The first woman in U.S. history to achieve the rank of four-star general said she learned her first leadership lesson as a newly minted second lieutenant: Never walk by a mistake.
“I was taught that if you walk by a mistake, you’ve just set a new lower standard,” said retired Gen. Ann Dunwoody. She spoke Wednesday at the General Bernard W. Rogers Strategic Issues Forum, presented by AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare.
Dunwoody said the mistake might seem insignificant—a soldier walking by with his or her hands in pockets, for example—but “in the Army, failing to maintain a standard can lead to a slippery slope that leads to poor performance, people getting hurt or even worse.”
Dunwoody, who retired in 2012 with more than 37 years of service, said early in her career, she assumed that as a woman she would need to exceed the Army’s standards to be accepted in the ranks. However, “all of the good leaders I served with, all of the good leaders I looked up to, they all held themselves to a higher standard and encouraged their subordinates to do the same.”
So Dunwoody’s 2015 book, Leadership Strategies From America’s First Female Four-Star General, is about her military career from “a leadership, not a gender, perspective.”
“I believe good leaders never stop learning,” she said. “This is not a book about how to become a general; I’m not sure I could write a book like that.” Instead, she wanted to encourage soldiers to “dream big” and “continue to find ways to make a difference.”
Dunwoody said good leaders embrace diversity, which doesn’t mean “adding one of these, or one of those, to the roster. The real power of diversity comes from diversity of thought.”
She also said good leaders tackle challenges instead of running away from them. “Were there times when it would have been easy to quit and run in the face of adversity? You bet.” But she told herself, “If I quit, if I take the easy road, if I don’t try to make a difference, who’s the real winner and who’s the real loser?”
“For me, the seemingly insurmountable challenges turned into opportunities, because it was all about leadership.”
For the first time, a female sailor has successfully completed the grueling 37-week training course to become a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman — the boat operators who transport Navy SEALs and conduct their own classified missions at sea.
Navy officials said they would not identify the woman or provide more details on her — a routine military policy for special operations forces.
She was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins on Thursday. She is also the first of 18 women who have tried out for a job as a SWCC or a SEAL to succeed.
The sailor’s graduation marks just the latest inroad that women have made into some of the military’s most difficult and competitive commando jobs — just five years after all combat posts were opened to them. She will now head to one of Naval Special Warfare’s three special boat teams.
“Becoming the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline is an extraordinary accomplishment and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commander of Naval Special Warfare. “Like her fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive and leadership attributes required to join our force.”
“She and her fellow graduates have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms to deliver distinctive capabilities to our Navy, and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard added.
Of the 18 females who have sought a Navy special operations job, 14 did not complete the course. Three of them, however, are currently still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs. Overall, according to the Navy, only about 35 percent of the men and women who begin the training for SWCC actually graduate.
A year ago, a female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army’s elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green Beret teams. One other female soldier has finished training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month, and another will be attending the Military Freefall School next month, and then will report to her team.
So far, no women have successfully completed Marine special operations training. Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante said that since August 2016, nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process. He said two candidates made it through the second phase, but didn’t meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, didn’t get selected to continue.
He said that only about 40 percent of the more than 1,200 Marines who went through the course since 2016 successfully completed it.
Ten years ago, I toured the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, with a group of World War II veterans, including Charles Utz. We stopped at the rear of a B-17 bomber, and Charles began talking.
He told me of being shot down on Christmas Eve 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a tail gunner, and the plane was in flames. But the trapdoor in the tail was stuck.
“It wouldn’t budge,” he explained. “I could see the flames growing around the engines and knew it was just a matter of minutes until they reached the fuel tank. I said to God, ‘If You let me out of here, I promise to spend my life serving You and man . . . ‘”
Charles’ voice trailed off, and his eyes brimmed with tears. “And that’s what’s always bothered me,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve lived up to that promise.”
Charles is among the tens of thousands of veterans who have shared their stories with us at the Veterans Breakfast Club. As a historian, I thought that holding veteran storytelling events would be a way to learn history from the people who lived it. I didn’t know that simple acts of listening would draw us so close so quickly and hold such therapeutic value . . . for them and me. For older veterans especially, sharing their stories is the last stop on their Hero’s Journeys.
