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:
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…
If you want to be an underwater basket weaver, then you be the best damn underwater basket weaver of all f*cking time!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Veterans will be able to go online and order their new identification cards next month, Congressman Vern Buchanan announced Oct. 12. Buchanan, whose Veterans Identification Card Act (H.R. 91) was signed into law in 2015, said official ID cards will be available to all veterans free of charge by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
“Every veteran – past, present, and future – will now be able to prove their military service without the added risk of identity theft,” Buchanan said, noting that millions of veterans are currently unable to document their service without carrying around official military records.
“These ID cards will make life a little bit easier for our veterans and serve as a constant reminder that our brave men and women in uniform deserve all the care and respect a grateful nation can offer.”
When ordering online, veterans will need to upload a copy of a valid government issued ID (drivers license/passport), a copy of a recent photograph to be displayed on the card, and will need to provide service-related details. Once ordered, the Veteran ID Card will be printed and mailed directly to the veteran.
Prior to Buchanan’s bill, the VA provided identification cards only to those who served at least 20 years in the Armed Forces or received care from the VA for a service-connected disability. Veterans who did not meet these qualifications had to carry around a paper DD-214 document to prove their military status. This form contains sensitive personal information including social security numbers and service details that put veterans at needless risk for identity theft if they lost or misplaced their documents.
The new identification card will also provide employers looking to hire veterans with an easier way to verify an employee’s military service.
Buchanan represents more than 88,000 veterans in Sarasota, Manatee, and Hillsborough Counties. He served six years in the Michigan Air National Guard and four years on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. — Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on November 11. Dine-in only.
Buffalo Wild Wings— Veterans and active-duty service members get a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries on November 11. The offer is available for dine-in or takeout.
California Pizza Kitchen–Veterans and active military get a complimentary meal from a select menu. Dine-in and walk-in takeout only.
Casey’s General Stores — Service members both past and present get a free coffee on November 11 across its over 2,200 locations.
Cattlemens— Active, inactive, and retired military personnel get a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner on November 11.
CentraArchy Restaurants — Veterans and active-duty military members get an entree from the full menu at any location for half price on November 11. Guests are encouraged to make reservations.
Chili’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free meal from a select menu on November 11. Available for in-restaurant only.
Cicis Pizza— Active and retired military get a free adult buffet on November 11. Dine-in only. Coupon required.
Coco’s— On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.
Country Kitchen — Active and retired military get a free Country Scramble on November 11 at participating locations. Dine-in only.
Cracker Barrel — Veterans get a complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake when dining at any location on November 11.
Eat’n Park— All former and current military personnel and their families will receive a 10% discount for the entire month of November. Dine-in only.
Einstein Bros. Bagels — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee on November 11.
Famous Dave’s — Military personnel get a free Free Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich + Side at participating locations on November 11. Valid for Dine-In, To Go, and Online Ordering. Not valid for call in orders.
Farmer Boys— Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Big Cheese cheeseburger on November 11 at participating locations.
Friendly’s— Veterans and active-duty military get a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink on November 11. Dine-in only at participating locations.
Frisch’s Big Boy — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal, all day, up to $10 at participating locations on November 11. This tribute is available at Frisch’s dine-in, drive-thru and carryout.
Golden Corral — Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Night free dinner will be available on November 11. Military retirees, veterans, active-duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.
Hamburger Stand — Veterans and active-duty military get a free hamburger, regular fries and a small Pepsi on November 11.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free Classic Burger (with or without cheese). This offer is redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone.
Houlihan’s— Veterans, active-duty military and military families get $10 off a $30 food purchase at participating locations on November 11. This offer is valid for in-restaurant dining or for carryout. Orders made via houlihans.com or a third-party delivery service are not eligible.
Hy-Vee— Veterans and active military members get a free curbside pickup breakfast November 11 from 6 – 10 a.m.
Kolache Factory — Veterans and active-duty military get a free kolache and a cup of coffee on November 11 from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
LaMar’s Donuts— Veterans and active-duty military get a free donut and 12 oz. coffee at participating locations on November 11.
Little Caesars — Veterans and active military get a free HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo at participating stores on November 11, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Logan’s Roadhouse — On November 11 between 3 and 6 pm, veterans and military personnel receive a free meal from a special menu.
Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ — Active-duty personnel and veterans get a free Lucille’s Original Pulled Pork Sandwich on November 11.
Luna Grill— Veterans and active-duty service members get a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from November 11 through 13, valid for dine-in or to-go orders. (Not valid online or delivery.)
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants— Veterans, National Guard, Gold Star parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée from a special menu on November 8. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Menchie’s— Veterans who visit stores on November 11 get their first 6 oz of froyo free.
Mission BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich on November 11.
O’Charley’s– Active-duty military and veterans can enjoy a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Pilot Flying J— Veterans get a free breakfast combo at participating locations November 9 through 15 through a special offer in the app.
Red Lobster— Veterans, active-duty military and reservists get a free appetizer or dessert from a select menu on November 11. Dine-in only.
Red Robin – Veterans and active-duty military who are Red Robin Royalty members can redeem a free Tavern Double Burger with Steak Fries any time between November 12 and 30 for dine-in or to-go. The offer will be automatically uploaded to your dashboard.
Sagebrush Steakhouse— Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Shari’s — On November 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a free slice of pie, along with a “Buy One, Get One” free deal at all locations. The offer is valid for dine-in or take out orders; online and delivery not included.
Shoney’s — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free All You Care To Eat, Freshly Prepared Breakfast Bar on November 11 until 11 am. Dine-in only.
Starbucks— Veterans, military service members and military spouses get a free tall (12-oz) hot brewed coffeeat participating stores on November 11.
Tap House Grill— Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11. Dine-in only.
Wienerschnitzel — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free Chili Dog, small fries and a small drink at participating locations on November 11.
Yard House — Veterans and active duty military receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11.
2019 Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts:
151 Coffee — Military personnel are invited to bring your family for free drinks on November 11.
Ahipoki — Veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off any bowl at all locations across Arizona and California on November 11.
Another Broken Egg Cafe — Veterans and active-duty service members can enjoy a free Patriot French Toast Combo and coffee on November 11.
Applebee’s — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free meal from a special menu on November 11.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service — The Exchange will feature one-day only specials on November 11, including a free coffee for all shoppers at Express and participating Exchange restaurant locations. And MILITARY STAR cardholders will earn double points November 11 andadditional discounts with their card.
Aroma Joe’s Coffee — Veterans and active-duty military get up to a 24oz drink for free on November 11.
Aspen Creek Grill— Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal from a special menu from 11 a.m. to close on November 11.
Biggby Coffee — Veterans and active-duty service members get a free brewed coffee up to 24 oz. on November 11.
Bombshells Restaurant and Bar— Veterans and active-duty military get free meals and soft drinks and a 20% discount for accompanying family members on November 11.
Bonanza Steakhouses— Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.
