This Army nurse's epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

When the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was dedicated 35 years ago, many Americans felt both pride and sorrow remembering the loss of so many young lives, but it also made one Vietnam Army nurse, Diane Carlson Evans, beg the question, “Where are the women?”


“We’ve always kept women invisible,” Carlson Evans said in an interview with Makers.

She started the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation and lobbied for nine years to build the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the first national monument dedicated to women in the military.

But it wasn’t easy convincing those at the table that women needed to be represented too. Carlson Evans recalled an article published in a Virginia newspaper that said, “Adding a statue of a women at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial would be like adding a tacky lawn ornament.”

Through fierce opposition and years of work that included lobbying, congressional hearings, and fundraising, the statue by Glenna Goodacre was dedicated Nov. 11, 1993.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
The Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Carlson Evans describes the monument as, ” … an injured soldier being cradled by a female nurse, a standing woman looking to the sky as if for a medical evacuation helicopter or even perhaps divine help from God, and an anguished kneeling woman who is holding an empty helmet.”

“An unexpected result of the women’s memorial,” Carlson Evans told U.S. Army News, “…is that it is a place of peace and healing for the men who were treated by the nurses.” For future generations of women, “It will be there for kids to see and to know that women can be brave and courageous, too.”

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Female Vietnam Veterans hug on Veteran’s Day, year unknown. Some 11,000 women served in Vietnam.

When asked about women in the military today, Carlson Evans says they “…have expanded their roles because of the women of the Vietnam era. The women of my generation, expanded their roles because of the work of the women in the Korean War and World War II. We stand on the shoulders of each generation and benefit from that.”

Today, Carlson Evans still advocates for veterans, particularly for mental health, mainly due to her own battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. She now serves multiple organizations that perform research into the psychological effects of war.

Veterans

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

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

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

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Mekong Delta, Vietnam – SEAL team members move in on their target, an enemy bunker complex on Tan Dinh Island, during Operation Bold Dragon III. March 26, 1968 (National Archives)

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

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

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

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

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Navy SEAL Bob Gallagher, second from right, stands with members of SEAL Team TWO in My Tho, Vietnam. (SealTwo.org)

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

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

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Navy SEAL Bob Gallagher

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

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

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new petition could help veterans with service animals

Last year the news was full of headlines about veterans and their service dogs being turned away from public places such as restaurants, airports, and, in the case of an Ohio substitute teacher, work. It’s a complicated problem; businesses don’t want to turn people away, but without knowing the difference between a service dog and a pet, their hands are tied when other customers complain.


Why would someone complain about a service dog? Unfortunately, there’s been a good deal of abuse of national service dog laws lately. Anyone can buy a red or yellow vest online, claim their pet is a support animal, and take it places pets aren’t typically allowed. If the animal isn’t well behaved, it gives actual service dogs a bad rep. Also, keep in mind some people are allergic to dogs or afraid of them, and some people just don’t like dogs.

For these folks, seeing a dog in a restaurant or sitting next to them (or their children) in an airport can provoke a strong reaction that leads to confrontation. It’s frustrating and embarrassing for the veteran, confusing for business owners, and upsetting for the community.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Service dogs receive extensive training that allows them to help their handlers in public. (Photo Credit: American Humane)

Veterans who have a service dog say their companion has allowed them to return to “normal” life. Service dogs can help veterans cope with depression, anxiety, and PTSD by recognizing signs of panic attacks, awakening handlers from nightmares, and signaling them to engage in coping mechanisms that break cycles of anger and paranoia. Service dogs can even be taught to block strangers from approaching their handlers with a passive maneuver. Of course, service dogs can also help disabled veterans who have mobility issues.

Also read: Airman returns from humanitarian mission with new dog

This is one problem that is potentially easy to solve. Veterans need their service dogs, and businesses and the community at large want to support veterans in whatever way they can. Service dogs are unobtrusive in public; they do not approach people who aren’t their handlers and, trained correctly, they will quietly do their jobs without causing any disruption in public settings.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Veterans say their service dogs allow them to return to normal life. (Photo Credit: Annie Watt Agency for American Humane)

Most people are surprised to learn there are national laws regarding where service dogs can and can’t go, but no national standard for what qualifies as a service dog. Ending the confusion about what is a service dog and what is a pet is as simple as creating one national standard.

