Caring For The Defenders

The Veteran Benefit Book Fair - San Diego - November 8th

The following article is a special for BlackFive readers written by Elise Cooper (our favorite book reviewer).


On November 8th in San Diego, California, the USS Midway will provide a dramatic setting as best selling authors plan on honoring military veterans presented by the Us4Warriors veteran’s support foundation and American Legion. The authors are hoping this will become a yearly tradition because it falls out on the weekend before Veterans Day.  Book enthusiasts are invited to attend this unique event, “Veteran Benefit Book Fair” ( between 10 am and 5 pm. 

Because proceeds go to veteran organizations people who want a book signed will have to buy books at the Midway/Fair bookstore. But the added benefit is that for every book sold a free book is sent to those on active duty. For the price of a Midway ticket, people can meet best-selling authors, purchase a book for signature, and take a tour of the Midway, a ship steeped in history. Readers can also have the opportunity to obtain a collector’s item, a personal written note from an author answering a question they always wanted to ask, or win one of many silent auctions of signed books by number one best selling authors including Nelson DeMille.

The organizers hope that people will not be fooled by the title since there will be over forty authors, all from various genres from women’s issues to science fiction.  Panel discussions with many of the authors will include: Veteran Characters”; “Female Heroines”; “Hot and Cold Wars”; “Terrorists and Politics” and “Guns and Needles.” In addition there will be a Q/A with Hank Steinberg, the executive producer of the television shows “The Last Ship” and “Without A Trace.”  Others in attendance include Catherine Coulter, Charles and Caroline Todd, James Rollins, Ted Bell, C. J. Lyons, T. Jefferson Parker, Jan Burke, D. P. Lyle, Iris and Roy Johansen, W.C. Reed, Amy Hatvany, Andrew Kaplan, and Dale Brown. Also attending is U.S. Navy SEAL CDR (Ret) Rorke Denver, star the movie Act of Valor and U.S. Navy SEAL sniper LTCDR (Ret) Shane Reilly, former XO of the Navy SEAL Training Command. 

The authors want to emphasize that as Americans, we are living in perilous times and without those willing to sacrifice, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice, to preserve our freedoms we would be in dire straights.  They hope Americans will take the time to attend this patriotic event.

Changing the Retirement Benefit - "Foreign Policy" Egghead Vs. Grunt

Over at Foreign Policy, retired Navy Commander John T. Kuehn writes about "If I could change one thing in the US military personnel system (1):  It is time to extend the age of military retirement."

Kuehn is the Major General Willam A Stofft chair of historical research at the Command and General Staff College, and, yes, he has a PhD.  Here is why Commander (ret) Kuehn  believes a change in the retirement system is needed.

...The current system was designed because between the 20 to 30 year stretch was statistically when military personnel had been physically and emotionally "used up." However, these conditions no longer apply.

Today, folks are a lot healthier when they retire and could reasonably be expected to serve under the generally harsher circumstance of military service longer than they could in the past. The current system needs to recognize and account for the improvements in healthcare and lifestyle by those Americans who qualify for military service in its promotion and retention policies, and it should do this with meaningful policy change. .. 

The problem with this argument is that the author seems to be entirely disconnected from the last 13+ years of combat, and what that combat does to young men and women...possibly the disconnect exists because he is a reseracher and a retired Navy Officer, not a 40 year old infantry platoon sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division.

In backchannel  discussions on this piece, Army soldier TCOverride offers up a solution for the retirement situation.  I think you'll enjoy it.

