There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

Coming from a retired Army Noncommissioned Officer who wore a green beret and a drill sergeant hat, it may seem weird, but I don’t look forward to Veterans Day.  However, there was a time that I got excited about this holiday.

Growing up in small town USA certain holidays were big deals, it meant we’d have a parade. Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day brought the community together and honored our nation and its heroes. Not growing up in a military family, my parents made sure we attended these events. I believe it was a large part of my desire to be a soldier from a young age. I would see the old American Legion veterans marching in their uniforms and standing proud through speeches made by local leaders. I’m certain these old veteran’s dedication had an impact on many youth, not just me. 

Nov. 11 was a special day for me when I didn’t understand the cost of freedom and service. I was too young to realize that we were honoring these veterans because they chose to put themselves through hardship on our behalf.  It was more than a cool factor and an aura of professionalism.

Now, I don’t have the same sentiment toward Veterans Day. It’s one of those days that makes me feel uncomfortable. Memorial Day, the official day to remember our fallen, is another one. 

While well-meaning Americans reach out to shake my hand and say thank you for my service, I feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure what they’re thanking me for. Additionally, I don’t feel a need to be thanked for my service. It was my choice to serve and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world. Aside from being a father, serving this great nation is the biggest honor I’ve ever had. 

Yes, this may get uncomfortable. With this discomfort we can grow. I wonder what people are thanking me for. For following my dreams? Again, it’s what I always wanted to do. I got to live out my dreams. For signing up when they didn’t? It’s okay, I made my choices and they made theirs, no animosity. The military isn’t for everybody. For making it home when others didn’t? We don’t get to pick and choose who survives. I’m lucky to have served with the most outstanding people on earth who sacrificed their lives so that we may live ours. Are they thanking me because they feel societal pressure to acknowledge my service? I always assume positive intent, but I’m a realist that knows the world isn’t all roses and rainbows. 

The reality is I think of my service every day of the year. Sometimes with a smile and other days with tears for brothers who are no longer with us. I’m proud to have served and not a day will go by that changes that feeling. 

I appreciate the recognition of my service on this special day and I’ll answer like I normally do when I’m thanked. “No need to thank me. It was my privilege to serve and if I had a choice, I’d do it all over again.” However, like a lot of veterans, this day will give me mixed emotions.

Articles

A firefighter’s secret identity reveals a Marine veteran – and gourmet chef

Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.

But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.


In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
The two sides of Lt. Bill Joerger… (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
…and both are delicious. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.

But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.

“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”

Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Veterans

How this Army veteran went from helicopter repair to the tech sector

This post is sponsored by Microsoft Software and Systems Academy.

After graduating high school, Richard Lee wanted to join the military. As the American-born son of Korean parents, service to country was instilled in him from a very young age.

“I could see the opportunities that my parents had in America,” Lee told We Are The Mighty. “This gave me the aspiration to join the military to serve my country: the United States of America.” In May 2009, Lee joined the U.S. Army as an Aircraft Powerplant Repairer.

Lee’s military experience is extensive. For 11 years, he worked on Apache, Blackhawk, Chinook and Kiowa helicopters — a job he loved. As he progressed in rank and became a supervisor, he loved every minute of his service.

“Watching an aircraft fly after you’ve completely disassembled and reassembled both engines is an awesome feeling,” he said.

Lee would have continued his Army career, but the universe had other plans. Even though he was eligible for promotion to Sergeant First Class, his family needed him more than the Army did. It was time to get out.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Lee with family.

As he entered into civilian life, Lee wanted to find a career that would leverage the skills he learned in the Army, while also mirroring the team environment he’d come to love as a soldier. After extensively researching options, Lee found Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA). MSSA gave him the chance to experience the camaraderie he knew in the Army, while pursuing a new future for himself.

MSSA is an intensive 17-week program designed to train transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard members and Reservists for the technology sector’s most in-demand jobs of the future.

