U.S. Department of Labor Announces Award of $47,600,000 In Training Grants to Help Homeless Veterans Re-enter the Workforce

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transitioning veteran shaking hands with employer

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced the award of 163 Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants totaling $47,600,000. This funding will provide workforce reintegration services to more than 18,000 homeless veterans.

“While serving in the military, veterans learn many skills desired in today’s workforce,” said Secretary Acosta. “These grants will help thousands of homeless veterans reintegrate themselves into society and secure good jobs.”

Funds are being awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards; local public agencies and nonprofit organizations; tribal governments; and faith-based and community organizations. Homeless veterans may receive occupational skills training, apprenticeship opportunities, and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance.

This year’s HVRP awards provide 40 first-year grants totaling nearly $13,000,000. Previous awardees will receive first and second option year grants totaling $34,600,000.

Grantees under the HVRP program will coordinate their efforts with other federal programs, such as the Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care program.

More information on the Department’s unemployment and re-employment programs for veterans is available at www.dol.gov/vets/. For more information about the Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), please visit veterans.gov or follow on @VETS_DOL twitter.

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Inside the Specially Adapted Home Wayfair Furnished for a Veteran with a Disability and His Family

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Disabled veteran and family stand outside their new home

When John and Brittany Curtin got married in 2015, they never dreamed they’d be living where they are today.

The couple met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland back in 2011— Brittany was a volunteer with the Red Cross and John was in outpatient treatment for injuries he sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.

A Marine Lance Corporal, John joined the Marines at 19. He lost both of his legs and severely damaging his right arm when his foot triggered an IED one month into his deployment. He now gets around with the help of prosthetic legs or a wheelchair.

As difficult as John’s injuries were to adapt to, he and Brittany, both 29, live their lives today with incredible ease. For that, they thank two organizations: Homes For Our Troops and Wayfair, who have provided them with a specially-adapted — and fully furnished — home of their dreams, just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Homes For Our Troops is a non-profit organization that donates custom houses to veterans with disabilities, allowing them freedom in their homes as thanks for their service abroad. The organization teamed up with online furniture marketplace Wayfair to completely overhaul the Curtins’ home this past June, customizing it to both John’s accessibility needs and the pair’s personal style.

“We feel so unbelievably blessed,” Brittany tells PEOPLE of the experience. “Just for our day to day, our routine has entirely changed. Because John isn’t so taxed just doing small things, he’s able to do so much more both inside and outside the house.”

“It’s been an absolutely life changing experience,” John agrees. “It’s just transformed my life completely. When Brittany and I were first living in Virginia together we lived in a little 700-square-foot apartment, and we couldn’t even pass each other in the hallway because my wheelchair took up the whole space. So the ease of living is just unreal compared to those experiences.”

Not only is the 2,800-square-foot home and surrounding property entirely complaint with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and wheelchair-accessible, but a variety of gadgets inside the home are designed to help John complete daily tasks with ease.

For example, extendable shelves in the kitchen and closets can be pulled down to be at John’s eye level, and a track chair in the backyard allows him to move around the property — which has paved and graded paths — and do yard work.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Make Your Next Job Fair Be Your Last

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veteran standing outside convention center wearing a suit carrying a briefcase

Job fairs are a great opportunity to network and be proactive in the employment process. In order to make the most of these opportunities, set realistic expectations for what you hope to achieve.

Prepare for the job fair like you would for an interview, have a plan for when you arrive, make a good impression with the recruiters, and be sure to follow up with any connections you make.

Here are some other ways to make the most of your next job fair:

•    Research: The week prior to a job fair, find out which companies are participating and learn more about them. What are some interesting things the company is currently working on? Does the company have new leadership or a new product? These tidbits can be used as conversation starters that will impress a recruiter and possibly open the door to a new opportunity for you.

