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U.S. role in Somalia: 'I think we had to do it'

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When U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Montgomery arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia, in early 1993, he said the smell of death was in the air because of the starvation of babies, children and people – warlords were using food and other resources for their own causes. His mission as commander of U.S. Forces and deputy commander of the United Nations Forces in Somalia was to make sure humanitarian relief got to the people who needed it through the setup of feeding stations. And to disarm the Somalis.

After 13 months in Somalia, Montgomery witnessed the success of the humanitarian efforts, but also witnessed the lives of American soldiers claimed during the Battle of Mogadishu, and ultimately led efforts to rescue the Army Rangers and Delta Force with help from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, the Pakistanis and Malaysians.

Montgomery, an Indiana native who retired from the Army after 34 years of honorable service that earned him both the Silver and Bronze Star, shared his story to an audience at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis on May 18.

“It very quickly became apparent that nobody is going to disarm Somalia. Nobody is going to disarm Somalia today either,” Montgomery said. “But what people forget is that it was a hugely successful humanitarian effort. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis survived because (the U.S.) and other United Nations did what we did.”

He showed the audience images of a feeding station with children and shared that while visiting one a young child ran over to him and put her arms around his leg and held on. He picked her up and held her. “That baby knew what that (U.S.) uniform meant. And she knew what it meant for them to survive over there.”

Throughout the humanitarian efforts, resistance from the warlords intensified and Montgomery became involved in a third mission that occurred on Oct. 3, 1993, in Mogadishu. That Battle of Mogadishu became known as the Battle of Black Hawk Down, and inspired the award-winning 2001 film. The Task Force Ranger and Delta Force had a mission to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid and his allies, but they were met with strong resistance. “Every Somalian grabbed his gun, RPG, grenade … they came to fight,” Montgomery said.

During the operation, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by RPGs. Some wounded survivors were able to evacuate, but others remained at the crash site and were isolated. The battle continued throughout the night until the following morning when a rescue mission was underway.

Over a radio Montgomery could hear the battle going down and the banter from the soldiers, and then could hear that the forces were in trouble. “(The Rangers/Delta Force) were in danger and being overrun. I had to put a plan together. The relief became the second part of Black Hawk Down.” However, Montgomery didn’t have enough strength in armor or heavy forces. So he called both the Pakistani and Malaysian commanders to help rescue the soldiers who were in duress. Each one said, “’Yes, sir.’ There was no resistance; we were all soldiers,” Montgomery said. “We were doing everything we needed to support each other.”

The Pakistanis and Malaysians supplied armored tanks and troops. They followed in the 10th Mountain Division to rescue the Rangers and Delta Force. “And the Battle of Black Hawk Down is over,” Montgomery said.

The battle resulted in more than 70 U.S. wounded and 18 casualties, which included Delta Force snipers Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart, who were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions. Pilot Michael Durant was captured but later released. Montgomery said that while "Black Hawk Down" is a great war movie that provides a realistic depiction of the ferocity of the battle and valor of the Rangers and Delta Force, it’s about 60 percent accurate as it does not depict the rescue force of the 10th Mountain Division. And many people don’t know that a Malaysian solider died during the battle to save American soldiers.

“I'm very proud of the Malaysian and the Pakistani soldiers that were a part of (the mission), and I am enormously proud of the 10th Mountain Division who got very little recognition,” Montgomery said.

Following the battle, Montgomery received an ample supply of armored vehicles and stayed in Mogadishu for another six months to command the Quick Reaction Force. He departed for home in March 1994, and showed an image of it to the audience. He said it was the first time he could relax after not sleeping a single night through during his time in Somalia. "Because you're always waiting for the next thing to happen," he said.

However, when questioned whether or not the United States should have been over in Somalia, Montgomery said, “I think we had to do it. The humanitarian part of this was very important. We did a good service and a good job.”


