ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

ESGR Freedom Award Finalists Announced

By Debbie Gregory.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, has selected 30 employers and government organizations from 2,350 nominations for 2018 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award, commonly referred to as the “Freedom Award.”

Almost half of the U.S. military is made up of National Guard and Reserve members, many of whom also hold jobs with civilian employers. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

ESGR organizes the annual award program. The award was instituted in 1996 by then Secretary of Defense William Perry, and has since presented the honor to hundreds of recipients.

ESGR received nominations for employers in all 50 states, Guam-CNMI, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

Fifteen awards are presented in three categories – large (500 or more employees), small (fewer than 500 employees), and public sector.

Here are this year’s Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award finalists:

 

Amazon

AME Swiss Machining LLC

ArgenTech Solutions, Inc.

Barclays

Big Sky Advisors

Central Washington University

Crystal Group Inc.

CUNA Mutual Group

Duke Energy

Dunlap Police Department

Ecolab, Inc.

Ellsworth Correctional Facility.

FMI Corporation

Greencastle Associates Consulting Company

LG&E and KU Energy

Michigan Department of Corrections

Minnesota Department of Transportation

National Grid

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections

Prudential Financial Inc.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

South Charleston Police Department

State of Nevada

Stokes County Schools

Texas Department of Insurance

Werner Enterprises, Inc.

West Valley City

Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office

Worcester Police Department

In 2008, ESGR launched a web site for the Freedom Award. Using videos, news articles, profiles of recipients, and tips about employer best practices, the site provides information about the support that employers across the nation provide to their Guard and Reserve employees and their families. The site also houses the nomination form for the award.

 

What is the Woobie?

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What is the Woobie?

By Debbie Gregory

Anyone who has ever served in the military is familiar with the “woobie.”  The woobie is every service member’s all-weather battle buddy.

The woobie is made up of two layers of nylon surrounding a polyester filling. Tie-cords on the corners and side could be tied through matching grommets on rain ponchos. In hot weather, the woobie is just light enough to be the perfect blanket. If the weather is cold, the woobie keeps you toasty warm.

The magical poncho liner has been a staple of deployed life since it was first introduced during the war in Vietnam. The intent was to field an item which was lighter and faster drying than the standard-issue Army Wool Blanket, which had been rendered all but obsolete in the wet and tropical environment of Vietnam. Even when soaking wet, the poncho liner wrapped around a soldier would trap body heat.

The original woobies were fielded by special forces in 1962. Around 1963, the next generation of woobie was created utilizing WWII duck-hunter-patterned parachute fabric. Until the Marine Corps produced their own Digital Woodland Pattern, most poncho liners were produced with the same pattern on both sides. The Marines decided to field one with Woodland Pattern on one side and a solid Coyote Color on the other. The fabric entrusted with soldiers’ lives was recycled and repurposed to continue its contributions to those who serve.

The woobie can be a blanket, a pillow, a shelter, a hammock, a concealment…the possibilities are endless. Most transitioning service members will gladly pay the $42.95 reimbursement fee to keep their woobies.

The woobie provides comfort and a feeling of safety and security. It’s a staple of any infantryman’s loadout, and though it may follow the poncho on gear lists, the woobie follows nothing in the hearts of warriors.

Special Forces Legend, “Iron Mike” Dies

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Special Forces Legend, “Iron Mike” Dies

By Debbie Gregory

Last month, the Army lost a special ops legend.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, 91, spent 35 years serving in the military, completing tours in Korea and Vietnam. Healy began his career with parachute training followed by attendance at a number of Army Colleges, including Ranger School.

Maj. Gen. Healy earned the nickname “Iron Mike” while serving as a young officer leading Army Rangers on combat patrols deep behind enemy lines in Korea in the early 1950s. The nickname, which stuck with him throughout his life, was a testament to his stamina and ability to take heavy loads, as well as helping others with their loads.

The Chicago native enlisted in the Army at the age of 19.

He entered the Korean War as a Company Commander with the Airborne Rangers, which at the time was a newly formed unit of the Army. Most of his career was spent in Vietnam, where he served five and a half tours, leading the 5th Special Forces group for almost 20 months, and earning him his first Distinguished Service Medal.

