Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

For active duty military members, playing video games can help release stress, build camaraderie and offer comforting familiarity in foreign environments. For veterans returning from combat, gaming can reduce isolation, renew connections with fellow service members and provide therapeutic benefits.

Recognizing the unique value of gaming for the military community, Microsoft is partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide Xbox Adaptive Controller units to 22 initial VA rehab centers across the U.S.

Launched in 2018, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to make gaming accessible to players with limited mobility by enabling them to customize their setups and connect with external devices like buttons, switches and joysticks that accommodate their playing. The controller, which can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games, was developed after extensive consultation with gamers, accessibility advocates and nonprofits that work with gamers with limited mobility, including veterans.


Ken Jones, the founder of Warfighter Engaged, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that provides gaming devices to wounded vets, says the Xbox Adaptive Controller makes gaming accessible to a broader range of veterans.

“People just want to participate, and it’s going to allow them to do that,” he says. “It allows for a much bigger population of people to be included in gaming.”

Microsoft and VA partner to bring Xbox Adaptive Controller to Veterans with limited mobility

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Gaming is a popular activity among the military community, but navigating a traditional controller can be difficult or impossible for injured veterans. The inability to game can mean the loss of connection to veterans’ military communities and to an activity that was a significant part of their lives during service.

The partnership with Microsoft aims to give veterans with limited mobility the opportunity to game again, get them more involved with their rehabilitation and increase social interaction, says Dr. Leif Nelson, director of National Veterans Sports Programs Special Events for the VA.

“We’re looking for platforms for veterans to interact with each other, and the Xbox Adaptive Controller can be that access point to get involved in this world and in the gaming community,” Nelson says. “Gaming is now everywhere in the world, and while people tend to think of it as isolating, we’re finding that it actually has the opposite effect and can increase interactions with other veterans and folks who are non-veterans. I think this can be a tool in the rehabilitation process to achieve a lot of different goals.”

For Jeff Holguin, gaming was a way to cope with the depression and post-traumatic stress disorder he experienced after being discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2003 following an injury. He’d planned on a career in the military, but that identity was suddenly gone. Facing a series of surgeries and feeling adrift in the civilian world, Holguin isolated himself. He turned to gaming, an activity he’d enjoyed since childhood, and found the sense of inclusion he was craving.

“It gave me an outlet, a virtual efficacy within a world that I didn’t feel like I had a place in anymore,” says Holguin. “I made a lot of social connections and friends through that virtual space.”

Holguin went back to school, studying clinical psychology with a focus on trauma and PTSD. He has designed research for Microsoft around mixed-reality devices and learning outcomes and is also a clinical psychology doctoral intern at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System in Prescott, Arizona. For Holguin, gaming provided a space where he could gradually reintegrate into post-military life.

“It was a sense of belonging and a sense of safety,” he says. “When you have trauma and you’re depressed, sometimes even just a little bit of stimulation is too much and you just don’t have the cognitive or emotional resources to deal with other people’s well-meaning interactivity.

“Gaming gives you what we might call exposure therapy, meaning you get a little bit of socialization, but when you’re ready to turn it off you can turn it off,” Holguin says. “Gaming provided some significant therapeutic value for me.”

Jamie Kaplan, a recreation therapist at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, has been using gaming as therapy with his patients — about 25 percent of whom have had traumatic spinal injuries — for seven years.

Kaplan, himself an avid gamer, says gaming provides a range of therapeutic benefits. Manipulating a controller and pressing buttons, for example, can help with motor skills. Decisions made throughout a game, from choosing which character to play to which moves to make, requires cognitive processing and visual processing, he says.

“It’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills, decision-making ability, information processing, cognitive processing,” Kaplan says. “We can assign a number of therapeutic values to gaming.”

Introducing the Xbox Adaptive Controller

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Kaplan used various gaming systems and consoles with patients before getting an Xbox Adaptive Controller last fall. He particularly likes the Copilot feature, which was developed for Xbox One and links two controllers as if they were one, allowing players to team up on a game and share controls. The feature quickly became one of Xbox’s most popular ones and was built into the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

One of his patients, Kaplan says, was able to play with his brother for the first time in three years by using Copilot. “It’s amazing,” Kaplan says. “It allows me as the therapist to make up for whatever deficit the patient has in utilizing a regular controller or the adaptive controller.”