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USAA Tips: How military skills help a career in sales

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Sales roles are some of the most difficult and the most rewarding of any position in business. Sales roles, whether in a major corporation, a small business, a food truck vendor, or on the floor of a retail shop, require patience, skill, good nature, a deep understanding of the customer, and a daily willingness to go above and beyond to help the customer satisfy their needs. A sales role requires you to educate, inform, negotiate, and conclude sales opportunities with a wide variety of different customers and to use different skill sets simultaneously to ensure a solution that meets both the customer’s needs and the needs of the sales organization.

There are several military skill sets that can make a sales role more enjoyable and more successful.

Be an Expert in Your Field & Have the Latest Corporate News.

In the military, a great military leader not only sets the example in their own unit, but also helps other military units succeed. A salesperson is similar to a military leader because a salesperson needs to be a positive physical representation of all that a company is and aspires to be. By no means does a salesperson have to be perfect, but they need to be an expert in their industry and they need to understand both their company’s products and services and how they help their customers excel in their daily operations. One of the greatest benefits a salesperson performs is helping their customers use the company’s products and services to deliver a better service for the customer’s customers. Another core attribute that translates from the military role to a sales role is bringing your customer’s intelligence on how to deliver better to their customers or what the customer’s competitors are doing. Expertise, intelligence, and dedication to the customer are common traits for both military professionalism and sales professionalism.

Be Honest, Conscientious, Respectful & Have Strong Follow Up.

Naming personal qualities of a solid military leader and a sales leader are startlingly similar. We want both to be honest, respectful, conscientious and dedicated to their duty, and have a strong follow up on outstanding issues. In the military, we want our leaders to look out for our personal and professional well-being. In sales, we want a salesperson to look out for the well-being and success of their customers. There is no difference in leadership qualities between military leaders and sales people in my opinion. Both are ethical, honest, and respectful of people and the organizations that they serve.

Listen, Take Notes and Display Initiative When Seeking Solutions.

The best salespeople and military leaders are often quiet, because they are seeking to understand, take notes, listen to what their customers want, and then taking the initiative to generate ideas and options that their organizations can successfully accomplish. In my opinion, a poor salesperson and military leader are loud, boastful, and talk a “solution” before they even fully understand the problem that they are trying to solve. Listening is an underrated skill and a highly appreciated quality for both military and sales leaders. When someone listens, takes notes, ask questions, and then provides ideas for a solution based on what they heard, and not what they have done in the past, we know that person is there to help us find a solution, and not just to provide us an “easy” answer.

Adjust & React to New Priorities Quickly.

Adjusting to changes quickly is a quality the military and sales both experience together. Priorities change due to changes in leadership, actions exhibited by competitors, changes in priorities, changes in strategies, changes in budget, other personnel changes, and different ideas on what the organization needs “today.” Change happens and disrupts plans for leaders in both the military and in sales. What great military and sales leaders do is to react quickly and comprehensively to the changes and deliver another proposal quickly that meets the needs and expectations under the new strategy. Staying with the “old” plan helps no one. Delivering a new plan quickly that addresses the changes in strategy/budget/priorities helps everyone succeed.

Advocate for Your Customer to Create Loyalty.

In the military and in business, loyalty is the best outcome. In the military, loyalty goes “down the line” from military leaders before it comes back up. Lower ranking military personnel need to see, trust, and experience loyalty from their leaders before they provide their loyalty in return. Likewise, for a salesperson and a business, customer loyalty provides the greatest financial rewards for a business and a company. If I create loyalty in a customer, then that customer trusts my products and services and I know I need to be an incredibly strong internal advocate for that customer in my business organization. Loyalty to those led and from / to customers are some of the best personal and business outcomes that military and sales leaders can achieve.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle & Get Home Often.

Military and sales positions are highly stressful. Military and sales positions are where the front line “winning” occurs. Sales and military leaders need to promote their own exercise, sleep, healthy diets, and control their schedules as much as possible to be near family, friends, and other personal support. It is critical to remember, that military units and corporations will never love you and, in fact, are designed to succeed when you leave. Maintaining a strong level of personal and mental fitness means that salespeople and military personnel will continue to have great lives when they leave their organizations and move onto other roles.