 I call this the risk = return method.
Combat tours--real tours, not quatar/doha/buehring tours--earn 2.5x the retirement rate.  A one year tour counts for 2.5 years towards retirement (but not pay.)  A non combat, but unaccompanied tour counts for 1.5.  Tours based on any LSA earn 1.75%, except for individuals listed below.
Any tour during which a person receives a PH, or Valor medal, counts for 3x.
No multiplier is added for E9, or O6 and above.  Especially E9, as they have, as a population (albeit with notable, and damned few exceptions) contributed nothing of measurable value.  Unless E9 has PH or Valor awards.  BSM without 'V' is pretty, but worth squat.
No multiplier is added for people beyond minimum retirement (20 years) unless the recipient has a PH or Valor award (multiplier always counts for these people, regardless of length of service.)
PH or valor award multiplier is not limited to tour in which award is earned, once earned, modifier applies to any and all future tours and the tour where award was earned.  Additional awards gain a .5 modifier.  2 PH would earn 3.5, 2 PH+BSV earns 4.0, etc.  E9 with BSV would earn the 3% modifier.  
Sailors and other undesirables only get tour multipliers if they participate in actual combat.  Being a cook on a carrier is not actual combat.  Being on a seal team is.  Unaccompanied tours multiplier still counts for sea duty.  Having a missile fired at your ship is combat.  Docking at a port in a terrorist threat nation (like Yemen) would result in earning the multiplier only while docked/underway in that nation's waters.
Marines on embassy duty in nations where Ivan or Mohamed are the given names of over 40% of the male population, or where women dress like ninjas, or where goat buggery is commonplace (with exclusions for Australia, Scotland, New Zealand) would receive a special rate of 1.75%, which would go to 5% if at any time a clinton or kerry is the SECSTATE.
Of course, they could also do silly things to reduce the VA claims backlog like analyzing your medical condition(s) annually according to VA standards, and determining the severity/rating as you go, so that when you retire you already have a rating.
MOH: automatically qualifies for 20 years' service retirement eligibilty.
Service in any TRADOC (or other service equivalent) posting beyond 24 months without at least three requests by the soldier for immediate worldwide reassignment result in no accrual of years' service for retirement.
Goes along with this Military Motivator

In Defense Of Traditional VSO's

Mike Lermon has a wonderful response to the rather disingenious op-ed that ran a week or so ago in the Washington Times.  I really think you will enjoy reading it.  

Unlike the previous op-ed, I will disclose that I am a bit biased and know Mike, as he's the project lead for Operation Audie/Task Force DeForrest at Mission: VALOR.  


For Vets: The Most Important Post You'll Read Today

Over at the Burn Pit, there's a nice write up on the older VSOs like the Legion and VFW and the newer ones.  I've been a fan of the Legion's work (especially, recently), as well as work with Team Rubicon (should not surprise anyone here).  I still work with Soldiers' Angels (right now, supporting those in and headed to Africa) and fully support TR. 

Go read the Burn Pit post now.

Women in the Combat Arms

So, the Marine Corps has been running some tests.  I know you've read about the top-line ones, such as women testing at the Infantry Officers' Course.  But it's a much broader effort, and some of the results have begun to be analyzed by independent agencies.  

Now, remember that these are women who have already succeeded in becoming Marines, and have further self-selected by volunteering to be tested as examples of female strength and endurance.  They're the very best, in other words, and deserve a great deal of respect both for achieving the title of Marine and for putting themselves forward in this way.

So look at the results, and let's talk about whether this policy is the right one for the US military.

Volunteers/Help Needed Friday (and beyond)

UPDATE:  We have more wonderful news to share soon, and possibly a challenge too.  Meantime, we are NOT moving or painting this Friday.  Standby. 

Mission: VALOR has some office space being donated in Indianapolis to serve as its Indiana Operations Center.  Even better, a firm is donating office furniture for the office.  However, the furniture needs to be picked up Friday in Lafayette and transported down to Indy.  We need some volunteers to help paint the brand-new office.  Mission: VALOR also needs to get things like phones, office equipment, and other delights to make the office run.  So, if you can volunteer to help Friday, my contact info is over on the right or you can use the Mission: VALOR contact form.  You can donate through the site, or directly at the Square Marketplace (faster/better service and a LOT less expensive than any other service).  


Douche of the Week: ESPN's Colin Cowherd

What is it about media people, especially the Sports Media, who have suddenly decided that the social issues of the day matter among those that listen to sports talk radio?

I know that when I tune in to Sports Talk Radio, I am there to hear about sports, and things that have to do with sports (which may cross over into the social) but I don't want to hear the host's opinions on the state of poverty, what you think about the latest Supreme Court case involving voting rights, or if you think ISIS is dangerous or not.

I have regular talk radio for that.  Sports is my diversion from all that.  Which brings me to another douchebag of note; Colin Cowherd of ESPN.  You can go here for all of his douchetastic-ness if you want.

“We know most people that go into the military in this country — they need the military often to pay bills. That is is almost a federal safety net financially, and by the way you’ll take shots. You’ll be sent two or three times to a raging inferno in the Middle East. That stuff scares me. That stuff I’m worried about. There’s loss of life there.”

I would like to posit a theory in order to test that Colin may be right, I want to know the answer to one question about which you may have an answer.

Continue reading "Douche of the Week: ESPN's Colin Cowherd " »

Logan's Roadhouse Lafayette IN Fundraiser

Bumping: Reminder, this is tomorrow, Wed. 3 Sept. Hope to see you there!


