I’m lucky. This week, I’m at a Navy veteran’s group to present a well deserved award to one of my Sailors. It’s held in a nice hotel, and the group of veterans are great to hang out with. You’d think everything would be great.

But there are problems, specifically one problem: I’m the youngest person in the group. This veteran’s group, like so many others, is struggling to attract new veteran’s into its membership. Young enlisted Sailors, and especially young officers, just aren’t joining groups like AMVETS, American Legion or the VFW like they have in the past. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming a big concern now as our World War 2, Vietnam Conflict and Korean Conflict veterans are passing away in large numbers. These groups are at risk of disappearing altogether.

Continue reading “Our Veteran Groups Are Dying”

Over 10 years ago, I was the electrical officer aboard a submarine. One of my Sailors was a massive slacker. Every time he was on duty, I would catch him gaffing off his maintenance responsibilities. Every collateral duty I assigned him was done poorly, and almost always required another Sailor to ensure completion. Luckily for me, he indicated he didn’t intend to re-enlist, so I was happy when he finally received his separation orders.

And then…my Engineer asked me to write him up for an award. I protested. “The guy sucks. He hasn’t done anything worthwhile.” Still, my engineer persisted. Fortunately for me, he was too busy to follow up, so I simply didn’t do it, and this Sailor separated without a Navy Achievement Medal.

The achievement medal, quickly becoming a default “I worked here” award. Image from Wikipedia.

Continue reading “The unused tools in the military”

All was well the day of my daughter’s surgery.  Despite waiting an additional two hours because of a higher priority case, the surgeon came out around 4 pm to tell me everything was finished and looked great.  He said someone would arrive in about 15 minutes to take me to my daughter’s recovery room.

Unfortunately, that person never came.  I sat in Yale’s Pediatric Surgery waiting room for another hour, and when the lights went dark, I realized I had been forgotten.  An hour after that, after speaking with various Yale officials and frantically scouring the hospital, I finally found my daughter on the 7th floor in recovery.  Right about that time, I received a Yale text message asking me for my opinion of today’s service.

After dashing off my response, I figured that was it.  Yale is a massive hospital, just the sort of place where little people like myself get ignored.  To my surprise, two days later a young man called me and wanted details.  We spent almost an hour going over what was great and finding where the breakdowns were.  By the time we were done, he told me the two very specifics things that Yale would work on to make sure that breakdown never happened again.  A few months later, when my daughter returned for surgery, I observed first-hand a smoother post-surgery process.

Thinking about it as I’m typing still makes me smile.  Yale took my feedback and acted on it, making their process better.  They took a negative interaction and ultimately made it a positive.  They didn’t pay me compensation, apologize profusely, or give me candy to make the problem go away.  Instead, they acted on the problem, solved it, and continued to provide great medical care.

I’m also part of the military’s medical system, and the difference is stark.  When a doctor at Eisenhower Army Medical Center messed up my wife’s surgery, instead of working to fix the problem, he told her to essentially shut up.  I was at work and got a sobbing phone call, which I acted on.  Our command’s medical team met her at the hospital to address the issue.  She filed an ICE complaint, and our patient advocate met with the hospital to try and resolve the issue.

And in the end, none of it mattered.  The doctor was never disciplined.  The hospital never corrected anything, nor allowed her to go out in town to see a civilian doctor.  Despite all the documentation, nothing was ever done.

This isn’t a one-off.  I’ve had movers break and steal items.  I’ve had an investigator negligently list false information on my security background check.  I’ve had big issues with the Navy’s handling of special needs children.  I’ve discovered yeomen throwing away submitted awards for my Sailors (if you ever wondered how a Medal of Honor could get “lost,” now you know).  And in almost all cases, despite filing complaints, documenting the issues and saving emails, nothing happens.  Nobody gets fired.  Nobody gets disciplined, especially DoD civilians.  I’ve had some great advocates get me compensation in some cases, but the process rarely gets fixed, meaning the Sailors after me probably got screwed too.  Worse, I’m often told that my claims are baseless and I should watch what I say.

Too many people think the military is some sort of wonderful organization that can get stuff done.  Maybe that’s why people are calling (foolishly) for a military coup.  News flash: there is a lot of inefficiency that you don’t see and don’t want.  All too often, uncaring people are allowed to make life miserable for the young men and women in uniform, with no repercussion.

Plenty of people freaked out when Congress approved rules that could zero-out a civil servants pay.  Are you surprised though?  There is plenty of frustration when organizations like the VA still aren’t cleaned up.  And I have to give Congress credit, because when nobody would fix a situation where almost 200 Air Medals for my Sailors “disappeared” (thrown in the trash), a letter to my Congresswoman actually got results.