Bruegger’s Bagels — Active-duty military members, veterans, reservists and military spouses get a free bagel with cream cheese on November 11.
Buffalo Wings & Rings — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free “Pick 2” Lunch Combo on November 11 between 11 am and 3 pm.
Burntwood Tavern— Veterans and active military get a free lunch or dinner on November 11.
Calhoun’s— Veterans and active-duty military get a free meal on November 11.
Cantina Laredo— Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary meal up to $20 at participating locations on November 11.
Carrabba’s — This Veterans Day weekend, veterans and active-duty military receive a free calamari and 10% off on all future visits.
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse— Veterans and active-duty military get a free entree from a special menu from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. on November 11.
Chicken Salad Chick — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military will receive a free Chick Special and Regular Drink.
Chipotle— Active-duty military, reserves, national guard, military spouses and retired military get a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal on November 11.
Chop House — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.
City Barbecue— Veterans and active-duty military get a free sandwich, two sides, and a regular beverage on November 11.
Claim Jumper— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free entree up to $15 from a special menu.
Coffee Beanery— Veterans and active-duty military get a free tall cup of fresh brewed coffee all day on November 11.
Connors Steak & Seafood — On November 11, active-duty and retired service members get 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree.
Cotton Patch Cafe — Veterans and active-duty military get a free chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken on November 11.
Country Cookin — Active, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the military receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree on November 11 when showing a valid military ID and filling out the service card.
Crooked Pint Ale House — Veterans and active-duty military get a free menu item on November 11 at participating locations.
Cumberland Farms — Veterans, active-duty, reserve, National Guard or honorably discharged military personnel get a free coffee on November 11.
Denny’s— Veterans and military personnel get a free Build Your Own Grand Slam on November 11, from 5 a.m. to noon.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Classic Sandwich and choice of side on November 11.
Dunkin’ Donuts— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive a free donut at participating locations.
Fatz Cafe— Veterans and active military get a free World Famous Calabash Chicken basket on November 11. And from November 1 through 30, veterans and active military members will receive 20% off their entrée.
Huddle House— Active-duty, retired, and veteran military members get a free order of Sweet Cakes November 8 through 11.
Hurricane Grill and Wings— Veterans and active military get a free entrée from a special menu on November 11. Plus, participating guests will also receive a card for 10% off future visits through December 31.
IHOP— Veterans and active-duty military get a free red, white, and blueberry pancake combo on November 11 at participating locations.
IKEA — Veterans get a free meal November 9 through 11.
Insomnia Cookies — Veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free traditional cookie all week, November 11 through 17.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant— On November 10 and 11, veterans and active-duty service members get a complimentary burger or sandwich along with a non-alcoholic beverage.
J. Christopher’s –Veterans get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.
Jimboy’s Tacos — Veterans get a free meal on November 11 at participating locations. Meals have a $10 max value.
Joe’s Crab Shack — Veterans receive 20% off at participating locations on November 11.
Juice It Up — Veterans and active military receive a free 20oz Classic Smoothie on November 11 at participating locations.
K&W Cafeterias— Veterans and active-duty get a free meal on November 11 from 11 am until closing.
Kwik Fill — Veterans receive a free coffee on November 11.
LongHorn Steakhouse — Veterans get 10% off your entire meal and a free appetizer or dessert on November 11.
Lucky Girl Brewing — Veterans and active-duty military receive a free pulled pork or brisket sandwich with a side at Lucky Girl Brewing or a free flat bread pizza at B52 Winery on November 9, 10, and 11.
Lucky Strike Entertainment — Active, inactive and retired military personnel get complimentary 1 hour of bowling, as well as a burger and beer for $10 on November 11.
Macaroni Grill— Veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti on November 11.
MacKenzie River — Veterans and active-duty military receive 25% off for their entire table on November 11.
Main Event — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 30 minutes of game play that can be used on more than 100 interactive video games and a free entrée from a special menu.
Manhattan Bagel Company — All active, former and retired military personnel get a free bagel and cream cheese at participating locations on November 11.
Ninety Nine Restaurant and Pub— On November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm, veterans and active military get a free lunch from a select menu with purchase of an entree.
Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom— Active-duty service members and veterans get a free Specialty or up to 3 topping individual pizza with purchase, November 8 through 11 at participating locations. Not valid at OC Logan or OC Manhattan.
Old Country Buffet— On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.
On the Border— On November 11, active and retired service members receive a free meal from a select menu at participating locations.
Orange Leaf— Retired and active-duty military receive free froyo at participating locations on November 11.
Otter’s Chicken — Active, Guard/Reserve, retirees and former service members get a free meal at participating locations on November 11.
Paisano’s Pizza — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Large 1-Topping Pizza on November 11.
Pala Casino — Veterans and active-duty military get a free buffet on November 11.
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille — Veterans and active-duty military get a complimentary 3-course pork chop dinner on November 10 from 4 to 9 p.m. Each veteran must be accompanied by at least one guest who purchases an entree or Sunday Supper Special.
Ponderosa— Veterans and active military get buffet specials at select locations on November 11.
Price Chopper Supermarkets — Veterans, active-duty, reserve and national guard military get a free 12oz. Coffee & Donut on November 11.
Primanti Bros. — Active or retired military can enjoy a free Primanti Bros. Almost Famous sandwich November 10 and 11.
Quaker Steak & Lube — Veterans, active-duty and Reservist service members get free or discounted meals at participating locations on November 11.
RA Sushi — Veterans, active and retired military can enjoy a complimentary shareable on November 11, available all day.
Rock and Brews— Veterans and active military personnel receive a complimentary pulled pork sandwich or salad on November 11.
Rodizio Grill — Veterans eat free November 11 through 14 with the purchase of at least one Adult Full Rodizio meal at participating locations.
Roy Rogers — Present a military ID or proof of service to receive 10% off your entire purchase on November 11.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill — Get a buy one entree get one free deal on November 11 with coupon and military ID.
Ruby Tuesday— Former and active-duty service members get a free Burger or Sandwich served with fries or tots on November 11.
Ryan’s— On November 11, veterans get a free buffet plus a non-bottled beverage at participating restaurants.
Sauce Pizza & Wine — On November 11, all locations will honor veterans with 25% off their bill.
Scooter’s Coffee — Veterans and current military personnel get a free drink of any size on November 11.
Shane’s Rib Shack— Active-duty military and veterans get a free sandwich, regular side, and 20-oz. beverage November 11 through 13 at participating locations.
Sheetz— On November 11, veterans and active-duty military personnel get a free 6 inch turkey sub and a regular size fountain drink. Sheetz locations offering car washes will also provide a free car wash to veterans and active-duty military.
Sizzler— Veterans get a free complete lunch from a special menu on November 11 at participating locations until 4 pm.
Smashburger — Veterans and active-duty military get a free double burger on November 11 with any purchase.
