Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble launched its Tokyo Olympic Games campaign with two moving short films depicting the beauty of motherhood and being the good in the world. The organization then announced the recipients of their Athletes for Good fund, with one extraordinary Army veteran and Paralympian among them. 

United States Army combat veteran Melissa Stockwell was the first female service member to lose a limb in combat. It didn’t slow her down — rather, fueled her to go even harder. “I lost my leg while serving over in Iraq in 2004 from a roadside bomb. So, I was suddenly 24 years old trying to navigate life with one leg,” she explained. Seeing fellow service members around her with what she considered bigger losses and traumas, she decided to count her blessings. 

“I really realized how lucky I was and it helped me accept the loss of my leg and move on…that decision helped propel me into a life I could have never imagined otherwise,” Stockwell said. 

Move on she did. Stockwell not only pushed through healing and reintegrating into her new life, but then decided to try out for the Paralympics on top of it. Her reasoning? Why not. She learned about the Paralympics after losing her leg and decided she wasn’t going to let her loss stop her from doing anything

“What greater honor than putting on a USA uniform and representing our country that I had defended in Iraq on the world’s biggest stage,” she explained. “You fast forward a whole bunch of years and I am now a two-time Paralympian going for my third.”

In 2011 she co-founded Dare2tri, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities through confidence building and community through sports and wellness. Her selection through the Proctor and Gamble campaign brought a $10,000 grant into the organization. 

“I am a very proud athlete with a disability. I am a mother of two and a mother that looks a little bit different but wants to show them it doesn’t matter what you look like. You can still get out there and reach for your dreams and do the things you want to do,” Stockwell explained. In 2016, she earned a Bronze Medal in the Paratriathlon. “I want to teach them to be strong, kind, courageous and have compassion.”

The Procter & Gamble Olympic campaign short film, Love Leads to Good, really struck a chord with Stockwell when she saw it for the first time. “I think any parent out there can relate to it. That visually shows what you want your child to be. Being a mother is the best and hardest job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I’m really proud to partner with P&G [Procter & Gamble] on the campaign going into Tokyo. It’s all about leading with love. We want the world to be inclusive and equitable.”

The excitement of making her way to Tokyo was visible and her joyful energy palpable. Stockwell explained how the entire world had just been through a shared hardship and how coming together for the Olympics will be such an incredible celebration of life and sport. “I am really looking forward to hopefully being back on the podium too,” she said with a smile. 

Stockwell remains eternally grateful to the military organizations who stepped forward to support her after she lost her leg. She credits them with getting her out of the hospital in record time and active again. The community of veterans who surrounded her was also a big part of her recovery, she said. 

“If the things that I do can influence someone else or inspire someone to do something they never thought possible. If I can inspire a veteran who is suffering from PTS or maybe someone sees my story and thinks she went through it and if she can do it, I can too. If it helps them break out of their shell well those are the things that are the cherry on top,” Stockwell said. “You live the life you love and I am fortunate to live the life I do and hopefully that can carry on to others.”

When asked what she’d want readers to glean from her story, she was direct. “We all go through time and especially in the military. It’s okay to not be okay, ask for help when you need it. Those resources are there but never doubt yourself. Never think you can’t do something.” Stockwell explained. “Whether you are a wounded veteran or not, get out there and try something before you tell yourself you can’t do it.”

Why not?

MIGHTY BRANDED

One of the world’s largest cable companies was founded by a World War II sailor

Ralph Roberts didn’t leave the Navy with the dream of starting the world’s biggest telecommunications provider. When he left the service, television was an emerging technology and radio still dominated the airwaves. The company he would soon found would go on to be America’s largest cable provider at one point – and one of the biggest supporters of military veterans.


The story of Ralph Roberts isn’t a stereotypical rags-to-riches tale set in early 20th Century America. The young Roberts was the son of a wealthy family of immigrants who owned a number of pharmacies in the New York City area. When he was still a boy, his father died of a heart attack and, having lost their fortune, they went to live in Philadelphia. His new stepfather was also a business owner, running a successful cigar company. This early exposure to the freedom of running a self-owned business no doubt influenced Ralph’s decision to attend the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

It was 1941 when Roberts graduated. Later that year, the United States would be pulled into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Roberts, like many wealthy businessmen, could have probably avoided service with a draft deferment or through government connections. He didn’t. Instead, he opted to join the Navy, where he served for the duration of the war at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Roberts married his wife Suzanne during his first year in the Navy.

After the war, Roberts became a “serial entrepreneur.” He started by selling a series of golf clubs, most notably a putter with which he persuaded legendary Hollywood personality Bob Hope to pose with, asking him to do a veteran a favor. He marketed it as the “Bob Hope Putter.” He then went to work in subscription sales for the Muzak company, which made… muzak, music for entertainment productions that could be easily licensed and replicated. Eventually he started working for the Pioneer Suspender Company, a business which he eventually owned. When beltless polyester pant hit the market in the early 1960s, Roberts worried it was the death knell for his business, so he began to look elsewhere.

That’s when he discovered a small cable television provider in Tupelo, Miss. that serviced some 1,200 people. Back in the early days of television, rural customers struggled to get clear reception from over-the-air broadcasters like NBC, CBS, and ABC. The focus was in providing services to major metropolitan areas. In those days, cable wasn’t a package of new and diverse channels, it was just a way to get clear reception using cable instead of a broadcast antenna.