•    Dress for an interview: Job fairs typically involve on-the-spot interviews, so present yourself as you would for any other kind of interview. A suit is most appropriate, even if you’re applying for a technical job. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

•    Prepare: For your top employment choices, consider preparing folders that include your resume, cover letter, recommendations and appropriate work samples.

•    Carry plenty of business cards: Give the business cards to recruiters and other job seekers you meet. They need not be expensive or fancy. A simple design will do. Make sure they contain your name and contact information: phone number, email and address.

•    Organize: You may want to carry a portfolio or clipboard to easily manage and collect information. Be sure to have a pen for taking notes.

•    Relax, breathe and smile: Do your best to make a strong first impression.

•    Walk around: Get the lay of the land, see where your top companies are located and plan your connection strategy.

•    Network: Talk to other job seekers and ask questions. Find out what types of positions they’re seeking, and tell them a little about yourself. You never know who they might know, or if you might be able to help them with an introduction. Don’t hesitate to exchange information if you make a connection.

•    Visit booths: You may want to start by practicing your personal pitch with recruiters who represent companies that may not be your top choice. Have a list of companies you really want to visit and check them off as you go. This will keep you from introducing yourself to the same recruiter twice by accident. Listen to the “interviews” in front of you to get an idea what to expect and develop questions based on what you hear.

Speaking to recruiters
•    Connect: Make eye contact, smile, state your name and shake her or his hand. Use a prepared elevator speech—a 10-second summary of your bio, your skills and your achievements. Make sure to rehearse the speech until it becomes comfortable.

•    Listen: Pay attention, respond to questions and ask for more information. When appropriate, hand your resume to the recruiter and pause for them to do a quick review. Be prepared for questions about specific examples of your experience.

•    Keep it brief: Recruiters are typically swamped, so be mindful that your conversation may be limited to a few minutes. If appropriate, ask questions about next steps, applicant qualifications or any suggestions they may have for you.

•    Get recruiter contact information: Request a business card, and if one is not available, ask the recruiter for their email address. Conclude the conversation by thanking them for their time.

•    Step aside: Make time to write conversation notes before you move on to the next recruiter. If the previous recruiter mentioned she went to Florida State, capture that information. If she told you the company will hire for your desired position soon, write it down. Summarize your job fair experiences immediately in order to take full advantage of the event.

•    Call or email: After a few days, call or send an email, thanking the recruiters for their time and the information they provided. If you send an email to the recruiter who mentioned she went to Florida State, it is appropriate to write, “I’m the administrative assistant at the job fair who discussed Florida State with you.” That reminder could help her recall the conversation. Just taking the time to follow up will separate you from many job fair attendees.

•    Stay in contact: If the recruiter responds back to you, stay in contact. Keep an eye open for articles about their organization or industry and don’t hesitate to forward them on with a note. If you see the perfect job for you in their organization, and you’re qualified, apply for the position and then email the recruiter and let him or her know you applied.

•    Build your network: If you connected with other job seekers and traded contact information, you should follow up with them as well. You never know when they might have a job prospect for you, or vice versa.

If you need information or personalized assistance with your employment search, or have questions about education opportunities, visit the Military OneSource SECO page, or call 800-342-9647 to talk with a career coach.

2019 National Airborne Day celebration

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National Airborne Day Flyer

Celebrate the 79th anniversary of the first military parachute jump with Fort Bragg during National Airborne Day, Saturday, Aug. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville, N.C.

National Airborne Day is observed every year on August 16, but Fort Bragg celebrates the day on the following Saturday so the community at large can participate in this milestone of airborne history.

“National Airborne Day honors and celebrates our paratrooper linage,” said Elvia Kelly, Fort Bragg spokeswoman. “This yearly celebration brings together paratroopers, past and present, with our local communities for a fun, Family friendly event. This is a first-hand opportunity to experience what makes our paratroopers the best in the world.”

The first parachute jump was conducted by the parachute test platoon, organized of members of the 29th Infantry Division, who conducted the first jump Aug. 16, 1940.