MSSA is a remote certification program that provides veterans with the training and professional development skills they need for careers in software engineering, cloud application development, server and cloud administration and more — all funded by Microsoft — at no cost to the veteran. At the end of training, graduates have myriad opportunities to meet with Microsoft or some of its more than 750 hiring partner companies, all leaders in the tech sector.

“MSSA doesn’t only teach technical skills, but helps veterans understand how to use their military experience to let companies know what they are capable of,” Lee said. “I was lucky enough to pick up the technical aspects quickly but leaned on MSSA and my classmates to get better at communicating my strengths and my military experience.”

The Army helped him learn to lead and motivate the people who worked for him, even under the high-pressure world of aviation maintenance. Although Lee felt the Army prepared him for a transition to civilian life, MSSA prepared him for a career in the tech sector. “MSSA put together a solid curriculum to train veterans with no technical background to create a full stack application from concept to deployment,” Lee said.

Today, after 11 years as a helicopter technician, Richard Lee is a cloud network engineer who’s been working at Microsoft since January 2021.

Like many of the 200,000 veterans who leave the military each year, Lee’s separation became much smoother when he found his calling in the tech world. And, when he learned about Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, he knew he’d have the tools to succeed in the field.

Beyond the technical curriculum and soft skills, the camaraderie gained made the program even more worthwhile. Many veterans feel a loss of camaraderie when they leave the service. With MSSA’s focus on teamwork, transitioning service members feel as though they once again belong to a unit with a common goal: mastering course content. “Another unexpected side effect of MSSA was the camaraderie that took place when you gather a group of veterans to work together.” Lee said. “During class, and even after class, my cohort got together on Discord and Microsoft Teams to work together and help each other out with technical skills, interviewing skills and shared companies that were currently hiring.”

Lee would (and has!) recommended the training to every veteran he knows. He says it’s the best way to not only receive the training required in a short amount of time, but also get the  hands-on learning that can only be acquired on the job.

Best of all, the experience and camaraderie he loved about the Army and his MSSA classmates carries through to Microsoft.

“I am extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to work at Microsoft in a team that I couldn’t have imagined existed,” Lee said. “They are all so driven to produce the best experience for customers, as well as extremely open to helping me learn how to do this job better. I feel very lucky to have joined a team where these values are displayed daily.” For more on Microsoft’s transition resources, their Tech Transition Toolkit offers some great tips on how you can get a head-start toward a fulfilling, rewarding career in tech.

This post is sponsored by Microsoft Software and Systems Academy.

Articles

How this chef runs a kitchen like a platoon

If you’ve ever served in the Army, you know chain of command is everything. Orders flow down from the Commander, and the success of the mission is a direct reflection of the rigor and discipline with which his or her subordinates execute.


There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
General George S. Patton: good plans, violently executed.

If you’ve ever worked in a gourmet kitchen, you know that chain of command is everything. Orders flow down from the Chef, and the success of the meal service is a direct reflection of the rigor and discipline with which his or her subordinates execute.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Chef Ludo Lefebvre: great meals, violently delegated. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Cute, right? Yeah, it’s true though. The parallels between a deployed military force and a busy professional kitchen are abundant and revealing. Discipline, hierarchy, preparation, trust in team — it’s all there. And no one gets this more clearly than Army veteran Will Marquardt, who now serves as Chef de Cuisine (second in command) to celeb Chef Ludo Lefebvre in his five-star Hollywood hole-in-the-wall, Petit Trois.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
The Lieutenant of Petit Trois, hard at work. (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl took the 405 to the 10 to drop in on Petit Trois, where he found a young lieutenant at the top of his game, executing dish after perfect dish with precision, exemplary leadership, and an added dash of creativity.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

This is what it means to be American in Guam

Veterans

Honoring the fallen: Band shoots video in national cemetery

Air Force will unveil Culpeper National Cemetery shoot Memorial Day


Following the success of a Memorial Day video in 2020, the Air Force Band was back at Culpeper National Cemetery in Virginia April 26 to shoot a video for Memorial Day 2021.

