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Socks of the Brave

socks of the brave

Socks of the Brave

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

When you see the words “Made in the USA,” the co-founders of Socks of the Brave want you to not only think of superior American-made quality, they want you to think of remember the service men and women who sacrifice their personal lives to protect this great country.

Socks have become increasingly more bold, funky and colorful; department stores sporting racks of “fun and fashionable” foot coverings and minimal packages of the standard black and white tube socks of yesteryear. Socks of the Brave capitalized on the change in footwear fashion and combined a love of spirited sock with a pay-it-forward mentality to help our troops. To kick off their sock company, Socks for the Brave sent 150 pairs of their USA-manufactured socks to the Ironhorse Brigade from Fort Hood, TX, a unit preparing for a nine month deployment.

Why socks? Deployed servicemembers spend more hours in their boots than many civilians can even imagine. Have you ever had an uncomfortable sock wedged in your shoe? Now imagine walking on that uncomfortable sock for 18 straight hours. Or possibly even sleeping with that sock! Socks of the Brave makes sure that this often overlooked necessity is of the highest quality.

The Socks of the Brave sales model allows a sock donation for every pair that is purchased. The “buy one-give one” model sends the socks to active military across the globe through third-party charitable groups.

In addition to being American designed and manufactured (by a company in North Carolina), Socks of the Brave works to keep their fixed costs down with “no frills” packaging. As per their website, “with each penny saved, Socks of the Brave is able to spend more on our US Military.”

The Socks of the Brave are currently available in five different camouflage print styles. From ankle socks to knee socks, there are styles available for all feet – both men and women! Right now, the focus is on the camo print design, but they are taking suggestions for future styles and prints and plan to roll out more as popularity increases.

If you should find yourself in need of some new socks, go shopping at https://www.socksofthebrave.com/ and buy some socks for yourself – and a soldier!  

Taking Care of Caregivers

Taking Care of Caregivers

Taking Care of Caregivers

By Debbie Gregory

By a vote of 92-5, the Senate passed the VA Mission Act, which will expand the VA’s caregiver stipend program for the families of disabled veterans. Currently, the caregiver program is limited to post-9/11 veterans and would be extended to veterans of all eras.

This program is separate from the Aid and Attendance benefit, which is paid to veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound.

The Mission Act will consolidate seven separate programs under Choice in an effort to improve efficiency.

The VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers provides small stipends to family caregivers that in many cases allow disabled veterans to remain at home. The program focuses on the needs of both the eligible veteran/servicemember and the eligible primary and secondary family caregivers.

Under the proposed legislation, the caregiver program would be expanded to benefit the families of all veterans with a serious injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

“DAV has long advocated for extending comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans injured and ill prior to September 11, 2001, and this legislation takes major strides to close that gap and provide equity to thousands of family caregivers,” said Garry Augustine, executive director of the DAV’s Washington headquarters.

A care giver is defined as a member of the veteran/servicemember’s family, such as a spouse, son, daughter, parent, step-family member, or extended family member, or if not related, must live with the veteran/servicemember, or will do so if designated as a family caregiver.

The VA recognizes that family caregivers enhance the health and well-being of Veterans they care for in their home.

Caregivers should contact their local Caregiver Support Coordinator with any questions or concerns. Contact information for Caregiver Support Coordinators can be found at www.caregiver.va.gov, using a zip code lookup. The Caregiver Support Line is also available by calling toll free 1-855-260-3274.

Military Memories Wanted by Library Of Congress

MilitaryMemories

Your Military Memories Wanted by Library Of Congress  

 The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center collects and preserves the firsthand interviews and narratives of military veterans from World War I through the present.  The VHP also collects oral histories and memorabilia of military members who died in service from Gold Star Family members.

In addition to audio and video recorded interviews with veterans and family members, the VHP accepts memoirs and collections of original photographs, letters, diaries, maps and other historical documents from veterans who served in the military from World War I through the present.

The VHP relies on individuals and organizations to contribute veterans’ stories to their collection.

For more information:  http://www.loc.gov/vets/

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

 

2018 Military Spouse of the Year

By Debbie Gregory

 

The Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year for 2018 was revealed during the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore’s 36th Annual Awards Gala in Washington, D.C.

Army Spouse of the Year Krista Simpson Anderson, the wife of Green Beret Master Sgt. Gus Anderson, was named the overall Military Spouse of the Year.

The role of the military spouse is one of selflessness and courage.

In 2013, Krista’s first husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson was killed in Afghanistan. She went on to co-found The Unquiet Professional, a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization committed to recognizing and honoring our nation’s Gold Star Families and veterans by providing rewarding and purposeful opportunities.

Krista also works as a speaker to raise money for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to families of fallen and wounded service members, among her many activities.