For those of us who have been constantly screwed by the system, we’re a lot more hopeful that this might bring about real change.  Maybe as we’re improving the military we can truly make our bureaucracy great again.


This post does not represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.  It only represents the views of the author.  But that should have been obvious from the start. 

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asrSo there I was, in a shouting match with one of my Sailors about his latest evaluation.  Suddenly, he pulled out a gun and shot me. Twice. As I fell to the ground and slowly bled out, I watched him proceed to walk through our office and shoot other Sailors.

Except it wasn’t real.  It was our first active shooter drill.

The news tends to sensationalize active shooters, like it devolves into some sort of action video game.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  After the drill, my team watched our security camera footage to see what really happened.  We also had someone following the shooter around and take notes.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the difficulty realizing you were in an active shooter situation before it was too late. The shooter has ALL the advantages. Even though we used a cap gun that simulated the sound and smell of a 9mm pistol, the sound doesn’t always carry down a hallway. Plenty of people heard popping, but only a few realized it was a shooter.  By the time they realized it, the shooter was pointing a gun at them at close range.

notsureifgunshotI can validate Fry’s thoughts on this…

The Department of Defense provides active shooter training.  Once you realize there is an active shooter, if you can’t escape your goal is to barricade yourself into a room, lock the door and stay quiet.  That works surprisingly well.  Our shooter, intent on finding easy victims, got bored banging on doors that wouldn’t open.  It also delayed him, giving base security more time to respond.

Stopping the shooter because you’re Superman?  Unlikely, at least in the initial moments.  The shooter already has the aspect of surprise. Unless you catch him reloading, he can kill you in a fraction of a second.  Watching our surveillance footage, any Sailor that came within arms reach of the shooter was shot before he could react. When I go back and read other people’s accounts of active shooters, the ones that tackled the shooter typically did so while the shooter was reloading, or it was after the initial shock was over.

active_shooter_exercise_aims_to_strengthen_response_160401-z-bc699-098If you don’t have a gun, you wind up like the guy on the floor. Image from Wikipedia

An active shooter is absolutely terrifying to contemplate, but inside the situation it’s actually more confusing than anything else.  I’m glad to see the DoD is now allowing personnel to carry weapons on base, because it is frightening how quickly someone can kill multiple people before the police show up.  Our shooter was only walking and had to reload manually, yet he managed to kill a lot of people before the police response time.  Luckily, we identified areas we can fix, and I think the body count the next time won’t be so high.

My only wish at the end was that I share my experiences with non-military members, so that if they found themselves facing an active shooter, they could learn from my drill mistakes and perhaps save their life.


This post represents the views of the author and does not represent the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy or any other agency.  Please pray for the victims of active shooters, including the knifing victims recently at Ohio State.  And if you’re in the military, take your Active Shooter training seriously…it might just save your life!


If you liked this article, check out my blog.

moldy-orangeby baldilocks

Most civilians would be surprised to discovered how many liberals and even hard leftists there are in the military. Further, I’d guess that 30-40 percent of those who have served in military intelligence capacities are liberals or leftists. Be advised that I’m going by the political persuasions of my old Air Force intel friends and acquaintances with whom I’ve had contact on Facebook. The latter have long ago cursed me out, then blocked me or quietly unfriended me.

And those who remain connected with me—who are my true friends–are very quiet about the Clinton email scandal, and I understand why. They know beyond any equivocation that any one of us who would have committed even the tiniest fraction of Clinton’s crimes would have done time. We have all seen it actually happen.

Anyone who has been a part of the intelligence community knows that the method in which Hillary Clinton handled classified information during her tenure in one of the highest political offices in the land is criminal. Every member of the DOJ and FBI knows it as well, from Lynch and Comey on down.

I understand why my friends who are liberals would not want Donald Trump to ascend to the presidency. Believe me, I do. Heck, the events and revelations of the past few months are emblematic of the reason I decided to wait until Election Day to make my decision! My friends find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place regarding next week’s final decision, assuming they haven’t voted already. It’s a place which many conservatives were deposited months ago. Welcome!

And here’s something I don’t see many people discussing: the reason that Clinton was allowed to set up a server in her home in the first place and pass classified information through it. That no one blew the whistle on that is much bigger than who we will have sitting in the Oval Office in January.

How many people knew about this server? What about the technicians? Was there anyone who understood the magnitude of what they were doing? Anyone who had taken an oath and who was willing to hang his/her body on that oath?

Apparently not.

Trump/Clinton…and Obama are/will be figureheads for a deeply rotten government which we give permission to speak for us and to handle our business.

And that is something which all of us—conservatives and liberals who believe in liberty and in the rule of law–need to file away in the back of our minds in order to prepare for the future.