Kaplan uses games ranging from sports and racing games to virtual reality games and programs that allow veterans with limited mobility to try activities such as scuba diving, fishing or hiking. VR is useful for helping amputees work on balance, Kaplan says, and VR guided relaxation and meditation programs can help veterans reduce stress and anxiety — and potentially reduce reliance on pain medications such as opioids.

“I see chronic pain patients every day and tell them, ‘I’m not going to cure your pain; we’re just hoping to trick it for a little while,'” he says. “You’re distracting them from the pain by engaging them in gaming.”

Gaming has been part of Mike Monthervil’s life since his childhood growing up in Carrefour, Haiti, a suburban area southwest of Port-au-Prince. Monthervil’s family was one of the only ones in the neighborhood with a gaming system, but electricity was only available for part of each day. When the lights would come back on, Monthervil recalls, “every kid would be banging on our door to come and play a game.”

For Monthervil, gaming was a passion that also provided an escape from a challenging environment. “It was a very tough place to live. Kids don’t have a lot to do there,” he says. “Gaming made my childhood better. It took a lot of stress out for me.

“To this day, I still talk to the guys who are over there that I grew up with, that are still going through the hardship of being there,” he says.

Monthervil continued gaming after moving to the United States and later enlisting in the U.S. Army. Stationed in Afghanistan, he passed time playing games with his fellow soldiers between missions. But in July 2014, Monthervil sustained a serious spinal cord injury after falling backward into a ditch during a training session, leaving him unable to use his legs. He underwent surgery and spent nine months at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. There he met Kaplan, who helped him adapt his gaming to accommodate the dexterity limitations caused by his accident.

Kaplan gave Monthervil an adaptive controller to try several years ago, but it was cumbersome and difficult for him to use. After getting an Xbox Adaptive Controller, Kaplan created a custom set-up for Monthervil by adding a few additional buttons. Monthervil recently got one of the controllers at home and says it works better for him than any device he’s tried since his injury.

“Of all the adaptive stuff I’ve tried, it’s by far the best one,” says Monthervil, who’s 26.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

Photo of Mike Monthervil gaming with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

(Microsoft)

The Xbox collaboration is part of a strategic partnership between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs dating back more than 20 years. Recent efforts under the partnership have focused on equipping VA employees with productivity and collaboration technologies, migrating VA legacy systems to the cloud and using advanced analytics in VA call centers to give veterans better information to make decisions about their benefits and medical care.

Toni Townes-Whitley, president of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft, says the Xbox Adaptive Controller collaboration is part of a broader effort to improve therapeutic and clinical care for veterans. But its fundamental goal is to harness technology to improve veterans’ lives, she says.

“It’s an example of using technology as a means to a much more significant end, which is a sense of belonging, being part of a team, a sense of reconnection, a sense of family,” she says.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, sees the collaboration as an ideal pairing of Microsoft’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in gaming with the vast reach of the VA, which serves more than 9 million veterans nationwide in its health care system.

“Everyone can play games, and we really focus on that as an organization,” he says. “With the VA being the largest integrated health care provider in the U.S., we thought it was a perfect opportunity to bring our focus on gaming and the great work that the VA is doing together.”

Microsoft will use feedback and data collected by the VA centers to determine how effective the Xbox Adaptive Controller is in serving veterans and how the device might be improved going forward, Townes-Whitley says. Nelson believes the initiative will serve not just existing gamers, but also veterans who weren’t previously into gaming.

“If we do our job well and we’re able to expose veterans to (the Xbox Adaptive Controller) as a possible tool or intervention in their rehab process, I expect to find successes even in those folks who have never gamed before in their lives,” he says.

A 2018 study found that gaming can relieve stress for veterans, help them cope with moods and provide a way to connect. Kaplan also sees the Xbox Adaptive Controller as an equalizer for veterans and others with disabilities.

“One of the biggest things kids and adults with disabilities face is the stigma of being different. Online, we’re all the same,” he says. “I could be missing my arms or my legs and you wouldn’t know it. Gaming really helps to promote that feeling of normalcy and feeling of belonging.

“I have a lot of respect for Xbox seeing and filling a need for making something that allows military members and anyone who has a disability to be able to game,” Kaplan says.