When he retired in 1981, Maj. Gen. Healy was the nation’s most senior Special Forces soldier.

Iron Mike’s legend made it to the big screen as the inspiration for John Wayne’s character, “Col. Iron Mike Kirby,” in the 1968 film “The Green Berets.”

Maj. Gen. Healy’s legacy would not be forgotten in the close-knit Special Forces community, according to Retired Sgt. 1st Class Cliff Newman, executive director of the Special Forces Association.

“He was one of the first Americans to go into Vietnam and one of the last to leave,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Healy was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Star Medals, a Legion of Merit with three oak-leaf clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star Medal with valor device, an Air Medal with Valor device, a Navy Commendation Medal with valor device and two Purple Heart Medals. He is also a member of the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Maj. Gen. Healy was inducted as a Distingished Member of the Special Forces Regiment. He had a special bond with the men he lead, and was a beloved hero of the Green Berets. He always credited his success to the men he lead.

In an interview, Maj. Gen. Healy said: “I would like to walk in the back gate at Fort Sheridan like I first did and say, ‘Yes, sir, I’ll go.’ But today, I’m in civilian clothes. My uniform is packed away.”

Maj. Gen. Healy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near his mentor, the late Gen. Creighton Abrams.

 

 

Earning a Degree While on Active Duty: What You Need to Know

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Working toward a degree while serving on active duty is much different than attending classes on a traditional campus, or even taking online classes from home. Before you take on the challenge of school and active duty, there are some key points to know that will increase your chances of success.

Be Flexible

As you consider your educational options, you might develop a plan that involves taking a certain number of classes each term to finish your degree by a defined date. While planning is imperative, it’s also important to consider the need for a flexible enrollment schedule. Therefore, when weighing your schooling options, consider the following:

Does the school offer flexible scheduling? Can you take all of your classes from a distance, or will you have to spend time on campus? If you are required to spend some time “on the ground,” are there classrooms or branches of the college near your post, or will you have to wait until you have completed your commitment?

How military friendly is the school? Will the college be understanding of the demands on your time and be willing to make accommodations when you need to focus on your military responsibilities? Look for a university that offers accommodations for those who are active duty or veterans, including assistance with military benefits, access to military-specific services including development counselors and academic support.

How will your military experience coordinate with your studies? If you’re taking classes while you are still in active duty, determining the proper amount of transfer credit may be challenging. It is important to evaluate your options and work with your chosen school to determine the best course of action to ensure that you get proper credit for your experience and develop a course plan that accounts for the knowledge gained in the field.

GI Benefits and Military Promotions

Many service members are concerned about their GI Bill benefits should they opt to take courses while on active duty. You do not lose benefits if you earn a degree while serving, and you can use your tuition assistance benefits to pay for courses while you’re in the field. Therefore, you can still use your GI Bill to pay for a graduate degree, to supplement your income while you are in training for a federal job, or to transfer to a spouse or dependent.

Taking courses while on active duty can help you earn military promotions faster. All branches of the military consider civilian education when determining promotions. In the Army, for instance, you can earn up to 100 promotion points by taking classes at 1 point per credit hour. These points can add up, allowing you to move up the ranks and earn more money throughout your military career.

Education is a major priority for the armed services, and you don’t have to wait until after discharge to begin working on your degree. With time management and a flexible approach, you can finish your higher education while you’re on active duty.

More Female Soldiers Graduate Army Ranger School

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The number of female soldiers who have graduated from Army Ranger School has just increased to an even dozen, as the most recent graduates join ground-breakers Army Capt. Kristen Griest, Army Capt. Shaye Haver, and Army Reserve Maj. Lisa Jaste.

Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses for which a Soldier can volunteer.

The Army Ranger course is designed to push soldiers to their mental and physical edge. Participants have limited sleep and food while performing exhausting exercises. The physical fitness test includes 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, a five-mile run in 40 minutes, three parachute jumps, and 27 days of mock combat patrols.

The tough standards make sure that only the strong survive, which is why the completion percentage for men is only 40 percent.