A variety of “service dog” bills have been presented in the House and Senate, but The American Humane and the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO) are the first to create a national credentialing standard for service dogs. This measure would allow veterans to keep their service dogs with them in public places without fear of confrontation. This week they are asking everyone to support this standard by signing a Change.org petition that will go to the House and Senate Committees for Veterans’ Affairs.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Service dogs are true partners for their companions. (Photo Credit: American Humane)

If you’d like to help veterans keep their service dogs with them without fear of confrontation, sign the petition, and let lawmakers know you support this common sense solution. The petition can be signed and shared right here.

Veterans

23 heroic Navy corpsmen who earned the Medal of Honor


U.S. Navy Hospital corpsmen are part of a tradition that predates the American Navy itself. In the age of sail, corpsmen (then called loblolly boys) helped the ship’s surgeon stay on his feet with sand and kept the cauterizing irons hot. The role has evolved over the decades, and the name of the corpsman’s rating evolved along with it. The loblolly boy became the nurse, who became the bayman, who became the surgeon’s steward, then the apothecary, hospital apprentice, hospital steward, pharmacist’s mate, until after World War II, when the modern corpsman (as we know it) was born.

Update: This story was corrected to reflect that Byers was a Special Operations Combat Medic.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Petty Officer 3rd Class Heston Johnson, corpsman, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, provides security during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 4, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan)

The corpsman is part medic, part nurse, part pharmacist, who serves in the Navy and on its ships, but also deploys with Marines. A corpsman’s importance in combat is unrivaled and requires the skill and courage of any grunt. 2,012 corpsmen were killed in action in the history of the U.S., with 42 of those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their work earned the recognition of twenty ships named for them and more than 600 medals for valor, including twenty-two Medals of Honor. Here are the stories of twenty-two of the Navy’s bravest:

1. Hospital Apprentice Robert H. Stanley

Stanley volunteered to carry and deliver sensitive messages between the American and British forces while under heavy gunfire during the Boxer Rebellion in Beijing, China

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Photo from Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy

2. Hospital Apprentice First Class William Zuiderveld

Zuiderveld was known as “Doc” to his company of armed Navy sailors (nicknamed “Bluejackets”) during the seizure of Vera Cruz. During an ambush, one of the men was shot in the head and Zuiderveld answered the call for a “corpsman.” Rushing to their aid, he purposely exposed himself to enemy fire to reach his wounded comrades.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
U.S. Navy photo

3. Hospital Apprentice Fred H. McGuire

During the Philippine Insurrection, McGuire began running low on ammunition, causing him fight off the fierce enemy forces with only his rifle’s butt stock until relief arrived. Finally free to treat the wounded, McGuire attended to several Americans who otherwise would have died.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

4. Hospital Steward William S. Shacklette

After the deadly boiler explosion on the USS Bennington and suffering from 3rd-degree burns over much of his body, Shacklette risked his life to assist dozens of sailors off the ship and to safety.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
U.S. Navy photo

5. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Balch

Fighting alongside his Marines from the 6th Regiment during the Battle of Belleau Wood, Balch exposed himself to high-explosive fire to secure the wounded. He worked tirelessly for his save his patience’s lives.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
U.S. Navy photo

6 . Hospital Apprentice First Class David E. Hayden

Crossing into a hail of heavy machine-gun fire in an open field during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Hayden administered lifesaving treatment to a wounded Marine. Hayden was wounded but saved the Marine’s life by carrying the man to safety.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

7. Hospital Apprentice First Class Robert Eugene Bush

Stationed with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in action against the Japanese on Okinawa, Bush took shrapnel from three enemy grenades. Despite the losing one eye, he was able to do his job and while tending to his wounded platoon commander. While holding the plasma bottle he was giving the Marine officer, he unloaded first his pistol and then the officer’s carbine into an oncoming wave of Japanese soldiers. The Japanese retreated and Bush ensured his wounded were evacuated before administering to his own wounds.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

8. Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class William D. Halyburton

Serving in a rifle company with the 5th Marines on Okinawa, Halyburton noticed his company was suddenly pinned down. Moving forward towards the enemy,  he reached a wounded Marine and unselfishly shielded the man using his body to shield incoming Japanese gunfire. He continued with his medical treatment until he collapsed from his wounds, sacrificing himself for the wounded Marine.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

9. Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester

Crawling towards a casualty under a barrage of hostile gunfire and bleeding badly from gunshot wounds, Lester successfully pulled a wounded Marine to safety and instructed two of his squad members how to treat the Marine. Realizing his own wounds were fatal, he instructed two others on how to treat their wounded comrades. Soon after, Lester succumbed to his injuries but saved dozens of lives during his tour.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

10. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Francis J. Pierce

Pierce earned his Medal of Honor at the Battle of Iwo Jima. With his rifle blasting, he courageously unveiled himself to draw off enemy attackers while he directed litter teams to carry off wounded Marines towards the medical aid station. He again drew fire while trying to treat a wounded troop and killed another Japanese soldier in the process. He ran across 200 meters of open ground to pick up a wounded Marine and carry him back across the same open 200 meters. Francis rendered the care of several severely wounded men while during the campaign.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

11. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen

Under the command of 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines at Iwo Jima, Wahlen was positioned adjacent to a platoon that had come under fire and began taking mass casualties. Dashing more than 600 yards to render medical care on fourteen Marines before returning to his platoon unharmed.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

12. Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Jack Williams

Under intense enemy fire, Williams dragged a wounded Marine on his hands and knees, using his body to shield the man as managed to apply battle dressings to the wounded. Shot in both the abdomen and groin, Williams was stunned, but unwilling to give up,  recovered and completed to treat the wounded Marine before addressing his injuries.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

13. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Willis

Injured by shrapnel and refusing to seek medical attention, Willis advanced up to the front lines under heavy mortar and sniper fire where he saved an injured Marine laying in a crater. Willis administered plasma to the patient as the Japanese intensified their attack throwing grenades. Willis returned the frags launching back towards the enemy.  After surviving several attempts, one grenade exploded in his hand killing him instantly. The Marine survived.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

14. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold

Benfold was killed in action in Korea while trying to help two Marines in a crater at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His company was battered by an enemy artillery barrage and the charged by a battalion-sized unit. Benfold ran from position to position to help his injured comrades. When he came upon the two Marines in a crater, he saw two grenades thrown in as two enemy soldiers rushed the position. Benfold picked up the grenades and charged at the two attackers, pushing the grenades into their chests. He was mortally wounded in the subsequent explosion.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

15. Hospital Corpsman Third Class William R. Charette

While attending to a wounded man during the Korean War, an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of William, who immediately threw himself on the man, absorbing the blast with his body. Now experiencing extreme shock, he continued to administer medical care to his wounded brother before patching up himself.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

16. Hospitalman Richard D. Dewert

As a fire team became pinned down by an overwhelming source of gunfire, Dewert darted into the fray on four different occasions. He carried out the wounded from the front lines even after suffering a gunshot wound to his shoulder. His courageous acts and refusal to quit allowed his brothers to survive their life-threatening injuries.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

17. Hospitalman Francis C. Hammond

After sustaining a vicious attack from hostile mortars and artillery by enemy troops, Hammond maneuvered through rough terrain and curtains of gunfire, aiding his Marines along the way. He skillfully directed several medical evacuations for his casualties before a round mortar fire struck within mere feet of him.

18. Hospitalman John E. Kilmer

During the Korean War attack on Bunker Hill, Kilmer suffered from multiple fragment wounds but still traveled from one position to another, tending to the care of the injured. Although he was mortally wounded, he successfully spearheaded many medical evacuations. As mortar shells rained down around him, Kilmer rushed to a critically wounded Marine. Shielding the man from the incoming shrapnel, Kilmer was struck by enemy fire. He’s credited with saving many lives.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

19. Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald E. Ballard 

Upon returning from rendering care on two heat casualties, his platoon came under a determined ambush from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Noticing an injured Marine, Ballard dashed to the man’s aid, treating his wounds. He directed four Marines to form a litter team to evacuate the almost dead Marine when he spotted an incoming enemy grenade. Ballard threw himself on the explosive device, protecting his brothers.  The grenade failed to detonate. He stood back up and continued the fight, treating the other Marine casualties.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

20. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Wayne M. Caron

While patrolling through a rice patty, Caron’s squad began taking small arms fire. Seeing his comrades sustain mortal wounds, he raced to each one of them and delivered medical attention to at least four Marines while suffering from two gunshot wounds. The injury didn’t stop Caron, he continued onward, putting the well-being of his Marines above his own.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

21. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Robert R. Ingram

During an intense battle against dozens of NVA troops, Ingram’s platoon began to thin out. Danger close, Petty Officer Ingram crawled across the weathered terrain to reach a downed Marine as a round ripped through his hand. Hearing the desperate calls for a corpsman, Ingram collected himself and gathered ammunition from the dead. As he moved on from patient to patient, he resupplied his squad members as he passed by. Continuing to move forward, Ingram endured several gunshot wounds but continued to aid his wounded brothers. For nearly eight hours, he blocked out severe pain as he pushed forward to save his Marines.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

22. Hospital Corpsman Second Class David R. Ray

During the early hours of the morning near Phu Loc 6, a battalion-sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the position Ray’s squad occupied. The initial attack caused numerous casualties. Ray moved from parapet to parapet, tending to his wounded Marines. Protecting his own, Ray killed one enemy soldier and wounded a second. Although mortally wounded, he held off the enemy until running out of ammunition. While treating his last patient, Ray jumped on a wounded Marine as a nearby grenade exploded, saving the Marine’s life.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

23. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers

Then-Chief Edward Byers was trained as a Special Operations Combat Medic at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before going through SEAL training in 2002. As part of a hostage rescue force in Afghanistan, he assaulted an enemy sentry while rushing into a small room filled with heavily armed enemy fighters. He assaulted, tackled and fought the insurgents in hand-to-hand combat and then threw himself on the hostage to shield them from small arms fire. While shielding the hostage, Byers subdued others with his bare hands. The 36-year-old is still serving on active duty after 11 deployments. He is the most decorated living Navy SEAL.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time an Air Force pilot saved a United Airlines flight

For most airmen going on leave for the holidays, the time off means an escape from their everyday Air Force career. After all, when is someone going to need a loadmaster at the liquor store (unless there’s a huge bourbon shortage at an egg nog festival and Costco is planning a relief drop from a C-17)?

An Air Force pilot on a United Airlines flight, however, is another story.


Like a scene out of a movie, Captain Mike Gongol was on a flight to see his extended family in Denver from Des Moines in 2013 when the B1-B Lancer pilot noticed the Boeing 737’s engine begin to idle — something only another pilot would realize. When the plane began to descend and drift to the right, he knew something was up.

He was right. A nurse on board the flight, Linda Alweiss, entered the cockpit, and found the pilot slumped over in his seat.

The rest of the plane knew something was up when a flight attendant asked the passengers if there was a doctor aboard the plane. They were asked to remain seated as the crew ran up to first class with a medical kit. When the attendants again addressed the passengers, they asked if there were any “non-revenue pilots” aboard the plane.

Gongol realized the pilot was probably the patient – and his Air Force specialty was needed. The first officer must have been the only other pilot aboard. He “looked to his wife as she gave him a nod, and Gongol pressed his button and headed toward the flight deck.”

“He was sick and mumbling and was just incoherent,” the nurse told KTLA.

A Rockwell B-1 Lancer is a very different craft from a Boeing 737. Differences in weight, crew, engine number and thrust, top speeds and ceilings are all significant factors. The moment Gongol entered the cockpit, he and the first officer sized one another up – he opted to support her as her first officer.

The Air Force captain decided to let her take the lead. He backed up her checklists, used the radio, and kept an eye out for anything going wrong.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

“She was calm, but you could tell she was a little stressed, who wouldn’t be,” Gongol told Air Force Space Command. It was only when they moved to land in Omaha that Gongol took the lead. The first officer had never landed in Omaha, but Capt. Gongol knew the airfield well, landing there many times in training. Still, he talked her through it.

The pilot, as well as the other 157 people aboard the flight, survived the trip.

Veterans

Veterans, Gold Star Families get free entrance to national parks, refuges, other public lands

Veterans and Gold Star Families will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day this year and every day onward.

“With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting Veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for Veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing.

Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies.

Details on program

For purposes of this program, a Veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

What a Special Forces sniper and one of NASCAR’s best have in common

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.”

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Kurt Busch taking range lessons from Mike Glover, a former Army 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.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Busch and Glover training with pistols.
(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.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This SEAL commander has 5 tips to transform your life

As commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3’s “Task Unit Bruiser,” the most highly decorated special-operations unit of the Iraq War, Jocko Willink learned what it takes to lead people in incredibly dangerous and complex situations.


