As much as we love videos of dogs being reunited with their owners returning from a deployment, sometimes a simple screen shot is all you need. Airman Justin Jones captured the moment that his dog Kiba first saw his face on Skype after he was deployed in 2011. And the best part? Justin and Kiba have since been reunited in person. I can’t even imagine the excitement of that moment! [Reddit]
Sgt. Theresa Vail is quite the unconventional beauty pageant contestant. Miss Kansas is a not only a soldier, an opera singer, an aspiring army dentist and college senior majoring in Chinese and chemistry, but she also has tattoos — generally a pageant taboo. On Sunday, September 15th, she will become the first Miss America contestant permitted to expose her ink. Keep reading »
You might have seen this picture pop on your Facebook newsfeed sometime in the past couple days. A smiling woman stands in a lake, carrying her double amputee husband on her back, as he grins and holds her close. It was posted a couple weeks ago on the photographer’s Facebook page, and has since gone viral, garnering over 15,000 likes and nearly 4,000 shares. The people in the photo are Kelly and Jesse Cottle. Jesse is a Marine who lost his legs after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan four years ago. Several months later, while trying out his new prosthetic legs at a local swim meet, he met Kelly. “If I hadn’t stepped on that IED, I wouldn’t have met her,” Jesse told ABC News. “I wouldn’t take it back ever.” Keep reading »
This week, I found out my brother is going to be deployed to Afghanistan. Ever since he joined the Marines, as difficult and stressful as the journey has been, I have always comforted myself with the fact that he wasn’t in a war zone, and that, thanks to the type of work he does, he probably would never have to be.
Over the course of the past couple years, I watched him swear his oath of loyalty to the military. I read his heartbreaking letters from bootcamp. I fell into a pretty deep depression. I fought with him and for a long time, we were estranged. I saw my family fall apart as we realized that our ways of dealing with such a massive change were completely incompatible.
But none of that mattered, because at least my brother was safe. At least my brother wasn’t at war. Whenever I read stories about military families with a loved one in the Middle East, I shuddered. When a friend of mine’s brother was deployed and she resumed her day-to-day life, I thought, She is so much stronger than me. I would just be a constant wreck. Imagining my brother in such a dangerous situation left me feeling frozen with fear. The idea of him killing people, the idea of him being killed — I had been able to stomach every other difficult milestone of this journey, but those two possibilities? I couldn’t even bear the abstract, hazy idea that someday they might be part of my reality.
And now my brother is going to war. Keep reading »
This week, the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee tackled the scourge of sexual violence in the military and voted to remove military top brass from their ability to overturn convictions for sexual assault. Yet Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said the hearings were “stunningly bad,” as military leaders were unprepared to respond to the questions from senators and unwilling to consider many suggested changes.
Here are five things you should know about what went down this week as Congress took substantive steps to eradicate the military’s sexual assault problem. Keep reading »
Just in case you thought that men should be expected to obtain consent from women before engaging in sexual behavior with them, bigoted blowhard Donald Trump is here to remind you all men are rapists, always. Why else would 26,000 service members have reported experiencing [second item] “unwanted sexual contact” last year? It’s because, Trump tweeted, men and women have never, ever worked alongside each other in coed workplaces without men raping their colleagues. In a followup tweet Trump — who, correct me if I’m wrong, attended a military high school but has never served a day in the actual military, unlike actual women in combat — said “top military brass” didn’t want “a mixer.” But “dumb politicians” just had to endanger these vulnerable women at the hands of all the rapists in uniform. Sorry, ladies. Rape away, dudes — I know you can’t help yourselves. [Examiner]
A new defense secretary has just been confirmed and already he has a big issue to address: sexual assault in the military. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Full disclosure: I used to work in her office), and Senator Janeane Shaheen (D-NH) recently sent a letter requesting Chuck Hagel immediately review a decision by an Air Force Lieutenant General to dismiss all charges against an officer who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault on former colleague Kimberly Hanks at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hanks had been socializing with Wilkerson and his wife at their home and stayed the evening in their guest bedroom; in the middle of the night, she woke up to find Wilkerson on top of her. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig (AKA military prison). But he never served any time in prison because his superior, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, dismissed the jury’s conviction and reinstated him. Senators Boxer and Shaheen and others are rightfully concerned that a troop charged with sexual assault was let off scot-free.
Keep reading »