The band returned to the site to pay respect and film a tribute to those who lost their lives in war.

“First off, it’s just utterly beautiful out here,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Brest, the producer and editor. “It’s a great place to pay respects and see the cemetery.”

Playing the hymn “Going Home,” the band brought in a bagpiper and elements from the Ceremonial Brass for the video shoot. Using a jib, the band shot multiple passes among the grave markers of buried service members. The band releases the video prior to Memorial Day.

The finished, two-minute video includes a video message from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., said Brest, trumpet section leader for Ceremonial Brass. He hopes the band’s video will help people to remember the fallen.

“I think it helps bring a really strong message of support,” Brest said. “Right now, especially with as trying as the times are in the world, it’s nice to see something that is kind of getting back to a feeling of where we were before and really bring people back together.”

Brest said Air Force Band members always feel the solemness of playing in a cemetery. They frequently play in Arlington National Cemetery.

“The weight is always there,” he said. “It really feels like when you come to work here that you can’t help but really just give it everything that you have and want to really express what all this means.”

The band’s visit is a fitting tribute for Memorial Day and teaches people about the National Cemetery Administration, or NCA, mission, said Jason Hogan, Culpeper National Cemetery director.

“It almost acts like an outreach event for the NCA to bring awareness of not only Culpeper National Cemetery, but the other 154 national cemeteries throughout the country,” Hogan said.

Watch last year’s video

Last year’s video, also shot in Culpeper, featured Tech. Sgt. Jason Covey playing Taps.

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

Veterans

Help Veterans improve their mental health as a VA social worker

Social workers at VA are a vital part of the team, pulling together treatment plans and providing comprehensive, personalized care to Veterans


Social workers are an integral part of mental health care teams at VA.

These versatile professionals seem to do it all, pulling together treatment plans and providing comprehensive, personalized care to Veterans.

Did you know that VA is the largest employer of social workers in the nation? It’s true. And this month, we’re turning the spotlight on this rewarding career as part of our monthly effort to recognize a different critical-need occupation in celebration of VHA’s 75th anniversary.

A unique role

Elizabeth Kleeman is one of our licensed clinical social workers, supervising the suicide prevention team at the Michael E. Debakey VA Medical Center.

In her final year of graduate school, Elizabeth accepted a social work internship at VA. She’s now been a social worker here for more than a decade.

“By happenstance, I got into VA and I have never felt limited here,” said Kleeman. “The opportunities that we have, creativity and positions that you can take, the services that you can offer and the training that you can get are state of the art.”

She supervises the suicide prevention and Veterans justice outreach teams. These teams of social workers provide the VAMC with suicide prevention expertise and serve as liaisons between the legal system and VA.

“There is just so much you can do in the social work realm that is unique to this particular discipline,” she said.

Versatile career

As a VA social worker, you’ll be essential to our mission of helping Veterans and their families heal. Your role on a mental health care team is extensive and dynamic, including responsibilities such as:

  • Developing specialized treatment plans that consider social, environmental, psychological and economic factors.
  • Providing clinical and case management for Veterans dealing with PTSD, substance abuse, bereavement and more.
  • Providing therapy.
  • Managing crisis intervention and high-risk screenings.
  • Delivering family education and providing educational materials.
  • Acting as a patient advocate.
  • Developing discharge plans and coordinating outpatient care.

“We are often consultants to the other disciplines on what impacts people’s well-being and their experience – like their marriage, their past, their childhood, their current family, their work, etc. Social justice is truly what drives us; this helps the entire team function because it calls out the blind spots,” Kleeman said.

Social workers across VA serve in a variety of settings, including primary care clinics, specialty clinics, hospitals and emergency departments, and mental health and rehabilitation units.

With more than 1,200 VA facilities across the nation, you’re sure to find a social work role that suits your skills and expertise.