Smokey Bones — Veterans and active-duty military get a free dessert from a select menu on November 11.
Smoothie King — On November 11, veterans and active-duty military get a free 20 oz. smoothie.
Snarf’s Sandwiches — Active-duty military and veterans receive a free 7 inch non-specialty sandwich on November 11.
Sonny’s BBQ — Veterans and active-duty military get a free Pulled or Sliced Pork Big Deal combo on November 11.
Spaghetti Warehouse— From November 9 through 11, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free. Coupon required.
sweetFrog— Veterans and active military personnel get a free 12-oz yogurt on November 11.
Taco Mac— On November 11, active military members and veterans get a free 6-pack of wings with purchase a drink.
TCBY — Veterans and active military personnel get their first 6 oz. of frozen yogurt for free on November 11 with valid proof of service at participating locations.
Texas de Brazil— Veterans receive 50% off dinner November 11 through 13 during dinner hours.
Texas Roadhouse— Veterans and active-duty military get a free lunch on November 11 from 11 am to 4 pm.
After their service, many veterans find ways to continue to make great strides across the nation and the globe — from the arts to politics to non-profit organizations. One of the great privileges we enjoy here at We Are The Mighty is that we learn about and meet veterans who are doing really incredible, meaningful and sometimes truly badass things, every day.
Each year, we have the honor of choosing The Mighty 25 — a list of veterans whose amazing accomplishments suggest they are poised for major impact in the coming year.
It’s always tough narrowing those who’ve really made an impression — veterans we want other veterans to know about — to a list of 25, because for every individual selected, there are several others who could easily take their place.
Certainly, there are veterans we’d be honored to highlight year after year. In order to keep things fresh, however, we try to cover a broad sweep of the veteran community and to highlight people we think our readers might like to track in the coming year. These are vets who make us proud, and we’re excited to follow their work as the year progresses.
In alphabetical order, The Mighty 25 of 2017 are:
1. Daniel Alarik — CEO Grunt Style / Alpha Outpost
Grunt Style sells unabashedly pro-military shirts and clothing to a veteran and civilian market proud to wear pride of service on their sleeve.
In 2016 Alarik started Alpha Outpost — a subscription box company for men with curated high-quality items focused on everything from cooking to survival.
Between these two companies, Alarik employs around 100 veterans, and his businesses are packed with patriotism and personality. But more than that, they’re kicking ass — just what we like to see from veteran-run businesses. Here’s to their bright and glorious future.
2. Lieutenant General (Ret.) David Barno — Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, School of International Service, at American University
Widely considered among the nation’s leading defense intellectuals, David Barno is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. He is currently a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the School of International Service at American University.
Barno recently co-authored a ground-breaking analysis of military leadership principles that challenged decades of Army policy, and his work for War on The Rocks remains highly influential as our country grapples with persistent global conflict and a changing political climate.
Barno’s broad intellect, wide-ranging expertise, and undying commitment to a better Army inspire WATM to watch and learn from his continued impact.
3. Tim Bomke — Military Program Manager at Amazon
Tim Bomke is an Army veteran who was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart and was medically retired in 2008 due to wounds sustained in combat in Iraq. After retiring, Tim went to work on the Department of Defense’s Troops to Teachers program, as well as the Army Continuing Education System aboard Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Bomke is now the Military Manager for Amazon helping to lead their veteran and military spouse hiring initiatives. His work this year will help employ a multitude of members our community.
4. Bonnie Carroll — President and Founder, TAPS
Bonnie Carroll is one of the 2015 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions. Ms. Carroll received the honor, and is admired throughout the entire U.S. military, for her selfless leadership at the forefront of the greatest battle our military families ever fight: that of the ultimate sacrifice.
A retired Air Force Major and the surviving spouse of Brigadier General Tom Carroll, Bonnie is the founder and president of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or “TAPS,” which provides much needed compassionate care, casework assistance, and lifetime round-the-clock emotional support for those affected by the loss of a service member.
A staffer in both the Reagan and Bush White Houses, Bonnie Carroll was appointed as the White House Liaison for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC. Before that, however, Ms. Carroll’s own military career was one of distinction; Carroll retired as a Major in the Air Force Reserve following 30 years of service, including 16 years in the Air National Guard.
For her impactful, often life-saving work providing bereavement support for the families of our fallen, Bonnie Carroll has been recognized by the American Legion, the Department of Defense, and President Obama. We Are The Mighty salutes her, too.
5. Phillip Carter — Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security
Phillip Carter is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security. Carter’s research focuses on issues facing veterans and military personnel, force structure and readiness, and the relationship between civilians and military.
Carter served in the Army for nine years, including an 11-month deployment to Iraq as an embedded advisor for the Iraqi police in Baquba. In 2008, Carter joined the Obama campaign as the National Veterans Director; he went on to serve as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.
In addition to his military and government experience, Carter writes extensively on veterans and military issues for Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and other publications, and serves on numerous boards and advisory councils in the veterans and military community.
Whether it’s working with donors and grantmaking organizations to help them understand the needs of veterans, leading research that informs policy change, or convening leaders poised to make a difference in the lives of veterans, Phil Carter’s influence is large and growing.
6. Mike Dowling — Producer, Author, Veteran Advocate
Mike Dowling, a U.S. Marine and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran has dedicated his entire post-service life to his fellow veterans, servicemembers, and military families, and has become a much-admired leader of the greater Los Angeles veteran community.
Mike is a co-founder of the nonprofit Veterans in Film Television which serves as both a networking organization and a way for the film and television industry to connect with the veteran community working in it.
He also founded the LA Veterans Orientation, which helps connect veterans newly transitioning from service in the L.A. area and helped develop and lead VA The Right Way, an initiative supported by veteran, nonprofit and governmental stakeholders alike that seeks to give veterans a greater voice in the redesign of the VA and to help build 1,200 permanent veterans housing units on the Los Angeles VA campus.
Dowling served as Director of Community Outreach here at We Are The Mighty, and in 2017 is leaving to be involved in the production for a major network based on military subject matter he is passionate about. We can’t wait to see it.
7. Adam Driver — Actor, Arts in the Armed Forces Founder
Adam Driver is a Marine veteran who rose to fame on the hit HBO show “Girls,” and who skyrocketed after starring as the villain Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, a role he’ll reprise in Episode VIII later this year. Driver’s impressive and growing film career has afforded him the opportunity to work with luminaries such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.
In 2016, his performance in “Paterson” earned Driver critical acclaim and multiple awards. Coming soon, he will team up with Sylvester Stallone to star in the film “Tough As They Come,” based on the bestselling book by former Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee who lost his limbs in a roadside bomb attack during his third tour to Afghanistan.
Driver founded the nonprofit organization Arts in the Armed Forces, which performs theater for all branches of the military at U.S. installations domestically and around the world. As Driver’s star continues to brighten, so too does his commitment to helping veterans heal the scars of war and telling their inspiring stories.
