Thursday, November 26, 2009
Meet my turkey Sam. I save turkeys, I don't eat them. Adopt-A-Turkey Project!!
Happy Thanksgiving! To all the troops overseas and their families, I hope you have a wonderful day! I also hope you don't have to eat MREs. With any luck, next year you’ll be in the comfort of your homes and spending the day with your loved ones.
I hope you all enjoy your crazy families, eat too much pumpkin pie, and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television…and maybe some very very exciting football.
Who's coming shopping with me at 5am?!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
"was shoshana in trouble for disrespecting an officer on larry king after fort hood tragedy"
Hahaha! Johnson isn’t even in the military anymore. She’s a civilian and if an officer is acting stupid she has every right to tell him. Johnson shut that JAG officer down. It’s a shame he couldn’t take three seconds to Wikipedia her. He would’ve spared himself from looking like an ass. Team Johnson!
*Hope everyone had a nice weekend!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Q&A with "Mass Casualties" author Michael Anthony.
Q: I really enjoyed your book. I think you have a unique way of telling your story and of exposing the Army’s darker side. What made you share your personnel stories along with other soldier’s stories? For example, popping pills to sleep, of all the affairs that were taking place? Of the Army brushing of the suicide attempt of a fellow soldier?
A: There are two main reasons I decided to write the story. I was home from the war for about two months, and I was on a date with this girl and she starts telling me about an article she read in the newspaper. She tells me the article was about this soldier in Iraq, and how he was the epitome of an American hero, as if the new G.I. Joe film was based on this guy. She then tells me the soldiers name and it ends up being one of my leaders in Iraq. One of the people who spent the whole year cover up crimes, one of the people who threatened to send me to jail, one of the people who covered up my friends suicide so that they wouldn’t look bad. It made me sick to my stomach to think that there are all these real heroes out there, but yet, this man was being lumped in with all the real heroes, I was disgusted by it.
Another big reason is that: “We are all entitled to our opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts.” And the facts are that there is a big suicide and PTSD problem in the military. Everyday 18 veterans kill themselves. For the past five years suicide rates have risen in the Army, making each year, consistently, the highest year for suicide. And on top of this we have 200,000 veterans who sleep on the streets each night. The only way to help these soldiers out is to admit that there are problems in the military. If we go around telling only the good, then people will think everything’s perfect and there’s nothing to change. The only way to help is to say what needs to be changed.
Q: You say, “They aren’t sending provisions to the heroes they think we are. It is going to us doing shit jobs and others who are criminals; people doing drugs, committing crimes, molesters, adulterers; people doing anything they can to only help themselves I don’t want to tell anyone the truth because it will just break their hearts.” I’m pretty sure anyone who has or will read your book will look at the Army differently. Did you want to paint a more realistic picture of yourself and other soldiers?
A: Realistic is definitely the word. The book isn’t pro or anti war, we’ve got endorsements from pro and anti war people, democrats and republicans. It’s simply about giving a full picture, the side that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. The thing that made me saddest about people sending us all these care packages is when we received one from a nursing home. All the box had in it was used crayons, socks, notebooks, and a package of Roman noodles etc. It was knowing that a lot of these people were giving us so much when they had so little, yet, we had more than enough supplies over there. I felt like we should have been sending boxes full of supplies back to them.
Q: You also say, “I wish I could forget everything and go back to thinking that everyone in the military was an American hero.” Did you ever consider not debunking the American hero myth? How let down were you by this realization? Is it hard to accept the Army isn’t full of G.I. Joe’s and Jane’s?
A: I did think about not telling the story. Sometimes it’s easier to go on living the lies. But I realized that there are real heroes out there, and the only way to show them respect was to take away the false heroes, so that the true ones can shine.
Q: Week 3, Day 2, Iraq: You speak of a dog lying on your operating room table and then a nine-year-old Iraqi child, why did you skim over these stories? It seems as though these situations were the ones causing you to pop pills at night to sleep.