One of the most difficult phases of the Hero’s Journey is the Return. In myth, the Hero often refuses to deliver the Grail, to bring back the knowledge gained on adventure. The Hero remains detached and alienated or enters a “deep forgetting,” unable to integrate extraordinary experiences abroad into ordinary life back home. Think of the veteran who comes back and never talks about it.
Old age provides the last chance to accomplish this integrative task.
Storytelling is the most powerful and public form of integrating past experience and gifting it to younger generations. Our veterans, I discovered, are eager to tell their stories when they know there are listeners prepared to hear them. Helping veterans complete their mission should be our mission as citizens.
Listening is hard in today’s noisy and strident social media culture. It takes a quiet mind and open heart, full attention and reserved judgement. It also takes patience. Veterans’ stories usually don’t unfold neatly in one sitting. Most have an open, searching quality, like Charles Utz’s. Meaning is revealed haltingly over time, often with struggle.
But if you, as a listener, can quiet the noise and coax a veteran through their story, you can receive a life-changing gift in return, something best summed up as wisdom.
Gaining wisdom is like earning a Medal of Honor. No one in their right mind would ever court the circumstances required to receive it. Both are granted through suffering, loss, sacrifice, and service to something greater than yourself. All of us have the capacity for wisdom, but few want to pay the price. Old age will lead us there eventually, if we allow it to.
War has the power to force wisdom upon its fighters all at once. It quickens the process by hurtling young men and women through a premature reckoning with their own mortality. If the warrior can accept the self-transformation wrought by war, then they can bring back to the world exceptional insight, perspective, and a deepened understanding of what really matters.
The veterans I’ve met at the Veterans Breakfast Club are humbler than the rest of us, more grateful for what they have, less distressed by grievance, and more dedicated to serving others. They are people of wonder, awe, and compassion. If you surround yourself with such persons, their qualities can rub off and attach to you like flecks of gold dust.
Charles Utz needed help completing the Journey that began in the tail of that B-17 in 1944. I helped simply by listening and prompting him to finish his story. In doing so, I got to reflect on how I might choose to live if I’d suddenly been granted another shot at life.
I invite everyone to take a moment to listen to our veterans share their stories. You’ll grow from the experience and may even discover your own Hero within, capable of wrestling open your own trapdoor and crossing the threshold into a new world.
By Todd DePastino
Todd DePastino is the founding director of Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC), a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to creating communities of listening around veterans and their stories to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. As a historian, Todd is author and editor of seven books, including the award-winning Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front (W.W. Norton), a biography of the famed WWII cartoonist. He has a PH.D. in American History from Yale University and has taught at Penn State Beaver and Waynesburg University, where he received the Lucas-Hathaway Award for Teaching Excellence. Learn more about VBC and its mission at www.veteransbreakfastclub.org
Navy Federal Credit Union recently released a new report on the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on military families.
The survey of more than 1,100 active duty servicemembers, veterans and military spouses illustrates the new financial habits military families picked up, their financial plans for the coming months, differences in saving and spending across generations, and the disparate impact of the pandemic on military spouses.
Household Expenses and New Financial Habits
As a result of the pandemic, Navy Federal found that the majority of military households cut expenses and adopted new financial habits in 2020, with 89 percent of respondents indicating that they spent less on an expense in 2020. The most common expenses cut include:
Vacation travel (63 percent)
Eating out (58 percent
Entertainment (57 percent)
Self-care (41 percent)
Clothing (40 percent)
Military families did more than just cut back on their spending though, with 77 percent indicating that the upheaval of 2020 caused them to embrace at least one new financial habit. The most common new financial habits reported were:
43 percent cut back on daily spending
36 percent kept track of finances more closely
27 percent established or added to an emergency savings fund
26 percent paid off credit card bill monthly
25 percent used digital/contactless payment
23 percent maintained a monthly budget
20 percent set up autopay for bills or recurring payments
“The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every facet of our lives, and our members have taken this turmoil in stride and adapted their financial habits to face this new challenge,” said Clay Stackhouse, a retired Marine Corps colonel and regional outreach manager at Navy Federal. “At Navy Federal, we’re passionate about supporting military communities and dedicating resources to ensure they have financial tools and knowledge needed to meet their financial goals. Our proactive approach and ongoing dedication to our members allowed us to support military families during this challenging time.”