8. Sen. Tammy Duckworth — U.S. Senator
Fresh off an upset victory over longtime Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, Army veteran Tammy Duckworth is on her way to the U.S. Senate with an eye toward giving former service members a greater voice at the national level.
Duckworth, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who lost her legs after a crash during combat in Iraq, previously served as a senior official at the Department of Veterans Affairs and as a U.S. congresswoman from Illinois’ 8th District. The Asian-American lawmaker has consistently charted her own political course, but with a laser beam focus on supporting today’s military and veteran community.
She’s passed legislation aimed at helping veterans have more access to mental health care and made it easier for vets to get civilian certifications for skills they acquired in the military. We’re looking forward to seeing what Senator Duckworth will do in Congress this year.
9. Ken Falke — Chairman and Founder, Boulder Crest Retreat; CEO, Shoulder 2 Shoulder
Ken Falke is a 21-year service-disabled combat veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired Master Chief Petty Officer. His first business, A-T Solutions, is internationally recognized for its expertise and consulting services in combating the war or terror. Ken is now the CEO of organizational improvement solutions company Shoulder 2 Shoulder, Inc.
Falke is also an innovator in the world of warrior care. In 2013 after Falke and his wife Julia witnessed first-hand the desolation and frustration the wounded experienced while spending time in military hospitals, they founded the exceptional Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness. Situated on a massive swath of pristine Blue Ridge Mountain land donated by the Falkes, Boulder Crest’s mission is “To provide world class, short-duration, high-impact retreats for combat veterans and their families”, in an environment “of healing that integrates evidence-based therapies, a safe, peaceful space and unparalleled customer service to improve physical, emotional, spiritual and economic well-being.” The Retreat has hosted more than 1,000 veterans and their loved ones looking to reconnect and heal after service, with all services provided for free.
Ken is also the founder and Chairman of the EOD Warrior Foundation, which provides financial assistance and support to active-duty and veteran wounded, injured or ill warriors, families of the wounded and fallen from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community, and maintains the EOD Memorial.
Falke is passionate about educating our nation on issues regarding the long-term care of the returning military members and families who’ve borne the burden of our nation’s longest wars. We Are The Mighty salutes this exceptional veteran, businessman and philanthropist for his thoughtful, generous, family-centered and solution-oriented approaches to the unique challenges facing post 9/11 veterans and their loved ones.
10. Matt Flavin — President, Concord Energy Holdings, LLC
Matt Flavin is a former Navy intelligence officer who deployed with SEAL teams and previously worked at the White House as its first director of the Office of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy under President Obama. After leaving the White House, Flavin went into the private sector as a senior executive with energy-related businesses. He is currently the CEO of Concord Energy Holdings.
At only 29 when he became director of the Office of Veteran and Wounded Warrior Policy in 2009, Flavin was one of the youngest vets to earn a senior White House position and marked a generational shift in veterans advocacy at the highest levels of government.
Now at the helm of one of the fastest growing energy companies in America, Flavin has demonstrated through his tireless advocacy at the White House and his innovation in business that this millennial generation of veterans is poised for greatness.
11. Brenda “Sue” Fulton — Board of Visitors at West Point, Advocate for LGBT Equality in the Military
Sue Fulton is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy’s first-ever co-ed class and is the first female and openly gay person to hold a position as a member of the West Point Board of Visitors.
Fulton has become a passionate advocate for the inclusion and rights of LGBT service members, and for women and people of color in the military. She is a founding board member of OutServe which provides legal assistance for openly gay service members and is a founder of Knights Out, an LGBT rights organization.
With her combination of fierce pride in her alma mater, the branch of service whose leaders it prepares and in the under-represented groups whose civil rights as soldiers concern her, Fulton strikes us as a military influencer to watch in 2017.
12. Dan Goldenberg — Executive Director, Call of Duty Endowment
Dan Goldenberg is a Naval Academy grad, Harvard Business School alum, and Air Command and Staff College graduate. He’s also a Navy captain with over 24 years of active and reserve military experience and the executive director of Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment.
Through the Call of Duty Endowment, Goldenberg’s helping veterans find high-quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value that veterans bring to the workplace. So far his organization has helped place more than 25,000 post-9/11 vets in jobs that average a more than $50,000 salary.
The Call of Duty Endowment has set a goal to help 50,000 post-9/11 vets find jobs by 2019. Goldenberg and his team are poised for an aggressive push in 2017.
13. Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee — Co-founders, Combat Flip Flops
As former Army Rangers with several Afghanistan tours behind them, Matthew Griff and Donald Lee saw a country filled with hard-working, creative people who wanted jobs, not handouts. Terrorist organizations would target people who couldn’t make ends meet, so Griffin and Lee created Combat Flip Flops as a way to help the people of Kabul, Afghanistan, create a sustainable economy.
Today, the company has expanded to Colombia, Laos, and Afghanistan, and they support charities like Aid Afghanistan for Education, which helps marginalized Afghans attend school. With the help of Combat Flip Flops, over 3,000 female students currently attend an AAE school. Additionally, some revenue from certain products is spent to clear 3-square meters of unexploded ordnance from a region rocked by long-term war.
We’ll be continuing to watch how Combat Flip Flops uses its double bottom line to help make the world a better and safer place.
14. Florent Groberg — Director of Veteran Outreach at Boeing, MOH recipient
A French-born naturalIzed citizen who joined the US Army in 2008 and went on to receive numerous awards, decorations and the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, retired Capt. Florent Groberg is now the Director of Veterans Outreach at Boeing, where he’s responsible for the company’s support of military veterans and their families. He’s a member of Keppler Speakers where he uses his experience to inspire audiences under the most adverse conditions.
He’s also an advisor at Mission 6 Zero, a leadership development company created by for U.S. special operators.
For the past year, Groberg has been helping his peers prepare for life after the military through his partnership with LinkedIn’s Veteran Program, in which the veteran community connects, networks, and grows professionally via the powerful LinkedIn platform. A passionate advocate for the veteran community, Groberg’s every public appearance emphasizes education, transition planning and career development, all of which is inspired by the love and memory he has for those who gave their lives on the day for which his actions have been so prestigiously honored.
And for those so inspired, check out Capt. Groberg’s moving interview with Stephen Colbert last year. Many of the female veterans we know are hoping to hear him speak a little more French in the coming year.
15. Dr. Anthony Hassan — CEO and President, Cohen Veteran Network
Dr. Anthony Hassan is a retired Air Force officer with over 30 years of leadership, mental health, and military social work experience. As the CEO and President of the Cohen Veterans Network, he’s in charge of spearheading the organization’s mission to improve the mental health of veterans across the nation.
Hassan lead one of the first-ever Air Force combat stress control and prevention teams embedded with Army units during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. His groundbreaking work in military mental health and substance abuse treatment has paved the way for a variety of military medical innovations and programs.
