Remembering George H. W. Bush

Remembering George H. W. Bush

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

He has returned to Washington, DC for one last visit before his final resting place. He has been visited by many, including his faithful service dog, Sully, who has sat in empathetic mourning in front of his flag-draped casket. Flags across our country fly at half-mast and our social media feeds are flooding with stories of his greatness. Whether you loved him during his career or opposed him, George HW Bush’s legacy surpasses the politics for which he is known.

 

Born June 12, 1924 in Milton, MA, George H.W. Bush was one of five children for Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. A young man headed for collegiate life, Bush was extremely impacted by the 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. Six months later, on his 18th birthday, George Bush enlisted in the US Navy and subsequently became one of the youngest aviators in naval history. His three years in the military was only the beginning of his lifetime of service to the American people.

 

By 1948, George Bush was out of the Navy and a graduate of Yale. Upon his graduation, he moved with his family to Texas and began his career as an investor in the oil industry. He founded his own oil company and was a millionaire by the age of 40. From there, he launched himself into the field of politics. His initial run for US Senate resulted in a defeat in 1964. However, that loss was followed up with a win for the 7th District for the US House of Representatives just two years later. He won re-election in 1968 but suffered another defeat in the US Senate election of 1970. He had already garnered the attention he needed, however, as President Richard Nixon took the opportunity to appoint Bush as Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971. By 1973, he was Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  

 

Bush’s run for the Oval Office began in 1980, but he was defeated in the Republican Primary by Ronald Reagan. Reagan subsequently selected Bush as his running mate and this Republican ticket was elected in 1980. Bush used his eight years as Vice President to head the war on drugs, which became a popular slogan of the decade. He also headed the task force on deregulation.

 

After two terms as Vice President, Bush became the first incumbent VP to win the Presidential election. He defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis and began what would be a foreign-policy presidency.

 

In those four years, Bush’s presidency saw a series of military operations and historical events. From Panama and the Persian Gulf to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, foreign events helped to make Bush’s term memorable. These events also led to a variety of issues in this new, post-cold war environment. A domestic economic recession, foreign wars, and foreign policy issues combined to give Bill Clinton the edge in the 1992 election.

 

Despite leaving office in 1993, George Bush remained active in the public eye. It was just eight years later that he would officially become George H. W. Bush, as his son, George W. Bush, became the 43rd President of this great country.

 

It is no doubt that our 41st President was a great man, a good leader and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather. While his son was in office, he was called into service yet again. This time to work side-by-side with former political adversary, Bill Clinton. The two were thrust into humanitarian projects and through working together, became friends. In fact, his son, George W. Bush, once joked that during Clinton’s surgical recovery, he likely “woke up surrounded by his loved ones: Hillary, Chelsea…my Dad.”

 

It was those humanitarian lessons that taught us some of George H. W. Bush’s greatest lessons. We learned that there is always more we can do – more ways we can help. His time to be in the limelight was technically over and he would have been within his rights to want to enjoy his retirement with his wonderful wife, Barbara, by his side. Instead, he spent much of his golden years trotting the globe, helping those in need.

 

Through his relationship with Bill Clinton, he taught us that the past is the past and we can overcome personal differences to truly make the world a better place. What they demonstrated is something this country is sorely lacking.

 

Even Clinton has made this observation:

“I think people see George and me and they say, ‘that is the way our country ought to work.’”

 

President Trump has declared today, December 5, 2018, a national day of mourning in honor of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush. He has been lying in state in Washington DC in the Capitol Rotunda since Monday. He will make his way to the National Cathedral for his State Funeral Service. After the State Service today, “Special Mission 41” will take George H. W. Bush home to Texas where he will ultimately find his final resting place on the grounds of the library that bears his name.

 

Advancements in Technology Making Soldiers’ Load Easier to Carry

Advancements in Technology Making Soldiers’ Load Easier to Carry

 

It takes a lot of power to keep a unit charged up. Before now, that amount of energy required generators which were substantial in size and weight. That all might change, however, thanks to two MIT graduates.

 

Veronika Stelmakh and Walker Chan are co-founders of a small portable generator – roughly the size of a soda can. The “soldier-borne generator for reduced battery load” would run on fuel, likely butane or propane, then convert that fuel into electricity using infrared radiation. While the device will use photovoltaic cells (cells that create an electric current when exposed to light), no sunlight will be necessary to power the device. The photovoltaic cells will be a byproduct of the infrared radiation.

