Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education

This article was sponsored by American Military University.

Getting a master’s degree is a big decision. It’s an intense curriculum, focused on one area of expertise. Essentially, it’s deciding what skills and behaviors you want to master in your career.

For most people, figuring out where and what to study—whether online or in the classroom—and how to fund your master’s, requires sound research. For veterans, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is the primary benefit used to pay for higher education, including a master’s degree or certificate.

Established in 1944 – first as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – the G.I. Bill has been the longstanding resource to bridge veterans with higher education, which has been instrumental in helping them as they transition from the military. According to the VA, more than 773,000 Veterans and family members have utilized the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill for education since it was implemented in 2009.

American Military University (AMU) was founded by a veteran in 1991, and has built flexible and affordable online programs and student support services to help veterans and servicemembers complete their education so they’re prepared and qualified for their post-military mission. For veterans, the G.I. Bill has been an important and well-earned benefit by helping them advance their education while limiting their exposure to student debt. 

Know your benefits

Honorably-discharged veterans who have served 90 days of aggregate duty after Sept. 10, 2001, or are still active duty military, are eligible for Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for 36 months. The benefits can be applied to tuition, fees, and other education-related expenses.

The amount of funding you’ll receive depends on how much time that you spent on active duty since Sept. 10, 2001. Those who spent three years or more on active duty will qualify for 100% of the benefit, while allowances vary for veterans with less than three years of service. 

How to get started with the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill

The first step to using your G.I. Bill benefit to apply toward your master’s degree is, of course, to choose a school and degree. AMU enables you to choose your program, apply online with no application fees or entrance exams, and once registered—start courses monthly. If you’re using your G.I. Bill benefits, they can help you understand all of your options as prescribed by the VA.

The GI Bill can help veterans earn Master's degrees
The GI Bill Comparison Tool simplifies your search.

The VA offers their intuitive GI Bill® Comparison Tool to help you evaluate programs and compare how your benefits can be used at U.S. schools by entering the school name or your zip code.

When you’re ready to utilize your education benefit, visit the Veterans Affairs G.I. Bill website and apply for benefits. First time applicants will fill out the VA Form 22-1990. Returning students will use the 22-1995. Once you have a certificate of eligibility from the VA, you’ll need to send that and the completed VA benefits form to the school. Ask your school for the proper office address. The VA states that it takes 30 days average time to process an education claim.

The next step is to register for classes. This step varies greatly by school, so be sure to keep an eye out for when registration begins. At AMU, courses start monthly and are online so they can fit your busy schedule, especially if you’re a working professional or juggling family or other responsibilities.

The school will help you verify your enrollment with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once you’ve taking all the necessary steps, the VA will fund tuition directly to your school. It’s important to work with your school to re-verify your enrollment, when needed, to ensure that your benefits continue.

Yellow Ribbon Program

the yellow ribbon program can help vets earn a master's degree
Department of Defense, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program 

AMU qualifies as a participating university in the Chapter 33 – Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Yellow Ribbon Program. This means that AMU agrees to make additional funds available for your education program without an additional charge to your G.I. Bill entitlement. Learn more about American Military University, its more than 200 online degree and certificate programs, and your G.I. Bill options.

Transfer Credit Friendly

AMU is less complicated and transfer credit friendly. Previously earned credits and even your career background may accelerate degree completion at any degree level. If you have any academic credits from other universities, professional training or military service—don’t leave previously earned credits on the table. AMU provides you with a dedicated, helpful team and our $0 transfer credit evaluation (TCE) service. Even as a prospective student, you can request a free preliminary transfer credit review.

This article was sponsored by American Military University.

Featured: A student graduating from American Military University. (AMU, Facebook)

Veterans

Creating a formidable force: Colonel Dan T. Moore


This is the second installment in a three-part series on the officers and men of the 349th Field Artillery Regiment in World War I. This series of blog posts profile the World War I service and post-war experiences of three Veterans of the 92nd Division’s 349th Field Artillery Regiment, one of the Army’s first predominately African-American artillery units. Alabaman and Colonel Dan T. Moore was its reluctant white commander. First Lieutenant Everett Johnson, a black officer, commanded Battery E, and Sergeant Robert Samuel Chase was one of Johnson’s non-commissioned officers. All three survived the war and are interred in national cemeteries maintained by VA’s National Cemetery Administration. Both Johnson and Chase, highly skilled and educated, faced their own challenges after the war.