“As Army Spouse of the Year, I am honored to have the opportunity to not only represent Special Forces spouses but all Army spouses,” said Krista of the honor she was awarded. “It’s very humbling being considered for overall Military Spouse of the Year. This journey has been humbling. As I read many of the profiles, I felt so honored to be a part of such selfless servants.”

Referring to all the spouses who were nominated, she said, “We are stronger together. We all should be standing up here right now.”

Of military spouses, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, said “These are the women, these are the men, these are the kids who sacrifice and volunteer and who keep us in the fight.”

The Andersons are based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Military Spouse of the Year award was founded by Military Spouse magazine in 2008 to honor military spouses from all branches of service.

 

Trump Wants to Use Military to Secure Border

border wall

By Debbie Gregory.

President Donald Trump wants to deploy members of the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built.

No time frame for the deployment has been announced.

Trump has promised to build a “big, beautiful wall” on the border since early in his campaign, claiming it will help secure the border. But Congress has yet to pass any meaningful funding for the wall’s construction, and federal law prohibits the use of active duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress.

Some 6,000 National Guard troops were deployed to the border in 2006, under president George W Bush. The troops did not participate in any law enforcement activity, but helped with surveillance and administrative tasks.

“We’re going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said, calling the move a “big step.”

In addition to mobilizing the National Guard, Trump and senior officials agreed on the need to pressure Congress to urgently pass legislation to close legal loopholes exploited by criminal trafficking, narco-terrorist and smuggling organizations

Among the new measures the administration is pursuing: ending special safeguards that prevent the immediate deportation of children arrested at the border and traveling alone. Currently, unaccompanied children from countries that don’t border the U.S. are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services and undergo often lengthy deportation proceedings before an immigration judge instead of being immediately deported.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

The Most Stressful Job in America – Being in the Military

combat stress

By Debbie Gregory.

Stress. It’s a big part of our daily lives, and much of it derives from the kind of work we do. Some jobs, naturally, involve more stress than others for obvious reasons, including the potential for physical harm.

As recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, performing on the battlefield is grueling work that can lead to life-altering injuries and often times, death. So it’s little wonder that being a member of one of the armed services is one of the most stressful jobs there is.

Soldiers are trained to fight. Basic training is a process designed to develop skills which will keep a combatant alive and fighting long after he or she might have given up under more normal circumstances.

But when military service ends, there is no basic “untraining.”

From meeting the physical demands of working in special operations and infantry to armor and field artillery, many troops face psychological problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A further complication for military personnel is the difficulty many face in transitioning back to civilian life. Besides transferring their skills to the civilian job market once their service is completed, servicemembers often lose the focus of the mission, the camaraderie, the support and the structure provided by the military.

While PTSD has become a much-discussed affliction, transition stress, a seemingly more prevalent problem, is going largely overlooked.

Firefighters, airline pilots and police officers, ranked second, third and fourth respectively, also face a lot of stress in their occupations, but they are also much better compensated than those who serve.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Surprising Everyday Conveniences Developed By or For the Military

stuff

By Debbie Gregory.

We can thank (or blame) the U.S. Military for a lot of the convenience foods many of us eat or buy each week at the grocery store.

If you’re a fan of Dippin Dots, the technology that’s used to make the freeze-dried dessert was first used widely during World War II as a way of preserving medical supplies that otherwise required refrigeration.

Pringles came out of the project that was done by the Quartermaster Corps and the USDA to develop dehydrated potato flakes, which were then used to create these reshaped, formed chips,”

M&Ms addressed the age old problem of chocolate that melted. Forrest Mars Sr. partnered with Bruce Murrie under the Hershey company, and together they developed a process for  bite-sized, rainbow chocolate pieces that wouldn’t melt. They began exclusively selling the “M&Ms” to the U.S. military in 1941, when sugar was made unavailable to civilians.

In order to preserve fruits and vegetables for troop consumption, the military began using high-pressure processing (HPP) to ensure the longevity of fresh foods. Ready-to-eat fruits and veggies were available as a result of HPP.

Chef Boyardee, the Americanized version of the Boiardi family’s Italian food became a multi-million dollar corporation, thanks to the military purchasing their canned food as military rations.

And of course, there’s instant coffee. Although around since the Civil War, the age of instant coffee really came into its own during WWI.

But there are other everyday items that we must thank for the military for.

Jeeps have come a long way since they were first manufactured for American troops to use on reconnaissance missions in WWII.

In 1942, duct tape was invented for the military as a way to seal ammunition cases so that water couldn’t get in. Soldiers during WWII quickly realized that it worked well for fixing army gear, too.

The first electronic computer that was capable of being programmed to serve many different purposes, ENIAC, was designed for the U.S. military during WWII.

And last, but not least, in 1945, an American scientist realized, by accident, that the radar transmitters used by the U.S. Army throughout WWII actually released enough heat—in the form of “microwaves”—that they could cook food. Need we say more?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Nude Photo-Sharing Scandal

Scandal

By Debbie Gregory.