 

Lightening the load has been a goal for the Army and Marine Corps. This small unit would essentially turn one soldier into a portable charging station for the rest of his or her unit. It will weigh about one pound and reduce battery load by up to 75%. Currently, soldiers carry 15-20 pounds of load for the batteries that power up their required devices. As their packs are often more than 100 pounds, shedding any of that weight would be helpful.  

 

Stelmakh and Chan developed the device through MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

 

The Best of the Army’s Best

The Best of the Army’s Best

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Many companies, organizations, and associations have contests to determine who in their midst ranks among the top, and the United States Army is no different. The 2018 Best Warrior Competition, the premier event to determine the Department of the Army’s Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, took place in early October at Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia and the Pentagon.

While the formal, final event is a six-day challenge, the 22 finalists (11 in each category) have already made it through a series of hurdles throughout the year to qualify for the DA-level competition. According to army.mil (https://www.army.mil/bestwarrior/), these elite warriors tested their “knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment.”

The annual ‘Best Warrior’ contest tests Soldiers on “warrior tasks” presented in the Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks received in basic training. A consistent theme throughout was tackling the unknown, a skill that helps our military react and manage crisis situations…whether stateside or downrange.

At the start of the competition, the finalists began a ruck march carrying their M-4 carbine, four magazines and a total of 50 pounds of equipment, for an unknown distance in the early morning darkness and the rural wilderness of Virginia. Throughout the competition, planners from the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group told contestants that the roads were unsafe, which meant they’d have to constantly ruck in full gear. One of the Soldiers remarked that the heavy ruck marches really tested their cognitive and physical abilities, especially that opening morning march…which turned out to be 16 miles long.

Planners gave the Soldiers specific problem scenarios to solve by communicating with the civilian population in a simulated foreign country. Role players spoke a foreign language or broken English, and competitors had to devise their own solutions for communication. In another scenario, competitors were told to board a waiting helicopter, only to be informed moments before arrival that they needed to render first aid to injured bystanders. And other times, Soldiers needed to use their land navigation skills to find their way to a designated location.

First Sergeant Mike Kriewaldt, this year’s competition planner, said, “It’s not always about being the strongest, fastest person.” Kriewaldt, a 19-year veteran, drew on experience from eight combat deployments to create the contest’s challenges. “It’s more than just physical fitness. Being able to accomplish all the tasks in the right amount of time is key. You have to be able to get to where you’re going and have enough energy and mental capacity.”

U.S. Army Special Operations Command came out on top at this year’s Best Warrior Competition, with Corporal Matthew Hagensick, of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, named Soldier of the Year and Sergeant First Class Sean Acosta, an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, picking up Noncommissioned Officer of the Year honors.

The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General James McConville, lauded the efforts of the contestants at the awards ceremony, held at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Washington, D.C. “The winners and all the competitors in this competition understand that winning matters,” McConville said. “You didn’t come here to participate. You didn’t come here to try hard. You came here to win. And that’s the American spirit — the spirit that we have in the Army. And that’s what American Soldiers do. There’s no second place or honorable mention in combat.”

 

To Ink or Not To Ink…

To Ink or Not To Ink…

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

Tattoos have been around for a long time. Many historians believe that the first tattoos were inked onto hands and fingers of our Neanderthal ancestors in an effort to ward off illnesses. Tattooed mummified remains have been found and those remains date back to more than 5,000 years ago. Tattoos have been used to mark your skill set, designate your tribe, honor your lineage and more. The perception of tattoos continues to change every day as an increasing number of soccer moms sport full inked sleeves to practice. Public perception has changed and the Navy had to catch up.

For years, the United States Navy limited to the ink that it allowed in its ranks. Rules were in place to limit visible tattoo size and number, so sailors were restricted with what could be on their forearms and lower legs. Additionally, neck tattoos were not permitted. However, with tattoos on the rise in the 17-24 demographic, the Navy found themselves limiting recruits because of this rule.

The most efficient way to handle this barrier was to eliminate it, which is what the US Navy did. Under the revised rules, sailors have no restrictions on tattoos below the neck. Full sleeves are now permitted. Neck tattoos are also permitted, but have a limit on size. This opens up the doors for the young and tattooed who have an interest in serving in the Navy.

