Since the beginning of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s tenure, he has been adamant about the importance of mental health in the military and prevention of veteran suicide. Secretary Austin has announced the establishment of a new program aimed at tackling one of the greatest issues surrounding mental health and military personnel: suicide prevention.
Secretary Austin’s newly established program, the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee (SPRIRC), will address and prevent suicide in the military pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
“We have the strongest military in the world because we have the strongest team in the world,” Secretary Austin stated upon establishing the program, “It is imperative that we take care of all our teammates and continue to reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remain a key priority. One death by suicide is one too many. And suicide rates among our service members are still too high. So, clearly, we have more work to do.”
The SPRIRC will be responsible for addressing and preventing suicide in the military, beginning with a comprehensive review of the Department’s efforts to address and prevent suicide. The SPRIRC will review relevant suicide prevention and response activities, immediate actions on addressing sexual assault and recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military to ensure SPRIRC recommendations are synchronized with current prevention activities and capabilities. The review will be conducted through visits to numerous military installations, focus groups, individuals and confidential surveys with servicemembers contemplating veteran suicide.
The SPRIRC recently started installation visits to prevent veteran suicide. The installations that will be utilized in this study will be:
Fort Campbell, Ky.
Camp Lejeune, N.C.
North Carolina National Guard
Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
Camp Humphreys, South Korea
By December 20, 2022, the SPRIRC will send an initial report for review in advance of sending a report of findings and recommendations to Congress by February 18, 2023.
“As I have said many times, mental health is health — period,” Secretary Austin additionally stated, “I know that senior leaders throughout the Department share my sense of commitment to this notion and to making sure we do everything possible to heal all wounds, those you can see and those you can’t. We owe it to our people, their families and to honor the memory of those we have lost.”
To view Secretary Austin’s full memorandum on veteran suicide prevention and updates on the SPRIRC, visit the Department of Defense’s website at defense.gov.
Do you experience recurring headaches accompanied by intense pain and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light and sound? If so, you may suffer from migraine, a debilitating neurological disease that affects nearly 40 million Americans. While everyone experiences migraine differently, the impact can disrupt everyday life with attacks lasting from four to 72 hours.
Unfortunately, veterans are more likely to experience migraine and headaches than civilians, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs*. If you think you have migraine, it might be time to talk with your local Veteran Affairs doctor.
Here are some tips to help you get the most of out of your visit:
Make a list of questions to ask during your appointment
Be prepared to share your medical and headache history, including prior concussions, exposure to blasts, etc. that occurred during a military tour
Talk about potential migraine triggers, such as stress, weather or lack of sleep
Ask about treatment and prevention strategies, including an orally dissolving medication to treat and prevent attacks
Learn more about resources to help manage migraine, including National Headache Foundation’s “Operation Brainstorm”
“Women veterans are a strong group of people. They worked hard, deployed, raised families and sacrificed their time, energy and selves to earn their ranks, titles and places in history books that have not yet been written.
Women have great instincts and deserve a seat at every table, in every boardroom, at every town hall meeting and at any discussion where decisions need to be made. Women have always been an integral part of society and [the] future of the world. It’s time that women are put out front to receive the recognition of all the decades of hard work that has been put in to establish a legacy in the armed forces.” -retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Carla Perez, USMC
Let’s meet one of these esteemed women, 28-year USMC veteran retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Carla Perez. MGySgt Perez began her career in the Marines on May 17, 1993, and retired on December 31, 2021. Her service included three deployments: Bosnia in 1996, Iraq in 2008-2009 and Afghanistan in 2010-2011. She was stationed in many places around the globe, including 29 Palms, California; Iwakuni, Japan; Camp Pendleton, California; Vancouver, Washington; Marine Corps Air Station, Mira Mar in San Diego and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Although Perez was raised in a family of veterans, the military was not initially in her plans. She graduated high school and went on to college at the University of Montana but returned home to Oregon when she didn’t have the funds to continue her studies. There, she worked a few odd jobs until a recruiter found her and offered her the opportunity to join the Marine Corps. You can say the rest is history!
While serving in the Marines, Perez found that women progressed in the Marine Corps in both rank and job opportunities at a fair rate. She never felt as though being a woman held her back. Previously closed jobs in the combat arms MOS had opened, and women were assigned to traditionally male units. Early in that transition, women were doing combat supporting jobs, admin, supply
In 2008 for one year as their Logistics/Supply Chief. The unit was assigned a Civil Affairs mission. There were only a handful of women assigned to that battalion for the duration of that deployment.