A large group of active-duty Marines are under investigation for sharing nude photos of female troops without their consent. And as the scandal widens, the Marine Corps’ commandant has stepped in with an official statement, calling on the victims to come forward.

“These allegations themselves, they undermine everything that we stand for as a Marine Corps and as Marines: discipline, honor, professionalism and respect and trust amongst each other,” said Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller.

Neller said the number of known victims identified is less than 10 so far. “But we would encourage anybody else who believes they’ve been involved in this to come forward… I’m going to ask them [victims] to trust us,” he added, while admitting that he understands this could be “a bit of a reach for them right now.”

The scandal, which was made public by reporter Thomas James Brennan of Reveal News, originally implicated Marines belonging to a Facebook group called Marines United who were sharing images of naked female service members, identifying them by name, rank and duty station.

Active-duty Marines involved in the photo-sharing ring can be charged with violating UCMJ Article 134, general misconduct, for enlisted troops, and Article 133, conduct unbecoming, for officers.

“We claim that being a Marine is a special title, and something that you earn,” Neller said. “There is honor here. But there is no honor in denigrating a fellow Marine in any way, shape or form.”

New reports suggest other services may face similar problems. A message board on another website has become a forum for posting the photos of female service members of all branches.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis responded with a message to those under his command:

“Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion.”

Mattis added, “We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values and maintain our ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield.”

MilitaryConnection.com encourages any service member who believes they are a victim to come forward as soon as possible.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Smarter Military Bases

smarter bases

By Debbie Gregory.

Meeting the unknown challenges of the 21st century depends more on the creativity of those in uniform to see new connections and opportunities than it does on any killer app or new technology.

And this smart-city technology could be coming to a military base near you.

The use of artificial intelligence, analytics, automation and robotics could make military bases both safer and more efficient.

According to Ted Johnson, the Defense and National Security Research Manager at the Deloitte Center for Government Insights, he believes that the connectivity to these technologies will be an integral part of shaping out future world.

“Compare the way cities will look in the future — and are beginning to look today — to how military bases look now and have looked for the last 50 years,” Johnson said. “It’s obvious there are advantages to be realized in upgrading military bases with these new technologies. No matter what aspect of the base you’re looking at, there is a comparable smart technology and application of that technology in a city or university or an airport that allows for efficiencies to be realized and for upgrades to occur”.

While smart technologies are slowly being put to use on military bases, there are significant security, operational, and economic benefits yet to be realized. The smart military base is the key to tomorrow’s fighting force.

Smart energy initiatives are already being utilized.

For example, the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, in conjunction with Georgia Power, deploys solar panels that provides their own independent power source during emergencies.

There are also smart construction initiatives happening at an Air Force base in Colorado.

The slow roll-out is due to security concerns. When these technologies can increase security, streamline operations and deliver efficiencies, they will be more quickly adopted by military bases.

Supplemental funding coming from the Trump administration to the Pentagon, focusing on streamlining capabilities and realizing efficiencies, may provide the impetus to get the ball rolling across the board.

Johnson is a retired commander in the United States Navy where he primarily focused on cyber policy and signals intelligence.

Tell us what technologies you believe will make your base more efficient and safer.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force Faces Shortage of Fighter Pilots

fighter pilor shortage

By Debbie Gregory.

The loss of highly trained and experienced pilots from the U.S. military to the private sector is a legitimate worry. And the U.S. Air Force says its deficit of fighter pilots is growing.

At the end of fiscal year 2016, the Air Force was short 750 fighter pilots, up from 511 at the end of the previous year.

“The health of the fighter pilot community is bad,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements (AF/A3). “Recruiting and getting people on to fly is not a problem,” he added. “If you look across the Air Force, the quality of the individuals coming into the Air Force are some of the highest we ever had. That goes for the enlisted and officer force.”

The past 25 years of continuous combat operations has taken a toll on the Air Force fighter community. Compounding the problem since fiscal 2014, losses of fighter pilots have exceeded the Air Force’s annual production capacity.

The Air Force is tackling the problem of capacity.  There is a lot of infrastructure associated with ramping up pilot numbers.

The Air Force and has started several initiatives to fix problem areas with a threefold approach: reducing the number of fighter pilot requirements, increasing retention of pilots and increasing the production of new fighter pilots.

Much of the impact on the military flying community stems from the draw of commercial airlines, who have been hiring at an increased rate the past three years.

“There are three pillars that a lot of people focus on when considering staying in the military; quality of service, quality of life and monetary compensation,” said Col. Jason Cockrum, the AF/A3 director of staff. “Nobody in the civilian sector can compete with quality of service. What Airmen go out and do every day for our nation, you just can’t get that anywhere else.”

He continued, “So we are focused on improvements related to quality of life and monetary compensation. We are not going to be able to compete directly with the airline industry on the monetary piece, but we are focusing on how we can ensure the other two pillars offset any differences offered by the civilian sector.”