National Airborne Day was created in 2001, and former President George W. Bush proclaimed August 16 as National Airborne Day. It was joined by the U.S. Senate in 2009 with Senate Resolution 235.

The day begins with the opening of the static displays and pre-event music at 8 a.m at the museum, located at 100 Bragg Blvd, Fayetteville, NC.

The following is the timeline of events:
* 9 a.m., narrator welcoming remarks
* 9:30 a.m., an outside performance by the 82nd Airborne Division “All American” Chorus
* 9:45 a.m., a mock door demonstration
* 10 a.m., static displays and rock band performance by the 82nd Airborne Division
* 11:15 a.m., an indoor performance by the 82nd Airborne Division “All American” Chorus
* 11:30 a.m., a mock door demonstration by the 82nd Airborne Division
* 11:45 a.m., a HALO demonstration by the All Veterans Parachute Team

Joe Walsh Announces Lineup For Vetsaid 2019 In Houston

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(HOUSTON, TEXAS) – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and multi-GRAMMY Award winning musician Joe Walsh and VetsAid, his national 501(c)3 non-profit veterans organization, announced the lineup and on-sale date for their 3rd annual music festival. VetsAid 2019 will feature sets from ZZ Top, Brad Paisley, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Joe Walsh and will take place at 5:30pm on Sunday, November 10, 2019, on the eve of Veterans Day, at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

Tickets will be available through the Toyota Center Box Office, at www.toyotacenter.com or by calling 1-866-4-HOUTIX and will be priced at $199.50, $149.50, $119.50, $99.50, $79.50, $49.50 and $25.

The inaugural VetsAid took place on September 20, 2017 with a concert at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia featuring performances by Walsh, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. VetsAid 2018 was a blockbuster event featuring Don Henley, James Taylor, Chris Stapleton, Haim and Joe, who was joined by special guest Ringo Starr. They performed to a sell out crowd of nearly 18,000. It was also in Tacoma where Walsh and VetsAid hosted its first Veterans Jobs Fair where dozens of local vets found meaningful full-time employment with established regional employers in the Pacific Northwest.

As every year, all net proceeds from the concert will go directly to the veterans’ services charities selected through a vetting process-coordinated in tandem with the National Association of Veterans Serving Organizations (NAVSO). In its first two years, VetsAid has disbursed nearly $1.2M in grants to veterans’ services organizations on the national level and the regional level with a focus on the festival’s host city. This year, VetsAid plans to disburse grants to Houston-area organizations; small grant applications have been open since May 2019 via the VetsAid website (www.vetsaid.org).

Veterans and their wellbeing have always been important to Walsh, a Gold Star son himself. His father was a flight instructor for the first US operational jet powered aircraft, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and died while stationed and on active duty on Okinawa when Walsh was 20 months old.

Walsh has been involved with veterans’ related causes for years, supporting various charities, visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and offering free guitar lessons to the wounded veterans there. He has campaigned for his good friend, (now) United States Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq War veteran and double amputee.

Walsh aims to use this platform to raise funds and awareness for the still urgent and significant needs of our returning soldiers and their families. Through the establishment of VetsAid and this annual benefit concert, he aims to give back to those who have given so much in sacrifice for this country.

“It’s about time we brought VetsAid down to Texas and who better to share the stage with than my old buddies and Houston’s own ZZ Top! With Brad, Sheryl, Jason and more special guests to be announced joining us too this will be yet another historic night of incredible music for our vets.” Joe Walsh continues, “This is a night where all are welcome to celebrate the things that unite us as Americans: good friends, open hearts and great music!”

For more information, including grant applications for small veterans services groups, please visit www.vetsaid.org.

How Can I Get a VA Home Loan?

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Man and woman pictured with moving boxes in background

Landing an extraordinary home loan probably isn’t anyone’s top reason for enlisting in the armed forces, but since the end of World War II more than 22 million active military members and veterans have used Veterans Administration mortgages to achieve home ownership.