Being a successful salesperson and a military leader is difficult and stressful. Consistently acting in the best interests of both organizations while being ethical, honest, creative, and conscientious help ensures a successful career as a military leader and as a sales leader.


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Breaking the stereotype of American Legion Riders

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The American Legion Riders (ALR) are all-inclusive and welcoming. Any American Legion Family member – Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion – who meet the Riders’ eligibility requirements are eligible to join.

In an effort to reach current and eligible ALR members, the Department of California put together a few videos to present a clearer picture of what the riders are all about. Watch the department videos here.

“Being an American Legion Rider transcends generations,” said Mick Sobczak, Department of California ALR president. Sobczak served in both the Marine Corps and the Army and retired as a combat engineer from the Army. He is a 10-year Legion member and the son of a 32-year Legion member from New York.

The California Legion Riders looked for a way to promote their 89 existing chapters and also improve awareness and membership within the organization. They are especially looking to include women and younger riders. Past Hollywood Post 43 Commander Jeric Wilhelmsen filmed three rides in California with the help of Chapter 43 Vice President Dennis Kee. “We took a ride out to Malibu and down the Pacific Coast Highway,” Wilhelmsen said. The other shoots took them to Bakersfield and Monterey Bay. The videos showed the world-class scenic rides of Southern California but focused on the Riders. Watch Chapter 43's video here.

Sobczak knew Wilhelmsen had the skills to help execute the informative videos. They met when Wilhelmsen filmed the 2017 American Legion Legacy Ride, which raises funds for the Legacy Scholarship that supports children of post-9/11 veterans who died on active duty, or have a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater.

Wilhelmsen was so inspired by the way Riders from the entire country came together that he wanted to be a part of it himself. He was an integral part of starting a new Legion Riders chapter at Hollywood Post 43. “When I got back to my home post I heard that there was talk about starting a chapter, so I jumped on board and did everything I could do to help out in creating that chapter,” he said.

When the Riders came to Hollywood Post 43 it was a perfect opportunity for Wilhelmsen to use his experience to develop and grow the chapter. “Our chapter really wanted to make splash and make our presence known and have the whole state or country know about us,” he said. “I thought it was important to have a strong social media presence. So I immediately created our Facebook page, our Instagram page; in making those pages we needed content.” Wilhelmsen, a U.S. Army and Army Reserve veteran, now works as a video journalist with experience covering adventure races like the Race Across America.

Dennis Kee, vice president and a founding member of Chapter 43 Legion Riders, also gave his skills to this project. Kee is part of a group of about 18 combat camera people who are members of Post 43.

This video project is intended to show exactly who the Legion Riders are and what they do. “We do a lot of veteran support activities,” Kee said. “We do welcome home activities, we do missions when groups deploy. We’re really proud. We’re just trying to get more Riders and to get everybody excited about it.”

These videos are "to provide awareness and hit different demographics to show that we’re not locked.” Sobczak said. “And being that the Riders are the fastest growing program of The American Legion, we just figured these videos would take us to the next level.”

“It’s exciting to see the Auxiliary and the Sons involved,” Kee said.

One of the videos highlights a female veteran rider named Stephanie Chaing. “I was tired of being on the back seat and I wanted to do my own thing,” Chaing said. “I love riding with a pack, especially the Legion. It’s a proud feeling. I’m passionate about riding because it’s a therapeutic thing for me, but also to be able to come together and experience it as a family.”

“Most people view us as the older guy riding a cruiser, and we use these videos, to show that there’s sports bikes, there’s cruisers, there’s men, there’s women, there’s Auxiliary, there’s (an SAL) squadron,” Sobczak said. “We tried to hit as many demographics as possible with these videos.”