With his work for the Cohen Veterans Network, Hassan is establishing 25 high-quality, free or low-cost outpatient mental health clinics in cities throughout the country. Additionally, Hassan continues to lead efforts to advance the mental health treatment profession through funded research initiatives and training programs to improve care within the network and beyond.
We’re rooting for Hassan’s success in 2017 as it lifts our community and improves the lives of veterans and their families.
Jaslow was previously Chief of Staff for Illinois Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos and was the Press Secretary for Virginia Democrat and former Navy Secretary Sen. Jim Webb.
IAVA has quickly become one of the nation’s top veterans advocacy organizations, and Jaslow’s political experience on Capitol Hill and her recent military service will surely help continue her organization’s fluency in the issues facing the post-9/11 veteran community.
Jaslow is an up-and-comer and is someone we’ll definitely be watching as IAVA works to help recent vets navigate their post-service lives.
17. William McNulty — Co-Founder and CEO, Team Rubicon Global
Marine Corps veteran William McNulty is CEO of Team Rubicon Global, the disaster response organization he co-founded after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which offers veterans around the world opportunities to serve others in the wake of disasters. McNulty has worked in support of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and the National Security Council’s Iraq Threat Finance Cell. Among the vast community of veteran-serving nonprofits, McNulty is broadly admired for his success in scaling the Team Rubicon model internationally.
McNulty also serves on the Board of Directors of Airlink Flight, an international non-profit organization that connects commercial airlines with humanitarian initiatives, and on the Advisory Board of the Truman National Security Project, a policy advocacy organization that encourages the use of diplomacy, free trade, and democratic ideals to help resolve complex international challenges.
From Team Rubicon deployments with Prince Harry in Nepal to bringing veterans together with POS REP, 2016 was a busy year for McNulty, and we’re excited to see what his veteran service organizations have in store for 2017.
18. Donny O’Malley — Founder and President, VET Tv
Danny Maher, a combat Marine veteran, goes by the stage name Donny O’Malley and is the founder of Irreverent Warriors (home of The Silkies Hike) and now VET Tv, the first video channel created by and for post 9/11 veterans. O’Malley’s mission for VET Tv is to create high-quality, targeted entertainment for the veteran community that is therapeutic in order to promote camaraderie and prevent veteran suicide.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, VET Tv is off and running, producing content “by bloodthirsty veterans and made for veterans with dark and twisted humor.” Their programming plan is laid out on their website and quite frankly, we’re subscribing to see what they come up.
19. Range15 Crew — Producers and Cast Members from the Feature Film
While some of these cast members (Mat Best, Nick Palmisciano, and Evan Hafer) have been highlighted in previous years for their successful veteran-owned and run companies, this band of brothers brought humor and in many ways a form of therapy to our community in a way that no other film has. Here’s to hoping it’s one of many to come.
20. Rob Riggle — Actor, Comedian
Rob Riggle is an actor, comedian, and Marine veteran. Riggle retired from the Marine Corps Reserves as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2013 after serving for 23 years, 9 of which he served on Active Duty and 14 more in the Reserves. Despite his growing career on screen, Riggle served as a pilot, Civil Affairs Officer and a Public Affairs Officer across numerous deployments to Liberia, Kosovo, Albania and Afghanistan.
Of his decision to finally retire, Riggle has said, “I may have retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, but you never really stop being a Marine” — a statement borne out by his Iraq tour with the USO. In the years since, Riggle has done his part to advocate for and raise awareness of our veterans, attending numerous events that support our military family and most recently, co-hosting the first Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic with We Are The Mighty, to benefit the Semper Fi Fund.
Rob Riggle’s star continues to rise. He’s best known for his work as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” from 2006 to 2008, and as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” from 2004 to 2005, despite still being in the Reserves at the time! Riggle’s also beloved for his comedic roles in numerous television shows and films. This year, we look forward to Rob debuting his own series on TBS.
21. Mark Rockefeller — CEO/Co-Founder of StreetShares
Mark Rockefeller is an Air Force veteran who later transitioned into a law career to help veterans secure financing for businesses and protect against predatory lending. Early in his post-Air Force career, Rockefeller worked on a pro bono micro-finance project in Africa which inspired him to help establish StreetShares, Inc.
StreetShares uses a combination of technology and social networking to obtain financial services for the military and veteran communities and to help veterans build businesses.
As the company puts it, “we’ve got red, white and blue running through our veins.”
As more veterans leave the service and look for innovative ways to enter the workforce, groups like StreetShares are poised to make a major impact on helping veteran-owned businesses become a larger part of the American economy.
22. Vincent Viola — Secretary of the Army (Select)
Vincent Viola is the epitome of a self-made man. An Army veteran of the 101st, Viola has a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School but chose to focus on becoming a businessman rather than practice law.
In the course of his civilian career, Viola made his fortune by focusing his efforts on the oil industry. Viola has created a number of businesses in the tech, oil, and financial industries, among others. He currently owns the Florida Panthers.
After 9/11, Viola founded the Combating Terrorism Center, an academic institute that studies the terrorist threat and provides education towards mitigating it. He is President Trump’s nomination as the Secretary of the Army.
With an increasingly tumultuous world and an Army poised for big changes, we’ll be watching as Viola takes takes charge of America’s largest service and shapes it for the future.
23. Kayla Williams — Director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans
Williams was previously a project associate for the RAND Corporation and is the author of “Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army,” a memoir about her experiences negotiating the changing demands on today’s military.
Kayla is a White House Women Veteran Champion of Change, a Truman National Security Project Fellow, and a former member of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
As the principal advisor on female veterans issues to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Williams will play a big role in shaping the policies, programs, and legislation that affect an increasing population women veterans in the coming years.
24. Eli Williamson — Co-Founder and President, Leave No Veteran Behind; Director of the Veterans Program for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation
An Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, Williamson was an Arab linguist and worked with Army Special Operations psychological operations teams.
After his time in the Army, Williamson created the non-profit Leave No Veteran Behind to invest in veterans and help build better communities through employment training, transitional jobs, and an educational debt relief scholarship. Williamson was also recently named as a member of the new Obama Foundation’s Inclusion Council.
With a strong influence in the minority community and a business outlook that believes “veterans are not a charity, but a strategic social investment,” Williamson embodies the spirit of We Are The Mighty, and we look forward to many great things from him in the year ahead.
25. Brandon Young — Director of Development, Team RWB
Brandon Young is the Director of Development at Team Red, White, and Blue. An Army veteran, Young joined the military before 9/11 and served 11 years, mostly conducting Special Operations missions in support of the Global War on Terror.
Brandon is a speaker and contributor on podcasts and the Havok Journal where he shares his myriad experiences while in the service. His aim and sincere hope is to “give words to the voiceless who are struggling to find them; or the courage to say what’s really on their hearts.”
Young’s primary focus with Team RWB is to develop and maintain strategic partnerships and identify growth opportunities that ensure the success of the nonprofit’s programs. He recently handed over the Denver RWB Chapter where in the past two years he helped grow membership from 400 to 1,200.