The VA home loan program, part of the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, was designed to ease the path to homeownership for both active military personnel and veterans. Qualified loan applicants aren’t required to make down payments, pay mortgage insurance or some closing costs.

Those expenses can be substantial and can kill deals relying on conventional financing.

VA loans are extremely popular because they’re money savers.

During fiscal 2018, nearly 611,000 buyers used to VA financing to cover more than $161 billion in real estate purchases.

So how do you get a VA mortgage? Here are a few questions that will help:

Am I eligible for a VA loan?

Almost all members of the military, reservists, National Guard and veterans are eligible for VA loans. Spouses of military personnel who died while on active duty or as the result of a service-connected disability are also eligible to apply.

Active-duty military qualify after six months in the service. Reservists and National Guard members must be enlisted for six years before applying. If they are called to active duty, they become eligible after 90 days serving during times of war.

What are the benefits of a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t issue mortgages, it guarantees them, setting requirements on the sort of mortgages it will accept and relying on approved lenders (banks, credit unions, online lenders) to issue the loans. The VA takes on risk associated with the mortgages it backs, and the lower risk to the lenders who issue VA is passed along to buyers, often meaning slightly lower interest rates compared to conventional loans.

Here are some of the ways VA and conventional mortgages differ:

—No down payment for buyers who meet loan requirements.

—No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required on any loan.

—Underwriting standards are relaxed since the government backs the mortgages.

—Fewer closing costs compared to conventional mortgages.

—VA interest rates are typically about 0.25% lower than rates for comparable conventional loans.

—VA loans are guaranteed against default, so they pose less risk to mortgage lenders.

What are the borrowing limits?

The VA isn’t really in the loan business. It guarantees home loans and you must find a VA-approved lender to get such a loan. As such, there are no official borrowing limits, but there are limits to the amount of liability the VA will assume.

They vary by county, but the limit was $453,100 in 2018 for most parts of the U.S., but the amount can be as much as $679,650 in high-cost areas such as San Francisco and New York.

What are the fees associated with a VA loan?

Sorry, but even veterans must deal with some up-front costs.

To keep the VA home loan system afloat, there is a one-time funding fee. It varies, depending on the down payment and type of veteran. For instance, a borrower getting his/her first VA loan and making no down payment would pay a 2.15% fee on the amount of loan. The fee is 1.25% if the borrower makes a down payment of 10% or more.

Reservists and National Guard members usually pay about one-quarter of a percentage point more than active-duty personnel.

If you’re using the VA loan program for a second time and have no down payment, the fee is 3.3% of the total loan amount. The fee is waived for veterans who receive disability compensation.

Does the VA offer loan aid and forgiveness?

The VA attempts to help veterans and their families who encounter financial difficulties, and two of these programs impact housing. If you have a conventional sub-prime mortgage loan and are having trouble making the payments, which may have ballooned, you can try to refinance the loan with a VA mortgage.

Or if you default on a home loan, the VA allows lenders to forgive the balance that you owed, meaning you are not required to pay the balance of your loan. This doesn’t prevent you from losing your home, but it removes the repayment obligation.

What are the income requirements for a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t have specific income thresholds for qualifying for a mortgage, relying instead on what it calls residual income requirements.

Borrowers are expected to have steady, stable income, which can come from employment, Social Security, disability payments, investments and other sources. Self-employed persons are often asked to document their income. Even income from foster care, worker’s compensation and public assistance is considered, though it has to be sustainable income that will continue well into the future.

Can I get more than one VA loan?

Yes you can, though the fee is slightly higher the second time around and beyond.

Normally you must sell your primary residence and pay off the off that loan before you can take out another VA loan on a new residence. But there is a one-time opportunity to buy a second home with VA financing if you have refinanced your primary residence with a non-VA loan or you have paid off the original loan.