Roberts sold his suspenders company and and bought American Cable Systems. He soon redubbed it Comcast.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Comcast would eventually become the country’s largest cable provider, a conglomerate that would acquire other, smaller cable companies and internet service providers, all with Ralph J. Roberts in his trademark bowtie at the helm. Though Roberts died in 2015, the company still regards serving veterans as a core corporate responsibility, supporting National Guard and reserve troops when they’re activated, providing low or no-cost internet services and computers to low-income veterans, pledging to hire 21,000 veterans by 2021, and funding veteran-related initiatives through partner organizations.

One such organization is the Military Influencer Conference, a three-day event that brings together important and emerging entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. The annual conference focuses on delivering actionable insights from the stories of others and fostering an environment where people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets are motivated to forge legitimate relationships through conversation that lead to powerful collaborations.

For more information on the Military Influencer Conference, visit MilitaryInfluencer.com. To learn more about Comcast’s initiatives for veterans, visit its corporate page.

Veterans

This vet’s son made an app to help with his PTSD nightmares

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be caused by a myriad of traumatic events like car crashes and losing a baby during childbirth. However, combat has brought PTSD to the forefront of modern medicine. Known before as shell shock, the National Institute of Health estimates that over 500,000 veterans suffer from PTSD. Furthermore, the VA shows that 52 percent of veterans diagnosed with PTSD experiences nightmares that occur fairly often. This is in stark contrast to the 3 percent of the general public who have been diagnosed with PTSD and experience frequent nightmares. The son of one veteran decided to do something about it.

Tyler Skluzacek remembers his father as fun and outgoing before his combat tour in Iraq. When his father, Patrick, returned in 2007, Tyler said that his father had changed. Patrick was haunted by nightmares of commanding a convoy in Fallujah. He would sweat and thrash violently in his sleep. The nightmares were so terrible, that Patrick feared even closing his eyes. To help him fall asleep, he turned to alcohol and medication. This negatively affected his life in every aspect. “[I] pretty much lost everything,” he said. “My house, everything, my job, everything went.”

In 2015, Tyler was a senior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN when he learned about a computer hackathon in Washington, D.C. The event brought developers from across the country together to develop prototypes in order to solve a specific problem. That year, the event focused on developing a mobile app to help people suffering from PTSD. Personally motivated to take on the challenge, Tyler saved up the money and bought a ticket out to D.C.

Tyler put together a team of developers to program a specialized smartwatch. The device would detect the onset of a nightmare by monitoring the wearer’s heart rate and movement. The concept was inspired by service dogs who are trained to recognize the signs of a nightmare and nudge or lick their human awake. Tyler said that the trick was to provide “just enough stimulus to pull them out of the deep REM cycle and allow the sleep to continue unaffected.”

Tyler continued to develop the software for his device by testing it on his father. Though Patrick agreed, early trials were very rocky. The watch would sometimes scare Patrick awake and, because he wore in full-time, Tyler received some surprising data. One time, while using an air hammer, the smartwatch indicated that Patrick’s heart rate was over 6,000 beats per minute. “I was terrified,” Tyler recalled. “Watching someone’s data 24/7, I feel like is a lot like having a baby. I don’t have a baby. But you’re suddenly very concerned at all hours.” However, with determination and some fine-tuning, Tyler perfected the software.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
The app is compatible with Apple Watches (NightWare)

By learning the sleep patterns of the user, the algorithm customizes a treatment to interrupt nightmares more appropriately and efficiently. “It was night and day when I put that watch on and it started working,” Patrick said. “The vibrations were little miracles.” After years of suffering from PTSD-induced nightmares, Patrick has found relief thanks to his son. He has since remarried and is working as a mechanic again. Though not cured of his nightmares, Patrick has control over his life.

Tyler’s invention is set to help more people like his father cope with their own PTSD. The software was purchased by an investor who started a company called NightWare. In November 2020, the FDA approved the app to treat PTSD-related nightmare disorders. The app is compatible with Apple Watches and is currently undergoing clinical trials through the Veterans Health Administration and the DoD Military Health System.

Veterans

Marines compete in grueling 2021 Recon Challenge honoring fallen warriors

Silhouetted palm trees dotted a creeping sunrise to the east, and a waning moon hung in the black sky above the Pacific Ocean at 5 a.m. Friday morning as 22 current and former Reconnaissance Marines stood on the San Onofre Beach shoreline aboard Camp Pendleton, California, waiting to start a grueling day.

“Three! Two! One!” a Marine yelled, starting the 2021 Recon Challenge.

Competing in two-man teams, the Marines took off over sand and slick rocks, rifles slung across their backs and carrying rucksacks weighing at least 50 pounds. Without hesitation, they waded into the surf, shrinking smaller and smaller until they disappeared in the waves.

The 1,000-meter ocean swim was an initial baptism to kick off the 2021 Marine Recon Challenge.

Competitors put their strength and endurance to the ultimate test during the punishing, daylong contest. Each Recon Marine wore the name of one of his fallen brothers on his pack, and the Gold Star families of the fallen were on hand to observe the commemorative event throughout the day. They cheered competitors on at several of the challenge’s 10 events and welcomed the Marines at the finish line.