The mantra that Willink instilled into his men was “Discipline Equals Freedom,” and it’s the idea that with structure and a strict dedication to it, one can act with more efficiency and freedom.

It’s also the title of his new book, a “field manual” highlighting the core concepts and routines Willink has previously explored on his hit podcast and in his leadership consulting company Echelon Front, which he runs with Leif Babin, one of his former platoon leaders.

Business Insider asked Willink to share some simple habits anyone could adopt in the next 24 hours that could build discipline for the benefit of their well-being, health, and career.

1. Wake up early.

As he writes in the 2015 book “Extreme Ownership,” cowritten with Babin, Willink noticed as a new SEAL that the highest performers he served with were the ones who woke up earliest, beginning their days while others were sleeping. Willink quickly adopted the habit and has long had his alarm set to 4:30 a.m.

“That nice, soft pillow, and the warm blanket, and it’s all comfortable and no one wants to leave that comfort — but if you can wake up early in the morning, get a head start on everyone else that’s still sleeping, get productive time doing things that you need to do — that’s a huge piece to moving your life forward,” Willink said. “And so get up early. I know it’s hard. I don’t care. Do it anyways.”

Willink clarified that he’s not asking people to run on just a few hours of sleep each day. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep to feel well rested and energized for the next day, he said, and if you’re someone who needs eight hours of sleep, then simply start going to bed earlier. And don’t sleep in on the weekends, he said, or else you’ll ruin any progress you’ve made optimizing your schedule.

2. Prepare your gym clothes tonight.

As soon as Willink wakes up, he heads to the home gym he built in his garage. And even if you don’t want to try one of the workout routines in the “Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual,” you should do some form of exercise, Willink said.

“Just do some kind of workout,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s going for a walk around the block, going for a jog, doing some calisthenics, lifting weights, going to a pool and swimming — you name it. But do something that gets your blood flowing and gets your mind in the game.”

The biggest obstacle for people developing workout routines is putting in extra effort to make them work. To make it easier on yourself, Willink said, prepare your workout gear at night so that you can throw it on as soon as you slide out of bed.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink. | Twitter/Jocko Willink

3. Finish making tomorrow’s to-do list before you go to bed.

As a SEAL, Willink developed a habit of kicking off his day by moving, not thinking. The way he sees it, you’re defeating the purpose of waking up early if you gradually shake off your lethargy and plan out your day over a cup of coffee. Go ahead and drink some coffee, but go work out instead.

“Don’t think in the morning,” Willink said. “That’s a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking. Don’t think. Just execute the plan. The plan is the alarm clock goes off, you get up, you go work out. Get some.”

To facilitate this, make tomorrow’s to-do list tonight. You already know what you have to accomplish tomorrow, and you’re better off planning your day out quickly and efficiently.

4. Make use of extra-short power naps.

Willink said a napping habit he borrowed from one of his high-school teachers came in handy during SEAL training and on patrol.

“So if you’re going to wake up early all the time, and you’re working hard, and you’re working out, sometimes you’re going to get tired,” Willink said. “It’s OK. It’s acceptable — somewhat. We’re all human, unfortunately.”

Willink made a habit of getting on the ground with his legs elevated either on a bed or on his rucksack, setting his alarm for just 6 to 8 minutes. As a SEAL, his exhaustion would cause him to actually fall asleep, but even the extra rest is, surprisingly, quite effective.

As for elevating your legs, not only does it feel good, but Carmichael Training Systems notes that while a healthy body can circulate blood well against gravity, swelling of the feet and ankles from extracellular fluid can occur after extended periods of sitting, standing, or athletic activity, he said. Resting your legs above your head may alleviate this swelling and enhance your rest.

5. Ignore your office’s free food.

Willink’s diet is primarily based on meat and vegetables, with very few carbohydrates, and while he doesn’t recommend you adopt his specific diet, he says anyone could benefit from discarding the habit of eating free food at the office.

He said that when people want to be nice, they’ll bring in some comfort food to their break rooms, but “they’re actually sabotaging the health of their coworkers.”

“So what do you do in those situations?” he said. “It’s really easy. Don’t eat. Don’t eat the donuts. Don’t eat the bagels. Don’t eat the slab of pizza.”