Transitions can be difficult. Moving from a career in the military to civilian life is one of those challenging transitions. I asked Perez how she prepared for her retirement. She had been thinking about the transition for a few years before submitting papers to retire and felt as prepared as she could be. Perez is a few college courses shy of a BS in Criminal Justice and initially thought about returning to school at the beginning of her transition. Throughout her time in the Marine Corps, she worked in the Supply/Logistics field and felt that her resume would make her a strong candidate in either of those fields. She knew she had more to give beyond the last 29 years of her life as a Marine, and she was excited to see what opportunities awaited her.
Initially, she took a few months off to spend time with her family and relax. Everyone should take time off from the rigorous schedule the military requires of its service members to just exhale. She highly recommends this approach! In February 2022, she was given the opportunity to work for Liberty Military Housing. She currently holds the position of Director of Military Affairs, Southwest Marines, Housing. Her region encompasses Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms, Yuma, Colville and Kansas City — a few locations where she was stationed during her career.
I asked her how her military career prepared her for her current role in her civilian career. She responded, “Being a Marine and being a person of service was something I am very good at. I am flexible yet mission-oriented. I like to get things done and take care of people. This job is the perfect fit for me. My job responsibilities are very closely tied to the military and taking care of military families. I bridge the gap between our government housing partner and Liberty Military Housing. I am honored to be able to continue to be so closely connected to Marines and military families that live aboard our installations.”
I inquired about the advice she would give someone considering a career in the military or someone preparing to transition to the civilian sector. Perez replied, “Choosing a career in the USMC is like no other job in the world. Hard work will always be rewarded and not go unnoticed. Being a Marine is a tough job that comes with a lot of responsibility. Upholding and honoring traditions of all the men and women that have gone before us is something that sets Marines apart. There are very few Marines and even fewer female Marines — expect to work just as hard as all of those around you, if not harder, both men and women. There are so many intangible traits and feelings that make Marines who they are that cannot be explained — experiences and a sense of pride that cannot be compared to anything else. Being a good leader takes time and work. More energy and personal time spent away from your daily duties are what it takes to go the distance in the USMC. Working hard and staying focused is the best advice I can give.
”Perez continues, “Think ahead about your transition out of the USMC. A few years in advance, have a mental picture of what you want your life after to look like. Take the necessary steps to prepare to depart. It will have to be a fluid plan until you make your final decision. Be flexible and keep an open mind. You will have so much to offer the world, more than you can just write on a paper or summarize on a resume. You will have all the tools you need to make the move, don’t be afraid; just have a plan with a few options.
”And that, my friends, is proof that the long-standing slogan, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” is as true today as it was when Marine Corps Master Sergeant Paul Woyshner first shouted it. I enjoyed my time with MGySgt Perez and appreciated her insight into navigating the transition after a career in service to our country.
The mission of Charlie Mike is to save the lives of those still carrying the unseen wounds of combat, one veteran at a time.
Our vision is to help Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors help one another “Continue the Mission of Life,” in whatever form that may be. We believe that by standing together at home, just as we stood together during war time, we will help each other succeed in getting back to life.
Charlie Mike will save lives through a multi-faceted approach to help each veteran “continue the mission,” to never quit, and to address their daily challenges. This approach is based on three pillars that focus on creating stability for each veteran we serve.
The three foundational pillars of Charlie Mike are universal yet tailored to each veteran, designed to address the challenges they face. Each person’s experience is quite different, even if similar challenges or needs are exhibited. These pillars are designed to address three key areas affecting veterans today: PTSD and TBI, suicide and sexual assault.
Pillar One: Mental & Emotional Stability
Creating mental and emotional stability is the foundation of everything Charlie Mike will do within the veteran community. Mental and emotional instability are the unseen costs and casualties of war, and they are quite common. When progress is made, healing begins, and life changes for the better. The resulting stability allows for the other aspects of “normal” life to be within reach.
Pillar Two: Stability in Daily Living
Creating stability in daily living is part of the overall goal and mission of Charlie Mike. Once mental and emotional stability are created, daily living will get easier, be better, and more productive. The issues are complex and challenging, but the approach is simple. Helping veterans find and learn tools to become self-reliant is the best gift we can provide. This daily stability will provide a foundation for participants to sustain themselves for the rest of their lives.
