A Request For Assistance
First, if you would be so kind as to check out the brand-new Mission: VALOR website, it would be appreciated. The content is still a bit rough, but it gives you an idea of what we want to put in place. Those of you who like This Ain't Hell (liking the snazzy new look!) might enjoy one particular policy we are putting in place. Constructive suggestions for improvements, features you want, etc. are VERY much appreciated.
Second, we have already been asked to take part in two events this month and do other work that can help address the crisis in veteran employment. So, I'm trying to raise funds to help with start-up costs since everyone from the IRS on down has their hand out, er, fees and such. You can donate via my GoFundMe, or hit the tip jar in the upper right at Laughing Wolf and select second best to use PayPal. I'm glad to tell you exactly where the money goes/how it is spent too.
Mark Your Calendar
Veteran (un)employment is a crisis. There are a number of issues, and while the system is not broken, there are gaps that need to be plugged. One of those gaps is in getting people practical experience for entrepreneurship. RangerUp has a unique solution for that, and is looking to give one lucky veteran an unprecedented hands-on opprotunity. Go check it out and do what you can to help.
The Netherlands Remembers: Il Silenzio
Amidst the chaos that is the world, we need to take a moment to reflect on the good and the profound. We need, I need, to call out some of the good even as I call out that which is not.
In the Netherlands, on "Liberation Day" there are memorial services across the country for the Allied troops who died in that liberation. Families still adopt graves of those troops, and maintain them in honor. At these memorial services, since 1965, the service concludes with the playing of "Il Silenzio". Beverly Perlson shared with me this amazing, no, astounding performance by a then 13-year-old Melissa Venema backed by the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands. As someone who played trumpet in high school, I tell you that what you are about to hear is the voice of an angel rendered through brass. Dust Alert.
A small bit of beauty and good to share with you today.
I haven't posted here in a while, and today I share one of the reasons. Those following me via Facebook and Twitter know that I've been working on a "secret" project. Today, the curtain goes up on that "secret" and we begin the reveal of Mission: VALOR.
Just as the name is not your typical acronym, Mission: VALOR is not your typical approach to veteran employment. The focus is intensely practical, and designed to integrate with efforts by others so that some critical gaps are filled. It is new, so new we don't have the website up and running yet. We do have our domains and other critical things done, but our focus is on getting the practical and critical done -- which means the website and more will wait.
I also want to thank the United War Veterans Council, Army Week Association, Hope for the Warriors, and Carl Churchill of Lock-N-Load Java for their support, help, and encouragement. I particularly want to thank and commend the members of the Executive Leadership Committee for their time and invaluable contributions as we investigated if this project was needed, viable, and how best to move forward when that decision was made. To the newer members of that group, my thanks for your patience when I forget to explain some of what went into various decisions because I forget that you weren't there all along...
Also, expect to see more about activities of the United War Veterans Council (so much more than the parade!) and Army Week here in the days ahead. I have the honor of working with both groups, and will be sharing more about them at my site and some here. The Army Birthday is coming soon, and I am heavily involved with those activities -- especially the Birthday Gala.
And, of course, there will be more about Mission: VALOR as we move ahead. Screw the official goals, I think we can do an order of magnitude more this year with a small pinch of luck and the right support.
How Do We Fix The Problem?
On Facebook this morning, I asked for people to put forward ideas on how we fix the problem of the troops being treated as infants. In my previous post here you (our readers) posted comments discussing all the ways this was being done -- and the problems created by the practice. Deebow had a comment that included a suggestion I liked, which was to get Gen. Mattis involved in the reform.
So, sound off! What suggestions do you have to fix the problem?
I ran this back on 1 March, but think I am going to be posting it every six months instead of once a year.
The ideas and opinions expressed by me are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the view of any other author, authority, or non-authority blowhard; any U.S. federal, state, or local government agency or administration; the Department of Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Civil Air Patrol, any national or state guard unit or organization, any national or state reserve unit, or other military or quasi-military agency of the U.S. or any other country or entity; any sponsor or donor; the Politburo, the pirates of lower Arbat street, the Diet, or any other foreign government, government agency, or administration; any employer or client; any spouse or significant other; any past, present, or future mother-in-law, in-law, out-law, cousin, aunt, uncle, or other relative; any friend, acquaintance, co-worker, or that strange person down at the coffee shop; any supervisor or person supervised; any organization for which work is done on a paid or volunteer basis; the dog, the cat, and most especially the wolves; and, are neither approved or disapproved by any employer, client, member of the government, or any corporation or other business entity. If any person, agency, organization, employer, or other desires to pre-approve content, they can bite me, knowing that I bite back and have been learning from the best. If any person, agency, organization, employer, or other desires to chastise, reprimand, discipline, demand changes, or otherwise express opprobrium for my thoughts and work posted here, there, anywhere, or even in private, they may do so as allowed by law; however, I once again suggest they bite me. All provisions, decisions, declarations, demarcations, and other are subject to availability and no warranty or guarantee is expressed or implied. Tag, tax, and title are extra.