Not sure how many readers live in or near Lafayette, IN.  However, for those who do, Logan's Roadhouse (Lafayette, IN only) is having a fundraiser for Mission: VALOR on 3 September from 4 to close.  You come in, order, enjoy and when you go to pay your check, give the server a free ticket/coupon with it and a percentage of that bill goes to Mission: VALOR  The more people who come, the higher the percentage -- up to 20 percent.  You can get tickets in advance at the locations in the link, and Bob Rohrman Toyota (located next to Logan's) is letting us set up a tent there on the 3rd so anyone who doesn't have a ticket/coupon can stop by and get one (as we can't give them out that day on site).  Hope you can come on by, and my thanks to the wonderful businesses that are serving as advance ticket/coupon locations! 

M:V Art Contest Changes

Well, some artists made suggestions to improve the art contest for everyone, and Mission: VALOR listened.  To be honest, we not only listened, but apologized for one part that was gold-plated double-dipped REMF.  Net result, the contest deadline has been extended, artist rights are changed, and more file types can be submitted.  Oh, and Madison Rising, Crossroads Cigars, and Star City Coffee and Ale House have added prizes to the prize baskets.  Check it out

August 16th is National Airborne Day 2014

AirborneAirborne 1943 - Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division jump en mass, during a demonstration at Oujda, French Morocco, North Africa, on 3 June 1943, shortly before the Sicily invasion. (World War II Signal Corps Collection).  Photo courtesy of SOCOM.


1st Session
S. RES. 207
Designating August 16, 2013, as ‘National Airborne Day’.


July 31, 2013

Mr. REED (for himself, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. BEGICH, Mrs. HAGAN, Mr. REID, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. WICKER, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr. TESTER, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. MORAN, Mr. ISAKSON, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. BURR, Mr. CASEY, and Mrs. MURRAY) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to



Designating August 16, 2013, as ‘National Airborne Day’.

Whereas the members of the airborne forces of the Armed Forces of the United States have a long and honorable history as bold and fierce warriors who, for the national security of the United States and the defense of freedom and peace, project the ground combat power of the United States by air transport to the far reaches of the battle area and to the far corners of the world;

Whereas the experiment of the United States with airborne operations began on June 25, 1940, when the Army Parachute Test Platoon was first authorized by the Department of War, and 48 volunteers began training in July 1940;

Whereas August 16 marks the anniversary of the first official Army parachute jump, which took place on August 16, 1940, to test the innovative concept of inserting United States ground combat forces behind a battle line by means of a parachute;

Whereas the success of the Army Parachute Test Platoon in the days immediately before the entry of the United States into World War II validated the airborne operational concept and led to the creation of a formidable force of airborne formations that included the 11th, 13th, 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions;

Whereas, included in those divisions, and among other separate formations, were many airborne combat, combat support, and combat service support units that served with distinction and achieved repeated success in armed hostilities during World War II, and provide the lineage and legacy of many airborne units throughout the Armed Forces;

Whereas the achievements of the airborne units during World War II prompted the evolution of those units into a diversified force of parachute and air-assault units that, over the years, have fought in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf region, and Somalia, and have engaged in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, the Sinai Peninsula, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo;

Whereas, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the members of the United States airborne forces, including members of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, special operations forces of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, and other units of the Armed Forces, have demonstrated bravery and honor in combat, stability, and training operations in Afghanistan and Iraq;

Whereas the modern-day airborne forces also include other elite forces composed of airborne trained and qualified special operations warriors, including Army Special Forces, Marine Corps Reconnaissance units, Navy SEALs, and Air Force combat control and pararescue teams;

Whereas, of the members and former members of the United States airborne forces, thousands have achieved the distinction of making combat jumps, dozens have earned the Medal of Honor, and hundreds have earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, or other decorations and awards for displays of heroism, gallantry, intrepidity, and valor;

Whereas the members and former members of the United States airborne forces are all members of a proud and honorable tradition that, together with the special skills and achievements of those members, distinguishes the members as intrepid combat parachutists, air assault forces, special operation forces, and, in the past, glider troops;

Whereas individuals from every State in the United States have served gallantly in the airborne forces, and each State is proud of the contributions of its paratrooper veterans during the many conflicts faced by the United States;

Whereas the history and achievements of the members and former members of the United States airborne forces warrant special expressions of the gratitude of the people of the United States; and

Whereas, since the airborne forces, past and present, celebrate August 16 as the anniversary of the first official jump by the Army Parachute Test Platoon, August 16 is an appropriate day to recognize as National Airborne Day: Now, therefore, be it


    (1) designates August 16, 2013, as ‘National Airborne Day’; and

    (2) calls on the people of the United States to observe National Airborne Day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.