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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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Supreme Court torches appeal in giant, toxic burn pit on front steps

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Supreme Court building provided by Supreme Court.gov
Site of the Federal government's latest toxic burn pit. (Source: U.S. Supreme Court)

Washington — In a stern rebuke to 60 veterans’ lawsuits, all eight fuctioning Supreme Court justices dismissed “burn pit” appeals by torching them in a massive blaze on the front steps of the court’s building Monday.

The military used burn pits, located in Afghanistan and Iraq, to destroy waste, including batteries, tires and millions of collection agency letters, as well as evidence of extra-marital affairs and bribe-taking from Fat Leonard. The burn pits have been linked to illnesses in thousands of veterans.

The eight justices lit a humongous inferno at the steps of the high court that cremated the concerns of thousands of veterans suffering from cancer, tumors and asthma. 

While liberal-leaning justices set the conflagration with fast-burning JP4 jet fuel, conservatives preferred to dump drums of old-school kerosene. A resulting “firenado” was seen for miles across Washington, prompting hundreds of 911 calls to the Taxation Without Representation Police Department.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not participate. Law clerks reportedly whisked her away before Justices Thomas and Gorsuch added her to the fire.

“This isn’t a funeral pyre despite what Faux News wants you to think,”a Ginsburg law clerk told reporters. “She’s not even technically dead, just mentally, and that’s not the same thing.” The clerk then clarified that Ginsburg is being pickled by wine, not embalming fluid.

As hazardous fumes wafted across the District, Toxins overwhelmed both unfurloughed Department of Homeland Security employees still manning its 24/7 National Operations Center as hazardous fumes wafted across the area. The two reportedly became overwhelmed by toxins (or by having to work for no pay). They left the center to seek medical treatment and to beg food from homeless people they used to ignore.

In addition to relieving the nation of noxious burn pit lawsuits, the Court also charred pending cases deemed supremely tiring to the public. The cases included yet another gun rights fight, another suit targeting cake-bakers case, and a decade-old argument that Lady Gaga is untalented no matter how much money she makes.

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News

Woman who sent 65,000 text messages after one date tapped for recruiting duty

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PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — A woman who allegedly sent one man 500 text messages a day over a four-month period has been selected to screen the next generation of warfighters, sources with U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) confirmed today.

Jacqueline Ades achieved widespread notoriety after bombarding one man’s phone with 65,000 text messages after a single date.

“Ms. Ades demonstrated the unwavering tenacity that we expect of our recruiters,” said Maj. Huey Thomas, a spokesman for USAREC. “Her knack for establishing contact at the most inconvenient times, along with her impressive inability to read social cues and never take ‘no’ for an answer are exactly what the Army needs as we plow blindly into our eighteenth year of sustained warfare.”

Despite having never attended Army basic training, Ades feels that recruiting duty is her calling.

“Once I see something I want, I don’t ever give up,” she smiled unblinkingly. “Ever.”

Ades has already exceeded Army recruitment quotas for Maricopa County by 400 percent since becoming a recruiter last week, though her prospects have been exclusively male.

“I signed up for college and trade skills and stuff, but mostly because [Ades] scares the shit out of me,” said Toby Webster, 19, from Chandler.

At press time, Ades was seen laying in front of a bus full of recruits attempting to depart for boot camp.

Don’t ever leave me! I’ll kill you!” she cried.

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Air Force

ISIS unfollows STRATCOM on Twitter after offensive New Year’s tweet

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Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. – The terrorist group ISIS has “unfollowed” the U.S. Strategic Command on Twitter after suffering mental anguish by recent STRATCOM messaging, possibly taking information warfare to a new direction, sources confirm today.

The ISIS move is a reaction to a Dec. 31, 2018, STRATCOM tweet that stated as the famed ball dropped on Times Square, the Command remained ready to “drop something much, much bigger.” A video of a B-2 aircraft dropping bombs accompanied the tweet. STRATCOM deleted it after complaints about its aggressive message.