Work at VA

Consider becoming part of the social work team at VA, where you can play a vital role in improving Veterans’ lives.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Merging Vets and Players is a group that will make you want to lift

Sportswriter Jay Glazer created MVP — or Merging Vets and Players — in 2015 to address the similar issues that many professional athletes and veterans face as they transition back into civilian life.


Like service members, athletes live a very structured lifestyle day-in and day-out — and life after rigorous training schedules, travel, and competition can be jarring, both mentally and physically.

The idea behind MVP is to connect veterans and athletes together so they can benefit from each other’s strengths and experiences.

“A lot of our military come home and they feel different, don’t have a purpose,” Glazer states. “So we’re trying to rebuild our vets from the inside out.”

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Jay Glazer at the Unbreakable Performance Center in Hollywood, CA. (Source: MVP)

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

With the help of former Green Beret and NFL Long Snapper Nate Boyer, MVP is growing on both sides of the spectrum as they gain new motivated members who want to continue to feel like they are part of a winning team.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Former Green Beret and NFL Long Snapper Nate Boyer.

“When it’s all said and done, and the uniform comes off, you don’t have that purpose; you don’t have that team, you don’t have that mission. You just feel lost.” — Nate Boyer

If you’re a veteran or professional athlete and you’re interesting in joining this amazing team click here for more info.

Also Read: Army wants to see ‘explosive power’ in new physical fitness test

Check out FOX Sports Supports’ video below to see for yourself how sportswriter Jay Glazer and former Green Beret and NFL Long Snapper Nate Boyer set out to unite veterans and professional athletes.

FOX Sports Supports, YouTube
MIGHTY MONEY

What are allowances and why do you get them?

Next to base pay, allowances are the most important part in the breakdown of your paycheck. They are funds paid to the service member to provide for specific needs that are not directly provided for by the military – for example, clothing and housing — and they are generally not considered taxable income.


There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

BAS:

Basic allowance for subsistence, or BAS, is intended to partly compensate the service member for the cost of food. These allowances are not intended to compensate the service member for the cost of feeding dependents.

Who: All service members, though service members utilizing the chow hall, deployed, or attending schools/training may not receive BAS as it is directly applied to chow halls or MREs (meals ready to eat).

How much: Officers rate $246.24 per month, enlisted personnel rate $357.55 per month.

BAH:

Basic allowance for housing, or BAH, like BAS, is intended to compensate the service member for the cost of housing.

Who: Service members who do not reside in military quarters or on-installation housing.

How much: BAH differs by duty station and rank. Additionally, there are several different types of BAH that impact the exact amount the service member receives.

BAH with dependents will be higher than BAH without dependents.

Partial BAH is paid to service members who live in government quarters without dependents.

BAH reserve component/transit (BAH RC/T) is for service members who fall within certain parameters that wouldn’t generally receive BAH (i.e. a reservist activated for less than 30 days or a service member stationed somewhere with no previous BAH rate set up, generally overseas).

BAH-differential (BAH-Diff) is authorized for service members who pay child support but don’t necessarily have a dependent living with them (this amount is determined by subtracting the amount of BAH without dependents from that of BAH with dependents).

BAH can be determined here.

Clothing:

There are several types of clothing allowances: initial, cash clothing replacement, extra clothing, and military clothing maintenance.

Initial:

Who: Officers and enlisted alike rate an initial clothing allowance.

How much: The allowance is directly applied to the bill when uniforms are issued.

Cash clothing replacement:

Who: Enlisted personnel yearly in the anniversary month of the service member’s enlistment.

How much: Varies by rank.

Extra clothing:

Who: Any service member in a situation where additional uniforms or specific civilian attire is necessary in order to perform duties (i.e. detachment commanders at an embassy require suits).

How much: For civilian attire, this amount ranges from $287.45 to $862.35 and depends on whether it’s the initial payment, and for how long the service member is going to be in the position.

Military clothing maintenance:

Who: All service members during and after 3 years of active duty.