Pillar Three: Stability by Serving Others
As much as veterans miss their teams, they miss the service. In the volunteer force of the U.S. Military, everyone joins for various reasons. The service aspect, however, is an integral part of the job, and is instilled by every branch of the military. Once discharged, those who have deployed often miss the high tempo, the austere environment, the challenge, and even the danger. Very few things in life will ever compare to or compete with wartime service. This causes a lack of stability as veterans struggle to find meaning in “normal life.”
Charlie Mike has a solution: getting veterans back into service. Creating stability by serving others is a simple approach for long-term healing. When we serve and help each other, we serve a higher cause, and yet gain personal benefits that are immeasurable.
Charlie Mike was created by modern combat veterans who know the realities of war and the realities of returning to civilian life. We understand the mental and physical tolls, the challenges, and the struggles. We understand what veterans want and need in order to cope with these life challenges. Our work will create a new community, a new forum, and new programs to help former war fighters integrate back into “normal” life after military service.
Celeb Elvis Presley was far from the only person of fame to have served in the U.S. military. In fact, several people who are known for their accomplishments in other fields got their start in the armed forces. Meet some of the other well-known veterans throughout history that you may not be aware of:
The Apollo 11 Team
Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins comprised the historic Apollo 11 Team that successfully landed and walked on the moon in 1969. While they will always be remembered as the first men to go to the moon, all three of them served in the military. Armstrong served as a Navy pilot and saw action in the Korean War, Aldrin was among the top of his class at West Point before serving in Korea with the Air Force and Collins was a member of some of the most prestigious flight programs as a fighter pilot for the Air Force. All three men used their experiences from the military to eventually become astronauts with NASA, leading to the first-ever moon mission that marked their names in history.
At the ripe age of 18, before his musical career took off, Johnny Cash was a staff sergeant for the U.S. Air Force. Serving from 1950-1954, Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the U.S. Air Force Security Service at Landsberg, West Germany where he worked as a morse code operator intercepting Soviet Army transmissions. In fact, Cash was officially the first American to know about Stalin’s death when he decoded a message while monitoring Soviet Morse Code chatter in 1953. Cash was then tasked to tell the critical information to his superiors. Cash began his musical journey during his time in the military, having formed his first band during service: The Landsberg Barbarians. After his service and into his thriving musical legacy, Cash continued to show his appreciation for his roots by participating in concerts and events designed to support our nation’s troops.
Bea Arthur and Betty White
Long before they were your favorite Golden Girls, Bea Arthur and Betty White served in the U.S. military. At just 20 years old, Bea Arthur enlisted with the Marine Corps’ Women’s Reservists, becoming one of the first people to do so. She served as a typist at Marine Headquarters
in Washington, D.C. and later transferred to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to become a driver and dispatcher. Arthur was honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1945 with the title of staff sergeant. White served with the American Women’s Voluntary Services; an organization dedicated to providing support to the war effort. She also worked as a PX truck driver delivering military supplies to the barracks in the Hollywood Hills and regularly attended farewell dances for departing troops hosted to boost troop morale.
One of the most beloved figures in the veteran community, Chuck Norris wouldn’t be who he is today if it wasn’t for his service in the Air Force. In 1958, after graduating high school, Norris became an Air Policeman and was stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea. It was there that Norris began studying martial arts and earned his first black belt in Tang Soo Do. Once Norris was discharged from service in 1962, he went on to participate in martial arts competitions, became the World Middleweight Karate Champion from 1968 to 1974 and launched his acting career. Though it’s been 60 years since Norris was discharged from the Air Force, he still dedicates his projects, time and money to veterans’ efforts. He has worked with organizations such as the USO and the Veterans Administration National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans and was the spokesperson for the U.S. Veterans Administration. He received the Veteran of the Year award from the Air Force in 2001 and was even made an honorary Marine in 2007.
Everyone knows Harriet Tubman and her brilliant work with the Underground Railroad, but many people often forget her military history. After escaping slavery and rescuing over 70 other slaves working for the Underground Railroad, Tubman worked with Colonel James Montgomery and the Union Army as a nurse and spy. Her work consisted of tending to the wounds of soldiers and escaped slaves, but mostly entailed gaining intel on the Confederate soldiers for the Union Army. Tubman created a spy ring in South Carolina, paid informants for intel that would be useful to the Union Army and was one of the leaders that helped to plan and execute the Combahee Ferry Raid. The raid successfully caught Confederate soldiers off guard, allowing a group of Black Union Army soldiers to free more than 700 slaves. Her contributions made her the first woman in American history to lead a military assault.