Sailors and tattoos have had a long history, so this recent change opens up a level of public acceptance that reflects the personal feelings of many who choose to decorate their personal canvases. Over the past few years, tattoo rules have changed in the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Army. While each branch has changed their code regarding the allowing and acceptance of tattoos, all of the individual rules are different.  

 

The Red Cross Message

The Red Cross Message

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

 

The first time I heard the words “Red Cross Message”, I was in the middle of Army Boot Camp. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri…summer of 1986. In that time before cell phones, that time before social media, it seems like it was easier to focus on our military jobs because we had fewer distractions. Without the technology that, these days, keeps us all up-to-date on the status of friends and family, it was easy to get caught off-guard with a bit of unexpected bad news. And bad news came on a regular basis, like the time when a drill sergeant broke it to one of my battle buddies that there was a death in his family and he needed to call home.

I know many of you are familiar with that message, from personal experience. The Red Cross message is basically the end product of one of the services that the American Red Cross provides to the United States military. When one of our service members has an emergency that may require leaving his or her duty station, whether stateside or deployed downrange, the Red Cross can be requested to independently verify the emergency. While the Red Cross does not authorize emergency leave, that independent verification enables the service member’s commander to make an educated decision regarding emergency leave and if transportation and/or financial assistance is needed.

One of the country’s oldest Congressionally-chartered Veterans Service Organizations, today’s American Red Cross serves as a critical line of communication between the U.S Armed Forces and their families. The iconic symbol of the organization, founded by Clara Barton in 1881, makes many of us recall the classic images of Red Cross nurses helping American soldiers and civilian war victims during World War I…but it does so much more. Still tasked by the federal government with providing services to members of the American Armed Forces and their families and disaster relief in the United States and around the world, Red Cross workers proudly carry on the tradition of serving those in the military community with the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program. That program helps members of the military, veterans, and their families prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service.

The Red Cross manages its ‘force structure’ by Chapters & Regions, and each Service to the Armed Forces program offers up different events to its constituents. Here in the St. Louis area, the Service to the Armed Forces committee on which I volunteer prides itself on its outreach & how we hope to make a difference to those we serve. We provide Reconnection workshops, which are free and confidential events that help with reintegration; an annual Women Warriors Baby Shower, for expectant mothers from our military community; and a Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign every holiday season, an effort that provides our community with the opportunity to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer to military members, veterans, and their families.

When I was a young Field Artilleryman in the 1st Infantry Division, I was busy preparing for deployment, for combat. In those times when I was headed to the field or downrange – not really sure how long it would be until I spoke with one of my loved ones again – I remember making sure that my family knew how to contact the Red Cross for assistance, should something tragic happen.

In those days, it was a landline phone call to the nearest Red Cross chapter. These days, the American Red Cross Hero Care Center is available 7/24/365 days a year, and you can request assistance online or by phone. To initiate a request by phone for Red Cross emergency assistance for members of the military currently serving on active duty, call 1-877-272-7337 to speak to an Emergency Communications Specialist.

You can also start a request for services with a computer, smartphone, or tablet and track its progress from anywhere in the world using the Red Cross’ online self-service tool. To request assistance online, visit: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/military-families/emergency-communication, download the free Hero Care App, or text “GETHEROCARE” to 90999.

Every day, more than 300 military families request assistance through the Hero Care Network by either using the online self-service tool via computer, tablet, or cell phone, or by calling a Communication Specialist.

Whichever way you initiate that request for emergency assistance, please be prepared to provide information about the service member and the emergency (the Red Cross says to use the phone option if you don’t have all of the required information below):

Service member information

  •         Full legal name
  •         Rank/rating
  •         Branch of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  •         Social Security number or Date of Birth
  •         Military unit address
  •         Information about the deployed unit and home base unit (for deployed service members only)

Information about the emergency

  •         Name and contact for the immediate family member experiencing the emergency (could be spouse, parent, child/grandchild, or grandparent)
  •         Nature of the emergency
  •         Where the emergency can be verified (hospital, doctors office, funeral home)

There are certain eligibility requirements to consider. Service members eligible to receive emergency communications regarding an immediate family member include: those on active duty in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard; activated members of the Guard and Reserve of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces; civilians employed by or under contract to the Department of Defense and stationed outside the Continental United States; cadets or midshipmen at a service academy; ROTC cadets on orders for training; or Merchant Marines aboard a U.S. Naval Ship.