“I think it’s great for a mainstream company like Microsoft to be the one to take the first step. I hope it encourages other companies to do that.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Reaper shoots down another drone in a little-known test

An MQ-9 Reaper drone has bagged its first air-to-air kill of another small, aerial vehicle in a controlled simulation, an official revealed to Military.com.

The successful test in 2017 showed the U.S. Air Force that an unmanned vehicle like the MQ-9 has the ability to conduct air-to-air combat, much like its manned fighter brethren such as an F-15 Eagle or F-22 Raptor, according to Col. Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.


“Something that’s unclassified but not well known, we recently in November … launched an air-to-air missile against a maneuvering target that scored a direct hit,” Cheater said. Military.com sat down with Cheater here at the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference outside Washington, D.C.

“It was an MQ-9 versus a drone with a heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and it was direct hit … during a test,” he said of the first-of-its-kind kill.

“We develop those tactics, techniques and procedures to make us survivable in those types of environments and, if we do this correctly, we can survive against some serious threats against normal air players out there,” Cheater said on Sept. 17, 2018. “We will go participate in ‘Red Flag’ exercises, and we will drop weapons in testing environments to make sure that we can fight against those type of adversaries.”

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

An MQ-9 Reaper drone.

The effort is key to preparing for the next big aerial war against near-peer threats such as Russia or China, who are advancing their skill sets not only in unmanned aerial vehicles but also in hypersonics, electronic warfare, lasers, and missile testing, Cheater said.

“In many parts of the world, it’s almost a hybrid fight by proxy,” he said. “… the MQ-9 Reaper will certainly be a big part of that. So if you package this aircraft in properly with other aircraft, it will be survivable.”

The MQ-9 has a payload of 3,750 pounds and carries a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, according to the service. The MQ-9’s weapons load remains flexible, Cheater said.

As the Air Force began phasing out its MQ-1 Predator UAV in 2017 before its official retirement in early 2018, the larger, more lethal MQ-9 began expanding its mission set — especially in areas like Afghanistan.

For example, when the military mission in Afghanistan transitioned from Operation Enduring Freedom to the NATO-led Resolute Support, the MQ-9’s missions increased tenfold in comparison to the MQ-1.

The Reaper conducted 950 strikes, firing approximately 1,500 weapons, between January 2015 and August 2017, according to Air Force Central Command statistics provided to Military.com at the time. The MQ-1 executed only 35 strikes, employing roughly 30 weapons, in that same timeframe.

“We specialize in urban settings,” Cheater said. “That is an important capability that very few aircraft and aircrews have.”

But 2017’s test shows how the service is refocusing and thinking about the agility of the Reaper.

“It’s a balance of the forces and resources that we have available, especially on the maintenance side of the house, and everyone wanting to be as close to the fight in numerous locations,” Cheater said.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

An MQ-1 Predator.

For example, “We can fly from one continent to the next — we [recently] flew nine [Reapers] from one operating area to another, and that is agile, that is flexible, and it provides options to the combatant commander,” he said, without disclosing locations.

The Air Force also recently moved a contingent of MQ-9s to Larisa Air Base in Greece for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions across Africa, according to Defense News. Without commenting on additional locations, Cheater said forward movement will always be part of the MQ-9’s future, especially with intelligence gathering on the rise.

“We’re ‘can-do’ operators by heart, and we want to look at it and see what’s the best option,” he said. “Generally, the resources don’t support everything we want to do, so we have to figure out what’s the best mix and match of those resources to achieve the desire and best end result.”

More study is needed to address the best places to base the drones for forward-operating missions, Cheater said.

In addition, the future of drone feed dissemination and intelligence gathering is becoming more streamlined as part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Dominance Flight Plan, he said.

The plan, released in August 2018 with few specifics for operational security reasons, has become the service’s new road map to incorporating more autonomy and data from multiple sensors across platforms stationed around the globe. “We can determine if there [are] threats or indications of enemy forces,” Cheater said.

The Air Force wants to leverage artificial intelligence, automation and algorithmic data models to streamline opportunities for airmen watching drone feeds.

“We’re actually pretty exceptional as far as adopting new technologies and putting it in combat operations right now,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

The Abrams is getting an invisibility cloak against missiles

The U.S. Army is making progress on a modular system for blinding and tricking incoming missiles, thereby protecting vehicles, tanks, and soldiers.


Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
A system under development by the U.S. Army would make tanks like this one impossible for anti-tank missiles to pin down. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Modular Active Protection System employs a “soft-kill” method for defeating tank killers. It only works on weapons that use sensors, and it tricks those sensors into losing track of the tank or by offering it fake tank signatures to chase.

So, it’s a combination: equal parts invisibility cloak, smoke screen, and decoy system. And it can work in conjunction with a hard-kill system that literally shoots down the incoming rounds if they aren’t tricked or blinded.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
Hard-kill systems are generally cooler looking than the soft kill ones. (Photo: Raytheon Company)

The hard kill is necessary even if the soft kill system is perfect because many weapons, like most rocket-propelled grenades, don’t have any sensors to spoof. But the system would work against most modern anti-tank missiles which are led to their target by a laser or follow the tanks infrared or electronic signatures.

Russia’s T-14 Armata Main Battle Tank is protected by its own active protection systems, according to Russian state media. The Armata’s protections are allegedly even strong enough to intercept depleted uranium sabot shells fired from the M1 Abrams and other NATO tanks.

If U.S. Abrams and other vehicles don’t get their own protections, they could find themselves outmatched in future armored conflict even if they aren’t outgunned. The Modular Active Protection System could put American crews on equal footing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force’s week in photos

These photos from the week of Aug. 24, 2018, feature airmen from around the globe involved in activities supporting expeditionary operations and defending America. This weekly feature showcases the men and women of the Air Force.


Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

2. Airman 1st Class Cassandra Herlache, 9th Operation Support Squadron radar, airfield and weather apprentice, executes a climb during a trial run at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 16, 2018. Airmen in the process of climbing must have three points of physical contact with the tower at all times.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Parsons)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Xavier Lockley)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael S. Murphy)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Lewis)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin Boyer)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Dennis Rogers)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Ross Franquemont)

13. A U-2 Dragon Lady pilot assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing pilots the high-altitude reconnaissance platform at approximately 70,000 feet above an undisclosed location. The U-2 is a high-altitude, near space reconnaissance aircraft and delivers critical imagery which enables decision makers at all levels the visual capabilities to execute informed decisions in any phase of conflict.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘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 Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 
Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

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.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

Veterans

Bettie J. Morden: A driver for women’s rights

Veteran Bettie J. Morden was an advocate for women’s rights in the military and later became a quintessential historian, sharing her stories on and off the field.

Bettie J. Morden dedicated her life to the U.S. Army in active service and beyond. She was born in August 1921 in Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan. She grew up with her parents, William James Morden and Leah Marie “Bonney” Morden, and five siblings.

In 1939, Morden graduated from high school. The following year, she attended Cleary Business College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. During this time, she also worked as a corporate office secretary.

On Oct. 14, 1942, shortly after her 21st birthday, Morden became one of the first women to enlist in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She completed basic and administrative training at the first WAAC Training Center in Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

During World War II, Morden served at the Third Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Training Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. As a member of the WAC, Morden was quickly promoted to first sergeant of the Headquarters Company, South Post, at Fort Oglethorpe.

When World War II ended, Morden was discharged from the Army. She began studying at Columbia University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a Master of English in 1950.

In September 1949, Morden joined the U.S. Army Reserve. She became a second lieutenant in the WAC in 1950. In 1952, she returned to active duty as a first lieutenant. She served for 21 years on active duty and worked as a personnel officer with the National Security and Army Security Agencies. Morden also acted as a personnel staff officer at the Defense Language Institute in Washington, D.C.

Morden commanded WAC detachments at Fort Riley, Kansas, as well as Heidelberg and Pirmasens in Germany. At Fort McClellan, Alabama, she served as the commander of the WAC Training Battalion. In Washington, D.C., Morden was the first executive officer at the Office of the Director WAC. She then served as deputy director to two WAC directors, Brig. Gen. Elizabeth P. Hoisington and Brig. Gen. Mildred I. C. Bailey.

