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Halfway Heroes: ‘Near Veterans’ Seek Recognition For Almost Serving In Military

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File: A US Army recruiter speaks with an near-veteran hoping to eventually convert him into full-veteran status.
A US Army recruiter speaks with an near-veteran hoping to eventually convert him into full-veteran status.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Jody Siever spends his Friday nights like so many American servicemen and women, mingling while kicking back drinks at a local bar. Recognizing the giveaway military haircut of a fellow patron, he approaches with an arm extended.

“Welcome home, soldier.” Smiling, though apparently puzzled, the stranger returns a firm, brief handshake.

“Thanks, but I’m in the Navy. And I haven’t been anywhere—I’m in Nuke School,” he replies, referring to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Center in Goose Creek, S.C.

“That’s cool,” Siever says. “I almost thought about joining the Navy for a while, but if I did join the service, I would have gone into the Army. I’m just kind of hardcore like that. Shooting bad guys in the face—that’s the life for me. If I wanted it.”

Siever, you see, never actually enlisted.

Veteran servicemembers often find it difficult to relate their experiences in the military to friends and family back home, but a new civilian organization is working to expand that exclusive brotherhood. The Bros Before Joes campaign, established in 2011, seeks to legitimize the efforts of people like Siever, whose commitments to serving in the military range from the hypothetical to the nearly realized.

“We’ve got guys from all over the spectrum here. Some of our members, they merely thought about joining the Army a few times, or took the ASVAB in high school to get out of first period,” explains BBJ founder Trent Bower. “Other guys though, they got as far as making appointments to go to MEPS [Military Entrance Processing Station], but then something important came up.”

A near-Marine himself, Bower recounts his own brush with fate:

“I talked with a Marine recruiter a few times in high school, even attended a couple of pool functions at the recruiting office. It got to the point that I was there so often, the recruiters even started calling me ‘Boot.’ They were practically begging me to enlist, but I always knew I was meant for something more meaningful.”

Bower, a 31-year old assistant manager at a successful pizza delivery franchise, started the Bros Before Joes campaign in his spare time, seeking to bring recognition to others who share his story. For Siever, and thousands of almost-soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines like him, the organization is a long-overdue ray of hope.

Says Siever, “It’s great, you know, to finally be able to reach out and connect with others who share your non-experiences. After giving so much, dedicating so much time and energy to thinking about enlisting, it just feels like we’re finally getting the thanks we deserve.” And recognition has been swift in coming.

Thanks to a successful joint-lobbying campaign with the Almost Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a bill is now before the Senate to approve Veteran’s Affairs benefits for BBJ and AIAVA members. The resolution received overwhelming bipartisan support in a House vote earlier this year from a majority of US Representatives who are themselves non-veterans.

Regarding the passage in the House, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) released this statement:

“This isn’t a Red-or-Blue, liberal-versus-conservative issue. It’s about giving near-veterans like me and many of my constituents the recognition we’ve been denied for far too long.” Currently, 345 out of 435, or roughly 80% of members of the U.S. House of Representatives, have no recorded military service.

As the bill nears the Senate floor, however, some opponents are voicing concerns. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Navy veteran, held a press conference outside his home in Phoenix on Tuesday, calling the bill “a mockery… of all that I hold dear.” He also stated that he would “rather tongue-kiss Jane Fonda” than vote to approve the measure. Before he could take questions, he had to be ushered away for medical treatment when blood began seeping from his clenched fist — reportedly from clutching his Silver Star too tightly.

And he’s not alone. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) is an Army veteran of World War II and presently the only serving member of Congress to have earned a Congressional Medal of Honor. When presented with the bill’s full text, Sen. Inouye declared it “a perversion of our American values,” and refused to touch it, even with his prosthetic arm. Said Inouye, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

Despite these protests, the bill has mass appeal with civilians and near-veterans on both sides of the aisle. Arguments will begin in earnest when the Senate reconvenes next January. Until then, it’s a long wait for near-heroes like Siever and Bower.

Asked if he would do anything different given the opportunity, Bower harkens back to his non-Marine days:

“I just couldn’t leave all of this behind. I miss those pool functions, though. They were good times; some of the best times of my life. You just… you go through something like that, almost sacrificing so much, with such a close group of guys, and it really makes you brothers, you know? I even think I still have some recruitment brochures around here, somewhere.”