A: I don’t know, those were some of the harder parts to convey. Looking down during surgery at a dieing, innocent nine year old girl, sometimes the only thing you come up with is sadness, and that’s all you can say about a situation, it was bad or sad, sometimes it’s so overwhelming that you can’t put it into words.
Q: By the time you had written your book you had cried six times in your life. Have you cried since being home or are you bottling up your emotions? It’s a weird question but I’ve talked to other veterans who have found themselves randomly crying upon returning home.
A: I have actually talked to quite a few veterans too, that have said they randomly cried since returning home. But no, I haven’t cried since then, I’ve done a lot of work on myself, and with fellow veterans themselves, so I like to think I’ve come full circle and have found ways to deal with everything that did and does go on.
Q: “The goddamn Army made me a man.” I always hear this, you’re not a man until you’ve been to war. So what about being in the Army or going to war made you a man?
A: I think the biggest thing that I felt made me a man was when I stood up to the Army, and I was willing to go to jail and/or be shot for something I believed in. Sometimes we don’t know what we’re made of until we’re pushed to the limits, and I think the Army helped me realize what I was made of.
Q: Is home as scary as you thought it would be? How has the transition process been? Are you enjoying being a student again?
A: Coming home isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. During deployment everyone thinks of all the great things to do and how great it will be, but it isn’t always perfect. It’s hard getting back into the flow of life, and reconnecting with people. Since returning home, already two people have killed themselves and another handful are doing drugs and another handful are in PTSD clinics. Some people just have a harder time transitioning then others. But yes, I am enjoying being a student, though I wasn’t when I first got back, because I had the same issues as many, but I am in the flow of things now and am enjoying myself.
Q: Was joining the Army worth it?
A: I think so, definitely. While over there our hospital saw 22,000 patients, and I personally helped save 400 lives, so I can’t look back and say I regret being there and helping those people out. And if I wasn’t there, and hadn’t written the book, who knows how long these stories would have gone untold.
Q: Did you quit smoking?
A: Since returning home I quit drinking, smoking, pills etc. But the only thing I miss is smoking!
*Michael Anthony is the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq. His take on the Iraq war is like nothing I’ve read before. He exposes what the Army tries to cover-up. Spend the money and get the book.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thank you All Over Albany...
They say it best:
"All Over Albany is about all the stuff you'd tell your friends. How was dinner at that new place Thursday? What's the story with the guy who did that thing? How can I stop being bored?
It's stuff you want to know, with a few things you need to know -- and a healthy dose of stuff you never knew you wanted or needed to know."
If you're interested in my little hometown check out All Over Albany.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Part one: Iraq veteran: Was it worth it? Part two: Student veteran recounts war.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"The main thing I want to know about is mortars?"
Question: When someone asks you if they should join the military what do you say?
Repost: How to be feminine in the Army.
I’m always asked things like…don’t you feel like a guy while you’re doing your Army stuff? Don’t you get dirty and sweaty? You’re allowed to have long hair? Shouldn’t you shave it off like in that movie G.I. Jane? Can you wear makeup? Nail polish? Earrings? Thongs? No heels?! Welcome to my world ladies…it’s tough but someone has to do it.
I decided to make a list of how to maintain your femininity while proudly serving your country.
1) Keep your hair long or to your chin. Don’t try any of that in-between length shit. I say this for two reasons. Short hair is extremely hard to keep pulled back. Pieces will always fly everywhere, it ends up falling in your face, and you will never quit make a nice bun out of it. You end up looking like a goddamn mess. I’m particular to longer hair. I just pull it back and go. My hair is thick and when it’s short I tend to look like that guy from No Country for Old Men. And remember if you have short hair stuffed under a Kevlar, there is a good chance you may get mistaken for a twelve year old boy.
