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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.”

Advice

Duffel Blog guide to safe for work porn sites

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Feeling a little lonely while you do your shift at the duty desk? Pulling night watch in the motor pool and feeling a bit amorous? Or has it just been awhile since you got your ashes hauled or your clam slammed?

Well, we hate to break it to you (if you didn’t already know), but most units use network settings to prevent you from visiting porn sites at work. We can’t help you convince those busybody nerds at IT that it’s only natural for a good soldier to beat his meat or flick her bean once in awhile, but we can point you in the right direction to enjoy some good-enough-for-now porn at sites the filter software doesn’t block!

Workout and diet sites

You’ve got a job that requires you to be fit and healthy, so it’s only logical that you’d be allowed to visit sites for exercise programs like Crossfit, P90X, and the like. Many of these sites don’t just have pictures of hotties doing exercises in very little clothing, but also feature message boards where users can post before/after pics. You can find a lot of real and almost nudity in this treasure trove. Ditto with websites for diets like Atkins or Whole30.

Tattoo enthusiasts

If you’re running a tattoo parlor or magazine, you need a website to get your work seen by prospective customers. And you can’t show skin art without showing skin. If that intricate linework is coincidentally close to a nipple or dong, that’s not your fault, right? You gotta show those boobie tats, otherwise where is the spice in life?

Plastic surgery and breast cancer survivor groups

This is a fantastic way to get quite an eyeful, as plastic surgeons offer photographic proof of their good work. You’re not looking at porn—you’re doing research for your health! Just remember, if you print any of the pictures for later use, don’t leave them lying around in the printer tray.

The girls who need bigger tits because they’re not pulling in the dick they thought they would are one thing. But there’s also the girls who have booby cancer, and have had boob jobs because they got their real ones chopped off. It’s an empowering thing. You are helping cancer survivors celebrate their journey by looking at their tits!

Fashion

Lots of aspiring models and designers put their portfolio up for no charge, hoping to attract work. What morons. They also compete to be the most eye-catching, and nothing catches the eye like a nipple or butt artfully arranged to look like it’s accidental. Of such things glory is made. And jizz.

Art and photography

Deviant Art isn’t just for deviants! It’s also for people who want a socially-acceptable way to look at naked stuff while at work. This is the most well known, but there are legions of websites dedicated to “art” that are really just pictures or drawings of people in various states of undress. Deviant Art even has an “erotica” category right in the navigation bar! It couldn’t be easier! “Boss, it isn’t porn, it’s art!” you’ll be able to say as you gesture with your monocle and polish your spats.  And he won’t be able to say anything because you’re so fuckin’ fancy.

So get out there and start beating or flicking, you sexy bastards!  They can’t say anything about these SFW porn sites!

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Rip It teases plan for GWOT 20-year-anniversary can

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PLANTATION, Fla. — Rip It Energy Drinks teased plans for a unique can design that honors the 20 year anniversary of the Global War on Terror and will be available in combat zones by late 2021, in a press release today.

“We want to go all out to impress our troops,” said head of Rip It marketing Dave Hughes. “Many of them have suffered significant injuries from either combat or the consumption of our product and deserve the very best.”

The design will reportedly incorporate significant amounts of symbolism. Included will be 20 stars the size and shape of the kidney stones the product bestows, which represents the number of years of the conflict (so far). Other design elements are said to include the American flag, a heart pumping at 220 beats per minute, and probably an eagle.

The limited release product will also include commemorative flavors such as Mission Accomplished Mango, Tropical Troop Surge, Quagmire Citrus, and Poorly Defined War Aims Berry Punch. All flavors will reportedly still contain methamphetamine levels of caffeine and maintain Rip It’s signature “left out on a pallet in the Middle Eastern sun” aftertaste.

The Rip It brand itself is almost as old as the conflict, having been introduced as a non-alcoholic Four Loco substitute for troops downrange in the first year of the war. Troops immediately recognized the drink’s excellence, commonly described as carbonated battery acid, as a pallet cleanser perfect for after smoking a cigarette and immediately before throwing in a dip.  The brand’s popularity rose further once troops realized that when pairing it with Otis Spunkmeyer muffins caused simultaneous diarrhea and constipation.

“These past 20 years have been amazing, and we can’t wait to see what the next 20 holds,” said Hughes.

Though the design has yet to be fully finalized, experts believe that with the right kind of support, this promotion could be as big as Green Bean’s annual “Christmas away from your family” holiday cups.

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Army

Badge hunter to become latest Army badge

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JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command announced the most recent attempt at Army retention today — another badge.

The Army says the badge-hunter badge will distinguish the service, citing the successes of historic organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, the restaurant Chotchkie’s from the movie Office Space, and Mattel’s line of never-ending Barbie accessories.

Public Affairs Officer Maj. John Wagner called it “the mother of all badges,” in a press briefing.

“We aim to have the most on our uniforms,” Wagner said. “We see it as an opportunity considering the new pinks and greens uniform is coming out. Look at Marine uniforms. Almost nothing. It’s terrible. How are they able to measure their self-worth if they can’t have forty pieces of fabric and shiny metal to wear to every banquet?”

The badge aims to recognize Soldiers who endlessly pursue awards and schools, often going months without being seen in their units.

“We aren’t ready to unveil what it looks like.” Wagner said. “But what we are allowed to say is it’s epic. The size of a baby’s head. Maybe the size of a tea plate.”

The badge hunter is only available to individuals with over 50 percent school time to service ratios. Positive evaluations are not a prerequisite, and a minimum of four badges must already adorn a Soldier’s uniform prior to applying for the badge.