The teams raced through Camp Pendleton’s hilly terrain, rucking from event to event and logging roughly 25 miles with many steep climbs along the way. They overcame obstacles such as underwater knot-tying, casualty evacuation drills, and live-fire marksmanship drills. While the morning started out cool, the Southern California sun beat down brutally, and afternoon temperatures reached as high as 90 degrees.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Competitors in the 2021 Recon Challenge hike up a steep hill on Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“It is an honor to put our bodies through that grueling pain and shared suffering so that we remember our fallen and feel them with us as we move through that route,” said Gunnery Sgt. Frank Simmons, an instructor with Reconnaissance Training Company (RTC) and one of the lead coordinators for the 2021 Recon Challenge.

Team 8, consisting of RTC Executive Officer Capt. Benjamin Lowring and Basic Reconnaissance Course Instructor Staff Sgt. Andy Meltz, took a strong lead from the beginning of the competition, only to be overtaken late in the day. The team took a wrong turn on their way to the eighth of 10 events, losing precious time and allowing Team 11 to close distance.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Competitors in the 2021 Recon Challenge hike through the hills of Camp Pendleton April 30. Competitors hiked nearly the distance of a marathon while completing 10 graded events. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The second-to-last event of the challenge sealed Team 8’s fate. The Marines struggled with the task of moving a massive tire from a 7-ton truck from the deep end of the Camp Horno Pool up and over a 9-foot ledge to the shallow end. The Marines resurfaced over and over, experimenting with different strategies and techniques before finally succeeding after more than 15 minutes. By the time they managed to heave the tire over the ledge, RTC Senior Enlisted Advisor Master Gunnery Sgt. Cory Paskvan and RTC Commanding Officer Maj. Morgan Jordan — Team 11 — had caught up.

After quickly shedding their rucks and stripping down to swimsuits, Team 11 jumped in the pool and went to work. They wasted no time, using a rope to pull the tire to the surface and bobbing it across the water with ease. They hurriedly applied a topical aid to sore muscles, dressed, and stepped off in hopes of a come-from-behind victory. A poorly timed leg cramp helped them leapfrog Team 8, and Paskvan and Jordan took the lead going into the final stretch.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Staff Sgt. Sean Wyman, takes a breath while monitoring competitors in the underwater knot-tying event at the Reconnaissance Training Company pool aboard Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Once in the lead, Team 11 maintained a strong but manageable pace as they made the final push across the roughly 5 miles of hilly terrain that remained between them and the finish line.

Nine hours and 27 minutes after first plunging into the cold Pacific, the pair walked under the Recon Challenge banner and hung Lt. Col. Kevin Michael Shea’s dog tags on a battle cross staged there. The Marines’ loved ones, fellow service members, and the honored Gold Star family members cheered wildly.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
RTC Senior Enlisted Advisor Master Gunnery Sgt. Cory Paskvan and RTC Commanding Officer Maj. Morgan Jordan of Team 11 make the final painful hike to the finish of the 2021 Recon Challenge aboard Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

With a combined age of 84, Paskvan and Jordan were the oldest team in the challenge, competing against Marines as young as 25.

“There’s not a lot of competitors coming out to run it this late in their career,” Jordan said.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Gunnery Sgt. Josh Cruz helps his teammate, Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Briel, as Briel grimaces in pain at the finish line of the 2021 Recon Challenge. The team had just knelt to place the ID tags of their fallen brothers on the battle cross. The Marines hiked nearly 25 miles with roughly 50-pound packs while completing a series of physical and mental challenges along the way. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Scott Gardner, a retired Force Recon Marine, was the oldest competitor in the challenge at 47. Gardner and his teammate, Staff Sgt. Gabe Gillespie, finished the event toward the middle of the pack.

Among the competitors’ many impressive feats was the 3rd place finish of Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Kovar and Marine Recon veteran George Briones of Team 10.

Kovar, who serves as a Ranger Instructor at the Army’s Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, finished third in the Recon Challenge just two weeks after finishing second overall in the 2021 Best Ranger Competition, an annual US Army competition that’s comparable to the Recon Challenge and considered one of the most physically rigorous endurance events in the military. Competitors are tested in a nonstop series of events that are meant to push them both physically and mentally while judging their ability to execute a variety of military skills.

“Gunnery Sgt. Kovar embodies the Recon Creed by forever striving ‘to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before’ him and ‘exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others,’” Simmons said, praising Kovar’s performance in the challenge.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
A battle cross holds the ID tags of fallen Marine Reconnaissance men at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Recon Challenge aboard Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

As senior leaders of RTC, Paskvan and Jordan took on the challenge as an opportunity for them to lead by example and “defy the odds.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Paskvan said. “I’ve been coming out here since 2015 trying to win one of these. I’ve gotten a fair amount of second places, but this is the first time I’ve actually won.”

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Retired Maj. James Capers Jr., a legendary Force Reconnaissance Marine, congratulates RTC Executive Officer Capt. Benjamin Lowring and Staff Sgt. Andy Meltz of Team 8 on their second-place finish in the 2021 Recon Challenge aboard Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Defying the odds, taking home commemorative paddles, and shaking the hand of retired Maj. James Capers Jr., a legend of the Marine Corps’ elite Force Reconnaissance community, are all experiences the winners won’t soon forget. But the competitors and organizers said the real reward is honoring the fallen.

Paskvan said he’s served with many of the fallen Marines whose ID tags competitors carried during this year’s challenge and in challenges past.