Read part 1 here. 

Colonel Dan T. Moore (1877-1941) commanded the 349th Field Artillery Regiment in France during World War I. As founder and first commandant of the Army School of Fire and Field Artillery at Fort Sill, OK, he was one of the Army’s most respected artillery officers. He served in the Spanish-American War, then as military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt during his first term. Moore garnered national attention in 1917 when Roosevelt revealed publicly that a young artillery captain that he sparred with often between 1904 and 1906 blinded his left eye in the boxing ring. Moore did not know he had injured the president until he read it in the news.

As Americans learned about Moore in late 1917, he was transferred from Fort Meade, MD, to Camp Dix, NJ, to take command of an all-Black artillery regiment. This assignment was a disappointment. One contemporary remarked that that assignment – to a “negro regiment” – would certainly “be hard on Dan” and was “mighty ungrateful of the [Wilson] Administration.” Much later, his son-in-law affirmed that Moore felt the same: [H]e “was born in Montgomery, AL. He appreciated the active duty. He did not appreciate serving with a Negro outfit.” Moore felt he was expected to fail because the General Staff did not want the all-Black brigade to succeed and that it assigned its best artillery officers to the unit just so they could say “this new venture in colored artillery had a fair show.”

Colonel Dan T. Moore (1877-1941) commanded the 349th Field Artillery Regiment in France during World War I.
Colonel Dan Tyler Moore who was a military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, ca. 1917. (Library of Congress)

Moore did not resign himself to failure, however. He anticipated that his men would likely never get to the Western Front but resolved to create a capable unit to force Army leadership to justify combat exclusion.

The biggest obstacle was the quality of draftees. Artillery was a technical field that required a general understanding of science and math, and he was predominately receiving Southern farmers. He and other white officers aimed to train proficient Black artillery officers and to get better-prepared draftees and volunteers. One white captain with the unit, Royal F. Nash, had worked as secretary of the NAACP and spearheaded a recruiting drive in black communities for the 349th.  As Black officers completed training, Moore sent them home to find new recruits with high school education, at a minimum. Moore’s work helped form one of the most educated African-American units in the U.S. Armed Forces.

When Moore led white units, his counterparts described his relationship with officers and subordinates glowingly. It is not known if Moore’s Black soldiers felt the same. Regardless, he created a high-performing unit that defied expectations and was given the chance to prove themselves on the battlefield. Moore’s Black artillerymen helped push the Germans toward defeat in the final weeks of the war. But the men Moore led in France were among the last he would command. He resigned from the active Army after returning home from the war, accepted a permanent commission in the Officer’s Reserve Corps with the rank of colonel, and was an active reservist through 1935.

Moore’s family described him as a somewhat lonesome man in retirement, someone without purpose outside of the Army. He died of an apparent heart attack on April 15, 1941, and is buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (Section E, Site 44). In December 1958, the officers of the artillery school he created installed a bronze plaque at his gravesite, which was eventually attached to the back of his headstone.

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

Articles

These are the best military photos for the week of August 12th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Air Force Emergency Medical Technicians hop over a barrier during the ‘Commando Challenge’ for the 27th Special Operations Medical Group’s EMT Rodeo Aug. 9, 2017, at Melrose Air Force Range, New Mexico. Twenty-one teams from Air Force bases around the world visited MAFR and Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, to participate in the EMT Rodeo, giving the technicians a wide assortment of scenarios to test their knowledge and training in the medical field.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Luke Kitterman

Two combat controllers with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron observe an A-10 Thunderbolt II landing on Jägala-Käravete Highway, Aug. 10, in Jägala, Estonia. A small force of eight Special Tactics combat controllers from the 321st STS surveyed the two-lane highway, deconflicted airspace and exercised command and control on the ground and in the air to land A-10s from Maryland Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Squadron on the highway.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy

Army:

A Soldier with 23rd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat team, 7th Infantry Division reaches for her drink tube during an operational test of the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) and Tactical Communication and Protective System Lite (TCAPS-L) hearing protection on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, August 8, 2017. Soldiers put the IHPS and TCAPS-L to the test while conducting training and gave feedback to data collectors about how the new equipment performed.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Youtoy Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, provide the 15-gun salute during the Honors Ceremony, Aug. 8, 2017, held for the outgoing I Corps Deputy Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer, in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. During the ceremony Stammer received the Legion of Merit and his wife, Donna, was awarded The Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Adeline Witherspoon, 20th Public Affairs Detachment

Navy:

U.S. Navy Sailors direct an aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Aug. 9, 2017, in the Arabian Gulf. Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in this region, the ship and strike group are conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leon Wong

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) fires its 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise as a part of exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The U.S. and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nunez Jr.

