,”Guasp said. “Our goal for Puerto Rico is to enable the treatment of some of the pain that its residents have gone through in the last several years.”
Currently, Veterans Response is focusing on a new disaster, one close to home. Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in early March, the group has been working around the clock shopping for food to donate to food banks, stocking food bank shelves and assembling packages of donated items to distribute to those in need. To date, Veterans Response has provided food banks around Guasp’s hometown in Connecticut with more than 550 pounds of food.
“Normally we respond to disasters but in this case, this is a crisis and we decided to take up arms and be part of the solution,” said Pablo Soto, an Army veteran and member of Veterans Response.
“We’re trying to do our part to try to help at least put food on somebody’s table,” Guasp said. “So they can have some type of normal in their household.”
When not volunteering with Veterans Response, Guasp is a partner and co-founder of a medical device sales company (Attero Surgical), a volunteer fireman and a firearms instructor. Because of his continued service, VFW has chosen Guasp to serve as a spokesperson for its national #StillServing campaign.
The VFW encourages all veterans to share stories on social media using #StillServing to show how they continue to answer the call to serve in ways big and small. In addition, family or friends are asked to use #StillServing in social media posts to honor a veteran in their lives who believes the spirit of service transcends military life.
“Service creates a balance in our life,” Guasp added. “It allows us to still be a part of that world and the brotherhood that we enjoyed. It is critical for veterans to share this message and show that veterans are not an obscure population. We are making real changes in our communities every day.”
Going out on the town with a group of veterans is definitely an experience that all civilians should try at least once. Not only will it dispel any preconceived notions that a civilian might have about the troops — we’re not all crazy, loud as*holes — it’s also a crash course in military culture and etiquette.
It’s the best way to learn all of the little details, like where veterans naturally position themselves in a bar (to get a better view of everyone coming in and out) and how they’ll instinctively form a wedge formation as they walk (a secure way of moving from one place to another).
(Photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer)
After you’ve settled in and you’re throwing back a few cold ones, one question that’s sure to surface from the civilian tag-along is why veterans solemnly make a toast and tap their drink or shot on the bar before resuming a night of heavy drinking. This tradition actually has roots that extend all the way back to ancient times.
The toast is a piece of international bar culture, but the military takes it to the next level. The first part is standard: Someone raises their glass and either dedicates the drink to group’s collective health or says something silly like,
“Life is a waste of time, and time is a waste of life. So let’s get wasted all of the time, and have the time of our life.”
(Photo by Master Sgt. Jeffery Allen)
This brief, poignant message is a way for the person making the toast to appreciate everyone with them. If a veteran is giving that toast, they’ll next tap the drink on the table or bar to appreciate everyone not with them — the fallen. Think of this as a less-messy version of pouring one out for the dead. The veteran first shows respect to those around him or her, then to their fallen comrades, and then, finally, to his or herself by knocking one back.
It’s also seen as a sign of respect to the bartender and the house — who are some of the select few people that a veteran never wants to anger. This same tradition was also seen in ancient Irish times as a way to scare off evil spirits.
So, if you see a veteran do this, by all means, join them. Keep the moment solemn as they are, nod, smile, tap your drink with them, and enjoy your night.
Consider the values that military service instills. Honor. Purpose. Prestige. Service members wake up with a daily mission to embody those values and while on active duty, they are provided the means and the circumstances to do so.
But when they leave the service, does the drive to live by military values diminish? Veterans across the country will assure you, it does not. That’s why the transition back to civilian life is such a hot topic. Finding a new outlet for warrior values is a bear that every veteran has to wrestle and tame.
So what if there was a school whose founding mission was to teach returning veterans the skills necessary to put those values to work? As it turns out, that school exists. It’s the Culinary Institute of America and it was founded to teach returning WWII vets the fighting arts of gourmet cooking.
The troops, lined up for inspection. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl visited Hyde Park, NY, to get a first hand taste of daily operations at CIA.
It sure beats latrine duty. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
What he found there was an atmosphere of rigor, discipline, and sky high expectations — in other words, a culinary boot camp. And why not? A busy kitchen is its own kind of battlefield and cooks are the troops who serve there. At CIA, students, including notable veterans, learn what it takes to become a new generation of American chefs.
If fighting the well-defended Viet Cong on their home turf wasn’t dangerous enough, imagine having to crawl your way through a series of extremely tight and narrow underground tunnels to capture or kill them.
Armed with only a flashlight, a single pistol, or maybe just a knife, a “Tunnel Rat” didn’t have much in the way of defense.