“It’s very humbling,” he said.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Competitors in the 2021 Recon Challenge complete a challenge event on Camp Pendleton April 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Even more humbling was knowing Shea’s widow was waiting at the finish line. After completing the challenge, Paskvan and Jordan were able to give her the flag they carried throughout the race in remembrance of her husband.

“It’s not every year that you get out, make a relationship with a family that you’re running on behalf of,” Jordan said. “Really, we do it for them.”

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Veterans

Watch this Vietnam Veteran describe what it was like to dodge machine gun fire to save his buddies

Tony Nadal is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who spent his whole life with the military in some way. Nadal was born on Fort Benning, Georgia, and his father was also an Army officer.


The younger Nadal only ever wanted to go to West Point and be an Army officer. That’s exactly what he did.

His first duty station after airborne school and Ranger school took him to Munich, Germany. After three years of European service, Nadal got wind of Special Forces operations in Laos. He decided to move toward the sound of the guns.

After a Special Forces deployment in Laos, he returns to the U.S. to lead soldiers in an Air Mobile Division. On July 28, 1965, his Air Mobile Division was sent to Vietnam. His battalion was the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore. By November, they were responding to intelligence about an NVA position in the Chu Pong Mountains.

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Nadal in Vietnam (AARP)

Moore led his battalion to an area called Ia Drang, landing at a place the Army dubbed LZ X-Ray. The battalion’s eight Huey helicopters could only carry six men each, so they had to bring the entire battalion in 48 men at a time. By the time the 7th Cavalry landed 124 men, intelligence from a captured North Vietnamese soldier informed the Americans they were outnumbered 19-to-1.

“I can forget a lot of things about life but I won’t forget the feel, the sense, the smell of LZ-XRAY,” Nadal said in a video interview. “Colonel Moore immediately realized it was going to be a battle for survival.”

Over three days, 3,500 U.S., South, and North Vietnamese soldiers fought for a contested victory, leaving 308 Americans and 660 NVA dead, with 544 U.S. and 670 NVA wounded. It was the first major battle between the U.S. Army and the North Vietnamese Army.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Combat operations at Ia Drang Valley, Vietnam, November 1965. Major Bruce P. Crandall’s UH-1D helicopter climbs skyward after discharging a load of infantrymen on a search and destroy mission. (U.S. Army photo)

Then-Capt. Tony Nadal lost 15 of his men in the first two days of fighting. Sleepless and battered, his command was ordered out before the Air Force cleared the area out.

The video below was produced by AARP Studios for the American Heroes Channel. Tony Nadal describes how he feels as he pushes himself into the machine gun and grenade fire to retrieve the bodies of some of his soldiers.

“I feel the loss of all my soldiers,” Nadal said. “When you get through all of the bravado, what you’re left with is anguish. They fought for a cause… there was the expectation that when your country calls, you go.”

The legendary battle was depicted in the book “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” and the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers.”

Veterans

7 veteran qualities that civilian employers go crazy over

When it’s time for troops to hang up their uniform for the last time and go pick up that beautiful DD-214, they’re subjected to countless classes on how to adapt in the civilian world and use the strengths they’ve picked up in the military to give themselves a leg up in a competitive civilian marketplace.

Troops who had more POGy jobs in the military may have an easier time making the transition. If you worked in the commo shop, there’s countless IT desks out there you can apply for. Flight-line mechanics can make bank working for airlines. But even combat arms guys aren’t limited to positions as security guards or fast-food workers, no matter how many times the retention NCO tells you so.


The fact is, any good soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman who fit perfectly in the formation comes away from service with valuable skills that employers look for in potential employees. Here are a few qualities that veterans have had drilled into them every day since basic training that help them stand out over most civilian competitors.

 
Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
We’ve mastered the art of “hurry up and wait,” so showing up early and killing idle time is no problem.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

 

The 15-minutes-prior schedule

If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re fourteen minutes early, you’re still late. Civilians tend to pull some excuse that explains why it’s definitely not their fault that they’re arriving at 10:05 for a 10 a.m. meeting.

That fifteen-minute buffer works wonders with the way most civilians schedule things. The higher up in an organization you go, the more promptly meetings tend to start. If you’ve been ready for 15 minutes already, nobody will end up waiting on you. You’re set.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
You’ll never find a more open and, uh, “creative” conversation than those held at a deployed smoke pit.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Blunt honesty

We’ve seen it happen a million times: Someone throws out an awful suggestion and it’s met with agreeable silence. Everyone is too afraid to speak up because their reputation is on the line for speaking out of turn. Then, out of the corner, a veteran speaks up and says, “well that’s dumb. Why the f*ck would we do that?”

If there’s one thing that sets a veteran apart in a board room it’s their ability to avoid being a yes man. It may ruffle the feathers of people who expect everyone to nod along, but at the very least, it moves the meter.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
If you thought vets couldn’t also handle useless and drawn-out PowerPoint presentations, think again!
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Alfonso Corral)

 

No aversion to manual labor

Veterans can safely celebrate the fact that when they get a new job, if something comes up that’s not in the job description, it’s not expected of them. That’s right: if you’re now an office drone working some cubicle job, no one will randomly get on your ass for not cleaning the break room.