Morden also served during the Korean War and Vietnam War. On Dec. 31, 1972, she retired with the rank of colonel. For her service, she received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Joint Services Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. She was also a graduate of the WAC Officers’ Advanced Course; Command & General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and the Army Management School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Two years later, Morden came out of retirement to write the second volume in the Army Historical Series, “The Women’s Army Corps 1945-1978,” which was published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History. Her work detailing the history of the WAC was a significant contribution to military history and highlighted women’s achievements in the military. Morden wrote about WAC directorship and outlined the WAC’s struggle to gain Army and reserve status. Her book also helped give women military credit for WAC service – only after Morden’s book was published were women able to attain a rank of lieutenant colonel or higher.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
A PDF copy of the book is available for download here.

Morden continued working as an associate staff historian at the Center of Military History until her book was officially published in 1990. In 1991, “The Women’s Army Corps 1945-1978” won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society of Military Historians.

After she retired again, Morden remained an active supporter of women Veterans. For over 30 years, she served as the president of the WAC Museum Foundation. During this time, she campaigned to raise money for the WAC Museum building at Fort McClellan.

When the WAC Museum at Fort McClellan closed, Morden successfully relocated the museum to Fort Lee, Virginia. The new U.S. Army Women’s Museum opened on May 11, 2011. It occupies 13,000 square feet and honors all women soldiers. This space is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories and contributions of women in the Army.

Five weeks after the museum’s dedication, Morden resigned as her inoperable breast cancer worsened. Morden passed away on Oct. 12, 2001. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

We honor her service.

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

Articles

Vets can get their aching teeth fixed at this one-day event

Get ready to smile.


On June 24,  Practices will hold Day of Service, offering free dental work to veterans nationwide. Nearly 450 practices across 35 states will participate as part of the Healthy Mouth Movement, Aspen sites in Bluefield and Beckley in West Virginia included.

During the appointments, dentists and their teams will focus on treating the most urgent needs of the veterans by providing fillings, extractions and basic denture repair to help relieve any pain.

This marks the fourth annual event for  and is the largest single-day oral health initiative targeted at veterans. Last year,  dentists and their teams offered services totaling almost $2.1 million dollars, helping over 4,000 veterans receive dental care.

Of 21 million veterans, less than 10 million are enrolled for the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health benefits. For many, this includes dental care benefits and more than 1.2 million lack health insurance altogether.

Veterans who are interested in having dental work should call 844-ASPEN-HMM to make an appointment. Beckley  is 304-362-5862. Advanced appointments are required.

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS has lost 98 percent of its caliphate

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, has not had a good 2017. Having held an area the size of Ohio, the self-proclaimed “caliphate” now has only two percent of the territory it once had.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, the terrorist group has also seen a drastic reduction in terms of how many fighting personnel are on the field. At present, they are estimated to have roughly 1,000 fighters, down from a high of 45,000. As many as 70,000 jihadists have been killed.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
US-led Coalition successfully executes a large scale, multinational strike on a weapons facility. (DoD photo from Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo)

At least half of ISIS’s territorial losses have come since President Trump took office. Where the radical Islamic terrorist group’s caliphate once reached Mosul and Raqqa, it now has a small sliver of territory along the border of Iraq and Syria. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, and the dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, believes these results could he been achieved much sooner.

“The rules of engagement under the Obama administration were onerous. I mean what are we doing having individual target determination being conducted in the White House,” he told FoxNews.com, adding that the process took “weeks and weeks” because of micromanagement.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans
The before and after of an American F-22 air strike on a target in Syria.

ISIS is still encouraging terrorist attacks, and some followers around the world are carrying them out. The New York Post reported that one ISIS-inspired attack set to take place on Christmas Day in San Francisco was thwarted by law enforcement. An ISIS-inspired truck attack on Halloween killed eight people.

While ISIS has been largely defeated, an old adversary is making a comeback in Syria. Joshua Geltzer, a visiting law professor at Georgetown University, told FoxNews.com that al-Qaeda, the radical Islamic terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has shifted its “center of gravity” to the war-torn country.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This new unmanned fighter drone could be your next wingman

Boeing Co. has unveiled a new concept for an unmanned fighter that would work autonomously alongside fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Dubbed the Airpower Teaming System, the drone-jet hybrid would be a multi-mission craft using artificial intelligence to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions to supply pilots with more information during a conflict, according to the company.

The aircraft, which Boeing is co-developing with the government of Australia for that country, was unveiled at the Avalon Airshow.


The jet is 38 feet long and can fly more than 2,000 nautical miles, the company said. It uses A.I. “to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft,” according to its fact sheet.