How much: Varies.

Dislocation:

Dislocation Allowance, or DLA, is intended to partly reimburse service members for the cost of relocating due to orders or evacuation.

Who: All service members regardless of whether the member has dependents; except for National Guard members and reserve members who are reporting to or leaving active duty unless the member is activated for longer than 20 weeks at one location and is authorized to receive PCS allowances and have family members accompanying.

How much: Varies depending on rank and dependent status.

FSA:

Family separation allowance, or FSA, is paid to service members who have dependents and are given unaccompanied orders for more than 30 continuous days.

Who: All service members.

How much: $250 per month.

FSSA:

Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, or FSSA, is program designed to help military families contending with issues or demands that cannot be met by current military allowances.

Who: All service members who meet the criteria.

How much: Varies.

Articles

This former soldier says Team RWB helped him make the transition from service to civilian life

With most veteran service organizations, the only way to get in the door is to show your military cred — if you didn’t serve, they don’t serve.


And that’s great for some. But for groups like Team Red, White Blue, the whole point is to bring veterans and the civilian community together.

If you didn’t serve, we’re here to serve, they say.

And that proved a crucial difference for Mark Benson, a former Army fire direction specialist who left the military in 2004 after serving a tour during the invasion of Iraq. It was that civilian-to-military connection that attracted Benson to Team RWB, and it’s a distinction that he believes helps former service members survive in the civilian world.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
(Photo courtesy of Rick Benson Facebook)

 

“Team RWB’s mission is also to help folks rejoin the civilian world. If you’re not engaged with civilians then how are you ever going to connect with the civilian world?” Benson said. “If you’re just hanging out with a bunch of veterans, then you just kind of have your own little microcosm.”

Living in the Los Angeles area is like living in a military veteran desert, he said, it’s hard to find folks who get what doing a combat deployment means. But through his work as a community liaison with Team RWB, Benson found that even those who didn’t serve have a lot of support to offer.

“Some of these non-veterans did experience things in their life where they had a hard time and they kind of can relate to a certain extent,” Benson said. “A lot of the people that are in the leadership in the LA chapter aren’t veterans, but they do have a story. And I think that’s important.”

Benson has been a community liaison for Team RWB for almost a year and helped run with the “stars and stripes” in this year’s cross-country Old Glory Relay. It was Benson’s first run and served as a poignant reminder of the service he and others gave of themselves and provided an outlet to show a new generation the meaning of patriotism and selflessness.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Support Team Red White, Blue by donating today!

During a stretch of the relay, Benson and his team of runners passed by an elementary school where the kids were lined up outside reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Later in the run, the Old Glory Relay team paid their respects with the flag at a veterans memorial cemetery.

“It was kind of cool to start out with the young future leaders of the world and then go pay our respects to those who gave their lives to help those young leaders live their lives in peace,” Benson said.

With just over a year being part of Team Red, White Blue, Benson sees his involvement deepening and the influence of his organization growing. Particularly in a non-military town like Los Angeles, it’s groups like Team RWB that bring veterans and their community together and help narrow that military-civilian divide.

“LA is probably one of those areas that has a larger civilian-military divide,” Benson said. “But it seems like in our area at least, there’s definitely a lot more understanding.”

There are many ways to get involved with Team Red, White Blue and the Old Glory Relay, so check out their website to get more information – or text ‘OGR’ to 41444 to learn more and donate! You can track the flag on its journey across America at the OGR Live tracking page.

 

Veterans

This Corpsman saved a Marine suffering from a sniper head shot

On Oct. 18, 2006, Justin Constantine was deployed to Al-Anbar Province, Iraq when a sniper shot him in the head.


He had just stepped out of his Humvee to warn a reporter about the sharpshooter operating in the area when the enemy took the shot.