Any comment, or post by another author, belongs to the person or thing who wrote it and is their problem, not mine; and, leaving said post or comment up here, there, or elsewhere does not imply or acknowledge acceptance, agreement, or even that it has been read. Comments are subject to the rules as set forth in comments policy, and registering and posting is agreement to and with said policies. Comments are subject to counter-commentary, praise, ridicule, change, deletion, alteration, or pretty much whatever I choose to do either upon mature reflection, profound thought, wild hair or on a whim. Regardless of category of the latter, all decisions are final and not subject to appeal, redress, or even to be given a dress. Frocks are extra.
While the right to an opinion is respected, there is no legal, moral, or ethical requirement that all opinions have to be respected, because quite frankly, some of them are so poorly thought out, posited, or considered so as to be beyond idiotic. Nor do I acknowledge or accept that all opinions have equal value and acceptance by myself or anyone else. They don’t. Deal with it.
I also want to note that I am no longer affiliated with Cooking with the Troops in any capacity, and do not speak for them, act for them, receive messages or mail for them, or do anything other than hope that all enjoy Bob's barbecue (the sauce is good!).
This concludes the declaration, and we return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
C. Blake Powers
aka Laughing Wolf, LW, etc.
Update from Blackfive: Blackfive.net Disclaimer, in place since 2003, is available on the far right side bar or here at this link.
The Troops As Infants
This morning, a graphic made the rounds on Facebook purporting to show the number of mass shootings on military bases before and after the gun ban. The graphic was questionable in some regards (gun ban started under Bush Sr. and was taken to new "heights" by Clinton, numbers not verified, etc.), but it raised a much larger and more interesting question: How has the whole idea of infantilizing the troops worked out?
Just a bit over a year ago, I was asked for an honest opinion by a commander over something done months previously to which I was witness. Short version is that because the commander wanted to make a good showing at something, he had ordered his troops locked-down (confined) to barracks so that no one would/could drink the night before. My response that if he wanted his troops to act like adults they should be treated as such was not well received, but did appear to sink in at least somewhat.
I would invite you to share your thoughts over on my Facebook page (specific link here), and for those of you who aren't on Facebook, here. What have been the results of the ongoing efforts to treat the troops as children who not might make the "right" choice but as children who WILL make the wrong choice gone? Is it time to rethink not only the gun ban, but the entire philosophical approach?
PS: One, Facebook has the old Soviet crowd green with envy over the perfection of the memory hole, as not only did the graphic disappear but all posts related to it/linking it. Two, my page is approaching 500 likes, would love to break that number and if I can tell who was #500 and #501 I will send them a print if they like.
Challenge To Old Media: Remember Them
For once, I find myself completely and totally in agreement with President Obama: the shooter yesterday was a coward, who committed a cowardly act.
As such, I will not name it as it deserves no fame, no recognition, only obscurity. Already its photo is huge upon many homepages, front pages, and other media outlets.
These names, their photos, their stories, deserve to be writ large in memory bright:
John Roger Johnson
No only is it the right thing to do, but I will bet that any outlet that bucks the trend and does so will do well by it. Do the right thing, the different thing, and push it off the front page and put them upon it.
Remember and honor them and the others murdered and wounded yesterday.
Navy Yard Shooting
I'm covering this on Facebook, and want to remind everyone of the following:
Initial Reports Are Always Wrong
That said, it appears to be a multiple-shooter event. There are NO accurate numbers for wounded/killed at this time. Twitter #NavyYardShooting brings you the best and worst of coverage/discussion. The only confirmed info out right now from the Navy says that there are multiple injuries and reports of fatalities, but latter are not confirmed.
All we can do now is hold those affected in our thoughts and prayers, wait for real numbers and solid info, and hope for the best. Oh, and let idiots self-identify.
UPDATE 1356 hrs: The only solid info right now is that three wounded were transported to the hospital, and that is because the hospital confirmed it. Of the three, all were reported consious and alert. They also confirmed there are casualties, no word on number or anything else. That was a few hours ago. It appears that there was more than one shooter, but that is not confirmed. The old media has once again identified an innocent person as the shooter, and there is a LOT of bad info out there. Take anything in the media with a tun of salt for now. Is things develop will update at FB and here as I can.
UPDATE 1400: Per Navy, shelter in place order remains in effect. RPT Shelter in place order at Navy Yard remains in effect.
UPDATE 1430 Hrs: DC Mayor and Police Chief are confirming that 12 have died, police are seeking two suspects, and that FBI is taking over as lead agency for investigating the shooting. Navy has confirmed that shelter in place order remains in effect. Situation is still active.