The Ranger Course, which was conceived during the Korean War, has changed little since its inception. It has three phases: Benning Phase of Ranger School is designed to assess a Soldier’s physical stamina, mental toughness, and establishes the tactical fundamentals required for follow-on phases of Ranger School; Mountain Phase, which focuses on military mountaineering tasks, mobility training, as well as techniques for employing a platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment; and Florida Phase,  which focuses on the continued development of the Ranger student’s combat arms functional skills. Students receive instruction on waterborne operations, small boat movements, and stream crossings

Women continue to make great strides in the military. Lt. Col. Megan Brodgen assumed command of the 3rd Special Forces Group support battalion, the first time that role had been filled by a woman.

Currently 170,000 women serve in the Army, with 600 women in infantry and armor jobs.

Joining  Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas as the destination for female officers who completed the training standards for infantry and armor are Fort Campbell in Kentucky and Fort Carson in Colorado.

Article written by: Debbie Gregory.

Profiles of Veterans Running for Office on the Democratic Ticket

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By Debbie Gregory.

Veterans who are Democrats are running for Congressional seats in record numbers. And some of them are proving to be competitive in areas previously considered as Republican strong-holds.

While veterans are traditionally considered conservative, here are some veterans running as Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections:

Josh Butner- CA

Josh’s family has a long history of service to America. On his father’s side, their service extends all the way back to the Mexican-American War and on his mother’s side, back to the Civil War. Josh served for 23 years in the United States Navy where he saw multiple combat deployments, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Josh first came to San Diego County in 1988 for training to become a Navy SEAL and currently lives on a small ranch in Jamul where he raised his children, one of which is currently serving in the military. Josh continues his service as a Trustee on the Jamul Dulzura School Board.

Jason Crow- CO

Jason served in the Army’s storied 82nd Airborne Division, leading a platoon of paratroopers during the invasion of Iraq. He earned the Bronze Star for his combat actions during the invasion, including fighting at the Battle of As Samawah. He joined the U.S. Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, serving two additional tours – this time in Afghanistan, as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force. Jason served on the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs, focusing on veterans homelessness and substance abuse issues.  He also has dedicated hundreds of hours mentoring individual veterans transitioning from military to civilian life.

Dan Feehan- MN

Dan served as an active duty soldier and completed two combat tours of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Iraq, he searched for roadside bombs and pursued those threatening Americans and Iraqis alike, earning the Bronze Star for Service, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and the Ranger Tab. After his military service, worked for the Obama administration, first as a White House Fellow and then as an acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. He worked to ensure that service members were ready to fight, and that they had the tools to lead a quality life as veterans after their service was over.

Roger Dean Huffstetler- VA

Roger Dean is a Marine veteran and entrepreneur. The first in his family to graduate from college, he is committed to ensuring that every American has the chance to work hard, get ahead, and provide a better life for their children.

Dan McCready- NC

Dan is a Marine Corps veteran, business leader, husband, and father. He led 65 Marines in the 2007 Iraq surge, and was honorably discharged as a Captain.

Gina Ortiz Jones- TX

Knowing that many of the opportunities she and her family had were only possible because they were in the United States, from the time she was a young girl Gina knew she wanted to serve and give back. After graduating from Boston University with a BA and MA in Economics, and a BA in East Asian Studies, Gina entered the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, where she deployed to Iraq and served under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Max Rose- NY

A resident of Staten Island, Max is a Democratic candidate for New York’s 11th congressional district. He is the first post-9/11 combat veteran of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to seek office in New York City. Max is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army. From 2012-2013, he deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as an active duty officer, earning a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and  Combat Infantryman Badge. Max continues his service today in the National Guard as a Infantry Company Commander. He is also Ranger qualified.

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.

Touro University Worldwide- Educating Those Who Serve

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The GI Bill is one of the most amazing benefits offered to those who serve. By using this benefit, veterans can earn a degree or vocational certificate, get paid while in school, and jump-start their post-military lives.

Touro University Worldwide (TUW) understands the importance of educating our country’s active military students and veterans who are preparing to enter the civilian workforce. To that end, in addition to government funding options, TUW offers discounts to to those who serve, past and present, as well as extending the benefit to their families.

Many Touro academic staff members are also veterans, and since they have walked the walk, they can provide support and guidance through the military aligned students’ academic journeys.

While there are thousands of schools throughout the country that would like to be on the receiving end of the tuition funding that military and veterans bring via the GI Bill, TUW has a tradition of commitment to their military and veteran students.

