Caring For The Defenders

Stock Photos - Sometimes Not So Cool

A recent piece making the rounds of the interwebs has a junior Naval Officer sharing her reasons why, in her frustration, she must resign from the US Navy.  In it she lays out her rationale, which has drawn both support and (significant) derision.  There have been a number of rebuttals, the most eloquent of which came from the Duffellblog.

At the top of the piece is the picture of a female Navy officer, saluting.  Here's the problem:  the woman pictured is NOT Anna Granville, the discontented officer and authoress.

Apparently the original publisher (Task and Purpose) opted to use stock DOD footage to headline the public resignation.  And many of us presumed the saluting woman was the writer.  

This was brought to my attention by a colleague, Ben Armstrong, who shared the following (emphasis added by me):

You know who I feel bad for? The saluting Lieutenant in the DoD stock photo which Task & Purpose decided to use to "illustrate" the most recent "why I'm leaving" article. The woman in the photo isn't the author of the uber-hyped article. But now Duffleblog used the same stock photo and her face is all over FB for something she hasn't done, said, or was even involved with. Maybe DoD's fair use policy is nice for pictures of ships and planes, but when it comes to people the Media can really hose somebody for no reason.

One would have to surmise that the pictured officer (still serving) is not very happy about this.   

As bloggers we use cool photos for our posts because, lets face it, it adds pizzazz.  And, as Ben notes above, while that's no issue with ships and planes, we ought to be much more careful when we use pictures of people - particularly where an association between pictures and content may be made.  

Shared for your consideration and comment.

Bet is On - Donate to US Army Ranger Association

Our good pal Tommy Batt Boy is down at Fort Benning for the Best Ranger Competition.  Since Uncle Jimbo and I were down there with him and Tim Kennedy (and remember Jimbo's interview with Chaplain Jeff Struecker?)...saw Tommy post this.


Getting ready to head over the #ranger training brigade's HQ for the #BestRanger social, so of course I had to bring my dress shoes. #chucktaylors #chucks#brc

So I told him that I'd donate $200 to the USARA if we got a photo of him wearing the Chuck Taylors in RangeUp Ranger Panties at Benning.  I offered that a photo taken somewhere on the Darby Queen would be awesome.  

Then, Ranger John Tackett, an exponential badass of the Ranger Up Work Out Video Fame, chimed in with a match if Tommy takes that photo on top of Ungawa!

What say you!?  Let's get Tommy, who (let's face it) has no shame when it comes to raising money for great organizations, do some really immature shit...for charity...and our amusement.

Put your challenge to Tommy in the comments.  Join me in a match.  Donate to the USARA.  

Smoking Weed In Uniform Results

Image5296871xOk, the results from this weekend are in- and the sample residents of Upper Mattawimakeg, ME have spoken.

Of those bothering to read, and then actually respond to our completely scientific survey, over 70% are both disinclined to allow, nor want our fighting men and women to be able to smoke weed, should their areas decriminalize it.  It goes for both the AD and the NG/Reservists.  

What makes the survey interesting (other than involving some really out of the way area) is that by nearly the same margin, people want VETERANS to have access to medical marijuana as a treatment option.

This last bit was surprising, as I would have thought that, based on the sample, it would have been much closer to a split than that; I hypothesized that it would have been turned down, by much smaller margins than disallowing current military to use it. 

I'm not advocating or pushing for a total ban here.  Being in Colorado, I'm used to seeing/smelling the stuff everywhere.  I wanted to see what the general populace was considering.  And they seem to want the VA to open it up.  Seeing as how the VA follows FEDERAL rules, that's not likely to be an option anytime soon.  But, if the VA is sending some people far from facilities to local docs, could they possibly open it up?  Likely only if the vet pays for that medication themselves.

I believe it's only a matter of months before a major battle ensues over Reservists/Guardsmen testing hot from areas where MMJ has been allowed.  And I'm also convinced that it will be both a civilian AND military court battle.  

  • Do you think Soldiers in states that have passed legalized marijuana (medical or personal use) should be able to use it?

                No-  75%
                Yes- 25%

  • Do you think Veterans, no longer having a service requirement, should have medical marijuana as a treatment option (covered by the VA)?

                No-  68%
                Yes- 32%

  • Should Reservists/National Guardsmen from legalized marijuana states be able to use it without repercussion?