2) Makeup is allowed. Some may think it is ridiculous women in the military wear makeup but it’s not. Before I go any further, let me explain what appropriate makeup is. Please don’t be that girl who uses two pounds of eyeliner and mascara in the morning. There is no room for that Amy Winehouse off the eyelid eyeliner crap in the military. I say keep your eyes naked but if you’re one of those mascara freaks just use a little. Some women don’t have perfect skin and they need a little something to help them out. Foundation is acceptable. Just make sure it matches your skin tone. Try to avoid having an orange line around your face. Blush? Why not. Do not make your cheeks bright pink. I would go towards that sun kissed look. I would suggest staying away from lipstick unless you are a pit bull. Lip gloss, is okay but if anyone asks just say it’s chap stick and that you’re addicted (it has always worked for me).
3) Earrings? This isn’t the goddamn Air Force.
4) Nail polish? Use it. Your nails will break and become frail. Don’t use reds, purples, blues, french manicure style, or anything fancy. I would suggest using a clear polish just to protect your nails. We don’t need man hands, now do we?
5) Panties, Underwear, Knickers, whatever you want to call them. In basic training we all wore those huge white granny panties They are not cute and please stop wearing them if you still do. Some women wear thongs in uniform and I have no idea how they do it. I imagine their ass would get irritated and red. Gross. I wear low-rise bikinis from Victoria Secret…this is important because they don’t give me wedgies and they are comfortable. I should probably stay away from what type of underwear you want to wear…but leave the thongs for when the lights go out.
6) Lets talk about the end of the day, when you pull off your boots and socks. Do you notice the lovely sock line around your calves? That annoying indentation won’t go away, so this is when you have to decide what is best for you. I know you want to look cute when everyone heads out to the club on post but don’t wear a dress or skirt if you have those damn lines. They take away from the fact that your blew out your hair, sprayed some perfume, and ditched the combat boots for a few hours. They are also a clear reminder to the drunk male soldier dancing with you, that you’re still a soldier and not this hot chick he picked up a bar. The lines kill it. Wear some tight jeans and throw on some heels.
7) Bras…well there is always the super sexy sports bra. Wear it when you are doing PT and then hide it. Push-up bra? Your call. Lacey bras might annoy your skin if you’re rolling around in the dirt. I would have to go with the good ’ol lightly padded cotton bra. It holds you in place, doesn’t itch, and when you have an IBV on that little padding works wonders.
8) I suppose this doesn’t really have anything to do with femininity but it’s something I’ve noticed over the years. Ladies, when you take off your uniform and put on civilian clothes, why do some of you look like you came out of the late 1990s? I know sometimes we can only do our shopping at the PX and lord knows, they aren’t up on the current fashions but order clothes online. It’s not cute to wear Hello Kitty t-shirts over the age of 12, stonewash jeans, and shiny platform shoes. Guys, don’t think you’re not victims of the PX because you are. Cargo jeans are meant for carpenters, keep it that way. “Wife beaters” aren’t sexy, and don’t wear those stupid Army shirts that says “Hooah” or “Been there, done that.”
9) Lose the combat boots whenever you can and throw on some heels. You don’t even have to be going anywhere but put them on when you are laying in bed, when you are cleaning, or whenever you feel like you are losing your sexiness. Just because the Army has us running around, sweating, pissing in the woods and wiping with leafs, low crawling in dirt, climbing on trucks and firing weapons, doesn’t mean we still aren’t gorgeous women…it just means, we have a lot more experience then the women who never take off their heels. Be proud.
Hope this helps!
Capt. Kacey Grannis Invades Iraqi air space.
Air Force Capt. Kacey Grannis, 721st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron Mi-17 pilot, stands in front of an Mi-17 helicopter. Captain Grannis is the first female Mi-17 instructor pilot for Iraqi air force pilots at Camp Taji.
I had the honor of meeting Capt. Grannis in Washington, D.C. She is very talented and I know she's loving her mission right now. Her mom is also an amazing woman. Best of luck Capt. Grannis!
Read the article here.
$1 Million a Year Per Soldier?
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, 21, an Army cook and single mom skipped her flight to Afghanistan because, she said, no one was available to care for her infant son while she was overseas.