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, left, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, and Maj. Rich Mackenzie, infantry officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, hike to Alligator Creek, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Aug. 9, 2017. The tour was used to teach the Marines about Alligator Creek and the Battle of Guadalcanal, which took place from Aug. 7, 1942 to Feb. 9, 1943.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Wesley Timm

Sgt. Kyle H. Csizmar, a squad leader with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, takes point during close-quarters battle training aboard the USS Ashland (LSD 48) while underway in the Pacific Ocean, August 7, 2017. Marines with India Company, the mechanized raid company for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, train regularly to enhance their understanding and capabilities for battle at close quarters. The 31st MEU partners with the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 to form the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group. The 31st MEU and PHIBRON 11 combine to provide a cohesive blue-green team capable of accomplishing a variety of missions across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Amaia Unanue

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, “America’s Tall Ship,” arrives in New York City, August 11, 2017. The summer 2017 deployment spans five months and 14 ports, including multiple ports along the Eastern Seaboard, Canada, and Bermuda

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sabrina Clarke.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Staph, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, is hoisted from a Station Boston 45-foot rescue boat to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, during a training exercise, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in Boston Harbor. Shortly after the training completed, the aircrew was diverted to hoist an injured fisherman off the coast of Gloucester.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Andrew Barresi

Veterans

Every Veteran, spouse and caregiver in America eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

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.

Sign up to get vaccinated

Meanwhile, I urge every Veteran, spouse and caregiver to go to https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/ and sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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.

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

Veterans

National World War I Memorial honors 4.7 million Veterans


Visitors to Washington, D.C., pass many memorials during their trips, including those dedicated to wars throughout the nation’s history. The black granite of the Vietnam War Memorial. The fountains and columns of the World War II Memorial. The 19 stainless steel statues of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. One war—dubbed “The Great War”—has been the only one missing. That changes April 16, 2021, with the First Colors ceremony unveiling the National WWI Memorial.

Army Veteran Terry Hamby is commission chair for the World War I Centennial Commission. He hopes the unveiling will be an important milestone for Americans to remember those who fought.

“It’s significant to America,” he said. “For 103 years, 4.7 million men and women who served in World War I have not been recognized here in our nation’s capital for their service.”

Hamby said this group of Veterans blazed a path future generations would follow.

“This group of Americans were the first to deploy overseas to Europe and fight in a war they didn’t start,” he said. “They were willing to die for peace and liberty for people they never met.”

Hamby’s grandfather served during World War I. While working on the project, he also learned his great uncle served. He died in battle on the fifth day in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel.

“From that point forward, it’s personal because you’re a Veteran,” the Vietnam Veteran said. “But it’s really personal when one of your family members is one of those 116,516 people who gave not only the life at the moment, but the life that they would live, to the country.”

The lead designer for the memorial, Joe Weishaar, said the new memorial was a difficult task to tell the Veteran stories and honor their service.

“Weaving all of those things together has not been an easy task, but hopefully I’ve done it and it comes across when people visit,” he said. “It’s really about the men and women who served.”

Even though he doesn’t have a personal family connection to World War I, Weishaar said he felt a personal connection looking at photos and reading through diary entries of Veterans. He said the words of 20- to 25-year-old service members struck him. Weishaar was 25 when he submitted his design.

“I always felt a real connection with them,” the Arkansas native said. “Seventy thousand men and women from Arkansas served in World War I. For most of them, it was the first time they left their towns and villages. That really changes a person.”

About the memorial

Weishaar worked with the existing site and memorial, incorporating the stories of men and women who served during World War I. The memorial stands at the site of the former Pershing Park at the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., southeast of the White House.

People can watch the First Colors ceremony at https://firstcolors.worldwar1centennial.org/. People can explore the memorial online at https://firstcolors.worldwar1centennial.org/explore/.