“We have food all around us all the time, and if we haven’t eaten for three hours we think we’re starving,” he said. “You’re not starving. Human beings can go for 30 days without food.”

Skip the free food and either get something healthy or skip snacking completely, he said.

Veterans

EOD Memorial event returns

Dressed in the bright whites, deep blues and dense blacks of their service uniforms, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers returned this year to honor and remember their fallen explosive ordnance disposal brethren May 1.

The annual memorial ceremony, in its 52nd year, took place with invited guests at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex here. Last year, the event took place without attendees due to COVID-19.

Even with guests, the ceremony remained small with social distancing and masking protocols. The result created a solemn and intimate atmosphere.

Families of two of EOD technicians were in attendance to see their loved ones recognized and honored.

The schoolhouse’s commander, Navy Capt. Dean Muriano, welcomed the EOD technicians, families and a few community leaders to the ceremony and explained why they return to the memorial on the first Saturday of May each year. This Saturday is designated National EOD Day.

“This day is about paying our respect to 341 men and women already enshrined on this wall and to the two men we add this year,” said Muriano. “Let there be no doubt, the men and women we honor today personified bravery and courage.”

Maj. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, Chief of Ordnance and Army Ordnance School commandant, spoke about each person recognized at this year’s ceremony, but also about the meaning of the wall itself.

“This memorial is more than just names on a wall,” she said. “At the end of the ceremony, it will serve as tribute to the 343 EOD technicians, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country dating back to the formation of the explosive ordnance disposal community during World War II. It recognizes and preserves the legacy of the sacrifices and service of our fallen warriors and their families. We remember.”

Each year, a wreath is placed in front of each branch of service’s list of names before they are read aloud. Each list is completed with the phrase “We remember,” and the names simultaneously saluted by an enlisted and officer EOD member.

The only Coast Guardsman on the wall, Lt. Thomas Crotty, was specifically recognized this year. Crotty, who died in 1942, was buried in a World War II POW cemetery in a grave labeled 312 in the Philippines. His remains were identified returned to the United States in 2019. Crotty was finally laid to rest in New York.

The families of the EOD technicians added to the wall each year receive a folded flag that was flown over the memorial.

The names added this year were: Sgt. James Johnston and Petty Officer 2nd Class James Devenny.

Johnston died in combat in Afghanistan in July 2019. The decision was made to wait to this year to add his name to the wall so his family could be at the ceremony.

Devenny died during an EOD training event at Hunters Point Navy Yard in California in 1944. Devenny participated in the training in preparation for deployment to the Pacific theater.

The ceremony concluded with an honor guard rifle volley and the playing of Taps. Afterward, families and EOD technicians both past and present descended upon the Wall for pictures, to touch the engraved brass name or just remember a fallen hero.

This article originally appeared on DVIDS. Follow @DVIDSHub on Twitter.

popular

This common health concern hits vets more than anyone — but nobody talks about it

Not feeling “in the mood” when your partner is trying to get you there. Erectile dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction.

There are a lot of ways to describe it, but there’s no denying what it is. For many men, sexuality is tied to masculinity — it’s a part of a man’s identity — and not getting there can shake a returning veteran’s confidence at every level.

Despite all of the pharmaceutical ads that make the issue seem like it’s an “old man’s problem,” it hits younger veterans — even those in their 20s — at an alarming rate. It might not make the best dinnertime conversation, but there’s no shame in it. It’s a very real problem for veterans of all ages and it’s something that you shouldn’t avoid discussing with your significant other — or a healthcare professional, at the very least.


This article was created in partnership with hims, a men’s wellness brand dedicated to helping guys be the best version of themselves.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

The loss of confidence in one major aspect could be the catalyst in sending veteran spiraling downwards.

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Mauricio Campino)

There are two primary causes of erectile dysfunction: There’s the physiological component that affects blood circulation, preventing it from reaching the right spots at the right moment. This aspect is most common among older men, men who maintain sedentary lifestyles, and those who make unhealthy lifestyle choices — like smoking two packs a day, eating fast food five times a week, and generally avoiding exercise. A gym membership or walking the dog an extra lap around the block can do wonders for that, but that’s a conversation best held between you and a medical professional.