Military Families Re-emerge: Summer Spending and Travel
As more Americans are vaccinated and it becomes safe to travel; dine out at restaurants, shop or visit entertainment venues; and see family and friends, most military families plan to re-emerge this summer and start spending again. Overall, 69 percent of military families report they plan to do more or just as much in summer 2021 as they did in past summers. Similarly, 64 percent report they will spend either more money or just as much money as usual this summer. Still, a significant portion of military households plan to maintain their pandemic spending habits, with 35 percent indicating they will spend less than in past summers. Other key findings regarding summer include:
Military families report they plan to travel more frequently (43 percent), go out to restaurants and bars (31 percent) and shop in-person at stores (25 percent).
More active duty servicemembers (34 percent) plan to go out and do more things this summer than in the past than veterans (21 percent) and military spouses (23 percent).
Most military families plan to bring back vacation travel (60 percent).
Differences Across Generations and the Impact on Spouses
When looking at different age groups of servicemembers, veterans and spouses, differences begin to emerge across generations when it comes to pandemic spending, new financial habits and post-pandemic outlook. Navy Federal found that:
The younger you are, the more likely you were to pick up a new financial habit
Additionally, the research study showed that military spouses experienced a greater impact from the pandemic, and its effects will likely last, even as the pandemic wanes:
Of households who reported they cut childcare expenses in 2020, 55 percent indicate they plan on delaying or not bringing back this expense.
46 percent of active duty spouses report cutting back on self-care during COVID compared to just 31 percent of servicemembers.
81 percent of active duty spouses reported a higher level of uncertainty about post-pandemic life.
Navy Federal uses the data and insights it gleans from this research to provide timely and relevant financial tools in support of its members’ financial journeys. Navy Federal has been continually recognized for its dedication in delivering exceptional service for its members, ensuring members are educated and can achieve their financial goals though all life stages.
About Navy Federal Credit Union: Established in 1933 with only seven members, Navy Federal now has the distinct honor of serving over 10.5 million members globally and is the world’s largest credit union. As a member-owned and not-for-profit organization, Navy Federal always puts the financial needs of its members first. Membership is open to all branches of the armed forces and their families. Dedicated to its mission of service, Navy Federal employs a workforce of over 23,000 and has a global network of 345 branches. For more information about Navy Federal Credit Union, visit navyfederal.org.
Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Employer.
Methodology: These are the results of a survey of more than 1,100 active duty servicemembers (n=255), veterans (n=543) and military spouses (n=334). Current and former military household interviews were conducted online among Navy Federal Members as well as a general population component through Maru/Blue. Data were aggregated and weighted on age and military affiliation status. The survey was fielded March 24 – April 6, 2021.
The Biden administration unveiled plans Friday to bring hundreds, possibly thousands, of deported veterans and their immediate family members back to the United States, saying their removal “failed to live up to our highest values.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered his department’s immigration agencies to “immediately” take steps to ensure that military families may return to the United States. He said the department would also halt pending deportation proceedings against veterans or their immediate relatives who are in the United States, and clear the way for those who are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the profound commitment and sacrifice that service members and their families have made to the United States of America,” Mayorkas said in a statement Friday. “We are committed to bringing back military service members, veterans, and their immediate family members who were unjustly removed and ensuring they receive the benefits to which they may be entitled.
President Biden had promised on the campaign trail to direct DHS during his first 100 days in office to stop targeting veterans and their families for deportation and to create a process for veterans deported by the Trump administration to return to the United States.
Veterans advocates have expressed concern in recent weeks that few veterans or their relatives have returned, while others remained in deportation proceedings. Many deported veterans also say they have been unable to access benefits such as health care from overseas.
In a memo Friday, the heads of DHS’s immigration agencies said they will review policies to ensure that military veterans and their relatives are “welcome to remain in or return to the United States.” Officials said they would also work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department to ensure that veterans can access their health benefits, including coronavirus vaccinations, and that recruits can take the oath of citizenship, including while at basic training.