Interview conducted by VA Digital Media Engagement team’s videographers Ben Pekannen and Tass Mimikos.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Veterans learn to see differently through the camera lens

When Army Veteran Corrin Lee Mac heard of the Lebanon VA Medical Center and Lebanon Valley College’s The Seeing Lens group, she thought the idea was “far-fetched.” The 10-week therapeutic photography group is for Veterans in recovery. However, as Mac–pictured above–went through the program, she discovered that it worked for her. “It promotes mindfulness. Looking through the lens, this second in time, you are here in the moment.”

Veterans who participate in The Seeing Lens are issued a camera and textbook for duration of the program. Each week focuses on a different aspect of recovery and ties it to a photographic technique. For example, clarity and attention are linked with the concepts of aperture and depth of field.


Members of the inaugural group had their photos displayed in an exhibit at Lebanon Valley College and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The exhibit will return to Lebanon VAMC later this year.

Graduates gathered at the college to talk about the impact the program and the exhibit had on their lives.

“Every Veteran can experience it in their own way, but something that would be in common between Veterans was the supportive nature of it, the non-judgmental atmosphere, ” said Army Veteran Robin Ann Pottoroff.

You are more thoughtful and creative.

“It makes you slow down and look at the world in a different way,” said Navy Veteran Mike Robertson. “You are more thoughtful and creative. It calms a racing brain.”

Lebanon VAMC recreation therapist Amy Cook, a founder of the program, was struck by “really seeing what the camera can do as a recovery tool. Once the Veteran picked up the camera, it was life-changing.”

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education

Project alumni suggested that other Veterans in recovery give The Seeing Lens a try.

“Give it a shot. It worked for me,” said Navy Veteran Patrick Dougherty. “And I was the most negative person, a naysayer. So if it helped me, it can pretty much help anyone.”

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

Veterans

Captain von Trapp in ‘The Sound of Music’ was a hardcore naval combat veteran

In the 1965 film The Sound of Music, Captain von Trapp ran a tight ship at home. He also ran a tight ship at sea, commanding two U-Boats for the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I. By the war’s end, he was the most decorated naval officer in Austria-Hungary.


Looking at the life and family of Captain Baron Georg Johannes Ritter von Trapp through the lens of the Sound of Music alone, you’d never know this man spent WWI on a u-boat that spewed poisonous fumes to its crew or that he sank tons of allied shipping in the Mediterranean — killing hundreds of enemy sailors — and was basically the best thing Austria-Hungary had going for it.

 

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
He even married the daughter of the guy who invented the torpedo. That’s dedication.

Aside from the 14 ships sank and one captured during his World War I service, he led Austria’s troops during the Boxer Rebellion in China, circumnavigated the globe twice, and saw his navy switch from sails to steam to diesel engines over the course of his career. At the war’s end in 1918, von Trapp’s record stood at 19 war patrols taking 11 cargo vessels totaling 45,669 tons sunk, two enemy warships sunk, and one captured.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education

U-5 was just 100 feet long but packed a terrible punch, with just a crew of 19 and four torpedoes.

Command of U-5

Captain von Trapp conducted nine combat patrols in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, and most of them were full of action. He got his first kill just two weeks after taking command of U-5, sinking the French cruiser Leon Gambetta off the coast of Italy. 12,000 tons and 684 sailors went to the bottom. Four months later, he sank the Italian submarine Nereide.

For his command during the sinking of the Leon Gambetta, von Trapp was awarded the Military Order of Maria Theresa, Austria’s highest military award.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
U-14 in the Adriatic.

Command of U-14

His next command was a reclaimed French submarine that was upgraded and modernized. He was the bane of British and Italian shipping in the Mediterranean, sinking 11 more enemy vessels. He earned a knighthood and then became a Baron for his service in Austria’s navy for his actions in World War I.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
That’s one helluva way to start a naval career.
 

That’s one helluva way to start a naval career.

Training, Circumnavigation, and China service

He trained in the Officer Training School of the Austrian-Hungarian Imperial Navy through the Maritime-Academy at Fiume in what is today Croatia, starting his career on sailing ships, going around the earth on the corvette SMS Saida II. He returned to Austria and joined the crew of the SMS Zenta, an iron steamship, in 1897. By 1899, the crew of the Zenta was fully engaged in China, part of the eight-nation alliance sent to relieve the foreign legation in Peking from the siege of the Chinese Boxers.