How do I apply for VA loan?

Find a lending institution that participates in the VA program. Since almost all lenders do, that should not be a problem. In fact, the first thing most lenders ask after introducing themselves is: “Are you a veteran?”

If you say yes, it usually puts a smile on the lender’s face because they know the U.S. government is backing your loan and it will be much easier to get you into a home.

Borrowers must have a Certificate of Eligibility to prove they belong on the VA home-loan track. You can apply on the VA website or by mail. If you need assistance with Certificate of Eligibility acquisition, call 1-800-983-0937.

Who are the best lenders for a VA home loan?

The ones with the best rates and customer service, of course.

However, interest rates fluctuate and customer experience varies depending on a variety of factors. The best answer is to find a lender that is well-versed in the VA home loan program. Even then, there is no shortage of candidates.

A NerdWallet study gave high marks to Navy Federal Credit Union, Veterans United, Quicken, Bank of America, Citibank and Fairway. As with any mortgage, the best advice is to shop around and find a lender you’re comfortable with. The big advantage veterans have is they can get into a program that makes it easier to get into a home that will make them happy.

After spending so much time in tents and foxholes, they deserve it.

Author-By Bill Fay

Source:  debt.org

A Guide to Pursuing an MBA

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veteran student

By Ron Kness

Whether going to school or working for a company, an important component to success is fitting in and feeling like you belong there.

If the school or business is veteran friendly, you will feel like you are “part of the family”—just like when you were serving. Others around you will understand the military lingo that you still use.

They can relate to your experiences when you need someone to talk to.

And if you have this comfort level, you will do better in your coursework or at your job.

Even though the MBA program or job may seem like a perfect fit in the beginning, you’ll soon question if you made the right choice if that veteran friendliness is lacking.

Is Your MBA program military friendly?

Choosing an MBA degree program is an important educational and career decision. After all, an advanced degree serves as a key to career advancement—with the company, position and experience being other factors. Just the difference in starting wage between having an undergraduate and MBA degree is significant—$54,000 versus $70,000 (minimum) respectively. Graduates from the top MBA programs start at six figures right out of school. Run the salary difference between the two types of degrees out over a 30-year career and the number is staggering.

But the first mission is choosing an MBA program. While only you can make the final choice, here is a thought-provoking checklist to help you arrive at a decision:

Does the school have a veterans’ association chapter on campus?

Once out of the military, veterans miss the comradery. Schools having a veterans’ association on campus not only gives veterans a place to meet, but gives the school administration ideas on how to make a veteran’s experience better while at their school.

Is the MBA program also offered online?

Many veteran students are also stay-at-home dads, struggle with PTSD or just like the flexibility of being able to study whenever the time fits into their busy schedule, so an MBA program being offered online can be a deciding factor. More and more, schools are offering the same MBA program both on-campus and online … even with the same curriculum.

Is the school part of the Yellow Ribbon Program?

This can be a true indicator of just how much a school supports veterans. If they support an unlimited number of graduate students with a maximum contribution of at least $9,000 or more per year per student, they have a great Yellow Ribbon Program. It actually ends up being twice that amount because the VA will match whatever contribution the school provides – in effect doubling the amount.

Is the MBA cost-effective?

While cost won’t be much of an issue if attending a public school under the Post 9/11 GI Bill or a private school under the same GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, it’s a primary consideration if not using either. While going the cheapest route is not always a good decision, going the most expensive may not be either. Choose a route that will get you the best education that you can use to reach your career goals.

Does the school have an accreditation that is recognized by the career field?

Some of the for-profit schools were in the news lately where graduates discovered their school’s accreditation wasn’t recognized by their chosen career field. Not only was it costly to get their degree but not any of it was of value in getting the job they wanted.