Boeing intends to hold its maiden flight sometime in 2020.

The concept is similar to an ongoing U.S. military effort.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

A full-scale model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System air vehicle.

(Boeing)

The U.S. Air Force has been working to develop its own “Loyal Wingman” program, featuring unmanned fighters that could think autonomously sent out alongside F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for example, to scout enemy territory ahead of a strike, or to gather intel for the aircraft formation.

The concept is part of the service’s Air Superiority 2030 road map, which the Air Force debuted in 2016. The road map outlines next-generation air dominance, defined as advanced fighter aircraft, sensors or weapons — or all of the above — in a growing and unpredictable threat environment.

Boeing CEO and chairman Dennis Muilenburg tweeted that the Airpower Teaming System will be the first unmanned aircraft designed and built by the company outside the U.S.

It will be the first Australian-developed combat aircraft since World War II, Reuters said. The country is investing roughly million into the project.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Naval Air Station in Virginia on lockdown after active shooter incident

A major US Navy station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, was placed on lockdown April 5 after an active shooter incident on the base.

NAS Air Station Oceana confirmed the incident on Twitter, and said that the perpetrator was “contained.” One person was injured, the station confirmed. Local news anchor Kristen Crowley reported the victim had a minor leg wound.

The base added that the victim was transported to hospital.


NAS OCEANA experienced an Active Shooter incident. The shooter has been contained. The victim has been transported to the hospital. More information to follow.

twitter.com

Naval Air Station Oceana previously announced the lockdown at 7:18 a.m., noting an unspecified “security incident.” It lifted the lockdown one hour later.

All gates to the base are closed and nobody can access it at this time, the Virginia Beach fire Department tweeted.

Police also warned people not to go near the area, local WAVY-TV reporter Katie Collett reported.

Footage outside the base tweeted by local 13NewsNow reporter Chenue Her showed dozens of people in uniform gathered at the entrance. Some of them can be seen hugging each other as they were let out of the base, Her noted.

https://twitter.com/13ChenueHer/statuses/1114128695877410817
I’m on my way to Oceana to follow this lockdown. I’ll have more info as soon as I find out. #13NewsNowhttps://twitter.com/13brianfarrell/status/1114128185556459520 …

twitter.com

https://twitter.com/13ChenueHer/statuses/1114134523804098561
I drove by the main entrance and it was severely backed up with traffic. Here’s a look down Oceana Blvd near a utility entrance with security at the gate and people gathering. #13NewsNowpic.twitter.com/hd0y6Sr0BJ

twitter.com

NAS Oceana is one of the US Navy’s three “master jet bases” in the country, and houses 18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter jet squadrons, according to the base’s website.

It is home to some 10,500 active Navy personnel, about 10,000 family members and 4,500 civilian personnel, the base said.

Representatives for neither NAS Oceana nor Virginia Beach were available for comment at time of publication. INSIDER has contacted the US Navy for comment.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army will soon have female grunts, tankers in all brigade combat teams

The U.S. Army announced recently that female soldiers will be integrated into all of its infantry and armor brigade combat teams (BCTs) by the end of the year.

Currently, 601 women are in the process of entering the infantry career field and 568 are joining the armor career field, according to a recent Army news release.


“Every year, though, the number of women in combat arms increases,” Maj. Melissa Comiskey, chief of command policy for Army G-1, said in the release. “We’ve had women in the infantry and armor occupations now for three years. It’s not as different as it was three years ago when the Army first implemented the integration plan.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta started the process by lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles in 2013. The Army then launched a historic effort in 2015 to open the previously male-only Ranger School to female applicants.

Out of the 19 women who originally volunteered in April 2015, then-Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first to earn the coveted Ranger Tab that August.

The plan is to integrate female soldiers into the final nine of the Army’s 31 infantry and armor BCTs this year, according to the release. The service did not say how many female soldiers are currently serving in the other 22 BCTs.

At first, the gender integration plan, under the “leaders first” approach, required that two female officers or noncommissioned officers of the same military occupational specialty be assigned to each company that accepted women straight from initial-entry training.

Now, the rule has been changed to require only one female officer or NCO to be in companies that accept junior enlisted women, according to the release.

Comiskey said it’s still important to have female leaders in units receiving junior enlisted female infantry and armor soldiers, to help ease the culture change of historically all-male organizations.