Her civilian attorney, Rai Sue Sussman, said Monday that one of Hutchinson's superiors told her she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care.
Read the article here.
I came across this article on MotherJones ...
Where Will They Get the Troops?
Hutchinson might just find herself in Afghanistan. I guess IRR soldiers are getting a break from deployments...sorry AWOLers.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Video of the day.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The Boys Who Cried "Fort Hood Terrorist"
What do you think? Is Maj. Hasan a terrorist or is that just the easy way out?
Clarification: “I was used to the over-educated officers who thought they knew everything.”
“I was used to the over-educated officers who thought they knew everything. I learned to appreciate the variety of individuals the Army attracts."
The only negative thing you say about the Army is to bash officers? Really now.
Well at least these over-educated Soldiers could write a better article than you.
I follow your blog.
I was severely disappointed with this.
Hopefully part 2 is more well written.”
Please correct me if I am wrong but isn’t that the ongoing joke about officers right out of college…over-educated and eager to lead with no “real” experience? I’ve served with several officers who fit this category. So, the comment was made about my own personnel experience…go ahead be upset by it but understand officers like that do exist. I’ve also met amazing officers who were a pleasure to serve with.
Laugh it off. I’m sure officers have worked with uneducated enlisted soldiers…big deal. I’m aware and accept that the range of intelligence varies throughout the Army.
Anyways, whatever officer wrote that comment you’re a little rude and I’m sorry you took my comment personal. But Sir, please write away…enlighten me.
One more thing Sir, you're a prime example of why enlisted soldiers can't stand some officers.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Iraq veteran: Was it worth it?
I wrote a piece for my school newspaper (the Albany Student Press) about my service in the Army and being a veteran. It's running in a two-part series. Check out the first part!
Albany Student Press.
*Thank you Horton <3
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Veterans Day Reflections on Casualties of War: Nina Berman discusses her photography exhibit
The event is tonight from 7-9pm. A donation of $10/$5 for students and low-income is suggested.
More information here.
So, I'll be attending this event tonight...sorry, The Good Soldier.
Happy Veteran's Day!!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Veteran's Day Started Early For Me.
Today I spoke to my friends preschool class about Veteran’s Day. I brought in my Kevlar and uniform for them to try on. We had them do push-ups, march around, and low crawl. They were so cute and very excited to learn what a soldier does.
Best Q&A of the day:
“Does anyone know what Veteran’s Day is?”
Darren Manzella: discharge papers read "homosexual conduct admission."
"He listened and was somewhat sympathetic," Manzella said. "He told me not to worry, to try and get some rest, to go home early and see him in the morning."
By the next morning, Manzella's supervisor had reported him as having broken the law under "don't ask, don't tell," the 1993 policy that prohibits anyone who "demonstrate(s) a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts" from serving in the U.S. military.
This breaks my heart. Manzella was being harassed and he did what the military told him to do: get help. I know some people reading this will think Manzella is an idiot for going to his supervisor; he should’ve known he would get kicked out. I think what he did takes balls…more balls then sitting back and accepting the harassment. The Army has a few things backwards. For example, a woman is sexually assaulted, she is told to call a number and report the incident. However, during the process she is pushed not to pursue the issue…it’ll cause more problems; everyone will think you can’t be trusted or that you’re a hoe. She drops the issue and feels betrayed by everyone around her. Another example is Sergeant Manzella. This soldier served two honorable tours in Iraq and gets kicked out because of his sexual orientation? Give me a break. The Army is continually sending two messages. It's insane that the Army keeps in worthless pieces of shit but lets a good soldier go. They have even lowered their standards because they need people to serve. I’d rather serve with a gay man or woman then some law breaking scumbag. The day the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is thrown out the window is the day I’ll finally say the Army is sending a clear message.
Sgt. Manzella wherever you are, I hope you know there are soldiers who support you and appreciate your service. Happy Veterans Day.