RELATED: Two Weeks Left

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

 

YouGovPoll
The real question is…why don’t the numbers add to 100%?

Turkey’s response to the recent coup attempt has been particularly brutal.  Over 200 are dead and 45,000 in jail, and many will likely be executed and buried in traitor cemeteries.  A YouGov poll indicated that a surprising number of people would see themselves supporting a military coup in the United States, due to more trust in military officers than government officials.  With a large professional military and similar government setup, Turkey isn’t unlike the United States.

But a coup is unlikely.  Sorry YouGov pollers.

First, our military doesn’t have the strong sense of personal loyalty to its admirals and generals.  After World War Two, we separated military branches and eventually split our forces into Combatant Commands, which meant the President had multiple four-star generals and admirals reporting to him.  Fragmenting the military means it is unlikely that any particular general will have sway over a majority of forces.

Unified_Combatant_Commands_mapMy Turkish Naval Officer friends don’t understand this setup. Frankly, neither do I.

Plus, our elected officials in Congress keep our officer corps apolitical, first by banning military members from running for office or actively campaigning.  Congress also owns the overwhelming number of nominations to service academies, which ensures that the President cannot build an officer corps loyal only to him.

Most importantly, we lack a domestic distraction.  Turkey can easily blame problems on the Kurds, which you will see more of post-coup attempt.  We don’t have a version of Kurdistan in the United States (although the southern border may feel like that at times).

No matter who wins in November, don’t expect a coup.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.


NG36B is a military blogger. If you liked this post, and you like Star Wars, you should check out why Darth Vader is an Operational Genius.

UPDATE DTG: amusing Irony via Instapundit:

When asked whom they would vote for during the 2016 campaign, 78% of servicemembers picked “other.” Nearly all then chose “military coup” from a list of options that also included Joe Biden, Ted Cruz, Jill Stein and “a massive earthquake that wipes out life in North America.”

Yeah parody is fun.

A note from DaTechGugy: I hope you enjoyed RH/NG36B’s piece. Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like his work, please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it don’t forget to mention RH/NG36B’s post as the reason you did so. His piece from last week, in case you missed it is here.




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by baldilocksBaldilocks mini

Originally posted on February 1, 2007. Former Washington Post military affairs writer William Arkin was a repeat target of mine back then. Don’t hear much from him anymore. I used to think that he was antiwar and anti-troops, but now I’m not so sure of things as I was back then. Okay, I am sure he hates the troops, And one wonders were all the antiwars protests are in 2014, but…anyway, here’s the old post. Happy Veterans Day to my fellow veterans!

*****

Washington Post military affairs writer William Arkin says that the “mercenary – oops sorry, volunteer – force that thinks it is doing the dirty work” ought to be grateful for civilian support and need to shut up when the civilian doesn’t give the troops any support, because

every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

Better Arkin: “So shut up you chickenh-…er, you rapists and murderers (and we know you really all are rapists and murderers, even the she-GIs). Shut up because we’ve been looking for a reason to tell you to STFU and looking for a reason to heap scorn upon you just like we did to your daddies and uncles.

We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society

Better Arkin: “You have no right to tell us to shut up so shut up telling us to shut up because we pay your salary. What? You pay your own salary too? So what; you still should shut up because you’re wrong!!!! Everything about you is wrong; everything you believe in is wrong!! And I know that your uniform gives you credibility when you say that you believe in what you’re doing in Iraq, but I don’t want to hear it and don’t want to understand. I just know you’re wrong and because you are wrong I’ll do everything I can to make you shut up or shame you into shutting up. Now SHUT UP!!!”

Seriously, here’s the bottom line for those like Arkin: it matters not whether you’re an Iraq War Veteran or whether you’re a civilian who doesn’t know a helmet from a hole in the ground. All of the insulting and mendacious digs in Arkin’s op-ed are merely the opposing side of the Chickenhawk sword (wielded ad nauseum by Tim Robbins to one of Bill O’Reilly’s reporters during last weekend’s antiwar rally).

Such people don’t care whether you’ve been in the military or not. All they want is for you to agree with their position and if you don’t, it’s “what the heck do you know, Chickenhawk?” and soon it will be “what the heck do you know, Baby-killer?” They’re working up to it, trust me.

So don’t be to hard on Arkin. He finally screwed his courage to the sticking place and said this out loud. Why? Because he believes that the time is right–just as last weekend’s antiwar types thought it was the right time to trot out that old anti-war horse, Jane Fonda.

Oh, everyone is in an uproar just like they were when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) compared the military to the various fascists of the twentieth century or when 2004 presidential candidate [then] Senator John Kerry (D-MA) botched his joke, but I’m beginning to think that we ought to be grateful to such people.

After all, how would you know who they were if they didn’t occasionally drop the mask?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2015.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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