Georg was one of the seamen detached to the alliance to take one of the Taku Forts. The Austrian helped assault Fort Pei Tang with 8500 others in the multinational force. Many were killed in the bloody fighting but the allies took the fort and went on to relieve the legation in Peking.

Unfortunately for Capt. von Trapp, World War I did not end well for Austria-Hungary and he soon found himself out of a job, seeing as how the new Austria was landlocked and had no use for a Navy – and he was no about to become a Nazi just to command a ship. So he trained his children to perform and took them on tour, eventually settling down and starting the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont.

After World War II, he founded Trapp Family Austrian Relief, Inc. to help aid the recovery of Austria and Austrians from the war’s devastation.

Articles

Kurds say two American mercenaries were killed in Syria

Two Americans were killed while fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a Kurdish militia announced.


According to a report by CBSNews.com, the Kurdish militia known as the YPG announced the deaths of Robert Grodt and Nicholas Warden during fighting near Raqqa, Syria. Their deaths bring the total of Americans killed fighting ISIS as volunteers to at least four.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
YPG fighters near Raqqa. (WATM file photo)

In a five-minute video released by the YPG on YouTube, Grodt, who adopted the nom de guerre “Dehmat Goldman,” told his story, explaining how he had been very sympathetic to the Kurds.

“I talked with my partner and my family, and I’m like, I’m gonna go out to Syria. This is something I care about,” he said in the video.

Warden, the other American confirmed killed in the fighting near the city ISIS claimed as its capital, had adopted the moniker Rodi Deysie and was an Army veteran.

“He was very strong-willed and very strong-minded and very much against ISIS and these terrorist groups,” his father Mark was quoted by CBSNews.com as saying. “He wanted to do whatever he could to get rid of them. He said not enough people are helping so he had to help.”

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
A line of ISIS soldiers.

In a video released by the YPG, Warden said he volunteered to fight ISIS “because of the terrorist attacks they were doing in Orlando, in San Bernardino, in Nice (France), in Paris.”

The terrorist group may have been driven from Mosul, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly been killed, but they are still capable of carrying out heinous attacks. CBSNews.com reported that the group used children as human shields for a car bomb factory near Raqqa, preventing Coalition forces from carrying out an air strike on the facility. Instead, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices are being attacked one at a time after they depart the production line.

Articles

These were the terrifying dangers of being a ‘Tunnel Rat’ in Vietnam

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.”

Related: This video shows the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong tunnel systems

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
Sgt. Ronald H. Payne, a Tunnel Rat, bravely searches a tunnel’s entrance during Vietnam War. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

In 1946, the Viet Minh were the Viet Cong resistance fighters who began digging the tunnels and bunkers to combat the French, whom they would eventually defeat.

By the time the Vietnam War broke out, the Viet Cong had over 100-miles of tunnels with which to spring deadly ambushes on American and South Vietnamese forces before vanishing.

The numerous spider holes (as the tunnel entrances were sometimes called) were conveniently located and well camouflaged — nearly impossible to detect.

Also Read: American troops tried to find Viet Cong tunnels using witching rods

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.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
Sgt. Ronald A. Payne searches a Vietnamese tunnel armed with only a flashlight and a pistol. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

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.

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

Be like Jim: No legs, no problem

He’s had triple bypass surgery, two leg amputations, gallbladder removal and eye surgery.

So how does Jim Jacobi feel?


“I feel healthier now at (age) 75 than I did at 50,” said the U.S. Army Veteran. “I’ve had a lot of things done to me, but I feel healthier now (because of) my attitude and the (Milwaukee) VA.

“I just have a positive attitude about everything.”

For many, the ravages of disease and age take their toll mentally as well as physically. But Jacobi, a Milwaukee native who served one year in Vietnam after being drafted in 1965, has chosen a different path.

“It’s better to be happy and friendly,” he said. “When I was 50, I said, ‘You gotta be happy. Don’t let things bother you.'”

And he has stuck by that philosophy, tackling his various physical ailments with determination and fortitude that belie his age.

“He’s unique, he’s an outlier,” said Milwaukee VA prosthetist Justin Heck. “He’s an inspiring guy.”