ISIS released the statement criticizing the video.

“In the name of Allah, the most merciful, we will no longer follow the criminal crusader U.S. Strategic Command on Twitter,” the statement reads. “The images STRATCOM tweeted on New Year’s Eve, threatening to drop bombs on our brethren, was hurtful and frightening. Several of our brothers who viewed it have already scheduled emergency sessions with their therapists. The tweet also disturbed our enjoyment of the Ryan Seacrest New Year’s Times Square special.”

STRATCOM questioned ISIS’ response in a press conference.

“Our information warfare team is examining the ISIS announcement for any hidden messages to followers.” public affairs officer Capt. Pamela Vasquez said. “We’re also analyzing the possibility that ISIS is acting like a big international wuss.”

“We constantly tweet splashy pictures of B-1s, B-2s, B-52s, ICBMs, aircraft of all types, heavily armed Airmen, and nuclear submarines –  basically an endless advertisement of our ability to deliver nuclear annihilation at any place of our time and choosing,” Vasquez added. “If those tweets didn’t scare anyone, we weren’t doing our job. So we’re not sure why ISIS or anybody else is butthurt over our one measly New Year’s message.”

“What do people think our bombers do?” Vasquez questioned.“Despite the press stories last year, military aircraft are know for killing people, not just drawing contrail dicks in the sky.”

The STRATCOM Twitter home page indicates that the command still has over 98,000 followers despite the ISIS departure.

“We hope ISIS re-follows us soon, because we’re planning some great imaging for President’s Day depicting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln turning the launch keys on an ICBM that people should really enjoy,”  Vasquez said.

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Miscellaneous

Payday lenders still kicking ass since shutdown doesn’t affect military

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Columbus, Ga. — Tensions are high throughout the government with the current shutdown, but payday lenders outside the gates of military installations across the country are doing absolutely fabulous, sources confirmed today.
As more and more service members are brought home from the current conflicts, they find themselves wanting to buy $1,349 worth of alcohol in a single night. There is really only one way for a soldier to get their hands on that kind of money semi-legally, and outlets with exorbitant interest rates are only more than willing to help.
“Phew! We were sorta worried about it all back there,” said Paul Sunders, a payday lender that prefers to be called Eagle, outside of Fort Benning, Georgia. “If those kids stop getting paid, it becomes a real mess for us.”
Eagle is the embodiment of the American dream. He wears an oversized American flag suit with matching tie and tennis shoes. His eyeglasses automatically faded into sunglasses when Duffel Blog correspondents met him outside his establishment.
Eagle comes from a long line of payday lenders, dating back to the Civil War when payday lenders were basically the same as they are today — camping outside of the sites soldiers stayed and moving from camp to camp promising the soldiers money immediately along with sips of Moutain Dew.
“Many granddaddies ago, we used to only break thumbs when a loan wasn’t paid. I’d like to think we’re a lot more polite these days. We thank every soldier for their service before we wreck the sh*t out of their credit scores,” Eagle said. “We also started a punchcard program so you get that tenth loan at a real good 20 percent.”
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Coast Guard

Coast Guard tells families to “sell your organs, start hooking” to help cope with government shutdown

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WASHINGTON — The Coast Guard published a list of recommended actions today that its service members and their families can take to cope with the continuing government shutdown, including selling their bodily organs and taking part in extramarital prostitution.

The guidance is a 7-step checklist given to the thousands of families and federal employees who will not be receiving a paycheck due to the furlough.

With no end in sight, the Coast Guard has recommended the following actions and tips, assuring those affected that “you may have to temporarily make changes in the way you handle your finances, but by following these steps, you’ll be more likely to get quickly back on track when the furlough period is over.”