The problem that hits many returning veterans is rooted in psychological trauma — and it’s an often-neglected side effect of post-traumatic stress. It seems pretty obvious when you think about it, right? Nobody wants to think about sex when their mind is still back in the war.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

And, well, if your mind is here… it’s not in the bedroom.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Follow our logic here for a little more understanding: If you’re a veteran, think back to your days at boot camp or basic training. Chances are high that you didn’t sport wood a single time during the entire nine weeks. While there, you probably caught wind of some BS rumor about saltpeter being put in the drinking water to prevent it from happening, but the logical side of your brain knew that it was because of the stress you were enduring.

Take that same stress and amplify it by the daily struggles that veterans who live with post-traumatic stress deal with. Of course, the severity of the situation varies. It ranges from just having the occasional “bad night” that a veteran would rather just sleep off to replaying a single tragic moment over and over, like some kind of broken record from Hell.

It’s becoming a little easier to understand how common this issue really is among veterans, right?

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans

(U.S. Navy)

Whatever your case, not getting your private to stand at the position of attention really isn’t something to be ashamed of. Have an open dialogue with your significant other. Ask for their patience, their understanding, and their help in getting you to relax — foreplay is a two-way street, after all.

If you’re still having difficulties, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s actually an extremely common thing brought up at the VA and there are plenty of treatment options out there.

If you’re interested in clinically tested medication, you can try the solutions offered by hims for just for the first month. hims will connect you with US-based, licensed doctors online so that you can find the right solution for you from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

And remember, there actually is a rating for ED that can only be brought up by talking to a medical professional.

This article was created in partnership with hims, a men’s wellness brand dedicated to helping guys be the best version of themselves.

Veterans

Hollywood wants screenwriters — specifically veterans. Here’s how to apply.

The Hollywood dream is a realm of cutthroat deals, alliances and family dynasties stretching to the industry’s humble beginnings. Veterans never shy away from a challenge. However, even the bravest need back up navigating the waters of the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild Foundation has a one-year mentorship program designed to provide guidance to military veterans embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. They provide resources and tools that nurture their passion to become successful. This is how you can apply to The Veterans Writing Project and make your voice heard.

How does the program work?

The WGF’s Veteran’s Writing Project selects from a pool of applicants and pairs them with a mentor who is successful in the entertainment industry. It starts with a weekend-long retreat followed by monthly workshops and special events. You can rest assured that the mentor is an active member of the Writers Guild of America, one of the most prestigious entertainment unions.

screenwriter application screenshot

How to apply

Before embarking on a mission, military members are given a lengthy five-paragraph order with a 40 minute mission brief. Luckily, we’re civilians now and we can speak in layman’s terms. Here are the five W’s:

Who

U.S. military veterans and active duty service members that are 21+ years old and a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident are eligible to apply. Although experience is a plus, it is not a requirement. The most important thing a veteran should have is a passion for screenwriting and a commitment to completing one screen play or TV pilot during the program. Around 50 veterans are accepted into the program per year.

What

What you need to apply is a resume, a brief personal statement consisting of 500 words or less, a copy of your DD-214 with your social security number redacted, a writing sample no greater than 10 pages in length, and some sample loglines. Loglines, for the uninitiated, is a sentence or two that describe the idea of your story.

When

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 26, 2021 at 11:59 PST.

Where

Due to the impact of COVID-19, current sessions are hosts via zoom but the program will resume in-person meetings when social distancing guidelines are lifted. The in-person sessions will take place at the WGF’s Shavelson-Webb Library in Los Angeles, CA. The program is free but those selected who reside outside of the Los Angeles will need to cover their own expenses related to transportation and lodging. Take this into account if you are active duty and need to request leave to attend the program during the in-person meetings.

You can apply using the submittable link here.

Why

The program has nurtured writers since its founding in 1966. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is associated with the Writers Guild of America West. The WGF’s mission is to promote the history of screenwriting. Veterans are natural story tellers and the WGF can be the compass to navigate your career as a screenwriter and represent our community on the world stage. Veterans fight for the freedom of speech, yet so many are left voiceless. Apply and be the leader our brother and sisters need.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This forgotten soldier survived 4 months in Dunkirk by himself

In 1940, the evacuation of allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk commenced as approximately 338,000 troops were loaded into small boats over the course the rescue.