Sarah Mikesell, Jacobi’s physical therapist at the Milwaukee VA, agreed.

“Statistically, he’s an anomaly, being as old as he is and being able to walk with bilateral prostheses. That’s definitely against the odds.

“Jim is really super motivated. He does a good job taking care of himself and following through on recommendations. And he tries to share his good, positive attitude with everybody else.”

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education

Jim Jacobi, a U.S. Army Veteran, stands with the help of physical therapist Sarah Mikesell at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center after putting on his new prosthetic leg.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Jacobi was just a few months out of high school when his number came up.

His job in the Army was ordering food for the troops — 150,000 when he arrived and 200,000 by the time he was discharged.

“Me and the captain were the two people that ordered all the food for the II Corps,” he said. “When I left, the captain and I got replaced by a whole company.”

His job took him to the front lines, and he remembers being shelled by mortar fire his very first day in the country.

Somewhere along the way – he’s not sure when or how – he was exposed to Agent Orange. And that is what led to the disease that has gnawed away at him – diabetes.

Exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides has been linked to the disease. And while heredity is also associated with diabetes, Jacobi said he’s the only member of his family to develop it.

After Vietnam, Jacobi worked in manufacturing for a number of years before opening a gas station. That eventually led to a job with a company that oversaw 13 convenience stores.

The work played to Jacobi’s strengths of being friendly and outgoing.

“I realized that in a factory, you see the same people every day,” he said. “When I was working for the convenience stores, I would be going to different stores. I had a lot of people working for me, and I got to know some of the customers. I’m more of a people-oriented person.”

It wasn’t long after Jacobi’s retirement when the diabetes began to take its toll.

He remembers getting an infection in the big toe on his right leg. A month later, all of his toes on his right foot had to be amputated.

“Since I’ve had this, I’ve downhill skied, curled and went sailing on Lake Michigan, all through SCI recreation. We play bocce ball, we bowl, we do air rifles, archery, kayaking, bicycling — I do all of that.”

— Jim Jacobi, talking about how his life changed after losing his first leg.

Three years later, the leg had to be amputated. Jacobi was fitted with a prosthetic, and within months he was walking again. But that wasn’t all. Besides hooking up with the Walk a Mile or More group of Veterans at the Milwaukee VA, Jacobi also became involved with recreation groups through the Spinal Cord Injury center.

“Since I’ve had this,” he said, pointing to his first prosthesis, “I’ve downhill skied, curled and went sailing on Lake Michigan, all through SCI recreation. “We play bocce ball, we bowl, we do air rifles, archery, kayaking, bicycling – I do all of that.”

He found a “great bunch of guys” at the SCI and WAMM, which gathers three days a week at Lake Wheeler on the Milwaukee VA campus not only to walk for exercise but also to socialize.

“You meet such wonderful people,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he also went on outings to Harley-Davidson and organized bicycle rides on the Hank Aaron Trail. He and his buddies would also serve free coffee once a week at the hospital’s South Entrance.

But diabetes wasn’t done with Jacobi yet.

A familiar scenario began last summer when the little toe on Jacobi’s left leg had to be amputated. The remaining toes were taken in succession within months.

In February, he was back in the hospital, having his remaining leg amputated.

During his recovery, his friends would drop by his room every day, doing what they could and bringing him anything he needed.

“The nurses on the seventh floor, they were amazed I would have about 10 guys visiting me before the virus shut it down,” he said. “They’re great buddies… They’re always there to help you. And I’m the same way – I’ll do anything I can to help them.”

In June, Jacobi was fitted with his new prosthesis, and physical therapy began again.

He hasn’t been able to take it home yet – it’s still being tweaked. Meanwhile, the remainder of his left leg continues to heal after the amputation.

As is his nature, Jacobi has not seen this latest amputation as a roadblock, but merely a hurdle to get over.

“My goal is to walk without any device – no walker, no cane – by the end of the summer,” he said.

And according to the experts, he’s likely to do it.

“I think he’s on track,” Mikesell said.

Heck agreed.

“It’s all him. He wants to do it,” Heck said. “How positive he is – that’s the hardest part.

“Physically, we know people can walk or stand with the prosthetics. That’s fairly simple. To do it well and stay positive and work at it every day – that’s the hard part.”