It bears repeating that the American Red Cross does not authorize emergency leave for members of the United States military. Again, the role of the Red Cross is to independently verify the emergency, enabling the service member’s commander to make an educated decision regarding the granting of emergency leave. If transportation and/or financial assistance is needed, the Red Cross can help expedite access to emergency financial assistance via Military Aid Societies. These Aid Societies determine the financial assistance package that will be offered, and whether it will be in the form of a grant or a loan.

These days, I look in the mirror and realize that I’ve become the old man in the room. It’s been over 30 years since I first learned about the Red Cross & its “message” as a young Private in Boot Camp. It’s been over 20 years since I was a young(ish) Battery Commander on a long field exercise, a commander tasked with the authority to grant that emergency leave that my troops needed so. It’s been just over 10 years since I last received my own Red Cross message, one that I knew was coming due to the advent of technology and the constant contact I had with my wife during that deployment.

I’ve seen the tremendous positive impact that the American Red Cross has on our military community and now, as a retired Soldier, I get to ‘give back’ a little by volunteering with the local chapter’s Service to the Armed Forces committee. And, if you’re able, I encourage you to see how you can give back in your neck of the woods.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans

 

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

 

Small business ownership. Entrepreneurship. Being self-employed or a sole proprietor.  Call it what you will, but research indicates that veterans and their families are a bit more inclined to start a small business venture – and more apt to succeed at it – than our peers outside the military community. And although government-backed research shows that we’re slightly more successful at keeping our doors open than our colleagues without military experience, that fact doesn’t mean that small business isn’t risky. Just the opposite…small business is still a very risky proposition, and businesses in certain industries are riskier than others.

 

Why are we more successful at small business ownership? Perhaps it’s due in part to the same things that we in the military community have in our hip pocket that make us attractive members of an employer’s workforce…things like leadership training, attention to detail, and a conscious consideration of second- and third-order effects of the decisions we make. Perhaps it’s also because we’re good at finding ways to mitigate or minimize the risk that is inherent in small business…and some of those ways include recognizing and taking advantage of resources that exist to help us succeed, like the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV).

 

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) is operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families  (IVMF) at Syracuse University. The EBV is a novel, one-of-a-kind initiative designed to leverage the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education in order to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management. The targeted audience is post-9/11 veterans and their family members who are in early growth mode for their new business.

 

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans opens the door to economic opportunity for veterans by developing their competencies in the many steps and activities associated with creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture. The program’s curriculum is designed to take participants through the steps and stages of venture creation, with a tailored emphasis on the unique challenges and opportunities associated with being a veteran business owner.

 

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans program was founded at Syracuse University in 2007 and has since expanded to additional universities across the U.S. Those EBV-partnering schools include Texas A&M, Purdue University, UCLA, the University of Connecticut, Louisiana State University, The Florida State University, Cornell University, Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Missouri – with Syracuse University serving as national host of the consortium of schools. Most of the 2019 dates at these schools have yet to be announced, so check back at the IVMF website on a regular basis to find those upcoming dates at a school near you.

 

The entire Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans training program is offered without any cost to participating veterans, but participation is limited to those post-9/11. The program is delivered through a three-phased approach, providing premier training and support along the way:

 

Phase 1 is a 30-day instructor-led, online course focused on the basic skills of entrepreneurship and the language of small business. The curriculum is moderated by entrepreneurship faculty and graduate students from one of the partnering EBV Universities; during this phase, delegates work on the development of their own business concepts.

Phase 2 is a nine-day residency at an EBV university where students are exposed to over 30 accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the U.S. The residency includes more than 80 hours of instruction in the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership. This particular phase is intense, and designed to both educate and motivate.

Phase 3 involves 12 months of support and mentorship delivered through the EBV Post Program Support, a robust, comprehensive network of mentors, resources and national partnerships.

The EBV is designed to open the door to business ownership for veterans by 1) developing them skills in the many steps and activities associated with launching and growing a small business, and by 2) helping them leverage programs and services for veterans and people with disabilities in a way that furthers their entrepreneurial dreams.