Sometimes, however, things just need to get done. Using that same example, an entire day could go by in a civilian office and people will simply walk by that messy break room thinking, “it’s not my responsibility.” Most vets, on the other hand, would instinctively clean it up without giving it a second thought.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
The same goes the other way around. Knowing who does the leg work in an organization makes a leader’s work a million times easier.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

 

Acknowledgement of hierarchy

Things are nice and easy when everyone wears their rank on their uniform. You can instantly look at their insignia and recognize where they stand in the chain of command — no questions asked. That simple insignia tells the world what is expected of you, in accordance with your rank.

The civilian workplace doesn’t really have those kinds of markings — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pecking order. Vets just need to know who’s in charge of them and who’s in charge of the people in charge and they’re set.

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Sometimes, leading from the front means letting a subordinate take the spotlight. That’s surprisingly rare in the civilian world.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew Parks)

 

Willingness to take a leadership position

Everyone wants the bigger job, bigger desk, bigger pay check, but too few people are willing to exit their comfort zone to get it. They’ll whine about that one guy getting an extra zero in his paycheck but slink at any opportunity to prove their worth.

Vets, on the other hand, will usually take it upon themselves to organize their coworkers if they see a lack of leadership and make themselves the face of their team without even realizing it. Willingly taking on that leadership role proves to the company that the vet is serious and values the company. This almost always gives that vet more firepower when it comes time to shoot for a raise.

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The ever-looming glare of a drill sergeant never leaves the back of your mind. Ever.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar)

 

Separation of work life and personal life

Keeping what’s going on in your personal life from affecting your work life is a difficult skill to master. It’s a beyond-useful talent to be able to set aside any personal problems when it’s time to get serious and work. The other part of this equation is not letting personal drama bleed into getting the mission done.

Troops and vets have been constantly cattle prodded into moving forward and to quit whining about unrelated stuff. This is second nature.

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There’s no gray area in “until mission complete.” Either it’s impossible or it’ll be done by lunch time.
(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. David W. Cline)

 

The mission-first mentality

If there’s a single quality that civilian employers can expect from nearly every veteran, it’s that veterans will always be task-oriented. They’ll see a checklist as a thing to complete rather than a thing to dread.

From the moment troops enlist, they’re taught to juggle roughly seven thousand different tasks inherent to military life, in addition to those associated with their given MOS. There’s a job to be done, so let’s get to it.

Articles

A Ranger’s warning on reacting to ‘click bait’ without all the facts

This article originally appeared in the Havok Journal.


Seen = killed. This was the objective of our entire marksmanship program when I served as a Special Operator in the 75th Ranger Regiment. “Seen” was the critical precursor to action; shoot the enemy combatants. Leave the non-combatants be.

Some of us out there have forgotten this critical point, today in America. Some of us are attacking the wrong people without “seeing” who we are targeting before we pull the trigger.

(2003. Konar Province, Afghanistan.)

The flash identified the origin of fire before the rocket motor etched a line across the night sky, burning a streak into my night optical device. Enemy contact. Only it was directed at the walls of our firebase, not our patrol.

We halted the convoy, a few kilometers from the safe house, identified the enemy position and marked it while air support was scrambled to the area. Bad situations turn worse quickly when you have multiple friendly elements in the battle space and you make enemy contact. Because of this, we knew how critical it was for our Joint Task Force to know where we were.

We confirmed our location with the JTF Command and then the men within the walls returned fire on the enemy. All of this happened within moments. Silently, invisible to all but our friendlies engaging the enemy position, we waited.

We felt helpless watching the fight. Our distance was too great to maneuver on the enemy, so our fires would do little more than give our position away. Masked by the night, we had the only dominant position in the fight. We did all we could: maintain discipline, calm our adrenaline and direct fires from the shadows. The engagement did not last long, but the feelings never left me. Helplessness. Guilt. Gratitude. Rage.

In all of this, I was angry. My strong sense of justice had been assaulted by these people who attacked us. We are here to help.

Our patrol had just escorted Civil Affairs soldiers into the valley to conduct meet and greets with the local mullahs. A rare mission for our JTF. They had gathered intelligence and offered assistance to the village. They provided generators and school supplies and promised to return with a MEDCAP (medical civil action program). Weeks prior, our medics had treated a boy with a near leg amputation from a construction accident in town.

Read More: Veterans clap back at those demanding Starbucks hire 10,000 vets

Why are they attacking us!? We’re the “Good Guys!”

Things move fast overseas. Often times the lives of your teammates depended on your ability to react to contact with speed and accuracy. Two things stood out most from my experience that night: the discipline of the American Soldier and the feelings of betrayal by a people we were trying to help.

Both themes — discipline and betrayal — stand out today as I observe the way the veteran community reacts before understanding the facts.

I work with and for veterans every day and it is one of the greatest honors of my life. I humbly submit that veterans are the leaders America is reaching for right now, but sometimes I fear we do our community a disservice when we fail to seek the facts before we fire away with our voices. Once silent servants of the Republic, we did our jobs, regardless of whether we agreed or disagreed with the policy.

Today, as veterans, we have the opportunity to speak our minds. To opt in or out on a topic. Our countrymen are starving to hear from us and in some respects, we have a responsibility to them still, to serve and to lead.

In most cases I see veterans seizing that opportunity to make a big difference in their communities. They are leading within the home, the corporate sector, small business, government and nonprofits. Sadly, I also see entitlement, outrage and misplaced attacks from those of us who fail to do the work and lazily fall for the title of the hottest “click bait” article in the news cycle. I see outrage and indignation with little to no understanding of the facts. And I see made up controversies.