UPDATE 1455 Hrs: As a result of the incident, the Navy has issued an "Order to Account" for all Navy uniformed personnel, both active duty and selected Reserve, assigned to commands in the D.C. metro area. The order also applies to family members, Navy civilian employees, as well as, NAF and NEX personnel. Personnel muster through the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS). To muster, visit the NFAAS website at https://navyfamily.navy.mil. You know the drill, report in.
UPDATE 1500 Hrs: White male being sought has been identified and is NOT a suspect or person of interest. Search continues for "B/M 50 yrs, w/rifle, drab olive military uniform"
UPDATE 1630 Hrs: Transcription notes from press conference. Press conference notes: additional suspect still being sought; no idea of motive at this stage, that will be investigated, no reason to suspect terrorism but not ruled out; additional victim has died (male); no additional information on victims at this time; baseball game is postponed; still active scene, please continue to shelter in place if there/nearby; still looking for info from public on shooting/shooter; FBI confirms Alexis is shooter, seeking info, everything they can about him, his associates, etc.; oh sweet fluffy lord save me from politicians near a mic; FBI dot gov will be releasing information; 13 confirmed dead including shooter, a "dozen or more wounded" or injured without being shot; we don't know that there's a second gunman on the loose, but need to run down lead/info; multiple engagements with suspect leading to final gun battle with suspect; one of the worst things we've seen in DC. Another press conference in two hours.
This is off topic, but then again it might be of interest to a few of us, so... When I thought I was on my way to Afghanistan last fall, I sold my car. Right now, I get around great locally on shanks mare, public transport, and occasional use of a friend's car. The problem is long distance.
I find that I really need to get back to Indiana from Atlanta by Friday afternoon if at all possible. So, anyone have any experience with ride-share services, Megabus, or other transportation options? Thoughts or suggestios that don't involve car rentals or buying a new car?
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 7
Today is the final day in the series.
Start with Kelly Crigger's hard look at Suicide is Selfish. It is an unflinching look and one you do want to read.
Then, RU Rob wraps up with What's Next? The answer is, a lot.
There is no one approach that works for everyone, and there are a host of factors involved. Can the military, particularly the Army, do better? Yes. Can WE do better? Yes.
Reach out. Stay in touch. Share the articles. Join in discussions. Help find solutions that work on the small scale. Help make changes in the large scale so that more will take advantage and get needed help. Fight.
Yes, fight. This is no less a battle than combat, and lives are on the line. The lives of those who serve or have served. Your brothers and sisters in arms.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 6
First up, a strong post by Clarence Matthews on How? He lays out his own experiences in working with suicide prevention, including failures and success. Amidst the gritty and pragmatic view is something more, something you need to read and consider. It should spark some very good conversations and discourse, and you should be a part of it.
Next comes a very different view from Stephen Parks on Ask for Help, or Kill Myself? His view comes from having gone through the process, and his thoughts echo what I've heard from others that led to my post a few months ago. This is something that needs to be addressed.
Finally, a very interesting article on how nutrition and lack of same may be a factor in suicides. You really do want to read Nick Barringer's post on Could the Answer be at Sea? A lot of conventional wisdom on nutrition and health is flat out wrong, and as researchers begin to truly dig into nutrition, metabolism, and health they are discovering that some surprising things are making a difference.
Read, and most of all please share.
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 5
Day 5 pulls no punches. Three very powerful and moving posts are up. Read them and share them, please.
Start with CPT Bettis's post on The Domestic Enemy. His honesty, and courage in being that honest, should be a beacon to any in leadership, especially senior leadership. The work done by MG Pittard also deserves recognition, praise, and expansion.
Doc Bailey is also brutally honest even as he makes deft use of words in Suicide Isn't Painless. He shares what happened to friends, and his own thoughts, in a moving post that talks about earning your way and the high price of happily ever after.
Finally, Mark Endy contributes an intense and personal piece with We Ramble On. "Once you realize that you still have some fire left in you it gets easier. It’s only until we are completely lost that we find ourselves."
Ranger Up Talks Suicide, Day 4
The first article deals with loss, and what happens When the Brotherhood is Gone. The article both points out and builds in part on what was discussed in The Facts yesterday -- we don't have good data. More importantly, it raises a very good question that most/all of the so-called experts seem to be missing.
The second article is on Animal Suicide. A powerful piece, it will resonate with those who have been there, and may have some disturbing content for those that haven't. Trigger points.
Finally, there is Forever Into Darkness. This poem shows a mindset, and is shared to show that mindset and that one can move beyond. We need to strive, not just survive.
Please read and share this important series. Nothing like this has ever been done before on this topic, and the service it is (and represents) needs to be distributed far and wide.