                No-  71%
                Yes- 29%

Should Soldiers/military or Veterans be able to use marijuana?

I'm posting up my first Survey Monkey survey to ask just a couple of important questions regarding use of marijuana for military members and veterans.

I've been looking to see if anyone has been asking this question; I don't see much out there, and I think it's now time to put it out there.  The issue has basically three components:

    1.  Active duty military- should they be able to use it, if they are in a location that permits it?  (Think Ft Carson in Colorado as an example)

    2.  Should guardsmen, who are not on duty full-time but subject to duty recall, be able to use it if their state permits it.

    3.  Should medical marijuana be a treatment option for veterans in the VA system?

I know this is going to be an issue; as I'm in CO, and several units are being spun up to support the Ebola mission, this is likely to make an appearance.  I'm not aware of any prosecutions for it, or any unit discussion on it.  Yes, I do know that in the FEDERAL legal system it's illegal to use, but Sammy Soldier who also attends Colorado University, or Cindy Clerk who has a doctor prescribing it for nausea may test 'hot' prior to deployment.

So, just to ask the question: (please click the link- couldn't get the survey to embed)

Military/Veterans and marijuana use

My Address to a Middle School Class on Veteran's Day 2014

Good morning, my name is Matt H and my daughter, is one of your 8th grade classmates.  Last December, I retired from the Navy after serving 23 years of combined active and reserve service as a Navy SEAL.  I am a combat veteran having served in the city of Ramadi, Iraq where I earned the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. 

I joined the military for a few reasons.  First of all, both of my parents are veterans. But more than just that, I wanted to become a Navy SEAL because of the adventure and noble purpose that it promised.  Through those years, I've jumped out of airplanes at night over the ocean, treated young children in Africa for malaria, spent five weeks living in the jungle along the Panama Canal, planted limpet mines on the bottom of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the night, and led the ambush of four suicide bombers. 

I also wanted to be able to look anyone in the eye and tell him, “Yes, I served my country.”  It may be difficult to understand now, but believe me when I tell you that you will absolutely derive more joy and personal satisfaction from doing something for someone else than you ever will by simply doing things for your own benefit.

Serving also means that you come to understand that you are not as important as the team or the platoon.  Recognizing that the goal of the unit is more important that your individual success, allows you to form very close bonds with those around you.  This also helps you to become the most important kind of person that there is in this world.  A reliable one.  No talent or skill will take you very far if you cannot be counted upon.  Becoming a reliable friend, student, employee, or even CEO starts with understanding your true value to an organization, not its value to you.   

Nearly every day as I face life and the many challenges that it involves, I look back on my SEAL training experience and know that nothing that I will ever do will be any more difficult than that.  This is a powerful source of self-confidence and resilience that I can draw from at any time.  This power is not limited to Navy SEALs either.  All of us Veterans have had to face extreme challenges during our duty, and they have made us stronger.  My service taught me not to fear challenge, but to embrace it because I know that each time I overcome something, I become stronger for it.

Last year when a local congressman spoke to you on Veteran’s Day I believe that there was a lot of confusion.  When my daughter came home that day, she told me that a few of her classmates asked her questions about me like, “Is your dad dead?” and “Does he have a job?”  Aside from the clear insensitivity of questions such as these, I felt that there surely are many more unanswered questions from last year. 

Before I left for Iraq, I thought long and hard about what could happen to me there that could change me in a way that would be harmful.  I thought that there were three things that could happen and that I had control over only two of them.  First, was that if I faced a dire combat situation and acted in a cowardly manner, the shame of that would never leave me.  Second, that if during combat, I was to shoot or be responsible for the death of someone innocent that would leave a lasting scar on my heart.  And third, that if I were to witness an especially gruesome situation where my comrades suffered or died painfully that those visions would haunt me.

So before I left, I prayed and I asked God to protect my heart from those things, and He did.  But where I was blessed, many of my comrades were not.  Many do suffer from one or more of those afflictions, and it can be difficult to recover from it.  This is why the one question that you should NEVER ask a Veteran is, “How many people have you killed?”  This is a deeply personal matter, and one that you have no right to the answer.  As Veterans, we are entitled to your respect, but I also ask you to give Veterans your compassion as well.  All of us have accepted the safety of America as a personal responsibility and have made sacrifices on your behalf.  Veterans are not victims, we are your protectors, and perhaps someday, some of you might step forward and accept that responsibility for yourselves.