Two timely examples are with Walmart and Starbucks.

Read More: Starbucks is hiring 10,000 refugees – starting with interpreters for US troops

On Veterans Day 2015, Walmart rolled out their Green Light a Vet campaign. Many veterans were outraged at the fact that Walmart was selling green light bulbs in their name, and claimed it was all for profit. As if the sales of $.96 light bulbs would move the financial needle for Walmart!

Fact is that Walmart donated all the profits of the sales of green light bulbs to worthy Veteran Serving Non Profits. It was a statement: Veterans, we see you and we are here for you. We support you.

Why were we attacking them?  They were the “Good Guys.”  As a community, we should have just said, “Thank you.”

Fast forward to today.  Recently, Howard Schultz announced that Starbucks will hire 10,000 refugees worldwide and the response from some in the community, again, is outrage. Many in our community are indignant that Starbucks would hire refugees over veterans or military. Fact is, Starbucks made a declarative to hire 10,000 veterans and family members back in 2013, and have since hired 8,800 veterans and military spouses. Meanwhile, Howard and Sheri Schultz’s Family Foundation has poured millions of their own dollars into supporting the veteran community.

Neither Walmart nor Starbucks (nor the Schultz Family) were even given a chance by the raw and reactive. The facts were never even examined. Some of us failed to “see” before going for the “kill”.

We know better.

We know to gather the facts of the situation prior to formulating our plan of attack. It has been beaten into us since day one of our time in service. We are no longer in service and the intel is no longer fed to us, which means we must be more responsible, more discerning in where we seek out the facts. It also means we must take our time and seek to understand prior to the “ready, fire, aim” attitude that is counterproductive to our unity as citizens. Counter-productive to our ability to coexist as Americans: different, yet united.

I fear that at some point, America is going to get tired of trying to support us if even the smallest “we” criticize the attempts to assist with little (to no) context and with such vitriol in our responses. That would be a shame, especially since we risked all to protect those who are now reaching out to us. Especially since many of the folks who work at these establishments and lead these programs are also veterans themselves. And especially since many of us know exactly how it feels to be attacked by the very people we are there to help.

If you’re looking for the next fight on social media, it has nothing to do with what’s on your news feed. It has nothing to do with a company’s policies, who’s the President or what the hottest controversy of the day is. It has everything to do with what’s going on inside of you.

I hope we are willing to investigate the next story before we react. I hope we stop falling for the title of the next “click bait” article.

I hope we can we stop sharpening our swords just to fall on them and use them to attack the real issues. I hope we will fight for, not against, one another.

Brandon Young served 11 years in the U.S. Army, primarily with the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the 75th Ranger Regiment and conducted four combat rotations to Afghanistan. A Mighty 25: Veterans to watch in 2017, Brandon currently serves as the Director of Development for Team RWB, whose mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans. 

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8 songs that are essential to any successful military convoy

Typically, the role of “Doc” in the convoy is as a passenger. While remaining alert and attentive, I also felt that I needed to keep my unit motivated and focused while they did their various jobs.


I took the task very seriously by acting as the Convoy DJ, playing the greatest hits for combat effectiveness!

Whether you cue up your own playlist for leaving the wire or DJ for the entire crew, stepping off is always better with an anthem.

Here are 8 tracks to help “kick the tires and light the fires.”

1. AC/DC — Highway to Hell

No convoy playlist is complete without a track from these rock Gods ripping through the airwaves. AC/DC has plenty of great hits to choose from, however, this song really says exactly how I felt about the roads we traveled in Iraq.

(acdcVEVO | YouTube)

2. Rage Against The Machine — Testify

The swirling guitar driving into the heavy drums plus de la Rocha’s rapid fire lyrics will surely stoke the fire inside any warrior heading outside the wire.

(RATMVEVO | YouTube)

3. Outkast — B.O.B

Perhaps it’s a little on the nose, but if you deployed to Iraq this song needs no explanation. All other lyrics aside, you can’t pass on a track with the refrain, “Bombs over Baghdad!” to really pump up that mission essential adrenaline.

(OutKastVideoVault | YouTube)

4. Jimi Hendrix — All Along the Watchtower

It’s been said that the Vietnam-Era warriors got the all the best music.

I could probably argue that point, but it goes without saying that this is simply one of the greatest war anthems ever.

When you’re down range and you hear that guitar shred into Jimi’s first verse (“There must be some kind of way outta here…”) something just feels right in the world.

(JimiHendrixVEVO | YouTube)

Also Read: This circus song was supposed to be a badass military marching theme

5. The White Stripes — Seven Nation Army

This song is your quintessential war drum, an accompaniment for heading right out the gate and into battle.

6. Cage the Elephant — Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked

The bluesy slide of the guitar and Matt Shultz’s rhythmic verses reminds us that “we can’t slow down and we can’t hold back,” especially outside the wire.

7. System of a Down — Chop Suey!

Playing this heart pounding high paced rock anthem really kicks the team into high gear. Some songs are all about instrumentation; Chop Suey! is definitely one of those kinds of jams.

(systemofadownVEVO | YouTube)

8. Godsmack — Awake

You’ve got F/18s launching from an aircraft carrier, Navy SEALs on fast boats, guys jumping out of a helicopter into the surf — now add a wailing guitar riff and a pulsating drum beat and you have the ingredients for a Navy commercial that almost had me signing up for another 10 years.