Funding MBA Programs for Veterans

Post 9/11 GI Bill

For veterans having entitlement left from their Post 9/11 GI Bill, this can be a major source of MBA funding. When shopping for schools, check the Weam’s School Search to see if the MBA program is in the school’s list of programs—double check by asking the question when visiting the school.

With the GI Bill, the VA pays the school directly up to the resident tuition cost and eligible fees. Monthly, students receive a housing allowance determined by the zip code of the school and number of credits taken. Also students receive up to $1,000 per academic year in a book stipend.

One housing allowance difference to be aware of is for students taking all online courses—in this case students are limited to about half of what they would get if attending classes on campus. A loophole that still exists is to take one class per semester that can be applied to your degree plan (and the rest of your credits that semester online) to get the increased housing amount.

Yellow Ribbon Program

To be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program, students must use the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Under this program, the school declares to the VA how much they will waive in tuition as well as how many students they will accept into their YRP each year, the degree levels covered and the maximum contribution per student. The VA pledges to pay an equal contributed amount.

The Weam’s School Search shows on the first page if the school is a Yellow Ribbon School or not, or you can visit the VA’s Yellow Ribbon School website to search by school.

Source: affordablecollegesonline.org

From One Battlefield to Another: 3 graduate programs for vets interested in politics

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Syracuse University

Thinking about running for office? There’s no better way to “put your money where your mouth is” than by throwing your hat in the ring.

Military service has always been a good starting point for entry into politics in America. Americans traditionally love war heroes, however broad the definition of that term might be. From George Washington, who was not only the commander of the Continental Army but a veteran of the French-Indian War, to George W. Bush, a Texas Air National Guard pilot. Thirty-two of the 44 men who have held the presidency served in uniform at some point, with 12 of them as general officers.

One of the high-water marks for veteran political activity was the election of 1946, the first held after the end of World War II. Seventy war veterans were elected to Congress that year, including three future presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford.

There are currently 96 veterans of all stripes serving in Congress—77 in the House and 19 in the Senate—but only 19 are freshmen. I believe we need to raise that number.

If you’re a veteran who wants to make a difference in politics, whether at the local, state, or national level, there are several programs where you can put your Post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits to use.

These programs give you the technical knowledge necessary to get a head start on your potential opponents, whoever they may be.

Syracuse University Veterans in Politics Program

Syracuse University is the newest entry in this field. Banking giant JP Morgan Chase & Co. (where retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno is a senior advisor) provided a grant to Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to begin the program.

Mike Haynie, executive director of Syracuse’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and vice chancellor for its strategic initiatives and innovation, said, “We hope to create the opportunity to put the veterans who participate in the program on a path to enacting their aspiration for office.” Syracuse participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which covers the difference between Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the cost of tuition, and has a robust veteran services office.

University of San Francisco Masters in Public Leadership

In conjunction with the Veterans Campaign, a non-partisan organization dedicated to preparing veterans to hold political office, the University of San Francisco runs a hybrid program of online courses and weekend seminars. The program leads to a MFA degree in public leadership. It’s designed to prepare all students, but especially veterans, for political office as well as for careers in legislative affairs, campaign management, advocacy and civic leadership.

The seminars are available in both San Francisco and the Washington, D.C. area. Like many professional graduate programs, the faculty come more from professional life than academia—a must when discussing the nuts and bolts of getting elected. Prominent among the adjunct faculty is Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress.

George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management

The George Washington University. The Graduate School of Political Management was the first of its kind in the country. It began in New York in 1987, branching out to Washington in 1991. It formally became part of GWU in 1995.

If you want to learn about politics from the people who actually practice and study it alongside people who are currently working in it, then GSPM is for you.

The program offers master of professional studies degrees in three areas: political management, legislative affairs, and strategic public relations. Political management would be the best choice for would-be candidates, while legislative affairs is geared towards those looking to work on Capitol Hill or as a lobbyist. Strategic public relations prepares students to advise senior political and corporate leaders on their engagements with the public.