Other programs offered by IVMF in the same vein as EBV include Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families and EBV Accelerate. The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families (EBV-F) is an education and self-employment training program founded in 2010 and expanded to Florida State University in 2012. The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families program offers small business training for military spouses and family members, or a surviving spouse of a military member who gave his or her life in service to our country. The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families offers training tailored to military family members with caregiving responsibilities to launch and grow small businesses from home.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families program is designed to take advantage of the skills, resources and infrastructure of higher education to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management. The program leverages the flexibility inherent in small business ownership to provide a vocational path forward for military family members. The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families integrates training in entrepreneurship with caregiver and family issues, positioning participants to launch and grow a small business in a way that is complementary or enhancing to other family responsibilities. The EBV-F program operates on a rolling admissions process, so they are always accepting applications and will process them in the order they are received.  

 

Eligibility for participation in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families program is limited to a first-degree family member (spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child) of a post-9/11 veteran with a service-connected disability; a first-degree family member (spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child) of active duty military (including National Guard and Reserve); or a surviving spouse or adult child of a service member who lost their life while serving in the military post-9/11. The program is broken down in three phases: Phase I is a 30-day online, instructor-led business fundamentals and research course; Phase II is a 9-day residential training at a partnering EBV university; and Phase III is ongoing support, focused on small business creation and growth. The entire Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veteran’ Families experience, including travel and lodging, is offered without any cost to participants.

 

EBV Accelerate is a boot camp-style program focused on growth that tackles head-on topics such as the financial, management, marketing, and strategic planning challenges that established businesses face. EBV Accelerate is a 3-phase program that gives veterans that already have a successful business the tools and coaching to propel their business to the next phase: that of sustainable growth. Topics include acquiring growth funding, rebranding for expansion, determining a sustainable growth rate, establishing partnerships, managing cash flow, and more.

 

Eligibility for participation in the EBV Accelerate program: open to all veteran business owners, as long as 50% or more ownership is maintained by the veteran; in business for 3 or more years (recommended; must have financials); must employ 5 or more full-time employees; and the veteran business owner must have served active duty with honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions. Graduates of other IVMF programs are eligible. This program is also offered in three phases: Phase I consists of two weeks of online instruction focused on business analysis; Phase II is a three-day residency during which participants will create a personalized action plan for their business; and Phase III involves resources to support the growth of the business. (Notes for Phase II: Monday & Friday are Travel Days, and the three-day residency is from Tuesday-Thursday; travel to the location is at the candidate’s cost; lodging and meals are provided for the participant during the three-day residency; and all program learning materials will be provided at no cost to the participant.)

 

If you decide that one of these programs looks enticing, check out the application process here. Take it seriously, though…these are highly competitive programs and you’ll need to have your ducks in a row. It’s in your best interest to write complete and thorough responses for the personal statement section to help the admissions committee make an informed decision on your application. Additional paperwork is required to go along with your application:

 

…Documents required for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) application include 2 Letters of Recommendation (must be addressed to EBV and speak specifically about your desire to join the program); an updated resume (military or civilian); and your DD214 Member 4 (showing dates of active duty, discharge status and with the SSN redacted) OR LES (Leave and Earnings Statement).

…Documents required for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families application include 2 Letters of Recommendation; an updated resume; and the family member’s DD214 Member 4 (showing dates of active duty, discharge status and with the SSN redacted) OR LES (Leave and Earnings Statement).

…Documents required for the EBV Accelerate application include 2 Letters of Recommendation (1 from a client & 1 from someone like your banker, accountant, insurance agent, or lawyer); a current resume; your DD214 Member 4 (showing dates of active duty, discharge status and with the SSN redacted); and a self- or accountant-prepared Income Statement OR Profit & Loss Statement.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, educational, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through a focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families.

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families has provided programs and services to more than 100,000 veterans, service members, and their families since 2011, and to more than 20,000 in 2017 alone. Their family of programs includes EBV, EBV-Families, EBV Accelerate, Onward to Opportunity, America Serves, Boots to Business, V-Wise, Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship, CVOB (Coalition for Veteran Owned Business), VetNet – The Veterans Network, and Boots to Business – Reboot.

If you find yourself in transition – from active duty, from a deployment, or from a W-2 job – and you decide that you might like to give small business ownership a try, I encourage you to take a closer look at organizations like the IVMF and programs like the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. While you probably won’t be eligible for all opportunities like these out there, there’ll be others for which you’re suited. And there will be other organizations that are more local to you, or that have different eligibility guidelines, for which you do qualify.