Everybody knows that the GI Bill is for college, but did you know you can use it for things other than a typical brick-and-mortar institution of higher learning? Here are four VA-approved ways you can use that benefit to better fit your goals in life.
*Note: While Veterans Affairs has confirmed that each of the schools listed here are approved institutions for using the GI Bill, you should always consult with your VA representative before making decisions regarding benefits.
1. Be the best bartender you can be!
While the GI Bill itself does not actually cover bartending school, try to find an accredited school with degree programs in culinary arts. If you can manage that, your course load will most likely include classes that involve various aspects of drinkology, an academic counselor at Culinary Institute of America told WATM.
The institute- which is best known as the CIA- is a VA-approved school.
2. Make Mary Jane your money making biotch
With the rise in the legalization of cannabis — both for medicinal and recreational purposes — across the country, professionals within the cannabis industry are going to be in high demand.
There are three different areas within the weed world to look at: chemists, horticulturist and dispensary managers.
Chemists and dispensary managers can be made through any traditional college route, but to be a cannabis grower, you can attend an horticulture school that offers degrees or certificates in horticulture.
3. Show everyone that you have the perfect face for radio
The Academy of Radio and Television Broadcasting offers an intensive course of study in radio and television broadcasting. Students at the Academy learn everything a normal college student learns in a four-year broadcasting degree- but in a much shorter time and without the requirement to invest in typical “core” classes.Core classes in math and science don’t typically translate into radio and television broadcasting, so the concept behind the school is to focus solely on broadcasting.
This cuts the typical four year program down to a mere seven months.
Tuition for the entire program is roughly $15,000.
4. Dive for buried treasure.
Well, be a commercial diver, anyway. The Divers Institute of Technology actually prefers veterans, and it is (and always has been) owned and operated by veterans.
The Divers Institute’s website claims, “you’ll get lots of hands-on, in-the-water training during your seven month program. We’ll teach you surface and underwater welding, cutting, and burning. You’ll learn diving physics and medicine, safety, rigging, salvage, hazmat, inland and offshore diving and more.”
The La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness (Collaborative) announced today [Monday, Dec. 19, 2016] that it met the ambitious goal they set in September of this year: to end homelessness for veterans in the City within 100 days (by Christmas Day). This makes La Crosse the first city in Wisconsin to end homelessness among veterans.
Over the 100 days, the Collaborative increased its monthly housing placement rate for veterans by 400%, demonstrating what’s possible when multiple agencies join forces and focus on clear, measurable goals.
This goal was not accomplished by doing business as usual. It was accomplished by unprecedented cross-agency collaboration between over thirty agencies, including: the Tomah VA Medical Center, Couleecap, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, La Crosse Police Department, and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (full list of Design and Leadership Team members).
This effort elevated action-oriented problem-solving over traditional planning.
With the support of Gundersen Health System’s Office of Population Health, the Collaborative is using a proven innovation and improvement model (adapted from one developed by Community Solutions and the Rapid Results Institute for the 100,000 Homes Campaign) to accelerate housing placements and profoundly improve system performance.
“The key to our success has been the amazing collaboration within our initiative and a strong shared focus from everyone on the team”, said Kim Cable, Design Team member and Housing and Community Services Director at Couleecap). “This is just the beginning of our journey to end all homelessness in the City of La Crosse. We are excited and inspired by our initial success and the support from the community.”
“I am so proud of the La Crosse Collaborative’s incredible efforts to end veteran homelessness here in our community”, said Mayor Tim Kabat, a Leadership Team member.
“La Crosse signed on to the national effort, as part of the Mayor’s Challenge, to work together and provide permanent housing for our homeless veterans and it is awe-inspiring to see this dream realized. We are so fortunate to live in such a caring, compassionate, and hard-working community.”
“This is a tremendous achievement and milestone for our community,” said Victoria Brahm, Acting Director of the Tomah VA Medical Center. “I am extremely proud of our staff members who worked with the Collaborative. This is the result of a lot of hard work – getting to functional zero was a tough challenge, but one that we were never going to give up on.”
“Gunderson’s Office of Population Health is focusing on elevating the health of the community by engaging beyond the health system walls, and partnering with organizations in communities who are going upstream to prevent illness, disease, injury, and crisis”, said Sandy Brekke, Senior Consultant, Office of Population Health, Gundersen Health System.
“It’s hard to be healthy when you go to sleep hungry, homeless, or in substandard housing. As an institution, GHS recognizes that safe, secure housing is foundational to the health of individuals and families in our community and are proud to support the effort to end homelessness in La Crosse. We are grateful to the Design Team of the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness, they have brought the community together and have worked incredibly hard to make sure that our Veterans have a warm place to call home.”
The Collaborative will celebrate its success tomorrow afternoon, December 20th, at the Waterfront Banquet Room, hosted by Don Weber, CEO of LHI and Leadership Team member, who said: “Veteran homelessness is our nation’s silent shame. It goes without saying that any who has served and protected our nation should not have to worry whether they will have a roof over their heads. In dedicating ourselves to ending Veteran homelessness in our region, our community has proven that the story does not have to end here. Our Veterans deserve our lifelong commitment to returning to them the same comfort and safety they’ve so selflessly secured for us through their service.”
For more information on what it means to end homelessness (defined nationally as reaching “functional zero”), visit the FAQ section on the Collaborative’s website. On the website, you can also donate to ongoing efforts to end homelessness, sign up to volunteer or—if you are a landlord—offer housing to others who are homeless in La Crosse.
Joe Quinn, a West Point graduate and the current Director of Leadership Development for Team Red, White Blue (RWB), has been hand-selected as in the incoming Executive Director for Headstrong, a non-profit organization that provides post-9/11 military veterans with free mental health care. He’ll begin his new role on Jan. 1, 2018.
U.S. Marine Zach Iscol, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Headstrong Project (and a previous veteran-to-watch on WATM’s Mighty 25) personally attested to Quinn’s character in the announcement made to the Headstrong team:
Despite graduating from West Point, Joe has had an exemplary and impressive career. He deployed twice to Iraq, served as an advisor to General Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance team’s in Afghanistan, and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. As the Director of Leadership Development at Team RWB, a leading Veteran Service Organization, he has managed their growth to a major national organization and personally developed nearly 2,000 community leaders.
No stranger to service-after-service (Team RWB enriches the lives of vets by connecting them to their community through various activities), Quinn’s own letter to the Team RWB family was filled with sentiment, purpose, and praise for his team:
Beginning January 1st, I’ll be the next Executive Director of the Headstrong Project, an organization that heals the hidden wounds of war through stigma-free, bureaucracy-free, cost-free, evidence-based treatments. At Headstrong, we are going to lead a vast movement across the country that heals the hidden wounds of war to help prevent veteran suicide. This is only the beginning, and I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity.