Also known as “Operation Dynamo,” German forces conducted hellish air raids killing the numerous troops that attempted to flee the area.

In the mix of all that chaos was 20-year-old Bill Lacey, a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. Reportedly, Bill had already boarded a relief boat but decided to give up his seat to make room for a wounded man and leaped off the vessel.

Back on land, Bill turned around to see that the boat he had exited from was now well underway — without him.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
The British Army evacuation underway in Dunkirk (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

He quickly located a raft and thought he could use it to rejoin the boat that was sailing off in the distance. As he took hold of it, he realized the raft was useless as it had two bullet holes poked through it.

As gunfire erupted in all directions, Bill witnessed German troops rounding up British stragglers taking them prisoner. Unsure of what the future held, he decided to make a run for it and take his chances surviving on his own.

Headed in the opposite direction as the armed Germans, he maneuvered south, hoping to run into other British troops.

Bill made his way into the woods and traveled deep into the hostile countryside not knowing how he was ever going to make it home.

His mission was to stay out of sight, as German patrols were consistently roaming the area.

He got rid of his issued uniform, hid his weapon, and donned clothes he had stolen from nearby washing lines to help blend into the local population. Bill was forced to drink from streams and eat handfuls of straw dipped in margarine.

“I had to learn to stay alive in the same way a wild animal would,” Bill states in an interview. “My only thought was to survive from one day to the next.”

Since he didn’t speak French, he nodded to locals if they attempted to interact with him. Then, one day after four long months of surviving on scraps, Bill finally saw an opportunity to make it home.

Bill spotted a fishing boat that was tied down to a small pier and began to format a plan in his head. After the sun went down that evening, he carefully made his way to the small vessel, slipped off the moorings, quieting boarded, and steered off toward the English coast.

The forgotten soldier arrived at the shoreline near Dover, England, weak with hunger and clad in ratty clothes. Soon after, he was arrested and transported to an Army base where intelligence officers interrogated him — they didn’t believe his traumatic story.

Luckily, they checked many French newspapers and found articles about a British soldier reportedly on the run who stole food from farmhouses. There was also a report about a fishing boat from the pier that went missing.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Bill Lacey takes a moment for a quick photo op. (Source: Mirror UK)

After proving himself, Bill was recruited into the British special operation division and completed several more years of service — finally retiring in his early fifties.

Sadly, the hero and survival expert passed away at the age of 91, but his Dunkirk legacy will live on forever.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Two vets went into a combat zone to make this film

In 2017, two vets went into an active war zone to document testimonies from survivors of the Yazidi genocide begun by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in August 2014.


They were lucky to get out alive.

According to the United Nations, “ISIL committed the crime of genocide by seeking to destroy the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, forcible displacement, the transfer of children, and measures intended to prohibit the birth of Yazidi children.”

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Director Andrew Kabbe in the white cowboy hat center. Two American actors sitting on the rock: J. Teddy Garces (left) and Josh Drennen (right)

Navy diver Andrew Kabbe and Air Force pararescueman David Shumock were in the Kurdish region of Iraq working in refugee camps when they were approached by a Yazidi tribal council.

The Yazidi people were desperate to tell their story and they were funding a feature film that depicted the early events of the genocide.

They needed help.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
A testament to the tension in the area, the crew carried food and weapons at all times. (Photo by: J Teddy Garces)

After careful deliberation — and a few false starts — Kabbe and Shumock committed to the project.

Kabbe decided to write and direct the film, while security fell unto Shumock, who had been in the region during the events of 2014 and not only had experience fighting ISIL, but had strong Peshmerga connections that would allow the crew to shoot in what was functionally a red zone.

“Without him we would have been lost,” Kabbe told We Are The Mighty.

This Army nurse’s epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
David Shumock keeps a watchful eye on set. (Photo by J. Teddy Garces)

Much of the crew consisted of Yazidi volunteers who had been forced to live in refugee camps, as well as Christians, Jews, Atheists, and Muslims. They came from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, the US, England and even Poland. There were three main languages on the set: Kurdish, Farsi and English. Arabic was spoken as well. Two translators were required to communicate to the entire crew.

But the growing need to tell the story of what the Yazidi people continue to endure took over.

And now the film is near completion, but the crew needs help to complete it. Check out their page to learn more about the project and how you can make a tax-deductible contribution to their efforts.


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