Make this the year that you get started earning the degree that will give prepare you for an exciting career in business, psychology or health and human services.  Apply the skills and knowledge you acquired in the military to a bachelor’s or master’s degree with in-demand concentrations like: Cybersecurity Management, Global Management, Nonprofit Management, Human Resources Management and many more!

You’ve always risen to the challenge, make this the year that you pursue and complete your degree!

For more information, visit www.tuw.edu

Helping Teachers Prepare for the Next Mass Shooting

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By Debbie Gregory.

As mass shootings become more common, UAB Hospital, a Level I trauma center hospital located in Birmingham, Alabama is the first hospital in the state to offer Stop the Bleed training in schools.

Launched in October of 2015 by the White House, Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and a call to action. Stop the Bleed is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Taught by medical professionals, many of whom served in the military including trauma surgeons and nurses, the training demonstrates how to apply tourniquets, pressure, and dressing to life-threatening wounds.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Virginia Strickland said school districts initially resisted the tourniquet training, not wanting to face the reality that it might one day happen to them.

After the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, the American College of Surgeons began a campaign to improve access to tourniquets.

Bleeding can cause death in five to eight minutes, and in many situations, first responders would not be able to provide life-saving aid in that amount of time.

Advances made by military medicine and research in hemorrhage control during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have informed the work of this initiative which exemplifies translation of knowledge back to the homeland to the benefit of the general public.

Finding a Basic Bleeding Control (BCon) class is as simple as visiting the official BleedingControl.org website and clicking on the Find a Class button. From there you can filter your search results by location and date.

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.

Captain Marvel Will Draw On Danvers’ Military Service, but Also Mourns Loss of Consultant

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By Debbie Gregory.

Captain Marvel is the name of several fictional superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Most of these versions exist in Marvel’s main shared universe, known as the Marvel Universe.

On March 26, Marvel Studios announced that production on Captain Marvel has officially begun. In the upcoming film, Brie Larson plays the seventh Captain Marvel, Air Force fighter pilot Col. Carol Danvers.

Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel follows Danvers as she goes from fighter pilot to living weapon, beginning prior to Danvers gaining her super powers of flight, incredible feats of strength, speed, agility, and the ability to absorb and redirect energy as she sees fit. After attaining the powers, she became Captain Marvel.

Preparation for her role included Larson taking flight in an F-16. Offering her expertise was Lt. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt, the commander of the 57th Wing, the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot.

The film is expected to  lean heavily on Danvers’ military service, from the head of security at a secret DoD missile base to a leader, strategist, and tactician to rival the likes of both Iron Man and Captain America.

Thunderbird pilot Air Force Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who worked as a consultant on the film, was recently killed while performing a set of training maneuvers at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

Marvel Studios tweeted, ““We lost a friend yesterday. Marvel Studios is saddened to hear of the loss of Air Force Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who we were lucky to get to know during his time as a consultant on Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel is scheduled to be released in 2019.

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

Fat Leonard’ Scandal Influences Pentagon’s pick to lead Joint Chiefs

Fat Leonard

By Debbie Gregory.

When it came time for the Pentagon to chose a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of their top choices turned out to be tainted rattled by the “Fat Leonard” scandal.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” because of his size, has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes and more.  He wanted classified information to help his Singapore-based company retain lucrative contracts to resupply Navy vessels in the Pacific, as it had done for more than a quarter-century.

Francis confessed to swindling the Navy out of $35 million and bribing scores of officers.

Francis confided to federal agents in early 2015 that he had paid for opulent dinners and other favors for Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, then-commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Locklear was one of four contenders to head the Joint Chiefs.

While the Justice Department decided to not press charges, and despite being cleared of wrongdoing by the Navy, his association with the 350-pound contractor helped sink Locklear’s chances to lead the Joint Chiefs.

The Navy has declined to disclose how many people it has kicked out of the service for taking bribes or gifts from Francis.

Locklear last served as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from March 9, 2012, to May 27, 2015. Prior to that, he served as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa and NATO’s Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Prior to that, he served as Director, Navy Staff from July 2009 to October 2010. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 2015, after 39 years of service.

President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Joseph Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and took over from Army General Martin Dempsey on September 25, 2015, and officially took office on October 1, 2015.

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.