Diabetes threw Jacobi another curveball in June.

He woke up one Sunday morning and noticed his vision was impaired.

“I think everybody at the VA hospital is so caring. I have a lot of buddies, a lot of Veterans, and I’ve not heard one person complaint about VA.”

— Jim Jacobi talks about the care he receives at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

“It was like hair was hanging in my eye,” he said. “But I don’t have any hair.”

After talking with his primary care physician’s nurse on Monday, Jacobi walked into the eye clinic at the Milwaukee VA the next day and had laser surgery on the spot.

As Jacobi explained it, the diabetes led to the formation of blood vessels in the back of his eye.

“It looks like hair, but it’s actually blood,” he said.

Jacobi has one more procedure for the eye, scheduled in August.

Through all of this, Jacobi has continued to maintain his positive, upbeat attitude while lauding the care he has received at the Milwaukee VA.

“I think everybody at the VA hospital is so caring,” he said. “I have a lot of buddies, a lot of Veterans, and I’ve not heard one person complain about the VA.”

His health care providers at the Milwaukee VA are equally as appreciative of Jacobi.

“Jim’s a really good advocate for himself and other amputees,” Mikesell said, noting that Jacobi annually volunteers to work with students in training to be physical therapists. “He’s willing to share his knowledge and wisdom.”

“He has been an advocate for other Veterans as well as for the workers here,” Heck said.

Jacobi has a theory about people, saying 25% have “wonderful attitudes,” 50% have “normal” attitudes and the remaining 25% have “negative” attitudes.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “I wish we could get to that 25% who are angry.

“I see patients when I’m in the hospital, and some guys are so grumpy and negative. That’s a shame to see,” he said.

“It’s better to have a positive attitude. You make everybody else feel positive too.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

TrueCar is partnering with DAV to give cars to wounded vets

TrueCar and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) just launched their second annual DrivenToDrive program, which is aimed at helping disabled veterans by retrofitting vehicles to accommodate their injuries. Last year, TrueCar gave their first-ever recipient the keys to a brand-new and modified cargo van.


Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
DAV has been serving veterans since 1920.

And now it’s time to give away another car.

The CEO of DAV, Marc Burgess spoke in a March 15 press release, “DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence. Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”

“Driving is an expression of freedom and independence,” said Lucas Donat, Chief Brand Officer at TrueCar. “Helping injured veterans, those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom, to drive again is a cause close to our heart. Last year we had such an incredible response that we are excited to open up the contest again, and we’re honored to be working with DAV.”

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
Vehicle awarded may differ from Vehicle shown.

Applicants are selected by a panel based off criteria to determine who will receive the vehicle. The program is only giving one deserving member of the military community a new vehicle. Active duty, veterans, and immediate family members are eligible to enter by visiting the link here. While there, visitors will be asked “what drives you” and how they would use the new vehicle to help them reach their goals.

Entrants must act fast as the submission period ends Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 9PM (PST.) Up to five finalists will be notified on or about March 26 and the Grand Prize winner will be notified on April 9. The official announcement will take place on or about May 21, 2018.

Articles

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

That satisfying “Ping!” of bullets on target is as regular as a metronome when former Green Beret sniper, Aaron Barruga, is running tactical marksmanship drills on his home turf in Santa Clarita, CA. With his company, Guerrilla Approach, Barruga trains civilians, military, and law enforcement in proper and effective tactical firearm deployment.

The man does not miss.


“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis paid a visit to Barruga’s training facility to bone up on his sharpshooting and found himself in good hands, drilling shoulder to shoulder with this veteran entrepreneurial success story. Barruga’s advice?

“I would definitely say that, if they have the opportunity, use that G.I. Bill. Get that piece of paper that says, “I’m smart and employable.” And just grind away, basically. You gotta hustle.”

As the day progresses, the sweat beading on Ryan’s brow is a testament to his hustle, if not his dead shot accuracy. And when he challenges Barruga to an Old West-style duel, our host quickly learns what high noon looks like at the Less-than-OK Corral.

Understanding how veterans utilize GI Bill benefits to earn a Master’s education
Mommy? (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Watch as Barruga makes plinking targets look easy, and Curtis proves his monkey is definitely the drunkest, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

This Army vet is crazy motivated

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

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