Read Sgt. Manzella's story here.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Combat Infantry Bunny.
The Good Soldier.
Following the 7 o'clock showing there will be a veteran's panel discussion.
Little about The Good Soldier:
Five combat veterans from different generations of American wars tell of their alien surroundings, their connection to their comrades, and the ghastliness of their reality from the time they sign up, go into battle, and eventually change their minds about what it means to be a good soldier.
More information here.
I'll be there if I can get someone to cover my shift at work. Any takers?
Friday, November 06, 2009
Let's Hear It For Shoshana Johnson!
The Fort Hood Tragedy.
Details emerge about Fort Hood suspect.
I know a huge deal is being made about a female officer shooting Hasan and ending his rampage. Really? After what this country has been through it’s still surprising that women can defend themselves? Shoot? We don’t just curl up in corners and wait for others to rescue us. Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley did what she was trained to do. I don’t understand why this continues to blow peoples minds. If there is doubt women can handle situations like this then stop training them…or shut up and let them do their jobs.
*A reader posted this comment on the NY Daily News article (it’s linked below).
"I have been against women in combat because of my paternalistic feelings but now am reconsidering my opinion. Maybe we need more women like Sgt. Munley, American Hero, in the military. We just might win this war against islamic terrorism. She's a crack shot. 4 rounds pumped into this murdering swine even though she was injured. A female Munley Brigade could probably clear out the Taliban from the Afghan/**** mountains in 2 weeks. She has the Kick-A@ss spirit we need. I'm sure any male soldier would be proud and lucky to have a Sgt. Munley in a foxhole or alongside in a firefight. USA! USA! USA! Miss USA/Miss America is a Lady in Blue with a smokin 9mm."
It's sad that after years of war people are still oblivious to the contribution female soldiers are making.
Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Give me a U! Give me a C! Give me a L! Give me a A!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Henry Rollins Felt Like Me...For A Few Hours.
Henry take off my boots.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Dear MS HOIT: You have been awarded education benefits.
Everyday for the past two months, I have checked the VA website for a sign that my paperwork was being processed…nothing. However, a few days ago I noticed that I had no pending documents. This was the sign I had been looking for…my paperwork was finally on the move! I checked my benefit status but I was still listed as Chapter 1607. Today, I received a thick envelope from the Buffalo Regional Processing Office. I am entitled to 60% of the benefits available under the Post-9/11 GI Bill…apparently that’s what 424 days gets me. I flipped the page and read, “Your school certified that you are enrolled in 16 credit hours. We sent you a payment of $400.03 for books and supplies.” Really? When? And an FYI: $400 for books and supplies bought me one and a half books…thanks. I checked my bank account and there it was! My $400 was sitting next to another payment from the VA. I’m not sure where the other mysterious payment came from but I’ll take it. I’m grateful that I received some of my money but I know many veterans who have not.
Here is what I’ll never understand when it comes to the VA: you send thousands of soldiers to war, put together the best GI Bill that has ever been offered, then fuck it all up with horrible planning and not enough employees to process claims. It’s the same old bullshit and it’s getting really old. It took months for the VA to realize they needed help. The VA sat back and waited until veterans practically knocked down the doors of their regional processing offices to do something. Then we got $3,000 in emergency money; which seemed to appear out of thin air. If it’s as simple as getting online, filling out a page of personal information, then receiving a check in the mail, or driving a few hours to a regional office then why does it take MONTHS to even get a lettered stating they received your application? Do the people who run the VA not have any common sense? It’s shit like this that makes us lose faith in the VA and the military for that matter. So, congratulations for stressing out thousands of veterans, making them take out loans to pay for school, and maxing out their credit cards. What’s even more disturbing is that all of this could’ve been avoided. Get some contractors in there and unfuck this situation.
I'm not the only one who is pissed off.Read: Rucksack to Backpack.
Support University At Albany Veterans.