You’ve also got an epic anthem to keep the troops pumped on those exceptionally long convoys.

(GodsmackVEVO | YouTube)Even if you’re no longer jocking up and taking the wheel of some Mad Max-esque war machine to go spread freedom and democracy around the world, you can still rock out to these amazing songs.

Every convoy needs some musical motivation. Whether you’re taking the kiddos to school, enjoying a leisurely Sunday drive or simply heading into the office for another day of crushing it, cue up this playlist and have an epic journey.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How Florent Groberg earned his Medal of Honor

Just shy of twenty years ago, Florent Groberg was getting ready to graduate from high school. He was a newly-minted American, an immigrant from France. Like many Americans, he went on to college and studied things he was passionate about while playing college sports in his spare time.

Unlike many Americans, Groberg didn’t go off to work in the civilian sector after graduating. Groberg joined the U.S. Army and became an officer in 2008. That decision would alter the course of his life forever.


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President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to retired U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg

Since entering the Army in 2008, Groberg has had some 33 surgeries and was retired from the service. His time in the Army was, of course, consequential for many, not just himself. His second tour in Afghanistan would be the defining event of his service.

He was a Personal Security Detachment Commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province in August 2012. One day, while escorting high-ranking senior American and Afghan leaders to the provincial governor’s compound, Groberg noticed one person making a beeline for their protected formation. Noticing a significant bulge in the man’s clothing, the Army officer didn’t just shout at the man, he ran toward him.

Before anyone else could react, Capt. Groberg used his body to push the would-be suicide bomber away from the formation, not once but twice before he could detonate his vest. The blast killed four members of the formation but it could have been a lot worse – Groberg managed to push the man well outside the formation’s perimeter, limiting the damage to the group, while taking the brunt of it himself. The blast detonated a second vest nearby, which blew up almost harmlessly.

For Groberg, the first explosion was anything but harmless. The blast took off half of his calf leg muscle while damaging his nervous system, blowing his eardrums, and delivering a traumatic brain injury – but it could have been a whole lot worse.

You can catch Florent Groberg speak at the 2019 Military Influencer Conference in the Washington, D.C. area on Sept. 8-10, 2019, courtesy of Caliber Home Loans.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This combat wounded Vietnam veteran has the spice to make anything nice

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the grill master or pit mistress:

~ a pack of spice rubs from the kitchen of a Vietnam vetrepreneur ~

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

“One of the beauties of being a human being is that you have the ability to adapt.”

Gene (Cappy) Holmon is a force at a farmer’s market. I’d know. All it took him was five minutes talking to my wife about his local Los Angeles line of dry rub spices and she came straight home and put me in a headlock until I promised to include Cappy’s Dry Rub in the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide.

And she doesn’t really like meat. But she’s sure got a thing for Cappy.

I caught up with Holmon this week and got the 411 on how an Army veteran who was disabled during the Tet Offensive in 1968 first transitioned to a busy career as a FedEx Distribution Hub Director before pivoting to become the Meat Spice King of Los Angeles. Brace yourself. It involves losing an arm.

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Holmon had been in Vietnam about 6 months when he was injured in combat, suffering damage from both AK-47 rounds and what he assumes was an RPG. Medics amputated his right arm above the elbow in a field hospital before sending him to Japan for recovery.

“…I was pretty depressed…I think it was probably three days before I actually looked to see if my arm was still there…I was in an amputee ward and I saw a lot of guys, you know, like me but with both legs gone…or both legs and an arm or something like that and at that point I said, well, hey, I’m not that bad off…At that point I just decided to get better.”

Holman returned home to San Francisco and studied business management at USF on the G.I. Bill. Then he returned to his previous employer, UPS. He quickly rose through the ranks to Division Manager of UPS Hub Operations for all of Arizona, New Mexico and Southern Nevada. That’s when FedEx poached him to help implement their new Super Hub Distribution Center in Memphis.

And as he tracked across the American South for business, he sampled the many flavors of sauce, spice and smoke upon which Southern culinary tradition pins its most heartfelt pride.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
You’ll want to lick your palms. Probably wash your hands first.

By the time he retired, Holmon was experimenting with his own blends of dry rub spices, perfecting his grill skills, and winning praise for his cooking at family events. When California Cottage Law went into effect in 2013, Holmon’s wife Paulette urged him to offer his blends to the public and Cappy’s was born. But because Cottage Law permitting initially limits sales to direct-to-consumer, Holman found that he’d have to adapt from being the distribution genius behind the scenes to being a grassroots-level, Face-of-the-Brand at farmer’s markets and local boutique grocery stores.

It can’t have been too hard. Insider knowledge: Cappy is a peach. As soon as you meet him, you’re sipping the paprika-flavored Kool-Aid.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Cappy’s has since expanded to online sales, which is where we wholeheartedly recommend that you go to order yourself one or several of his blends in time for Holiday cooking. Cappy’s Dry Rubs are great on meats, obviously, but check out how well they crossover to fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Articles

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

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

But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.


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

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The two sides of Lt. Bill Joerger… (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
…and both are delicious. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

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

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

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

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

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Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

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

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

Articles

First SEAL to reach the rank of admiral dies at 93

Retired Navy Rear Adm. (Lower Half) Richard Lyon, the first SEAL in the Navy Reserve to reach flag rank, passed away Feb. 3. He was 93.