While not specifically geared towards veterans, GWU is a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, and has an outstanding veteran services department.

Politics can be a richly rewarding career, regardless of which side of the fence or television camera you prefer to be. Your status as a veteran gets you a seat at the table, but from then on, it’s up to you to articulate why you deserve to be elected. These programs can help get you there.

Source: clearancejobs.com

6 Terms You Won’t Believe Have Military Origins

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veterans looking at computer and smiling

There’s a long history of military slang, probably dating all the way back to when the first people hit each other with sticks and rocks. While military slang can be fun, it’s even more fun when it seeps into the common vernacular of everyday people. The only problem is when a word or phrase is too good, its origin gets lost in time, and people forget where it came from – but no longer.

Here are just a few words and phrases that came from military tradition.

1. “Best man”

n the days of yore, it was quite possible that a betrothed man might lose his wife even before their wedding to any number of possible hazards – rival bands, enemy leaders, or even random highwaymen. So while he was in the middle of the ceremony, he would enlist his best swordsman to cover his back while his attention was focused elsewhere or hold off an attacking party while the new couple made their getaway.

2. “Boondocks”

These days, to be way out in the boonies means you’re out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the sticks. When the term was coined, it meant that too, only the actual boondocks are in the Philippines. In Tagalog, “bundok” literally translates to “mountains” so when Filipino fighters told American troops they were headed to the bundoks during the 1898 Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine-American War, it meant they were headed to the islands’ inner wilderness.

3. “Cowboys”

Sorry, but the term “cowboy” used to define the ranchers and vaqueros of the Old West was never actually used for those guys at the time. They were usually just called cow herders or cowhands. The term “cowboy” goes well past the 19th Century. The original cowboys were American colonists loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. They would band together in guerrilla units and lure other units of rebel farmers into ambushes using cowbells to coax them in. After the war, it was used to describe criminals from Texas who made raids into Mexico.

4. “Face the music”

In the European military tradition (from which the U.S. tradition is derived), any disgraced officer who was summarily kicked out of his unit was done so in the most demeaning manner possible. As the regiment’s drummer played on, the officer would have his sword broken, his buttons removed, and his charges read to the entire room. The officer was them marched across the parade ground to the tune of the “Rogue’s March” toward the regimental band.

5. “Last ditch effort”

In the kind of fighting that took place in the 16th and 17 Century, troops didn’t just maneuver around the battlefields in the open, in tight formations, wearing bright colors. I mean, they did that, but they also constructed a series of earthwork redoubts and other protective places to hold. Among these was a series of trenches they could fall back to if the stuff started hitting the fan – and they would dig many in case things went really wrong. But everyone knew by the time you got to your last one, you had to do something amazing, or everyone was likely to die in that last ditch.

6. “The whole nine yards”

This term appeared in the 1950s, after the end of World War II – and it has nothing to do with football or anything else where yardage is a factor. It refers to the length of the ammunition belts designed for American and British fighter planes during the war, 27 feet (or nine yards). When flying a particularly tough mission or otherwise using a lot of ammo, a pilot might have been said to use “the whole nine yards.”

Continue on to Military.com to read the complete article.

94-year-old Montford Point Marine veteran awarded Congressional Gold Medal

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Marine veteran congressional gold medal

A 94-year-old Marine veteran from Hayward, California, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Aug. 2 — nearly three quarters of a century after he fought to clear the Marshall Islands from the Japanese in World War II.

Joseph Alexander was awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors for being among the first African Americans to enlist in the Corps and attend recruit training at Montford Point Camp in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Alexander’s exploits during World War II in the Pacific and his time at Montford Point were first detailed in a story by the East Bay Times.

According to the East Bay Times, Alexander’s family stumbled upon his past as a Montford Point Marine while working with Department of Veterans Affairs to get him medical benefits.