Connect with a small business counselor at your local economic development center or at your closest Small Business Administration office. Put talented people on your ‘team’ and take advantage of resources created especially for members of the military community…like you and me.

 

TRICARE Open Season

TRICARE Open Season

 

Important information for all military: TRICARE Open Season, their annual open enrollment period, start today, November 12th. Between now and December 10th, there are a few things about your TRICARE coverage that you need to know.

 

  • Selections for 2019 health care coverage must be completed between now (November 12) and December 10.
  • You may use this time to select a new TRICARE Select or TRICARE Prime plan
  • Open season is when you can change your existing plan or enrollment to something different
  • If no changes are made, your 2018 TRICARE selections will carry over to 2019
  • This is the ONLY time to make changes throughout the year unless you have a QLE or Qualifying Life Event

 

Qualifying Life Events are major events that fall into two categories: Military changes or Family changes. Military changes include activation, deactivation, injured while active duty, moving, separating from active duty and retirement. Family changes includes marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption of a child, college aged children attending school, children becoming adults, becoming Medicare eligible, moving, experiencing a death in the family, loss or gain of alternate health insurance.

Military Tech Advancements: The Path to the Future

Military Tech Advancements: The Path to the Future

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

Warfare and military strategy have certainly changed. While militaries have faced conflict since the beginning of time, the techniques, tactics and weaponry are completely different. Even throughout the United States of America’s 242-year history, the face of the American soldier has gone from the farmer carrying the musket to sophisticated and technologically advanced specialists in the field. Desire and perseverance were the keys to military success in revolutionary America. In 2018, technology is key.

Our military drives our less well-known technological advancements. For example, the need

for wireless communication is prevalent for soldiers. Hands free technology is critical in an environment where your hands are needed for constant defense and protection. Can you imagine a world where your hands free communication device does not need to be in your ear? Sonitus Technologies is working on that very advancement!

The California-based company has paired up with the Department of Defense to create the Molar Mic – a wireless communication device that goes in your teeth! The Molar Mic (pictured below) looks like a traditional headset but instead of being worn externally on the ear, it clips to the back teeth – or molars – of the user.

A custom-made mouthpiece fits the user’s back teeth. The mouthpiece has a small microphone to pick up and transmit spoken details. There is a speaker-transducer in the mouthpiece as well to convert sound waves into the corresponding sound. Soldiers who wear the device will be able to hear necessary and critical communications through their teeth and jawbone!

Additionally, it is expected that the Molar Mic will allow troops to make radio calls as well. This completely eliminates the need for the cumbersome headset with microphone that soldiers have utilized in the past. The Molar Mic will cut down on some of the equipment weight that or soldiers carry while making communication more reliable and less subject to interruption. Weather, regional circumstance and impact can all cause such interruptions. Molar Mic uses the wearer’s body to shield from many of these and cut down on external noises and interference.  

Molar Mic is still in the development phase, but Sonitus has been contracted to finish the project.

Odds are good that you have see a drone in the skyline – whether it has been part of a military exercise or operation or commercial civilian use, drones have taken us all by storm in recent years. Drones actually got their start over thirty years ago.In the 1980s, the US military had select operations that helped to clearly identify the need for unmanned reconnaissance devices. These operations in Grenada, Lebanon and Libya prompted the Secretary of the Navy to push for the technology.

The initial need was a tall order: inexpensive to make and maintain, available on-call whenever needed, unmanned, capacity to assess battle damages… but despite the long list of requirements, there was a prototype developed, the Pioneer, and two different systems began testing in 1986. By the end of 1986, the battleship USS Iowa proudly had the very first military-grade drone on board.

The Pioneer made its way into the Marine Corps by 1987. Since then, drones have gotten far more advanced than military tacticians could have imagined in the 1980s. It was deployed on both land and sea in theaters that include Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Somalia, the Persian Gulf and more. The USMC Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons were critical in 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom. It has been publicly documented that more than one Iraqi insurgent has surrendered to the overhead drones, operated by nearby US Military.

Perhaps they knew that the overhead Pioneer, carrying an infrared camera, was just the first sign of incoming troops. Or perhaps they were under the impression that there was more than just a camera strapped to the belly of that Pioneer. Regardless, the byproduct was a small collection of Iraqi soldiers who had peacefully surrendered without the need for advanced weaponry.