Quinn is a highly respected member of the veteran community, and one who knows the space and is connected to the vets he serves. He’s someone to watch out for in the coming year and we can’t wait to see what good he’ll do for veterans next!
Then-Army Air Forces pilot Warren Halstead flew missions daily out of Coulommiers, France, during World War II. On May 8, 1945, he was at his duty station, on break from dropping supplies and transporting wounded to hospitals in England. The news came in: the war in Europe was over. Seventy-six years later, the retired Air Force colonel still remembers the mixed emotions of Victory in Europe, or V-E, Day.
“My thoughts were just that I did my part to help bring about this day,” Halstead said. “Also, remember, the war was still full on in the Pacific in Japan, so our thoughts were that we were still at war, so V-E Day, although it was important, it was not the end of WWII.”
For the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, the war had a memorable beginning. His first combat mission came 11 months prior on June 6, 1944, during D-Day.
“Just a few days before D-Day, (Gen. Dwight) Eisenhower visited the Airborne units and pilots designated to drop the paratroopers on D-Day,” Halstead said. “It was very impressive that the commander of all of the Allied Forces wanted to give some words of encouragement before our big mission on D-Day. He knew many of us would not return from our mission. It meant a lot to us to hear words of encouragement from him.”
Halstead’s unit arrived at a training location in Ramsbury, England, in February. They trained constantly from then until June 6. Their training to drop paratroopers consisted of night flying and flying in formation. They also trained on towing gliders stateside before arriving in England.
On D-Day, the 23-year-old piloted his C-47 into the skies in the early hours before daylight. The weather was good upon takeoff, but there were scattered clouds when they arrived in Normandy.
“You could see all of the tracers from the munitions being fired at us from the enemy on the ground,” Halstead said. “They all seemed to be coming right into the cockpit, however, our plane was not hit on that day.”
His mission was to drop the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers no matter what. Flying in groups of three within a larger formation, he safely dropped the paratroopers. The next day, he towed one glider with troops and equipment to Saint Mare Eglise.
He also flew in Market Garden and Battle of the Bulge, getting hit during both operations. Halstead also flew in Operation Varsity in March 1945. This was the largest airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day in one location. He towed two gliders of the 17th Airborne Division at one time across the Rhine River. The enemy shot the rudder of his plane just after he released the gliders. They safely landed.
Following the war, he used the GI Bill to attend the University of Tulsa where he graduated in 1950 with a B.S. in Zoology. The Air Force recalled him to active duty during Korea, where he received a Distinguished Flying Cross during a mission flying a B-26 bomber. He retired in 1973, but continued to fly civilian aircraft. He has over 15,000 hours of flying time as a pilot.
Visiting years later
Halstead said visiting those countries he fought over decades later brought several emotions.
“I helped them overcome the terrible regimes they were under,” he said. “I am very happy that these countries are thriving today.”
He said thirty years after the war when he was still on active duty, he took his family to visit Germany.
“The country was thriving then,” he said. “The German economy was thriving, and the Germans were all extremely welcoming to the Americans.”
Halstead hopes Americans mark the day honoring Veterans.
“I think the remembrances that the WWII Memorial Foundation conducts at the WWII Memorial are excellent ways to honor our Veterans,” he said. “Additionally, the recognition ceremonies by the various U.S. military services as well as at Arlington Cemetery are very poignant reminders of the sacrifices we as a nation made for world freedom and democracy.”
Halstead’s daughter said listening to stories from the dwindling World War II Veteran population is important.
“Many Veterans, such as my father, do not talk a lot about their experiences,” Gail Capp said. “Just be there for them and be available and ready to listen when they do want to open up. Finally, go to their reunions. You will hear many stories there.”
Help capture history
More than 16 million men and women served during World War II. Today, there’s less than 390,000 still alive.
The National WWII Museum strives to preserve the legacy and lessons of World War II through the stories of those who experienced the war. They accept Oral Histories and memoirs that people have conducted or printed themselves.
Submit written World War II memoirs or stories for the Museum Library by mail to:
The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war.
Commitment and a nurturing character help build strong families and businesses.
Before Flossie Hall co-founded and became the Chief Operating Officer of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs, she had one of the hardest jobs in the world: being a mother of four and an active duty Navy spouse. As a military wife, Hall has lived at 10 addresses over the last 14 years. For much of that time, she also had to be a solo parent.
“Plan something and the military laughs,” Hall quipped. She continued, “Business is the same way.”
After successfully navigating the financial challenges that come with new deployments, new homes and newborns (remember, she and her husband have four children), Hall has dedicated herself to the business of helping other military families.
AMSE is an entrepreneurship program built by military spouses, exclusively for military spouses. It is a digital organization that teaches military spouses around the world how to start their own businesses.
Military spouses are perfectly suited to be entrepreneurs because, according to Hall, “Entrepreneurs have to curve and swerve every single day.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Hall was the first person in her family to attain academic success. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. And then, the first to attend and graduate from college.
Hall started at a community college and had to navigate financial aid on her own. She recalls signing paperwork as she learned about the cost of a college education. She accumulated a significant amount of debt to finance her education.
Today, Hall has a child in college whose education expenses weren’t budgeted for because she and her husband were very young parents. As a result, they learned the value of proper financial planning.
The Halls’ three younger children will also likely attend college. This time around, Hall and her husband are prepared. They opened college savings accounts that will help their kids pay for college.
Specifically, they started 529 accounts to help finance the children’s college educations. The special savings accounts have allowed the Halls to save long term for this specific financial planning objective. A 529 college savings plan is a great option to save for college because it is a tax-advantaged savings vehicle designed to fund specific education expenses.
The specific tax advantages are that earnings in a 529 plan account are allowed to grow over time free from federally income taxes. Then, when money is ultimately taken out of the account to pay qualified education expenses, there is no income tax on withdrawals.
Qualified education expenses include outlays such as tuition, books and potentially room and board. While a 529 plan account offers income tax breaks, contributions are not deductible.
There are many different 529 plans from which to choose. They are offered by each of the states and many educational institutions. And neither the account holder nor the beneficiary are required to reside in the state offering the plan. However, some plans may offer specific advantages to in-state residents.
Still, the fact that there are no residency restrictions means that there is ample opportunity to shop around in order to find the plan that best suits the needs of the beneficiary. Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing plans:
Every state offers at least one type of plan.
Plans fall into one of two categories: Prepaid Tuition Plans or College Savings Plans. Prepaid tuition plans lock in the current tuition rate that typically must be used at the specific institution. A college savings plan can be used at any school.
Some plans allow others to contribute.
Most 529 plans allow people other than the account holder to make contributions to the beneficiary’s account. This is a great option for grandparents or other family members to contribute to a child’s future education. Instead of giving a child toys, friends and family can contribute to the student’s college fund.
The account holder owns and controls the account.