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Opinion: Once again, my shithead husband will be deployed for the birth of our child

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pregnant woman with a headache and pain

Samantha Pourier is the wife of Army Maj. Paul Pourier, who is preparing for a deployment to Iraq later this year.

Well, it’s that time again. I’m three months pregnant, which means my idiot husband is getting ready to go to war.

Sometimes he jokes that all he does is come home, get me wine-drunk and squirt a kid into me, and then go off to war again, to come home in a year or two to a new baby who can already walk. Our friends laugh and laugh.

And I have to physically restrain myself from stabbing him in the eyeball.

Because it’s pretty true. All he does is deploy, come home, get me knocked up, and then deploy again.

Other people are out building a life. They work for real companies that accomplish things. You don’t see Amazon or Google or Wal-Mart re-invading the same region every five years or so, to no discernible national end. Their investors would eat them alive if they did that.

But for some reason, our generals and politicians find it perfectly acceptable to keep sending my husband to dirty sandboxes once every couple of years.

I’m not griping about the conquest. We are an empire, after all, and it’s kind of our imperative to keep subjugating people who are different colors than us.

All I’m saying is, it would be nice if my husband got a break from enforcing peace onto hapless wogs to see one of his children being born, just for once in his frickin’ life.

Because if he isn’t here to see this next one born, honestly, the next one might not be his.

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Army

Alabama National Guardsman charged after aborting unplanned mission

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GHAZNI, Afghanistan — An Alabama National Guard lieutenant is facing legal action after he aborted a botched mission, sources confirmed today.

1st Lt. Casey Wade attempted to penetrate a Taliban stronghold, but chose to abort the mission when his unprotected platoon took heavy enemy fire. After-action reports revealed the mission was totally unplanned and lacked critical material and emotional support from Wade’s chain of command.

Wade is alleged to have violated an Alabama National Guard policy that prohibits all abortions except on missions that pose a significant risk to the career of a colonel or higher.

“Clearly Wade wasn’t ready for this commitment, but he made his choice to go in, and he needed to see it through,” said Wade’s commander, Capt. Ted Shapiro. “Wade is an abomination, and should be thrown out of the Army immediately.”

Wade’s legal team sees the matter in a very different light. “They were only six weeks into a nine-month deployment, and didn’t even know that area was impregnable,” said Wade’s lawyer, Capt. Ashlynn Torgelson. “Wade was the ground commander, so that mission was his baby. His mission, his choice.”

Local Afghans were also supportive of Wade’s choice to abort.

“Last week, one of their bombs hit our universal preschool. These Alabamans are a bunch of baby killers,” a tribal elder told reporters.

If convicted, Wade could be forced to serve up to 99 years in the Alabama National Guard.

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John Walker Lindh killed in drone strike moments after release

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lindh drone

BENEDICT, Mont. — “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh tasted freedom for approximately 47 seconds before a Hellfire missile fired from an unmanned aerial vehicle ensured he would never taste anything ever again, sources confirmed today.

After spending 17 years in federal prison for “providing services to the Taliban,” the Bureau of Prisons announced earlier this week that it would release Lindh promptly at 12:00 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Benedict, Montana, population 645, where he would spend three years on parole at the Bergdahl House of Recovery.

“We released him at the local soccer field to minimize collateral . . . observers,” a government official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

“I just came out to see what all the fuss was about,” said Sarah Duvall, who witnessed the strike. “I noticed a strange shadow, kind of in the shape of an MQ-9 Reaper drone,” she said. “Then, a loud noise, and a flash of white light, and the man in the field just disappeared. Must’ve been a UFO.”

Duvall could not be reached for further comment.

The incident has reignited the debate over the use of drone strikes on American citizens.

“As far as I’m concerned, anyone who would use drones to execute American citizens without due process is unfit for office. Period,” former Vice President Joe Biden said at a town hall meeting in Anwar, Michigan.

“Just because Hellfire missile fragments were found at the scene doesn’t mean we were involved,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “But if we were, it’s probably because this administration kills traitors instead of releasing them.”

Moments later, President Trump tweeted, “We got him!”