“The most dangerous part would be psyching up to get into the tunnel,” Carl Cory says, a former 25th Infantry Div Tunnel Rat. “That was the part that was most frightening because you didn’t what you were getting into.”
It was the duty of the brave Tunnel Rat to slide alone into the tunnel’s entrance then search for the enemy and other valuable intelligence. Due to the intense and dangerous nature of the job, many Tunnel Rats became so emotionally desensitized that entering a spider hole was just another day at the office — no big deal.
With danger lurking around every corner, the Tunnel Rat not only had to dodge the various savage booby traps set by the Viet Cong, but typically only carried 6-7 rounds of ammunition with him even though the tunnels were commonly used to house up to a few dozen enemy combatants.
With all those physical dangers to consider, the courageous troop still needed to maintain a clear and precise mental state of mind and not let the fear get the best of him.
After completing a search, many American and South Vietnamese units would rig the tunnels with C-4 explosives or bring in the always productive flamethrowers to flush out or kill any remaining hostiles.
Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers among male VA patients. The disease is usually found in its early stages and often grows slowly. Most men live with the cancer for decades without symptoms and die of other causes even without early surgery. But some cases of prostate cancer metastasize and lead to death.
Millions of men have gotten a “Gleason score,” which is used almost universally to predict the aggressiveness of prostate cancer.
Dr. Donald Gleason, who served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, devised the scoring system in the 1960s while working at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The Gleason score has long been considered the most reliable indicator of the potential for prostate cancer to grow and spread. It helps provide a prognosis and guide treatment and is a reference standard in clinical trials testing new therapies.
`Every prostate cancer patient knows his Gleason score’
“Every prostate cancer patient knows his Gleason score,” Dr. Bruce Roth, a professor of medicine and urological surgery at Vanderbilt University and an official of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, told The New York Times following Gleason’s death at age 88 in 2008. “It is remarkable that the Gleason score remains the standard test despite the millions of dollars spent on trying to develop molecular tests to displace it.”
To find a Gleason score, doctors take a biopsy of a patient’s prostate and look at the cells under a microscope. The pattern of cancer cells is ranked from 1 to 5. A score of 1 means cells resemble a normal prostate, with areas of cancer cells small and closely packed. Higher scores mean the cancer cells are more widespread and signal a worse prognosis.
Total scores range from 2 to 10.
Scores of 2-4 are usually considered benign or slow growing.
Those of 5-7 are the most common and are highly treatable.
Scores of 8-10 show an advanced stage of cancer and are unlikely to be cured.
Chief of pathology at Minneapolis VA
Born in 1920 in Iowa, Gleason earned his medical degree in 1944 in the Army Specialized Training Program at the University of Minnesota. He completed his internship at the University of Maryland Hospital and joined the Army Medical Corps in 1945, serving as a psychiatrist, transport surgeon, dermatologist, and venereal disease clinician before being discharged in 1947. He then pursued a pathology residency in a combined VA-university program in Minneapolis. After spending two years in France, he returned to Minnesota and passed his anatomic and clinical pathology boards in 1952. He served as chief of pathology at the Minneapolis VA Hospital from 1954 to 1975.
In 1962, Dr. George Mellinger, the hospital’s chief of urology, asked Gleason to develop a standard pathological testing system for prostate cancer. The American Urological Association (AUA) described the creation of the Gleason score:
Used for prostate cancer treatment around the world
“As chief of [pathology], Dr. Gleason joined the VA Cooperative Urological Research Group study of prostate cancer. With them, he devised a grading system based on the increasing disorganization of the histologic structure [microscopic anatomy] of the prostate cancers. The histologic grades were illustrated with photomicrographs and Dr. Gleason’s drawings, which were easily recognized by other pathologists. The histologic grades correlated with the varying degrees of clinical malignancy of the cancers. Because the Gleason grading system was easily learned from the drawings, it has been accepted and applied to the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer around the world.”
Gleason retired from VA in 1976 and spent 10 years as a staff pathologist in the Fairview Hospital system in Minneapolis, before his final retirement in 1986, according to the AUA. The American Urological Association awarded him its prestigious Presidential Citation in 2002.
Click here to read about other VA researchers who served.
In defusing tensions between the United States and North Korea in 2018, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un returned the remains of 55 allied troops, kept by the North for the previous 65 years or more. Almost 7,700 members of the United States Military remain unidentified from the Korean War, which killed more than 36,000.
North Korea returned the remains in July 2018 after a historic summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore. It was a first for a sitting President to meet the reclusive leader of North Korea and a first for the North Korean dictator to meet with a non-Chinese foreign leader outside of the Hermit Kingdom.