The Riders are quick to clarify that they are not a motorcycle club. “We are a program of The American Legion,” Sobczak said. “We are Legion Family members serving veterans and our community. We just happen to do it on motorcycle. If you’re in the military family and you want to ride, you’re welcome.”

For Wilhelsen, the filming provided more than expected. “As I got opportunities to visit these various chapters, I was learning a lot of the history about the Department of California: how the Riders first got started here in California and how they developed. I really enjoyed learning the history of this state. As I was doing these interviews I realized that I was getting the history of the Riders. I was capturing a snapshot of the Riders in 2018.”

The Department of California American Legion Riders goal is to have 100 chapters for the 100-year anniversary of The American Legion in 2019.

“Training and membership are very important to me,” said Sobczak, a National Legion College graduate and instructor who helped develop California’s recent Legion College. “I’m a firm believer that if people understand our history and how the process works, we will not only get new members but we’ll retain and maintain active members.”

Wilhelmsen expressed the value of learning the history of the organization and meeting people who were part of some of the first Riders chapters. “I really hope that this archive of interviews of the current state of the Riders in 2018 is valued 50 years or 100 years from now,” he said.


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Breaking down the image: Mental health

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ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — Life in the military can be stressful for anyone from an Airman to a general officer. Fortunately, the 28th Medical Group Mental Health Clinic provides services for Airmen in need.

“Our primary mission is to return Airmen to their jobs and back into the fight,” said Air Force Airman 1st Class Bradley Borytsky, a 28th Medical Operations Squadron mental health technician. “We want to make sure that [Airmen] are functioning at full capacity and handle whatever life throws at them with healthy coping mechanisms.”

The 28th Bomb Wing has begun teams to help build a support network between Airmen and the chaplain team and mental health clinic.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Garrison, 28th Medical Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic, gives building blocks to an Airman during a team building exercise with the human performance team to bring awareness to the value of having positive coping mechanisms during stressful situations at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. Mental health is one of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and is recognized in May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nicolas Z. Erwin)Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Garrison, 28th Medical Operations Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic, gives building blocks to an Airman during a team building exercise with the human performance team to bring awareness to the value of having positive coping mechanisms during stressful situations at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. Mental health is one of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and is recognized in May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nicolas Z. Erwin)

“One of the things we have recently started is implementing human performance teams in collaboration with the chaplains and other helping agencies,” said Air Force Capt. Timothy Naill, 28th Medical Group Family Advocacy Officer. “We want to build relationships with Airmen in their units… it’s really getting people to see that we are on their team.”

May has been National Mental Health Month since 1949, bringing awareness and educating the public about mental illness. In the military, there are misconceptions of what the mental health clinic does.

“First off, people think [getting help for mental illness] will ruin their career,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Garrison, 28th MDOS noncommissioned officer in charge of the mental health clinic. “They think they have no privacy because their commanders and first sergeants are privy to their information. That isn’t true.”

Garrison explained that although commanders and first sergeants are given limited information when it relates to harm to self, harm to others or mission impact, generally, what Airmen disclose to their provider and the specific details they have are not given to their commanders.

Naill elaborated on how the misconception of going to mental health will ruin a career is wrong. He explained that the earlier someone gets help, the more manageable their situation will be. Airmen need to know there is support out there to help cope with whatever is happening in their lives.

“We come from a variety of different backgrounds,” Naill said. “We all have different upbringings. The mental health clinic teaches skills that someone may not have learned at other times in their lives.”

These skills improve the overall well-being of an Airman’s mental state, one portion of being ready to win the fight. A general outline of an Airman’s health falls into the categories of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

This model includes pillars that represent the physical, spiritual, social and mental portions of one’s readiness. The health of each of these pillars have a tremendous impact on how an Airman performs.

“How someone explained mental health to me was by comparing it to spraining an ankle,” Borytsky said. “When you’re running and sprain your ankle, people don’t expect you to be ready to run a mile-and-a-half. Your mental health is the same. You shouldn’t be expected to be at your best after something traumatic happens.”