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Pentagon forms community of disinterest to plan Iran war

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(Source: U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — Recognizing that overthrowing the terror-sponsoring Iranian government requires a whole-of-Trump approach, the defense and White House officials recently convened a secret interagency planning team at the Pentagon, sources confirmed today.

Its goal: to plan a soup-to-koloocheh ground invasion of the intractable Persian country. But the meeting was quickly dubbed a “community of disinterest,” according to sources. While over 50 high-level West Wing appointees were present, other Departments — including the host — sent low-level staffers or even term hires nearing the end of their appointments. Defense was reportedly represented by a single procurement specialist recently hired from the civilian sector. And State sent a cleaning crew that had finished its work early.

“There was just no interest,” said a banking policy analyst from Treasury.

Homeland Security, however, did send a decision maker: senior executive Michelle Daenerys, who is head of Enforcement and Removal Policy. However, Daenerys told reporters that she wouldn’t be back and that she expects to be named Secretary in a few days.

“Given the never-ending Game of Fools that goes on at DHS,” she said, “I need to brush up on scorched-earth policies so I can fix this migrant thing down there on the border between Colorado and Mexico.”

The Pentagon meeting reportedly adjourned without mission analysis being conducted or courses of action developed. Sources said that even a coffee fund set up for the meeting received only thirty-five cents, a found CAC card and a USAID pin in contributions.

A source reported that the Mustache of John Bolton was seen brushing furiously against the faces of attendees and hissing, “Kill! Kill!” When questioned by media, Mustache said that cremating Persians in a vicious ground war is the best way to win the hearts and minds of the Iranian diaspora.

“They’d rather be dead than suffer under the mullatolahs,” it said. “Unlike me. I avoid death like when I avoided Vietnam.

Molon Labe is not just a beer brand to me,” it continued unprompted, while combing itself. “It’s also a way of life and death. And I intend to make sure that today’s draftees — err, service members don’t have to suffer the guilt of avoiding death via some badly-conceived White House strategy.”

Finally, Mustache said that regime overthrow will help it achieve its long-term strategic goal: validating that its life was worth something after all.

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Admiral McRaven defends millennials in viral TikTok video

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AUSTIN, Texas — Retired Navy Adm. William McRaven offered a defense of millennials in a viral video uploaded to TikTok on Monday, sources confirmed today.

In the video, which features music from Ed Sheeran in the background, McRaven can be seen performing a handstand and saying that he’s “the biggest fan of millennials you’ll ever meet.”

McRaven, 63, posted the video on the popular social video platform with the caption, “millennials are the greatest gen #foreal #millennial #makeyourbed.”

“Critics talk about millennials being soft and pampered and entitled,” McRaven added, after dropping out of the handstand and taking a bite of avocado toast. “But I’m quick to say that you’ve never seen them in a firefight in Afghanistan.”

At that point, McRaven’s outfit of a red hoodie, ripped jeans, and Converse sneakers suddenly changed to him in Navy camouflage uniform, aiming a rifle at the camera before the video ends.

At press time, officials with Naval Special Warfare had sent McRaven a participation trophy to commemorate the video going viral.

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Air Force

Baby boomer jet realizes it may never be able to retire

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MINOT, N.D. – After reviewing its Thrift Savings Plan statement and a growing pile of maintenance bills, a B-52 bomber broke down, realizing it would likely never be able to retire, sources confirmed today.

The B-52, known officially as the “Stratofortress” but colloquially as “BUFF” (for Big Ugly Fat Fucker), first flew in 1952 and joined active service in 1955, making it one of the longest serving aircraft in the U.S. military.

On the 67th anniversary of its maiden flight, the bomber confided to friends that it planned to retire so it could revisit old targets, spend time with its grandchildren, and eventually settle down in southern Arizona. However, increasing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, along with the bomber’s failure to set aside money for the future, led to the B-52’s decision to stay in the service until at least 2029.

“I’ve got a leaky fuel bladder, and my wings are really starting to sag,” the B-52 groaned during a pre-flight inspection. “But my country needs me, and to be honest, I didn’t really plan for retirement. I guess I always thought I would die during the Cold War, burning in after dropping a nuclear load on those commie bastards.”