Before her career as a senator for the state of Illinois, Tammy Duckworth was a combat veteran of the Iraq War. Joining the Army Reserves in 1990 and transferring to the National Guard in 1996, Duckworth served as a helicopter pilot while stationed in Iraq. In 2004, her helicopter was hit by a rocketpropelled grenade resulting in the loss of both of her legs and limited mobility in her right arm. Despite being the first female double amputee of that particular war, Duckworth obtained a medical waiver that allowed her to continue her service in the National Guard for another 10 years. She retired in 2014 at the rank of lieutenant colonel. Duckworth has worked relentlessly to advocate for the needs and wellbeing of the veteran community. With her high ranking position with the Department of Veterans Affairs and her status as a U.S. senator, Duckworth has created government-sponsored programs to help veterans with PTSD, advocated for the needs of women and Native American veterans, created initiatives to bring an end to veteran homelessness and helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Before Clint Eastwood was an actor, musician, director and your favorite gun-slinging cowboy, he served in the U.S. Army. In fact, without Eastwood’s Army service, he may have never become the iconic figure he is today. Before he got the chance to enroll in college, Eastwood was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. He served as a lifeguard and swim instructor at Fort Ord in California where he met future co-stars Martin Milner and David Janssen. Upon discharge from the Army, Eastwood used his GI Bill benefits to study drama at L.A. City College and soon after landed his contract with Universal Studios. The rest is history.
James Earl Jones
An iconic actor with a distinctive voice, James Earl Jones is best known for his work throughout Hollywood and as the voice of one of Hollywood’s most notorious sci-fi villains, Darth Vader. But before he ventured into the world of Hollywood, Jones served with the Army during the Korean War. A member of the University of Michigan’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, Jones was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army and assigned to Headquarters Company, 38th Regimental Combat Team. Jones served his first and only assignment at the former Camp Hale, where he helped establish a cold weather training command. His battalion became a training unit and Jones was promoted to first lieutenant before being discharged soon after. He went on to begin his acting career straight out of the service at the Ramsdell Theater in Michigan and has since made significant contributions to the world of the arts.
Your civilian resume summarizes your background and experience and it’s likely to be the first information about you that an employer will see.
With your military service, you already have impressive skills and knowledge.
These tips will help you make a resume that will stand out.
Collect Your Assets
Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) through the Department of Defense. Your VMET will give an overview of the skills you’ve gained in the military.
Make a list of your technical skills.
Computer technicians, mechanics and engineers How to Write a Winning Civilian Resume have skills that can be easily converted to civilian jobs.Convert your military job training into civilian terms. For example, budgeting is a critical skill in civilian companies.
Make a list of your intangible skills. This list should include leadership, discipline and a strong work ethic.
Select Your Resume Style
Your resume should highlight your unique qualifications. There are different ways to organize your resume. Pick a style that highlights your strengths.
Your employment history is highlighted in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.
Include your responsibilities and accomplishments under each particular job.
Your skills are highlighted. Your work history and gaps are de emphasized.
Skills and accomplishments should be divided into specific areas of expertise.
Your skills earned in various jobs are highlighted using a job history format.
Your specific skills will form the main body of the resume, followed by a concise employment history.Include These Essential Components:
Contact information: In the heading, include your name, address, phone number and email address.
Objective or job target: In one or two lines, say what kind of job you’re looking or applying for and what makes you uniquely qualified.
Summary of qualifications: This is a bulleted section just below the objective in the visual center of the resume.
Include five or six lines highlighting the skills that qualify you for the job.
This will include your experience, certifications and related training.
Title this section Highlights of Qualifications, Summary of Skills or Summary of Experience.
Employment history: This will vary depending on the type of resume.
Education and training: List colleges, schools or military training schools you attended. You can list the school’s name and location, but not necessarily the dates.
Special skills: Include foreign languages, computer skills or any other relevant skills that will set you apart.Make Your Resume Unique to YouYou’ve got the basics down. Now use your resume to showcase your unique abilities and accomplishments.
Target your resume. Change and tailor your resume for the job you’re targeting. Learn what this employer looks for and highlight those qualities.
Translate everything into civilian terms
For example, replace “officer in charge” with “managed.”
Take out the acronyms and use terms civilians understand. For example, replace “SNOIC for 2d MarDiv G-3, planning and executing all logistics for operations conducted in our AOR” with “Supervised staff of 15 people. Planned and coordinated operations conducted by various subordinate units within our division.”
Include your accomplishments. Use numbers to highlight achievements, if possible. For example, “Managed budget of $100K” or “Reduced training time from 26 weeks to 24 weeks.