DHS will establish a “Military Resource Center” online with a toll-free number and email address to help families with their immigration applications.
If you’ve recently married into the military, or you or your spouse has just joined, you may be feeling both nervous and excited about the future.
During the adjustment period, spouses take on new roles, adapt to new schedules and learn new ways of handling many of life’s obstacles. To successfully do so, it’s helpful to know about the military spouse support available to you.
What’s on the installation
Your installation Military and Family Support Center is a good place to start for anything from local recreational opportunities and a personalized introduction to installation services including spouse career and employment opportunities, personal financial management classes, activities for children and families, military spouse resources and more.
Staying positive during a deployment
The power of being positive, along with a little help from friends and family, can make time apart from your partner your time to shine. Follow our tips to stay positive and make that time go by just a little bit faster.
Living on an installation for the first time
You may experience many emotions if you’re planning to live on an installation for the first time as a military spouse. While it’s perfectly understandable to feel some uncertainty, there are several ways to ensure the transition is a success:
Be proactive and keep a positive attitude. Take advantage of opportunities offered to you on the installation.
Get your children involved in activities. The installation youth center offers a wide range of sports, activities, events and social clubs. This is also a great way to meet other parents.
Get to know your neighbors. Other families are getting used to the new installation too.
Participate in military community activities. Pay attention to upcoming events and join in the fun. You can try new things and meet new people at the same time.
Stay in touch with the military spouse online community
You might be amazed at what you can accomplish on your own and with a little help from other military spouses. The Blog Brigade is the place to read about tips from other military spouses around the world.
Spouse education and career opportunities
Continuing your education or advancing your career when you’re constantly on the move can be tough. But there are many employment and education resources that are only available to military spouses.
Whether you’re in need of help writing a resume or simply deciding what career is best for you, the MySECO website is your one-stop shop. MySECO provides education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections.
Depending on your individual interests and skills, there are many job opportunities available to you. Get your resume ready and explore what’s out there, on and off the installation.
There certain preferences for military spouses when applying for Department of Defense civilian jobs. With the help of the Military Spouse Preference Program, you can build your career as you move with the military.
If your job requires a professional license or certification and you move due to a permanent change of station, you can apply for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of re-licensure or certification fees from your service branch.
A move overseas can shake up your world as new possibilities and experiences await you. Finding a job overseas as a military spouse presents a unique set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you with your search:
Confidential non-medical counseling
Both Military OneSource and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer services for life situations, such as coping with deployments.
Having a baby when your partner is deployed
When your partner is deployed, there are ways to bridge the distance before and after your child’s birth.
Enroll in the right TRICARE region.
Enroll in childbirth classes at your installation’s hospital or military treatment facility.
Get a medical power of attorney. Choose someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the unlikely event medical staff can’t get your or your partner’s consent. Visit your legal assistance office for more information.
Familiarize yourself with local Red Cross procedures. This way, when you go into labor you can have your medical provider notify your partner.
When you become your spouse’s caregiver
When your spouse is severely injured or has a debilitating illness, you face the prospect of starting a whole new chapter of your life—one you hadn’t expected. Becoming your spouse’s caregiver presents a unique set of challenges that can affect you emotionally and physically, and can often seem overwhelming. Read about common reactions to becoming a caregiver, resources for support and tips on taking care of yourself throughout the caregiving process.
All military jobs take dedication, and being a military spouse is no different. We hope this list of resources can help you through any challenges that may arise along the way.
Tall, dark, and handsome describes the former Green Beret turned firefighter and now actor Jeff Bosley. You’ve seen him on the screen in Take Point, Seal Team, Ray Donovan, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He plays Nomad in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops III. He’s a true-life hero who served in the Special Forces–a secret society of the nation’s finest warriors that nobody knows, ones who are in it for the honor but never get the glory.
So how on earth did this Idaho native go from down-home good ol’ boy to badass Special Forces guy to a first responder …and then finally settle in the land of make believe? Join me as I learn a bit about Jeff–how he got to where he is today and where he’s headed.
Tell me a little about why you chose to go into the Army, then on to Special Forces …. what are some of your best memories from those years?