Named beneficiaries of 529 plans have no legal right to funds in the accounts. This is the case whether they are minor children or adults over the age of majority. It is also a way to assure the money will be used for its intended purpose. The account holder may withdraw money. The beneficiary may not. But if withdrawals are not used for qualified educational expenses, earnings will incur taxes and penalties.
Gift tax exclusion may apply.
529 plan contributions fall under annual and lifetime gift tax exclusions. The annual limit is currently $15,000 per beneficiary per contributor. This also means a married couple filing jointly can contribute up to $30,000 per child per account.
Consider a UGift® account.
UGift provides a way to invite family and friends to contribute to a child’s 529 account. UGift is a secure, free-to-use online service that allows others to transfer funds directly into your child’s 529 plan account. Because there are no fees, the entirety of those gifts gets deposited.
Because there are many options, there isn’t one 529 plan that satisfies every family’s unique needs. To determine the right fit, it makes sense to compare investment options, fees and other factors specific to your situation.
The best way to save for college is to start early and to add funds consistently. A 529 college savings plan account is specifically designed for educational expenses and can be a great way to finance future education expenses. For more financial tools and tips visit VCM.com/military.
Joseph Sroka isn’t just an investment specialist, he’s a military veteran and business owner with a passion to assist the veteran community. He is the Chief Investment Officer of NovaPoint Capital, a firm he co-founded, which provides investment management for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
Before getting into the number crunching and chart watching of the investment world, Sroka served as an infantry officer in the Army. After graduating from West Point in 1988, he was stationed in Berlin, Germany and was witness to the iconic fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification of Germany, and collapse of the Soviet Union. As a person who was inspired to serve by Ronald Reagan, seeing the end of the “Evil Empire” seemed like a good time for a career change.
“I grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and was in middle school during the Iran hostage crisis,” Sroka recalls. “President Reagan brought pride back to the country and the military. I was proud to serve.”
After earning his MBA, Sroka spent time working in equity research at investment banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms in Chicago, New York, and eventually Atlanta, the city he now calls home. The investment management industry has proven as lively as the military. Sroka was working at 4 World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center, on 9/11 and helped evacuate his colleagues at Merrill Lynch from the building. He has also managed through the volatility of the markets during the 2008 financial crisis.
His deep experience in the industry helped him develop the tools he needed to go into business with his partner, Alan Conner. Together, they decided the goal of NovaPoint Capital was to provide individuals and institutions with disciplined and transparent investment management.
We’ve both seen the ugly side of the business over the years,” Alan explains, “Excessive fees and complicated investment products seem designed to benefit the investment firms and the brokers, rather than the clients. It is very satisfying to run a firm where we truly put the client first.
As a boutique firm, they offer an aspect that is often lost when dealing with larger firms: the opportunity to build a personal one-on-one relationship directly with their clients. This structure provides clients with direct access to the manager who is handling their money and not sales representatives or relationship managers who are twice or three-times removed from the actual investment.
They recognize that a lot of trust that comes with handling investments. NovaPoint seeks to provide all clients, large and small, with complete transparency in how their money is invested. They have used technology to simplify the process and give clients a window into what the team at NovaPoint is doing every day.
NovaPoint shows they are purposeful and disciplined when it comes to the strategies they put forth. Both owners understand discipline. Sroka as a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, Conner as an endurance athlete and three-time IRONMAN triathlon finisher. Conner sees “the discipline in our investment process as a simple extension of the discipline we have in our everyday lives.”
Being a veteran-owned business, NovaPoint understands the value the veteran community provides to the country’s economy and wants to encourage other veterans to pursue their investment and financial goals. To help veterans achieve these goals NovaPoint Capital takes a few proactive steps. They offer special discounts on standard fees as well as waiving minimum investment requirements for veterans. They extend these offers to include retirement plans for other veteran-owned businesses as well as non-profit organizations that serve the veteran community. Additionally, NovaPoint contributes one day of revenue every six months directly to veteran charities.
Beyond discounts and waived requirements, Sroka personally continues to serve veterans in his community by being a mentor through organizations like Veterati and FourBlock. “I am a huge believer that the current generation of transitioning veterans are going to be the leaders in the U.S. economy for decades to come,” Sroka said. He is also working to bring a Bunker Labs chapter to Atlanta to help military and veteran entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in the area.
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.
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.
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.
A&W restaurants are again giving away their famous Root Beer Floats on National Root Beer Float Day, Monday, August 6. The celebration is a way to say “thank you” to guests and to raise money for Disabled American Veterans. From 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., participating restaurants will serve free small Root Beer Floats, no purchase necessary. Guests will be encouraged to make a donation to DAV.
There are more than 630 A&W Restaurants in the U.S. and this is A&W’s sixth annual National Root Beer Float Day celebration — the second it has partnered with DAV.
AW and DAV hope to raise 0,000 for the organization, which serves more than one million veterans annually. Donations also can be made online at www.rootbeerfloatday.com. The 0,000 AW raised for DAV in 2017 provided an estimated ,000,000 in direct benefits to veterans.
“AW has a longstanding relationship with America’s Armed Services,” said AW CEO Kevin Bazner, who noted that AW Root Beer was introduced at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans in 1919. “The needs of our veterans continue to grow, which is why it is so important that we use a fun event like National Root Beer Float Day to also raise funds for DAV and to call attention to veterans’ issues.”
Since it started to celebrate National Root Beer Float Day, AW has raised more than 0,000 for veterans groups. “We are grateful to AW for supporting our ill and injured veterans through National Root Beer Float Day, donating 0,000 last year to DAV,” said Marc Burgess, DAV National Adjutant and CEO. “As both AW and DAV approach their centennial anniversaries, we are proud to join together again this year to support our true American heroes for their decades of service and sacrifices to keep us free.”
Police arrested three men Tuesday in Daytona Beach, Florida, for beating up a disabled Navy veteran after he told them to stop torturing a turtle to death.
A woman spotted a group of men “smashing up a turtle” while walking her toddler around a pond and immediately went home to tell her husband and disabled Navy vet, Gary Blough, who then came out of their apartment to see what was going on, WKMG reports.
He spotted two men and a teenager hitting the turtle.
“The one had it over his head and he was smashing it down on the sidewalk,” Blough said. “I asked them to please leave it alone, just let it go to the lake.”
Blough told his wife to call the police, and immediately two members of the group started punching and kicking him in the back of the head.
“They started hitting the back of my head and started punching me. I was able to fend off a little bit but I mean three of them, got the better of me,” he said.
One of the attackers reportedly yelled that he didn’t care if he went to jail, but the attackers soon scattered after bystanders approached the scene. Police caught up with the three alleged assailants, who were then immediately charged with aggravated battery and animal cruelty.
Blough later informed Daytona Beach police that the turtle was attempting to crawl away, but couldn’t move, due to its injuries.
Blough himself sustained a broken skull, internal bleeding, broken facial bones and a concussion, horrifying his wife.
The turtle was later found dead in a pool of blood.
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