Be concise. Limit your resume to one or two pages.
Include volunteer experience if it’s relevant to the job. Volunteer experience can add to credibility and character.
Leave off unnecessary details. Don’t include marital status, height and weight or religious affiliation. Leave off salary information unless it was explicitly requested.
Check spelling and accuracy. Proofread your resume, ask someone else to proofread it and read your resume backward to catch typos.
Write a Cover Letter
Always send a cover letter with your resume. Your cover letter will explain why you’re interested in the position and how your skills make you the best choice for the job.
Get the name of the person in charge of hiring. Send your email or cover letter to them. Usually, you can just call the company and ask for their name.
Mention the job that you’re applying for in the first paragraph. Focus on describing how your skills and abilities can help the company.
Keep it to one page. Use a business-letter format.
Always follow up. Mention that you will call to follow up and don’t forget to do it.
Tap Into Resume Building Tools
These websites have tools to help you build your resume and translate your military
credentials and experience into civilian skills. They reference veterans, but they’re also for active duty.
Veterans.gov from the U.S. Department of Labor has an online job exchange with access to employers, skills translators, resume builders, interest profilers, etc.
The Department of Veterans Affairs at va.gov offers an interest profiler, educational and career counseling and links to other job resources, such as support for veteran owned small businesses.
Prepare for Your Job Search Early
The earlier you can start your preparation for civilian employment, the better. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office on your installation can help you get started. Military OneSource also offers the Transitioning Veterans specialty consultation to further assist you in transitioning from military to civilian life.
Taking the next step in your career can be intimidating, but it’s far from impossible. You are qualified and equipped with the right tools. Go get them!
The Marines famously have the reputation of being “first to fight.” But one Marine has earned another, lesser-known, distinction: first woman to complete 27 chest-to-ground burpees in one minute.
Sgt. Nahla Beard, an air traffic control supervisor at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, smashed the Guinness World Record in burpees on Aug. 14, 2021, the service announced last month.
Because of coronavirus restrictions, a Guinness judge could not be in attendance to verify the Marine’s burpees in person. That meant Beard had to record herself and submit a video of her achievement. Base command turned out to watch, and even brought along friends and family, Beard said in a DVIDS story.
Onlookers were not disappointed: Beard broke the record by two burpees, completing an average of one burpee every 2.2 seconds. And she did it more than once.
“I ended up attempting five times on the same day because I wasn’t sure if I did it,” Beard said in the release.
Quickly identifying and treating serious wounds is an age-old problem that’s killed countless soldiers, but it could see a solution in new technology that uses embedded sensors to detect, alert and one day treat injuries.
The Smart Shirt for Wound Detection has been tested by soldiers, airmen and special operations forces recently and could be ready for fielding in the next year, Legionarius chief operating officer and co-founder Dr. Alexander Gruentzig told Army Times.
The shirt was on display at the annual Association of the U.S. Army Meeting and Exposition Monday as one of the recent xTechSearch competition winners.
The government program solicits technology solutions to solve big Army problems and winners receive small business innovation grants to further their research.
“They can detect any kind of wound. The garment detects any type of penetration, anything that can cause massive hemorrhaging,” Gruentzig explained Monday. “We’re trying to decrease the time from injury to point of treatment.”
But the truth is, no one keeps detailed data on what’s stopping America’s youth from signing up. Experts and senior military leaders point to the perennial factors of competition from the private sector and a dwindling number of young Americans both qualified and interested in military service. But what they don’t have much information on is why that propensity is going down, and whether the country is undergoing an ideological shift in attitude toward military service.
More than one-third of all congressional races on the ballot this November will feature a veteran, and several could help decide which party wins control of the House and Senate next year.
The 196 veterans who have won major-party primaries represent the largest group of candidates with military experience in a decade. It includes 130 non-incumbents trying to increase the total number of veterans in Congress next year.
The field also features:
17 women veterans running for office;
58 veterans who enlisted after Jan. 1, 2000;
95 veterans with a combat deployment;
90 veterans who served in the Army (the most from any service);
16 races featuring two veterans against each other;
43 states with at least one veteran on the ballot for national office;
Below is a list of all of the candidates with military experience who won major-party primaries this year and will appear on the November ballot. The list was compiled in partnership with the Veterans Campaign.
But experts warn that the larger pool will not necessarily lead to an increase in the number of veterans in office, since many of the hopefuls are in districts that significantly favor their opponents’ party.