It was a convoluted journey, to be honest. I have some random cousins and uncles who served, but I didn’t come from one of those heavily populated military families. I spent many years chasing college degrees because that’s what I assumed you are supposed to do. Then, after 9/11, I still resisted the urge to serve. I had always wanted to, but the longer I put it off, the more hesitant I became. I look back and think it was an odd fear of leaving the comfort of the normal life I had finally carved out. Finally, when I was nearing 30, I decided if I didn’t do it, I would forever regret it.
I chose Special Forces right out of the gate because I’d always wanted to serve and once I finally did, I knew I wanted to be in the Special Forces community: All or None.
How was your transition out of the military? How did you choose firefighting?
It wasn’t too bad. Thanks to so much college prior to serving, my transition into the civilian world wasn’t too bad when it came to interviews and resume writing, etc. I was actually in the middle of ETS-ing from Group [“expiration–term of service,” or leaving the military] when I first tested for the Fire Department. I passed the requisite tests and then began the Fire Academy in lieu of the ETS process. It was absolutely chaotic.
I knew I wanted to continue serving in a small unit team capacity. Law enforcement just started getting so hamstrung that I knew it wasn’t for me. Firefighting was always appealing to me when considering options other than the military. I was a volunteer firefighter in college, so it made sense to go back to it. I loved the four-person shifts and how they emulated the tight-knit community of an ODA [“Operational Detachment Alphas,” which are small, versatile Special Forces teams].
When did you know perfecting your craft and solely focusing on acting was the right move?
As a kid, if I could have had some higher power come out of the sky and give me my wish, it would have always been to be in movies and television. When I grew up, the practical side of me took me to the Special Forces.
However, after wrapping up my SF career, my firefighter career was missing something. After the perfect storm of events, including divorce and other personal “stuff,” I finally said “fu** it” and went for it. I had spent tons of time in the theatre and in college theatre, practicing, studying and performing…why not finally just go for it.? I guess I looked at it like I had nothing to lose. Just like my decision to go into Special Forces–I’d forever regret it if I didn’t try.
How has your military training and experiences helped you navigate Hollywood and your pursuit of an acting career?
It helps me DAILY! Whether grinning and bearing some inconvenience or navigating the city of with an SF-learned psychological warfare attitude…my entire career helps me tolerate the chaos, uncertainty and uncontrollable business that is Hollywood. I’m continuing my formal acting studies and experiences, which helps me in the business and in the art and craft aspect of the city. But the skills learned during my SF service certainly help me become more marketable for certain roles. Many roles demand weapons training or feature characters that have a history of military experience and so on. Merging the craft of acting with the skills of SF often helps me stand out and deliver more believable performances because of the amalgamation of all I’ve seen and done.
What is your view of the Flag controversy since you have served not only in the military but also as a first responder?
I abhor it. Yet, patiently and frustratingly, I respect it. I know the meaning and the message many argue it represents, but I personally cannot EVER support kneeling towards the flag after all I’ve seen and done. To me, it is the last symbolic hope that we should all agree on and unite towards. Anything less is wrong. And I say that knowing that all I believe in and fought for is what allows this difference of opinions, and I firmly respect that. We can disagree and still be friends. I’ll just never do it.
What are some of your passion projects?
The kid in me loves comics and action and adventure. I spent a lot of time working to get The Punisher brought to life and would love to see that come to fruition some day. I’m also a huge fan of great books and novels, and there are a handful of series I’d kill to see brought to the screen. I’d love to play Sandman Slim or even the main character, Joel, from The Last of Us, a great video game for the PlayStation system.
Other than that, one of my closest friends in life and in filmmaking Scott Seagren and I are always working on his scripts, whether pitching them to Netflix (which we are currently doing with three under our Scruff Brothers Films umbrella), making them ourselves, or working to collaborate with others to bring them to life. I love acting and circumstantially producing and directing, so any chance to do those as a career is a gift in my eyes.
To keep up with Jeff Bosley, be sure to check out www.jeffbosley.com. You can also follow him on Instagram @thejeffbosley, Twitter @thejeffbosley, Facebook @thejeffbosley, and Vimeo @jeffbosley.