Understand the Details – Find out the Specifics of Your Furlough

Chances are that if you are being furloughed, it is for a completely invalid reason and the result of someone’s personal agenda. Keeping that mindset, this is a perfect opportunity for you to ask your command for answers, but know that you will likely not get a reasonable response. We encourage you to reach out to your Administrative Officer for additional information, even though they’re also on furlough and probably unable to answer your question

Crunch the Numbers

Assess your financial situation so that you can make good decisions during these trying times. Getting organized is key because only God and James Mattis know when you’ll actually be getting paid again.

Get Lean

Evaluate your spending. Do you really NEED food and water? That PT test next quarter will be here before you know it, and you could probably stand to lose a few. What better thing to motivate you to get fiscally responsible than incomprehensible government furloughs with no end in sight?

Consider your needs. History shows that a lot of people actually went their entire lives without electricity before Ben Franklin. Why not pay tribute to our founding fathers? Save some bucks and unplug/unhook everything in your house. Make it a fun game for the kids!

Supplement Your Income

Finding alternative methods of income is a wise decision during government furloughs. Have you considered selling your non-vital organs? Nobody ACTUALLY needs both kidneys. Why not make easy money and save someone’s life?

Another great idea is to have your spouse frequent street corners and questionable hotels, conveniently located just off any military post worldwide. The Coast Guard is full of families, and its time each member start pulling their own weight. Studies have shown that prostitution is a great way to make extra bucks, and much like driving for Uber or Lyft, you get to pick the hours you work!

When low on cash, just remember – “Sell Your Organs, Start Hooking.”

Avoid the Credit Trap

Don’t be afraid to talk with your creditors. Somebody has got to be the one to tell them why your mortgage payments and credit card bills won’t be paid this month, and it’s definitely not going to come from us or the federal government.

Your credit score will undoubtedly take a hit during this period of no-pay, but if you prepare enough, it will be less depressing a year from now.

Don’t Go At it Alone

One team, one fight. You are not alone in this time of potentially crippling debt and depression, there are many other families and federal contractors out there screaming themselves hoarse with rage over this nonsensical furlough. Find others to vent your frustration with. Because in the hardest of times, it is important for us to stick together despite your employer completely abandoning you.

Coast Guard officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

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Marine Corps

Marine Corps to reduce infantryman’s load by recruiting fewer wussies

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In an attempt to reduce the weight carried by already overburdened infantryman, the Marine Corps announced today that it would seek to reduce troops’ combat loads by recruiting fewer wussies.

“Studies by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and Center for Naval Analyses have shown that we can greatly decrease injury rates by reducing the number of wimps, wusses, and Nancy-pantses in our infantry units,” said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller.

“Further, we believe a battalion’s lethality will increase ten to fifteen percent simply by removing all broke dick losers from its ranks.”

Previous studies from the World War II and Vietnam War eras showed that the maximum amount of weight under which the average infantryman could effectively operate in combat was 45 to 50 pounds. However, Neller believes this load could be increased to 80 or even 90 pounds for any Marine that is not a “candy-ass bitch.”

“After months of lab experiments and field testing, we’ve concluded that a Marine could travel farther and faster under load if he or she is not a pathetic, spineless jellyfish,” said CNA physiologist Dr. Zeb Krantz. “Much of the pain and fatigue often associated with rucking and patrolling can be overcome by a steady practice of sucking it the fuck up.”

Operational testing by Marine units in Twentynine Palms, California, also showed that most Marine could increase their carrying capacity by regularly lifting heavy weights and not being a flaccid little creampuff. The Warfighting Lab has even developed a qualitative assessment called the Performance and Nerve System (PANSys) for determining whether a prospective recruit is an impotent softy.

“We’re still in the beginning stages of implementation,” said Neller. “But I’m confident we’ll be able to get rid of all chickenshit fat bodies by the end of the year.”

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Miscellaneous

Space Force reservists already volunteering for temporary duty on moon to escape wives

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WASHINGTON — Thousands of male reservists have submitted temporary duty (TDY) request packets to the Space Force for assignment on the moon in an attempt to avoid their wives, sources confirmed today.

The rush of TDY requests have skyrocketed since March 2018 when President Donald Trump announced the creation of the nation’s newest military branch.