Alexander joined the Corps in 1943 at the age of 19, following then-President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 signing of an executive order that prohibited ethnic or racial discrimination in federal agencies working in defense and forced the military to recruit blacks.

Continue on to the Marine Corps Times to read the complete article.

Planes, Frogs & Obstacles? They’re All Happening at LA Fleet Week 2019

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Skydivers in the air with an American Flag attached

Things will really be jumping at this year’s LA Fleet Week—literally.  Added to the line-up of this annual multi-day LA Waterfront celebration of our nation’s Sea Services, Aug. 30- Sept. 2, will be two new crowd-pleasing events, U.S. Navy Leap Frog jumpers and an all-out battle of the fittest with USAA’s high-stakes Obstacle Course Competition. Aerial flyovers and demonstrations are back by popular demand as well.

The Leap Frogs” are the official parachute demonstration team of the U.S. Navy and part of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command. The team is made up of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and support personnel. Each day starting Saturday of LA Fleet Week, the Leap Frogs will make a spectacular parachute landing into the event. Often jumping from aircraft hovering more than two miles above, the Leap Frogs are a unique visual experience not to be missed.

Also new this year at LA Fleet Week will be a high-intensity Obstacle Course Competition presented by USAA. As much a participant as a spectator sport, the relay-style competition will feature two-person teams racing against the clock to complete the athletically challenging course in the fastest time. From 150- to 200-lb. tire flips to track sprints, to weighted rope pulls and accuracy throwing drills, a winning team will be determined at the end of each competition day.

For the Obstacle Course Competition, advanced team sign ups are recommended, though walk-up teams will accommodated as scheduling allows. Team competitions will be held Friday through Monday during LA Fleet Week from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The obstacle course will be located in the Battleship IOWA parking lot near the Military Village. See more details here.

Dozens of military and first responder aircraft demonstrations will entertain event goers throughout the Labor Day Weekend. Aircrafts will soar over the Main Channel at the Port of Los Angeles to kick off Friday night’s Military Appreciation concert headlined by Cheap Trick, then regularly take to the skies between 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Saturday through Monday.

On tap for the weekend will be U.S. Navy F/A 18 combat jet flyovers, as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstrations by the U.S. Coast Guard. Other aerial demonstrations by various Los Angeles city and county first responders are also in the works.

“It promises to be a great weekend of flyovers with the line-up we’ve got planned,” said Dennis Lord, LA Fleet Week aerial coordinator. “It’s a rare opportunity to see how the aviation component of so many agencies works to protect and guard the freedoms we all enjoy.”

Public ship tours will be available throughout the weekend on a first-come, first-serve basis, with no online reservations needed. Visitors will also be able to enjoy free live entertainment on the event’s Main Stage, a Veteran’s Village, a First Responder Village, a Military Village, a kids’ STEM Expo, and a selection of eats from food trucks onsite.

About LA Fleet Week®

LA Fleet Week® is a multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services that takes place on the LA Waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles. Now in its fourth year, the event has become a Southern California end-of-summer tradition over Labor Day Weekend that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

LA Fleet Week is organized by the LA Fleet Week Foundation, in partnership with the Port of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles. Other LA Fleet Week 2019 sponsors include Ambassador Frank Baxter / Alliance Alice Baxter Ready School, Anchor Brewing Company, Annenberg Foundation, AT&T, Black Knight Patrol, Clear Channel, Collier Walsh Nakazawa LLP, Comcast, Dante Valve, Delta Airlines, Fast Lane Transportation, Humana, KRLA, LA County Veteran Peer Access Network, LA Department of Water and Power, LA Waterfront Alliance, Marathon Petroleum, Outfront Media, Paramount Pictures, Phillips 66, Princess Cruises. Providence Little Company of Mary, Qualcomm, Rancho LPG, Sailor Jerry Rum, The Ahmanson Foundation, The Boeing Company, UPS, USAA, Valero, Verizon, Vistaprint, Wells Fargo and Westrec Marinas.