The bomber’s decision to stay in service required the Air Force to program an additional $14 billion in modernization funding to cover the cost of its electronics upgrades, CPAP machine, and recurring erectile dysfunction prescriptions. The B-52 is not the only aircraft disappointed in its decision.

“Some of us Gen X aircraft are ready to step up and take the reins,” said another long-range strategic bomber who wished to remain anonymous. “But that selfish clunker just doesn’t know when to leave. Even worse, it struts around the gym locker room with no pants and spends most of the day at maintenance appointments.”

Sadly, the B-52 is not the only aircraft that will continue to work well past its intended service life. The UH-1 Huey retired in 2016 but immediately began work as a contractor in places like Afghanistan to supplement its income.

One of the B-52’s pilots, Lt. Col. Jim “Scruff” Weakley, said the bomber recently began investing in gold and started a reverse mortgage, but that it will likely continue to work until it dies on the job or wins the Mega Millions jackpot.

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News

Point/Counterpoint: How to help servicemembers vs how to help service members

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The following is a point/counterpoint article. The point will be given by the First Baptist Church Women’s Group, and the counterpoint will be given by adult film star Mia Khalifa.

Point: Our beloved servicemembers need all our love and support, and it’s our Christian and patriotic duty to help them however we can! One thing we can all do is make care packages. Those young men and women in harm’s way need things like wet wipes for their hands and faces, cans of beef soup or tuna fish for when they can’t make it in to the dining facility, and entertainment like crossword puzzle books and inspirational reading materials. The pastor’s wife likes to include a cute little camouflaged pocket Bible in every box so they can take the Word of God with them everywhere!

Counterpoint: I’m a patriotic girl, and I like to help service members every day, sometimes, like 10 a day. I like to work up a nice big package and watch them explode with ecstasy when they really get into it. Crosswords are super fun — my favorite is two across and one down.

Point: Another way we can help the troops “over there” is to make thank-you videos from members of our congregation, to really let them know how much they are appreciated! Some of our young folks are really handy with video cameras, and they recorded a bunch of shout-outs at the annual church BBQ last month. We put those on DVD and mailed them to all of the heroes in Pastor Steven’s sister’s nephew’s unit in Iraq, or maybe it was Afghanistan. Oh, somewhere in the Middle East! Bless their hearts!

Counterpoint: I love to make videos with the troops, and they always shout out at the end.

Point: Sometimes our heroes’ wives and children need love and support too, and we like to invite them to our church picnics and have special potluck dinners when we know one of the big units is going off to war. We like to get those mommy and daddy dolls for the little ones to snuggle when their parents are far away.

Counterpoint:  If there’s a big unit going off, I will be there. I’m happy to support the wives on the front or the back end or on top or sandwiched in between. Dolls are fun to play with when that sexy mama or big daddy can’t come home in time.

Point: It’s our job to help servicemembers any way we can!

Counterpoint: It’s my job to help service members every day I can!

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Marine Corps

Helicopter parents won’t insert son at hot LZ

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CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan — A Marine infantryman scrambled to link up with his squad after his parents refused to insert him at a hot landing, sources confirmed today.

Pfc. Martin Sikorsky pushed out on a QRF mission for the ANA his unit is training when his parents became concerned about the state of the LZ.

“Martin knows the rules of our hangar. No screen time after 4 p.m., no driving over 45 knots and no firefights. I think any parent would agree I’m being reasonable,” Sirkorsky’s father, Huey, told reporters.

Huey’s wife Lakota looked up from the baby monitor she has in her cockpit with a live feed from a GoPro on Sikorsky’s chest rig.

“If Martin is having problems with the Taliban, all he has to do is give me a CAS 9-line, and I will speak to their mothers to get this sorted out,” Lakota said.

Sikorsky’s parents were going to allow him on the mission until they received word of an enemy RPK team in the northwest corner of the hasty LZ. Normally, they are fine with their son being exposed to medium machine gun fire. Although he is not vaccinated against 7.62, Huey and Lakota rely on a mix of essential oils to keep Sikorsky safe. However, since arriving in Afghanistan, they have been unable to find a Whole Foods that sells coconut and eucalyptus oil.

Sikorsky said he was heartbroken he could not insert with his guys and get in on the TIC. Like most 18-year-olds, he worries about the effects of his protective parents.

“How am I supposed to have a social life without my own CAR?” he said.

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