According to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Lyon, a veteran of the World War II-era Underwater Demolition Teams — the forerunners to the SEALs — served 41 years in the Navy Reserve and also saw action during the Korean War.

Lyon is believed to have been among the first troops to land on the Japanese mainland as Tokyo surrendered.

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In 1951, Lyon was recalled to active duty for the Korean War and worked on destroying enemy mines and later would help destroy enemy tunnels and railways – part of the evolution of the UDTs into the SEALs.

“He was one of the most impressive men I’ve ever met,” Doug Allred, a former officer in Underwater Demolition Team 11, told the Union-Tribune. “It was 1961 and he was a reservist. This old man shows up at our unit and asked if he could go out with us.

“By golly, we were swimming and diving and doing all these hard things and he was destroying all of us young guys.”

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble
Retired Rear Adm. Dick Lyon, the first Bullfrog, left, passes the Bullfrog trophy to Capt. Pete Wikul, the 13th Bullfrog, during the passing of the Bullfrog ceremony. The title Bullfrog recognizes the UDT/SEAL operator with the greatest amount of cumulative service. Wikul retired after 39 years and 4 months of Navy service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua T. Rodriguez)

After the Korean War, Lyon returned to the reserves, and built a very successful civilian carer, being promoted to Rear Adm. (Lower Half) in 1975. In 1978, he was recalled to active duty to serve as deputy chief of the Navy Reserve.

In 1983, he retired from the Navy Reserve, ending a 41-year career. He went on to serve two terms as mayor of Oceanside, California.

The cause of death was reported as renal failure. The family has asked that donations be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

Veterans

6 things vets can expect when they finally head to college

Even before troops enlist, they see their civilian buddies off to college as their life takes another path. Many years later, they’ll finish up their contract and trade the rucksack for a backpack.

Regardless of what veterans want to do with their lives after leaving the service, attending a college, trade school, or university is the smartest option. After all, if you’ve spent this long earning the benefits of the GI Bill, you’d be shooting yourself in the foot by not using them.

Chances are that college life is a little different from what a veteran pictures in their head. Unfortunately, it’s not just barracks-like parties and classes starting at 11AM that you can simply sleep through to get to the next party. I mean, that may be true for the very lucky few, but don’t expect anything like that. Here’s what you can expect:


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You just need to juice up like it you did on deployment.

You will move slower.

The military instills a certain rhythm on its troops. Move here. Do this. Get that done. Hurry up and wait. Once you get to college, you’ll realize that there’s none of that. The very first time you show up late to class, the professor won’t even chew your ass out. You’ll just find your seat and carry on with your day.

This sounds like fun at first — until you notice all of your drive and motivation begin to slip away…

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

If you want to be an underwater basket weaver, then you be the best damn underwater basket weaver of all f*cking time!

(Screengrab via TheMstrpat)

They take failing classes very seriously.

Getting that sweet college tuition paid for is amazing — but what they don’t tell you is that you need to pass all of your classes with a C+ average in order to qualify for more GI Bill money.

Let’s say you flunk out of Underwater Basket Weaving 101. You’ll have to repay the VA for that class because Uncle Sam won’t pay for your dumb ass. This gets worse with each class you fail.

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I know it’s tempting to take them out for extra cash… Just be smart about it.

You may still have student loans (depending on the college).

The GI Bill is amazing and it is, hands down, the greatest thing the U.S. military has ever done for its veterans. But just because you served four years in the military doesn’t mean you can immediately get a full-ride to Harvard.

If you go to a community college, trade school, or take classes at a university with a lower tuition rate because it’s matched with the Yellow Ribbon Program, then you’re good. Just be sure to contact the school’s veterans’ affairs office while you’re applying and find out if you’re fully covered.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Do what I did: Sign in and sleep in the back of the classroom.

You need to show up regularly.

The first few years of college classes are kind of a joke. Those first few semesters are spent trying to catch everyone up to speed before getting started on your actual degree. You may even have to take high-school level math classes just to fill the general education requirements. But even if these easy classes bore you to freakin’ death, you still need to show up.

If you miss too many classes, the VA office will be forced to suspend your BAH payments. Any more classes after that and you’re dropped from role — which then falls on your lap to repay.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

After rent and bills, you’ll have to make all of 0 float you until next month.

Your BAH checks probably aren’t going to be enough.

Enjoy getting those paychecks every first and fifteenth while it lasts. College students only get their BAH payments on the first of the month. If you can’t learn to ration what little you get each month, be prepared to pick up a side hustle.

Oddly enough, if your school offers any sort of dormitory living accommodations, laugh your way out of the door. Taking the college dorm negates the need for your own BAH to pay for an apartment elsewhere. Then you’d really need to get a side hustle to have enough money to live.

Army Veteran and Bronze Medal Paralympian partners with Procter & Gamble

Since you’re probably the only one over 21…. Well, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to pay rent, if you see where I’m going.

In college, you’ll probably be the babysitter to younger classmates

Remember how stupid you were when you were a fresh eighteen year old in the military? You may have gotten into a lot of trouble just doing dumb stuff in the barracks. Now take away the safety net of NCOs babysitting you and you’re left with what happens when underage college freshmen discover alcohol.

The thrill of partying with the younger kids goes away the moment you have to help someone to the bathroom because they start hurling after one shot. If you still want to hang out with your classmates, prepare to babysit.

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