What started out with two US Marine veterans in Massachusetts looking for a way to help fellow veterans has turned into a federally recognized war veteran organization with numerous nationwide charters.
“The motorcycle club culture was founded on veterans so we were only trying to get back to our roots,” said James Crosby, who co-founded the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club with Matt Nelson. “We have been able to give people that have lost their way purpose in life and that purpose being in the community and watching out for the people that they care about whether it’s people in the club or their family.
We constructed the Club based on three major points of people’s lives – family, work and club. Those are the three major things that you need to be fully invested in in your life. If you are going to be in the Club, you’re going to need to be able to give the same type of effort to all of these. We were just trying to take the approach that we care and we were able to create this environment that people want.”
Whether the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club is organizing nationwide runs for fallen warrior brothers like Mike “Wildman” Kennedy, Rob “Tinkle” Richards and Stephen “Jackel” Jackel, their mission is simple – honor the many freedoms we enjoy, which are “a direct result of the bloodshed on the battlefield by the warriors that have come before us.”
“When I was in Iraq, this was something I had talked about with one of my buddies, Staff Sgt. William Callahan, who unfortunately ended up dying, so he’s part of this story,” Crosby said. “With the American Infidels, Matt and my goal was to create something – a purpose for people, for a portion of the population that signed up to do more for others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. What we do with the Club is we teach people how to get involved in their community and take care of each other. Semper Fi, always faithful – you don’t know what it truly means until you get out. You have no idea what you just signed up for because you just joined the biggest group of families. We are empowering people to stand up, have a voice and work with each other and that’s just what we have done with the Club.”
The Club provides numerous undertakings on behalf of our nation’s veterans. “Each charter must accomplish the mission to stay in the organization or they will be removed,” Nelson added. “Some do free hunting trips, motorcycle runs and benefits that give directly to wounded vets or other vets causes, suicide prevention, career help through our network of friends, politicians and advocates, legal help, navigating healthcare available to vets, and on the day-to-day, we are supporting each other and fellow vets through the hard times of life. That’s probably the most underrated yet most beneficial. Getting people to socialize and help network before the real hard times come upon someone.”
Nelson worked to have the American Infidels Veteran Motorcycle Club become federally recognized. “Due to our membership criteria, we decided to file officially and follow the federal regulations in regards to 501c19 War Veterans’ Organizations,” he said. “There are two types of 501c19 veterans’ organizations – war veterans’ and veterans’ organizations. We keep 90 percent war time veterans and 10 percent “other,” which includes non-war time veterans and patriots. To put it in a common analogy, we are a step above the American Legion because the Legion is a veteran’s organization, not a war veteran’s organization. Being the latter, we are able to issue tax deductible receipts for donations to our organization without the need for a secondary 501c3 regular type charity with more specific guidelines.
It’s a lot of red tape that we’ve done on our own and have recently contracted out to professionals. My proudest moment as one of the founders is when the brothers accomplish a mission. No matter how small. Especially when it’s helping a brother or sister vet in crisis. It’s not easy and it’s urgent so the ability for our network to react is extremely rewarding. Sadly, sometimes we hear of things too late or we just can’t affect the situation in a positive way. Those are the hardest and most discouraging moments. It’s a double-edged sword. Secondarily, when there are great social events and you can see the crowd and brothers having a great time.”
As someone who cares about a service member, you may have questions about how the military ensures equal opportunity and acceptance of individual differences among all its members. The DOD has taken steps to root out bias, ensure the military reflects the nation’s diversity and promote an environment in which every member is treated with dignity and respect.
Over the coming months, there will be an effort to get input from service members – both officers and enlisted – to hear their views and concerns about diversity and inclusion in the military.
Some changes have been implemented to advance diversity and inclusion. Military leaders have been charged with making equal opportunity and inclusion a priority. Your service member may have already benefited from some recent changes, including:
Removing photographs and references to race, ethnicity and gender from personnel files in promotion and selection processes. This eliminates the risk of bias when considering a candidate for a promotion, assignment, training, education or command.
Enacting stronger protections against harassment and discrimination including prohibiting discrimination because of pregnancy.