“He [the reporter] told me later that based on that [Constantine’s warning] he took a big step forward and a split second later a bullet came in right where his head had been and hit the wall between us,” Constantine, who retired a Marine lieutenant colonel, said in the video below. “Before I could react, the next bullet hit me behind the left ear and exploded out of my mouth, causing incredible damage along the way.”

Related: This is how a military death can affect generations of families

Constantine’s original prognosis was “killed in action,” but thanks to a quick-thinking 25-year-old Navy Corpsman, he lived.

“Even though blood was pouring out of my skull in what was left of my face, George was somehow able to perform rescue breathing on me, and then he cut open my throat and performed an emergency tracheotomy so that I wouldn’t drown in my own blood,” he added.

The Corpsman’s first aid was so perfect that Constantine’s plastic surgeon at the Naval Hospital thought another surgeon had performed the procedure.

He retired from the Marine Corps with a Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq.

Despite his recovery challenges and PTSD, Constantine has led an inspiring post-injury life, helping veterans and civilians overcome adversity. He now serves on the Board of Directors of the Wounded Warrior Project, Give An Hour, and others.

He now shares his wisdom and life-saving resiliency lessons he learned in the Corps with all Americans via his “Veteran Calendar” and uses a portion of the proceeds to support the Semper Fi Fund, The Medal of Honor Foundation, and The PenFed Foundation.

Watch Constantine tell his incredible story in this TED Talk video:

Justin Constantine (YouTube)

MIGHTY TRENDING

America’s oldest veteran gives you the secrets to life at 112

Richard Arvin Overton was already 35 years old when he fought at Pearl Harbor. Now, 73 years after the end of World War II and his service in the Pacific Theater, the 112-year-old is alive and kicking. Today, the City of Austin and its Mayor, Steve Adler, even came out to wish America’s oldest veteran a happy birthday.

Find out how to live your life like Richard Overton lived his.


Overton is still completely independent — he lives on his own, walks where he wants (albeit with the aid of a cane), and drives where he needs to go. He enjoys cigars, good whiskey, and dating his “lady friend.”

That also happens to be Richard Overton’s big, anti-aging secret, which he shared over a few drinks with We Are The Mighty’s Orvelin Valle during the celebration.

“The secret to life,” Overton says, “is Scotch and cigars.”

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin,u00a0joins WWII veteran Richard Overton and his neighbors at Overton’s home as they celebrateu00a0his 112th birthday.
(Mark Harper)

You’ll never catch Overton without a pocket full of cigars and, while you might think they’re hazardous to his health and well-being, it seems they’re doing more good than harm. He passes every medical test the doctors (and the DMV) can throw his way.

Although he drives himself because he thinks too many people around his neighborhood drive crazily, he isn’t afraid of anything, even at his advanced age. He even remarked that he feels completely comfortable sleeping with his doors unlocked at night.

“You see a soldier with a gun,” he once told National Geographic (while holding his issued M1 Garand rifle), “you don’t see him turn around and come back this way.”

But that stress-free life starts with a good cigar or twelve. He often smokes a dozen or more per day. He doesn’t inhale, though, saying there’s no point.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Richard Overton getting a light for his cigar on his 112th birthday.
(Mark Harper)

“Forget about swallowing it,” Overton says. “There’s no taste to it. It just makes you cough.”

Not inhaling his cigars is what he calls “the healthy way.” This lifestyle also includes a diet of milk, fish, corn, and soup. But the 112-year-old vet also starts his day with about four cups of coffee and ends each by eating butter-pecan ice cream.

And, sometimes, he adds whisky to the mix

He doesn’t spend his money on buying things he doesn’t need and he definitely doesn’t use credit cards. He’s been driving the same truck for decades, which he paid for with cash. Still, it’s a far cry from his first car – a Ford Model T.