Getting mental health care is important as demonstrated by Kevin Hines, one of 36 people to survive a suicide attempt by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. Mr. Hines was invited by the base community action team to help bring awareness of avenues for Airmen to find support at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

“If you are out there in the military, and you are hiding and silencing your pain, I need you to do yourself a favor and tell your truth to someone who can help,” Hines explained.

He described how getting help is a daily occurrence and how important it is to have people who support you and empathize with any situation happening.

Getting help may have a stigma associated within the Air Force. The 2018 theme being promoted for National Mental Health Month is “#CureStigma.” Stigmas tend to create an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“The stigma is starting to fade,” Garrison said. “In the more recent years, we have seen a tremendous amount of people starting to visit. That’s always a good sign.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.



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Servicemembers demonstrate grace under fire

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Military medical professionals were recently honored in Washington, D.C., at the 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Awards, hosted by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. During the gala, honorees were recognized for distinguishing themselves through excellence and selfless dedication.

“The Military Health System and its people have an endless capacity to astound and an inexhaustible supply of courage, discipline, and skill.” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Thomas McCaffery, speaking to more than 250 attendees at the 8th annual gala.

Air Force Col. William E. Nelson, chief, integrated and international operational medicine, 711th Human Performance Wing, is presented a 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, by Air Force Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho, president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. Colonel Nelson was recognized for his exemplary career as an Air Force flight surgeon and for his contributions to the Air Force Integrated Operational Support mission. (Courtesy photo by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine)Air Force Col. William E. Nelson, chief, integrated and international operational medicine, 711th Human Performance Wing, is presented a 2018 Heroes of Military Medicine Award in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2018, by Air Force Maj. Gen. (retired) Joseph Caravalho, president, Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine. Colonel Nelson was recognized for his exemplary career as an Air Force flight surgeon and for his contributions to the Air Force Integrated Operational Support mission. (Courtesy photo by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine)

Included among the honorees were three airmen from the 99th Medical Group, 99th Air Base Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The 99th MG was awarded the Hero of Military Medicine Ambassador Award for the selfless actions of these three on the evening of October 1, when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding 489. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alyson Venegas, Senior Airman Linda Wilson, and Senior Airman Logan Bennett, all aerospace medical technicians, were attending the concert when chaos broke out. They immediately delivered life-saving care and put themselves at risk to help others. “There was no doubt about it,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t fight or flight, it was fight.”

McCaffery said the courage of the award winners serves as an important reminder to those in leadership positions. “We may not be asked to crouch in ditches or provide care under enemy fire,” he said. “We are asked, however, that these heroes, and thousands like them, have the tools they need; the chance to acquire skills they need; and that we invest all we possibly can in them and their patients.”

U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup from Ohio’s 2nd District received the Hero of Military Medicine Senior Leader Award. Wenstrub, now a colonel, joined the Army Reserve in 1998. In 2005-2006, he deployed to Iraq as a combat surgeon. Currently Wenstrub fulfills his Reserve duties treating patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Air Force Col. William Nelson received the Air Force Hero of Military Medicine Award. Nelson’s 27-year career has taken him across the world. He commanded the 39th Medical Operations Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the Air Force’s largest overseas aeromedical squadron. At present, he executes strategy for the Air Force’s 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Army Maj. Andrew Fisher received the Army Hero of Military Medicine Award. Fisher joined in 1992 as an infantryman. He is a second-year medical student at Texas A&M College of Medicine and also serves in the Texas National Guard as a physician assistant.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Schuyler B. Nesbitt received the Navy Hero of Military Medicine Award. Nesbitt provided medical care on the USNS Comfort in Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. He currently serves in the 1st Marine Division, where he deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, delivered the keynote address, calling for innovation and research efforts to continually improve the level of care provided to troops on the frontlines. “I am asking you to find innovative and transformational changes in battlefield medicine that will not make us choose between saving lives and being judicious with precious limited resources,” he said.



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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.