Training to detect and respond appropriately to bias – both conscious and unconscious. Service members and leaders are also receiving training on recognizing and understanding the impact of their own biases and prejudices.
Reviewing hairstyle and grooming policies for racial bias.
Training for commanders on guiding discussions on discrimination, prejudice and bias.
As an ongoing effort, the DOD collects and analyzes information to identify prejudice and bias, measure the effectiveness of its actions and expose areas requiring improvement.
Longer-term steps toward diversity and inclusion
Building upon the above, the Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion has recommended further steps to improve racial and ethnic diversity and broaden equal opportunity in the military. These recommendations include:
Updating recruiting content annually to reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
Diversifying senior-level positions so they reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup.
Identifying and removing barriers to diversity in aptitude tests while retaining a rigorous screening process.
Identifying and removing barriers to senior leadership for diverse candidates.
Disclosing demographic information about promotion selection rates. This will improve transparency and reinforce the DOD’s focus on achieving equity across all grades.
Creating a diversity and inclusion mobile app and website that will allow service members to easily connect with each other and locate resources.
Prohibiting involvement with extremist or hate group activity.
To ensure continued progress, the DOD has established the independent Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Services. This committee will continue the work of examining any and all issues that will improve equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion in the military.
Diverse and inclusive ranks are essential to morale, force cohesion and readiness. Your service member plays an important role in maintaining an environment that values and respects individual differences.
When the sun rises over Omaha Beach, revealing vast stretches of wet sand extending toward distant cliffs, one starts to grasp the immensity of the task faced by Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944, landing on the Nazi-occupied Normandy shore.
Several ceremonies were held Sunday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the decisive assault that led to the liberation of France and western Europe from Nazi control, and honor those who fell.
“These are the men who enabled liberty to regain a foothold on the European continent, and who in the days and weeks that followed lifted the shackles of tyranny, hedgerow by Normandy hedgerow, mile by bloody mile,” Britain’s ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewelyn, said at the inauguration of a new British monument to D-Day’s heroes.
On D-Day, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. This year on June 6, the beaches stood vast and nearly empty as the sun emerged, exactly 77 years since the dawn invasion.
For the second year in a row, anniversary commemorations were marked by virus travel restrictions that prevented veterans or families of fallen soldiers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and other Allied countries from making the trip to France. Only a few officials were allowed exceptions.
At the U.K. ceremony near the village of Ver-sur-Mer, bagpipes played memorial tunes and warplanes zipped overhead trailing red-white-and-blue smoke. Socially distanced participants stood in awe at the solemnity and serenity of the site, providing a spectacular and poignant view over Gold Beach and the English Channel.
The new monument pays tribute to those under British command who died on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy. Visitors stood to salute the more than 22,000 men and women, mostly British soldiers, whose names are etched on its stone columns. Giant screens showed D-Day veterans gathered simultaneously at Britain’s National Memorial Aboretum to watch the Normandy event remotely. Prince Charles, speaking via video link, expressed regret that he couldn’t attend in person.
On June 6, 1944, “In the heart of the mist that enveloped the Normandy Coast … was a lightning bolt of freedom,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly told the ceremony. “France does not forget. France is forever grateful.”
Most public events have been canceled, and the official ceremonies are limited to a small number of selected guests and dignitaries.
Denis van den Brink, a WWII expert working for the town of Carentan, site of a strategic battle near Utah Beach, acknowledged the “big loss, the big absence is all the veterans who couldn’t travel.”
“That really hurts us very much because they are all around 95, 100 years old, and we hope they’re going to last forever. But, you know…” he said.
“At least we remain in a certain spirit of commemoration, which is the most important,” he told The Associated Press.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are officially working on a new WWII-inspired series with star director, Cary Joji Fukunaga.
He is signed on to direct the first three episodes of the 10-part series. Fukunaga is also in the midst of working on the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die, which has been put off to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Masters of the Air is the name of the series, which is based on the Donald L. Miller book of the same name. It follows American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who aimed to bring the fight straight to Hitler inside the borders of Nazi Germany. It’s considered to be the third installment of the Band of Brothers and The Pacific set of World War II miniseries.