Drones have since become even more commonplace both in the military theater and civilian play. We see drones, once exclusive to military use, everywhere from sports arenas to backyard barbeques. Although it has become a hobby and toy for many, with lighter and less expensive versions on the market, it is still a life-saving device that provides real-time, useful and accurate  information that is used by our military on a regular basis.

While we are on the subject of flying, the planned advancements for the larger winged vehicles designed for passenger transportation are, quite literally, out of this world.

Have you heard of the DARPA XS-1? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency , or DARPA, Experimental Spaceplane program is the new name for the XS-1, a lower-maintenance spacecraft that would travel faster than sound. The Phantom Express is a joint collaboration between DARPA and Boeing, Co. The design specs for the Phantom Express includes an Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine. The AR-22 is powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

Before takeoff, the Phantom Express will be loaded with up to 3,000 pounds of payload. Upon completion of its space mission, the Phantom Express will land on a runway, similar to that of a commercial plane. So what makes Phantom Express different than the shuttles that have been in use before now? The key differences is maintenance and turnaround time. The Phantom Express will be able to take off again within hours and be launched repetitively for up to 10 consecutive days.

Planes in space seem like the work of science fiction? It is far more of a fact. Testing on the Phantom Express is slated to begin in 2020.    

From out of this world to the skies above us – Northrop Grumman Corp is developing the B-21 Raider. The B-21 Raider is more advanced than its older counterpart, the B-2. The “21st Century’s First Bomber” should enter service by 2025 and is expected to replace the B-1, B-2 and B-52.

Northrup Grumman is keeping the details of this one under fairly tight wraps. The estimated cost of the project is unknown and rumors of its capabilities are unsubstantiated. What we do know is that the B-21 Raider will be able to deliver conventional long-range and thermonuclear weapons, intercept enemy plans and gather intelligence. The US Air Force Global Strike Command is planning on up to 200 of these bombers in service. It is rumored that the bomber will operate either with or without a pilot and that it will be able to strike any target in any location on the globe without refueling. These, of course, are just rumors and have not been confirmed by military officials.

From up in the air to under the sea, the stealth submarine of the future is the Columbia-class submarine. A nuclear fuel core keeps this baby moving – for up to 42 years without a single refueling. How do you make a submarine stealth?

The Columbia-class submarine literally stays under the sonar with the help of an electric motor. An electric drive is much quieter than its mechanical counterpart. The quieter propulsion allows the submarine to be more easily disguised from enemy sonar.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and she should enter service in 2031.

Stealthy destroyers with laser weaponry certainly sounds like a prop for a movie in the making. It’s not! The Future Surface Combatant (FSC) is in the works to replace the Zumwalt-class and Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers in about 12 years. The Zumwalt-class destroyer is already pretty incredible, so the features of the FSC will need to be incredibly advanced. Important improvement to note: the FSC is designed to be easier to upgrade. New weaponry can easily and affordably be swapped in and out. The vessel will also feature an electric drive system that can generate up to 58 megawatts of electrical power on-board.

Planes, bombers, submarines, destroyers…commands being given to your teeth – all of it is pretty incredible when you remember that less than 80 years ago, Navajo Code Talkers were this country’s “advanced” technology that assisted our Military in all of our WWII successes. The brilliance and perfection of the Navajo Code Talkers was unparallelled at the time. There have been many changes and advancements in the past 80 years, and just like communication has improved dramatically, so has our most basic of weaponry.

The weaponry of the future is hypersonic. Conventional and nuclear warheads that can travel at speeds greater than mach 8 – which is eight times the speed of sound. Development has begun on a hypersonic missile that can travel at speeds of mach 20. What is the advantage of traveling at 20 times the speed of sound?

If you are a nuclear warhead, that kind of speed makes it extremely difficult for your enemies to react, track, follow or destroy. Mach 20 makes detection nearly improbable and deflection impossible. Decreased reaction time means increased impact.

The US is playing catch up in this game as China and Russia have had hypersonic projectiles in development for some time.

We have made great technological leaps in very short periods of time. Our development is only contained by our imagination and the more the minds wander into the possibilities, the more varied our military advancements will be.

War isn’t pretty. Our weapons of the future being employed today may keep our soldiers out of the trenches, but the tools of the trade can intimidate our foreign neighbors and cause more unsettled feelings. These same neighbors have accelerated their own efforts to keep their militaries competitive.  