(The unofficial logo)
Tomorrow at 1:15, veterans will be meeting in the Commuters Lounge (in the Campus Center) to put yellow ribbons together for Veterans Day. The goal is to pin yellow ribbons on every moving thing we see. I bought 144 feet of yellow ribbon, scissors, and tons of safety pins. Come help out or just say hello!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Helen Benedict Made Me Think.
One out of three females will be raped during their time in the military. Shocking? Yes. Then this fact was stated, one is six females will be raped during their lifetime. Following these statements were a few gasps. This led into a discussion about sexual harassment and assault. Do female soldiers get sexually harassed? Of course. Is that surprising? Not to anyone who has served. Is it surprising to civilians? I guess so. A lady raised her hand and asked, "do the women who join think they won't be sexually harassed or assaulted?" Benedict responded with exactly what I was thinking, "No." When I thought about joining, it never crossed my mind that I was about to enter a world where I would be sexually harassed or that rape, according to that statistic might be inevitable. Was I naive? I'm not sure. The year was 2001 when I joined not 1943. I thought I was entering into a world of equality. Regardless of sex, we were all there to do a job. I honestly didn’t even think of male soldiers before joining. I never thought, “hmm…maybe I won’t purpose a goal because some scumbag will make comments about my ass.” I thought, “basic training is going to suck.”
Any females out there think about being sexually harassed or assaulted before they joined?
Fast-forward ten minutes. Benedict talked about a female she had interviewed. The female soldier made a comment that the male soldiers who sexually harassed her tended to be older and higher ranking. The male soldiers who were her age and close in rank treated her with respect. This got me thinking. Who has continued to drive me nuts in my unit? Oh, yes. A staff sergeant that I repeatedly tell to fuck off. Who hit on my roommate and I overseas? A major, warrant officer, a first sergeant…how was I suppose to tell a major that my roommate wasn’t interested? The same major who was in charge of the Civil Affairs unit I went out on missions with? Completely Awkward.
The soldiers who were close to us in age and rank we were friends with. If they hit on us, we told them we weren’t interested and that was the end of it. I’m not saying this is how it always is. I had a tight group of friends overseas who wanted the least amount of drama and to get home.
Have any of you experienced the same problems with higher ranking? But got respect from those of the same rank?
Fast-forward twenty minutes. Benedict talked about how it’s hard for female to be friends with other female soldiers. It’s the same old story, females find it difficult to trust other females and females have jealousy issues…all the same bullshit that goes on in the real world. A comment was made about females not trusting one another because they think the other one wants their boyfriend. If I could remove part of the female brain it would be the, “I’m crazy and dramatic” part. I’ve seen this a lot in my unit and during my time overseas. This one’s sleeping with that one, but that one is looking at this one. I can not grasp how some soldiers sleep with multiple people in their unit. It’s disgusting. This is where the rumors starts, distrust starts, and division within a unit can occur. I know that if Elaine Donnelly stumbled upon this, she’d be screaming at her computer, “I told you so! Women don’t belong in combat! And I know this because I’ve toured 10 Army bases and three Navy ships in my life! I don‘t even know why people listen to me, I‘ve never served!” So, to the Donnelly’s out there: there are amazing men and women who serve who don’t partake in these outrageous activities. There are some who find their soul mates and stays completely faithful. There are some who never have a relationship with anyone in their unit. It’s just like in the real world. Every society has their fuck ups…don’t punish the others for their whorish actions.
I suppose this was just me thinking out loud. I’m curious if any of you have run into the same problems. The more I read about the perception of women in the military the more I get discouraged. There seems to be an overall thought that women are disrespected, without camaraderie, and end up damaged. Benedict said it best, women are proud of their service to their country. I am proud to have been part of the Army for eight years. I’ve been hit on while serving in the Army. I’ve been hit on as a civilian. Am I suppose to denounce life? The issues that the military has, are the same issues the real world has. I don’t understand why this is still shocking.
(Thank you Helen for allowing me speak at your reading. It means a lot that you want female service members voices to be heard.)