Offering numerous opportunities for deployment, Space Force office phones started ringing off the hook immediately, inundating the service with requests from men anxious for temporary relief from the excruciating pain of being married.

“I’m excited at the prospect of joining the nation’s first members of Space Force to get assigned to the moon,” said Lt. Bradley Esteban. “I know the conditions and temperatures are extreme, and I could easily be killed. But that’s nothing compared to living with my dreadful, high-maintenance, controlling wife of 6 years. I’m ready to roll. Let’s go!”

The dangerous, life-threatening assignment on the moon will be filled with unimaginable risks, ranging from equipment failure to running out of oxygen. But that isn’t stopping patriotic service members from volunteering in droves.

“I don’t even care about hazardous duty pay, or even healthcare benefits – they can keep all of it,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Munoz, who has been married for over 10 years. “Just get me the hell out of here. She won’t quit riding my ass about playing video games and cleaning the house.”

Military wives are reportedly objecting to the notion of the TDY requests, citing the need for the trash to be taken out, the lawn to be mowed, and the car to be repaired.

One female military spouse, who only agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, sees the astro-TDY requests as pathetic.

“My husband and all his little Space Force cronies are a bunch of wannabes who need to get their shit together. They need to man the ‘f’ up and tend to their responsibilities instead of running off to play butt-buddy in space,” she said while preparing to call her husband’s CO to demand he deny her husband’s TDY request.

Service members have submitted their TDY requests prematurely because there are not really any Space Force operations now, according to military sources.

Meanwhile, senior military officials also noted that orders to the moon are also unlikely to be issued for the next few decades. Reservists were upset to learn they are stuck on earth and must endure the challenges of dealing with a whiny spouse with little hope for the future.

“Is there anywhere else in the solar system I can get orders to?” asked Sgt. Willy Breckenridge. “What about North Dakota? I’ll go there, even. I need a break. God damn, I need a break.”

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News

Lieutenant sets land navigation course record during Bird Box challenge

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QUANTICO, Va. — A Marine lieutenant at The Basic School set a record for the land navigation course while conducting the exercise blindfolded during the Bird Box challenge, sources confirm today.

2nd Lt. Aston Boger from Fort Worth, Texas, completed the day land navigation course — which requires newly commissioned lieutenants to move to a series of boxes using a map and techniques they’ve learned — in one hour and twenty-eight minutes all while wearing a blindfold.

“I had just finished teaching the lieutenants how to properly shoot an azimuth when Boger chirped from the back that he could do the whole course with his eyes closed,” said Sgt. Blake Ingersoll, an instructor at The Basic School. “That’s when the rest of his class started chanting ‘Bird Box.’

The Bird Box challenge consists of attempting routine tasks while wearing a blindfold. The craze started from the Netflix film “Bird Box” in which an entity drives people who see it to commit suicide.

“The captain in charge was in the port-a-shitter,” Ingersoll continued. “So I thought it was the perfect time to teach the boot a lesson. He’s a cocky son of a bitch, even for a guy from Texas. Somehow, he managed to find every grid box while ricocheting off trees and tumbling down inclines.”

“I’m pretty sure he has a concussion though, so joke’s on him,” added Ingersoll.

Boger’s classmates said the lieutenant’s weird luck started in Officer Candidate School and has followed him ever since.

“He’d go on about how’d he use ‘his magic’ to pass his written test,” said 2nd Lt. Ashley Hammond, a classmate who attended OCS with Boger. “He’d hardly ever study, and still ace his tests. He has this uncanny ability to fail up. I think he’ll make a great major.”

“Oh my magic?” said Boger. “Yeah, secret of the pros, but I’ll let you in on it. I filled in the multiple choice section as ‘abbacadaba’ on each test, and ‘voilà,’ I aced every time.”

As the lieutenants ate before their next event, Boger was heard bragging that he “could crush the night infiltration course with one hand tied behind [his] back.”

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