“Quite frankly, it’s generally going to be an NCO leader that young soldiers will turn to for questions,” she said. “The inventory of infantry and armor women leaders is not as high as we have junior soldiers. … It takes a little bit longer to grow the leaders.”

In 2019, the Army began opening up more assignments for female armor and infantry officers at Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and in Italy.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just tested a new missile 16 days after scrapping an arms treaty

From St. Nicolas Island, Calif., the United States fired its latest gift for Vladimir Putin’s Russian Army – a new medium-range missile that would have been banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987. The accord, also known as the INF Treaty, bans nuclear-capable weapons with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The United States left that treaty earlier in August 2019, after blaming Russia for violating the agreement first. The Russians aren’t happy about it at all.


Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

Russia’s 9M729 missile, the one that broke the 1987 INF Treaty.

The Aug. 18, 2019 missile test saw the projectile deliberately fly beyond the 500-kilometer range that would have seen it banned by the INF Treaty. Newly-minted Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants missiles like this new one deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region, but that effort was hampered under the old agreement. Now the U.S. is free to pursue the relevant technology.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the Defense Department said.

Meanwhile, the Russians were openly upset about the Americans pulling out of the treaty and then having a new weapon within the same month.

“All this elicits regret, the United States has obviously taken the course of escalating military tensions. We will not succumb to provocations,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “We won’t allow ourselves to be pulled into a costly arms race.”

Bold words from a government who has, according to the United States government, already violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty on several occasions, most notably after it developed and deployed a prohibited missile, known by its apparent Russian designation Novator 9M729, a land-based cruise missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers.

“Russia has violated the agreement; they have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a Oct. 20 campaign rally in Elko, Nevada. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.” But it’s not just the President who is denouncing the Russian military. The State Department came to the same conclusion.

“The United States has determined that in 2016, the Russian Federation (Russia) continued to be in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” according to the State Department’s April 2017 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments report.

The new U.S. missile isn’t nuclear-equipped (at least, not for this particular test) and resembles the more common Tomahawk missile in looks and the once-banned intermediate-range Tomahawk missile last seen in 1987. But the Russians weren’t the only ones upset about the looming new Cold War.

“This measure from the U.S. will trigger a new round of an arms race, leading to an escalation of military confrontation, which will have a serious negative impact on the international and regional security situation,” Chinese Foreign Minister Geng Shuang said, adding that the U.S. should ditch its Cold War mentality.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These might be the 2 best IT jobs for vets

IT jobs are some of the fastest growing, most secure jobs around today. Although they require a lot of education and experience, military veterans who held similar roles in the military tend to transfer extremely well. We did some research on the IT jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics say are growing the fastest, and these are the most in demand, and will be in the future.


1. Software Developer

What software developers do

Software developers are the technical and creative minds who design and develop software for computer programs and applications.

Duties of software developers:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that show programmers the software code needed for an application
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are responsible for overseeing the entire development process for computer systems and applications. One of their main responsibilities is to identify how the users of the software will interact with it. Software developers must also keep in mind the type of security that their software will need in order to protect users.

Developers design and write the instructions for a program, and then give the instructions to the programmers to actually write the code. Some developers, however, might even write the code for the software.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(Photo by Farzad Nazifi)

Work environment of software developer jobs

Software developers typically work in teams that also consist of programmers. They must be able to work together and exchange ideas freely in order for the product to work. Typically, software developers work in an office and work 40 or more hours per week.

How to become a software developer

Software developers usually have a bachelors degree in computer science, software engineering or a related field. If you are going to school for software development you can expect to take courses that focus more on building the software. Many students gain experience by completing an internship with a software company while they are in college.

Even though writing code is typically not the responsibility of the developer, they still must have a strong background in computer programming. Through the course of their career developers will need to stay familiar with the newest computer tools and languages.

Software developers must also have knowledge of the industry they work in. For example, a developer working on digital recruitment software should probably have some knowledge about how the recruiting industry works.

Outlook for software developer jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for software developers as of May 2017 was 1,790. Employment of software developers is expected to grow 24% by the year 2026. This is much faster than the average occupation is expected to grow over the same time period.

Looking closer, the employment of applications developers is expected to grow by 31%, while system developers is expected to grow by 11%. The need for new applications on smart phones and tablets contributes to the high demand for applications developers.