 

The Healing Power of Art

The Healing Power of Art

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Art as therapy. If you’ve seen it in action, you know the life-changing effects it can have on our Brothers & Sisters that struggle. For years, art has been shown to improve interpersonal skills, increase self-awareness, and boost self-esteem. Clinically speaking, this helps reduce tension and anxiety, which can relieve pain and set a strong foundation for the process of healing or coping with lifelong disabilities. It can also mean relief for PTS and other issues stemming from military service.

For at least one Veteran, the visual arts have long been a format for creative expression, often providing emotional healing, strength, and a sense of purpose. Scott Beaty, a 20-year Navy Submarine Veteran and the founder of Visions for Vets, a small non-profit in St. Louis, Missouri, discovered a way to provide Veteran assistance through teaching and creating art and building strong Veteran camaraderie. As his organization grew, he witnessed his Veteran art students find release from their burdens, express themselves emotionally through creativity, and realize freedom from society’s label of being “disabled.”

“We’ve found that once Veterans have gained confidence in their newly-found, rekindled, or enhanced art skills, they’re ready to serve all over again. Service is at the heart of Visions for Vets and we seek to help Veterans continue the mission through art, building important relationships in their communities and engaging in outreach to bring the power of the healing arts to those in need of peace and joy,” Beaty said.

There’s an emphasis on the power of the visual arts at the national level, as well. As part of the current Presidential Administration, Second Lady Karen Pence uses her national and international platform to shine the light on art therapy. The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) have their own platforms in the Creative Forces Network and the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network serves the special needs of military patients and veterans who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers, placing creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at 11 military medical facilities across the country.

Made possible by a unique collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, DoD, the VA, and state arts agencies, Creative Forces is a network of caring people who believe in the transformative and restorative powers of art. The network is made up of creative arts therapists, artists, doctors, military service members, veterans, community leaders and policymakers, helping make a difference on military bases, in hospitals, and at community art centers.

Nationally, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities use the creative arts as an effective rehabilitative therapy to help veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities by encouraging expression in a non-threatening way. Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in local creative arts competitions, culminating in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division this year that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. Through a national judging process, first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. The Festival is co-sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. In addition to raising funds for the event, Auxiliary departments provide volunteers who assist with everything from punching meal tickets to stuffing programs to ironing costumes for the stage show.

 

The Pentagon Memorial Chapel

 

The Pentagon Memorial Chapel

 

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Chapels are a common sight in many military communities, but one in particular holds a very special place for many of us that were serving on September 11, 2001.

The Pentagon Memorial Chapel is located at the crash site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Dedicated a year to the day after the event, the chapel is a solemn place for prayer, meditation and reflection. Throughout the week, services for various faiths are held at the chapel and those who come to worship there recognize that it’s a special place, one that symbolizes strength, hope, and rebuilding. The Chapel helps meet the spiritual needs of all major faiths, and is open 24 hours a day for prayer and meditation,

According to the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain, the Pentagon Memorial Chapel was the vision of the 3 most senior government civilians and the Chiefs of Chaplains. They, among others, realized that the Pentagon workforce needed a symbol for their recovery.

The point of impact where American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon had become a place where the Pentagon community and other officials came to leave flowers and other symbols of respect and mourning. Rather than return the area to office space, leaders decided to build the Chapel and use the transforming power found in faith to commemorate the events of that tragic day.

One special attribute of the physical space is the Chapel’s memorial windows. Along the wall that faces the outdoor public memorial are four stained-glass windows dedicated to those who perished. Those windows represent one piece of art by Dennis Roberts of IHS Studios and each window has a plaque at the bottom with a dedication to groups who lost friends and comrades that day.

The memorial stained-glass window in the front of the Chapel is designed like the five-sided “Survivor’s Pin,” which was given to the survivors of the attack on the Pentagon. The window links together the five military branches that guard the Nation. The American Bald Eagle is in a vigilant stance, symbolizing the past and present generations of those who defend our country. The flag is displayed upon alternating rays of green and gold, which portray the dark trials and bright triumphs in our history. The Pentagon building represents the undefeated bulwark at the heart of our defenses and the more than 23,000 men and women who contribute to the planning and execution of the defense of our country. The olive branch reveals the national character: always desiring peace but prepared to defend freedom. The two crimson rings total 184 individual pieces of glass, each representing those who lost their lives in the attack.