To live like America’s oldest veteran, just live a stress-free life. Start with the simple pleasures, like ice cream, whisky, and cigars. If you don’t take his advice, that’s fine. As he says, “that’s your bad luck.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Shop these 6 veteran-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday

Whether you’re an avid leave-at-three-in-the-morning-and-stand-outside-Walmart-for-hours kind of shopper or more of the hell-no-I’m-not-leaving-my-couch kind, save your money on Black Friday and spend it all the next day: Small Business Saturday. Specifically, spend your money with these 6 veteran-owned businesses for everyone on your holiday shopping list:


There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

Death Before Decaf mug

Blue Angel Coffee

For the coffee lover:

Blue Angel not only has awesome coffee, but their merch is some of the best around. Who doesn’t need a mug that says “Coffee because crack is bad for you,” or “Death before decaf,” among other hilarious quips?

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

The Lower 48 in Alder

Dark Horse Wood

For the patriot:

We know you love ‘Merica more than anyone and most of the people in your life do too. Nothing says pride like hanging The Lower 48 in Alder on your wall for all to see. Beautifully handmade by Dark Horse Wood, this gorgeous craftsmanship is a gift that will keep on giving.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

Rumi Spice Blend Gift Box

Rumi Spice

For the cook:

The best kind of presents are ones that you can feel good about gifting. Rumi Spice was founded by veterans to connect Afghan farmers with the global food market to lay down a foundation for peace, one flower at a time. “Spice for good” sounds like something we can get behind—and that we can use as stocking stuffers. With Afghan saffron, wild black cumin and spice blends, the artisan chef in your family will appreciate not just the spices, but the meaning behind them as well.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

USMC MRE T-shirt

Military Muscle

For the Marine:

Have that buddy you love to make fun of? Buy him this t-shirt from Military Muscle that has a box of crayons on it labeled USMC MRE (you’re welcome). Plus, you can feel good about it. For every t-shirt purchased, Military Muscle donates one to either someone deployed or a homeless vet.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

Leadslingers Bourbon Whiskey

Leadslingers Whiskey

For the bourbon lover:

If you’re looking for a smooth, tasty bourbon, look no further than Leadslingers to make your holiday spirits bright. With a light bourbon flavor born from its single barrel aging process, it’s double distilled and handcrafted in Moore, Oklahoma. It’s got top shelf flavor without the hefty price tag. It “melds sophistication and down home flavors, delivering hints of oak, toffee and vanilla; it’s sure to satisfy even the most distinguishing taster.”

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day

The Krypteia

Toor Knives

For the outdoorsman:

What’s better than knife hands? An actual knife. Toor Knives gives you mount, engraving and sheath options, allowing you to build a customized knife and a one-of-a-kind gift.

Whether you start your holiday shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving or would rather procrastinate until Christmas Eve, you do you… and do veteran-owned too.

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This is why sailors wear neckerchiefs with their dress uniform

Any enlisted Navy sailor can tell you that their dress uniform wouldn’t be as famous today without one of its most iconic pieces — the historic neckerchief.


Reportedly, the neckerchief made its first appearance in the 16th century and was primarily worn as a sweat rag and to protect the sailor’s neck from rubbing raw against their stiff collared shirts.

In some cases, the 36-square-inch silk fabric could also be used as a battle dressing or tourniquet in a life saving situation.

The color black was picked to hide any dirt or residue that built up during wear.

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
The iconic Navy dress blue uniformed with a neckerchief being steamed before a uniform inspection.

In 1817, the Navy wanted each one of its sailors to tie their neckerchief the same way, so it introduce the square knot. The square knot was hand-picked because it was commonly used on ships to secure its cargo.

The knot was later added to the dress blue uniform to represent the hardworking Navy tradition, and it remains that way today.

How to tie a square knot:

There was a time I looked forward to Veterans Day
Step-by-step instructions for the tradition square knot. (Source: Navy.mil)

During the inspection, each sailor is carefully examined by a senior at least twice a year. While under observation, the sailor must display a properly tied square knot which needs to hang at the bottom of the jumper’s V-neck opening, and the ends of the neckerchief must appear even as shown above.

Do you remember your first uniform inspection? Comment below.

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