The insurance industry is expected to need new software to help their policy holders enroll. As the number of people who use this software grows over time, so will the demand for developers.

Growing concerns with cybersecurity will contribute to the demand for software developers to design security systems and programs.

Job applicants who are proficient in multiple computer programs and languages will have the best opportunity to secure employment.

2. Information Security Analyst

What information security analysts do

Information security analysts are responsible for creating and overseeing security measures to protect an organization’s computer systems and digital assets from cyberattacks.

Duties of information security analysts:

  • Monitor their organization’s networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
  • Install and use software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
  • Prepare reports that document security breaches and the extent of the damage caused by the breaches
  • Conduct penetration testing, which is when analysts simulate attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems before they can be exploited
  • Research the latest information technology (IT) security trends
  • Develop security standards and best practices for their organization
  • Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
  • Help computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures

Information security analysts are heavily leaned upon to create their organization’s disaster recovery procedures, which allow an IT department to continue operating in the face of an emergency. Because cyberattacks are so common and dangerous now, these measures are extremely important to the stability of an organization.

Analysts must be familiar with how cyber attackers are operating, and be prepared for new ways they may infiltrate a computer system.

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

(Photo by Markus Spiske)

Work environment of information security analysts

The work environment of IT security analysts is typically set in the headquarters of a company so that they can monitor the computer systems, unless the company has a separate office strictly for their computer networks. As you can imagine, the majority of their work involves being on computers and monitoring for unusual activity.

Most IT security analysts work at least 40 hours per week, and some work more than that. They often work in teams and may even have specific people assigned to monitoring different aspects of a network.

How to become an information security analyst

To become an IT security analyst you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer-focused field, and many employers prefer a masters degree and some work related experience. A Master of Business Administration in information systems is the preferred degree for upper level positions. This is where military experience comes into play. If you had experience in this field in the military, you will have a great edge over your competition.

Some employers prefer their IT security analysts to hold a certification in their area of specialty, such as database security. One of the most common certifications is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Outlook for information security jobs

Information security analysts are very well paid and will enjoy great job security and profession growth in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of information security analysts was ,510 as of May 2017. Employment of information security analysts is expected to increase 28% by 2026, which is considerable faster than the average occupation is expected to grow over that same time period.

Because cyberattacks are so common now, information security analysts will see a high demand for their job in the future. They will be expected to come up with innovative solutions to combat cyberattacks. As banks and other financial institutions continue to increase their online presence, they will need to ensure the safety of their own data and that of their users. This is true for many organizations, which makes information security analysts valuable.

Prospects who have prior experience, such as military veterans, are expected to have the best chance at gaining employment. Additionally, having special certifications and advanced degrees will be preferred moving forward.

Companies hiring for information security jobs

AECOM: AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH AECOM

ORACLE: At Oracle, our vision is to foster an inclusive environment that leverages the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of all of our employees, suppliers, customers and partners to drive a sustainable global competitive advantage.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH ORACLE

IBM: From helping transform healthcare to improving the retail shopping experience, it’s what IBMers do.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH IBM

VERIZON: Verizon Communications Inc. is a global leader in delivering the promise of the digital world.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH VERIZON

WELLS FARGO: Wells Fargo Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with id=”listicle-2603974081″.9 trillion in assets.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH WELLS FARGO

TRAVELERS: Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business.

VIEW INFORMATION SECURITY JOBS WITH TRAVELERS

Companies hiring for software developer jobs

Oracle: At Oracle, our vision is to foster an inclusive environment that leverages the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of all of our employees, suppliers, customers and partners to drive a sustainable global competitive advantage.

VIEW SOFTWARE DEVELOPER JOBS WITH ORACLE

AECOM: AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.

VIEW SOFTWARE DEVELOPER JOBS AT AECOM

IBM: From helping transform healthcare to improving the retail shopping experience, it’s what IBMers do.

VIEW SOFTWARE DEVELOPER JOBS WITH IBM

EATON: Eaton is a power management company with 2017 sales of .4 billion.

VIEW SOFTWARE DEVELOPER JOBS WITH EATON

Companies listed in this article are paying advertisers.

This article originally appeared on G.I. Jobs. Follow @GIJobsMagazine on Twitter.

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