Transfer cases, containing the remains of what are believed to be U.S. service members lost in the Korean War, line a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)
Unidentified remains were transferred from the United Nations Command in South Korea to the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the team that manages the repatriation of American war dead, identifies them, and ensures they are returned to their families for a proper burial. They were received in an “honorable carry” ceremony in Hawaii.
The only personal item returned by North Korea that could identify any of the remains was the dog tag of Army medic Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel. It was the first of such returns since President George W. Bush halted the cooperation with North Korea in 2005.
An honor guard detail of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command personnel conducts an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)
DPAA’s mission is to search for, find, and account for missing Defense Department personnel from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and other recent conflicts. More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from those conflicts, with 34,000 believed to be recoverable.
The recently recovered remains have been mostly identified. The lab responsible is still finalizing the process and doing one last quality check before telling the families of the fallen. Master Sgt. McDaniel’s family has already received his dog tags, along with the hope that their long-lost father is among the honored dead on their way home. Only three others have been positively identified thus far.
Trump and Kim are expected to meet again in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019.
When Army basic training soldier Jennifer Campbell was told to run through smoke on the obstacle course, she leaned into it and went for the awesome photo moment of charging through the thickest plume of smoke.
Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t white smoke; it was o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, a potent form of tear gas used to teach basic trainees to trust their chemical masks and other gear. But Campbell wasn’t wearing chemical gear; she was running full speed and sucking down air on an obstacle course.
So the young soldier got two lungs full of the agitating gas, forcing violent coughs as her drill sergeants got a good laugh and the other trainees scrambled to get their masks on.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Campbell got her own laughs when the winds shifted and the rest of her platoon got hit unprotected, including the drill sergeant who triggered her episode. See how it all went down in the Go90 video embedded at the top.
Few have served their country and community at the level of Floyd Carter, Sr. His service began in 1944 when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a 2nd Lt. Bombardier. He was among the first African-Americans to complete pilot training. At the time, the 1,000 black pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen were just a drop in the bucket of those fighting World War II.
After the war and after the creation of the United States Air Force in 1947, Carter joined the Air Force Reserve. He was a part of the massive flow of moral and material support for West Berlin that would come to be called the Berlin Airlift.
If you’re doing the math, that’s already 24 years of service.
As an Air Force Reservist, he needed a civilian job. In that, he continued to serve, joining the New York Police Department in 1953. Within three years, he was promoted to detective and spent 27 years serving the people of New York in some of the most trying, crime-ridden times in the city’s history.
He retired from the Air Force in 1974 and the NYPD in 1980.
Carter was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal from then-President George W. Bush in 2007. He and other Tuskegee Airmen were also invited to President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration ceremony as well as the premiere of George Lucas’ 2012 film about the Tuskegee Airmen, Red Tails.
Soon after graduating high school, Harvey “Barney” Barnum, Jr. joined the Marine Corp Platoon Leaders Course, where he learned various military infantry tactics. Once Barnum earned his degree, he was given an officer’s commission in the Marine Corps Reserves and sent to the gritty jungles of Vietnam in 1965.
On December 18, Barnum and the rest of the Marines were patrolling in the Quảng Tín Province of South Vietnam. Unbeknownst to Barnum and his men, as the Marines moved deep into the enemy territory, they were walking into a vicious trap. The Vietnamese troops had dug themselves into the nearby terrain and waiting as nearly three companies of Marines walked by, headed toward a small village.
Then, a firefight broke out, first striking the Marine’s rear position and moving to the front of the patrol as the grunts entered the enemy-infested village. What happened next, no first-timer would ever expect.
The initial attack severely injured the company commander and the radio operator. This deadly wave was Barnum’s first taste of real combat — and his training kicked in immediately. He went and retrieved the radio, calling for heavy fire support.
Barnum also dashed out of his position to recover the company commander and move him to safety. Moments later, Barnum’s commanding officer died in his arms. With all the men looking for guidance, the young Marine knew it was up to him to assume control and direct a counterattack.
After passing out orders, the Marines laid a curtain of gunfire onto the trench line from which the enemy had so much success earlier. Barnum picked up a rocket launcher and fired it three times at the enemy position. That was the signal the attack Hueys needed.
After running out of rockets, the Marine officer directed the Hueys above towards targets to nail — and that’s just what they did. This airborne attack freed up some terrain, allowing the wounded and the dead to be transported out. Although still surrounded by enemy troops, Barnum choreographed each squad as they moved from the hot zone.
In roughly 45 minutes, the men found safety.
1st Lt. Harvey “Barney” Barnum, Jr. was presented with the Medal of Honor on February 27, 1967, surrounded by his fellow Marines at the barracks.