No other requirements are known. Only badge hunters themselves know the true path to attaining the shiny piece of metal.

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Marine Corps

NCIS sting: Marines bribe officials for acceptance into University of Phoenix, Strayer University

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The Naval Criminal Investigation Service announced today the indictment of several Marines accused of bribing college officials for admission to some of the nation’s top online diploma mills.

“These bribes deprived veterans, other service members and average American dupes the chance to get ahead,” NCIS Agent Tom Malloy told reporters. “They prevented the opportunity for hard working people to advance careers through an esteemed and rigorous education.”

NCIS opened its investigation after a Camp Lejeune unit education officer dropped an envelope stuffed with one and five dollar bills and an application to Strayer University written in crayon. A civilian contractor turned the envelope over to NCIS, igniting a scandal that involved multiple Marine Corps bases, according to Malloy.

“In most instances, an education officer took half of the money and sent the rest to the university official,” Malloy said.

The University of Phoenix, Capella University, and Grand Canyon University were also implicated in the scandal. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller expressed shock at the alleged scheme.

“Marines are taught to use black pens on official documents,” Neller said. “Crayons are strictly for consumption.”

NCIS agents believe junior enlisted Marines hatched the plan when looking to enroll in classes that coincided with field day formations. Education officers insisted the Marines would need extra help in enrolling in these for-profit colleges. The education officers earned between $5 and $6 per application for a total of over $500,000 in bribes, according to NCIS.

“I was a little confused when I was approached with a bribe for admission the first time,” an admissions officer for Phoenix University said. “I mean, we’ll enroll anyone with a line of credit or access to tuition assistance money. I took the bribe of course. It only had a few dollars covered in grease and glitter that probably came from a local strip club.”

It is still unclear if the universities will expel the students involved. Most will remain enrolled until their payment checks clear.

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Army

Veteran didn’t risk his life at Bagram Pizza Hut just to see U.S. and Taliban sign peace deal

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professional veteran

A local Army veteran expressed outrage this morning over talks of a U.S.-Taliban peace deal, saying he didn’t risk his life during a two-month deployment to Bagram Airbase “just to see the war end like this.”

Cody Bennett started his protest on social media after U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad began negotiations with the Taliban to end the war. As one of the “elite one percent” who join the military, Bennett says most Americans won’t understand his point of view, but somebody needs to speak truth to power.

“Me and my boys put too much on the line out there just to see these spineless politicians settle for peace,” said the former administrative clerk who was sent home early due to bone spurs suffered on the base gym’s elliptical machine. “Are my blood, sweat and tears worth nothing?”

Bennett claims that he and other veterans often had to combat issues like minimal selection at the base Pizza Hut as well as long lines and limited hours at the dining facility.

“A large pizza for sixteen dollars? I put my life on the line day in and day out, and they’re going to try to swill me for sixteen dollars? On top of that, they never use enough sauce,” said Bennett, who never came within 200 meters of the base’s perimeter and was administratively separated from the Army for being overweight.

“Those guys, the ones like me that held the line for their country despite slightly below average dining standards compared to middle-class American expectations, those are the true heroes,” he added. Don’t talk to me about peace or freedom until you’ve had to live through that hell.”

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Army

Major forced to go to morning PT spontaneously combusts

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Fort Bragg, N.C. — An Army major met a disastrous end when he was forced to attend morning PT formation for the first time in seven years, sources confirmed today.

Maj. Eric Hindenburg burst into a ball of fire the moment the battalion commander called the unit to attention.

“We couldn’t tell if it was the sun coming up or one of the joes lighting more fireworks or what. I’ve seen some strange things before, but I’ve never actually seen a major at PT formation,” Sgt. Mark Tunguska told reporters.

Famous for delegating nearly all responsibility, sitting in eight hours worth of meetings a day, and a near universal acceptance of the dad bod, majors have long been an acceptable and simultaneously disdained reality the Army has sustained to keep the wheels of the machine coasting forward.

“Major Hindenburg was … well, come to think of it, he was sort of like all the other majors I’ve ever met. Uh, he was a guy. I guess that’s the only thing I remember about him,” continued Tunguska.

Fellow majors reacted with shock and remorse. Maj. John Morrison, the battalion operations officer, buckled and wept at the news of Hindenberg’s demise.

“Oh, the humanity!” he cried.

The battalion’s majors scheduled a vigil to take place tonight at the local Waffle House.

Hindenburg is survived by ten cats, air stream, and fridge full of micro brews in his garage.

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Marine Corps

134 percent of Marines arrested in nationwide ASVAB cheating scam

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marine at computer

Federal officials charged thousands of active duty Marines, including several prominent recruiters, today in what the Justice Department says was a costly $5 scheme to cheat ASVAB testing standards.

Nine gazillion Marines allegedly paid a strange man in a trench coat who said he would fabricate test scores and organize bribes to help men and women gain acceptance into the highly regarded service.

“We’re talking about pure dishonesty and rampant fraud — completely fake test scores, fake MEPS physical exams, and bribed officials with meet and greets with Jim Mattis,” Blake Strathman, a U.S. Marine Corp Recruitment Oversight official said at a news conference.

Strathman said Marines “paid from up to $5 to a whole box of crayons” to try to ensure that their scores went above the required 32 to enter the service. The accused allegedly sent bribes to associates controlled by a Virginia man named Dan Shaw in return for securing passing scores on the ASVAB as well as for spreading rumors that they are very strong and mean.

Shaw also presented his clients as elite killers, Strathman said.

“In some cases, Shaw helped Marine applicants take staged photographs of them engaged in Spartan races and intense paintball competitions,” he said. “Other times, Shaw and his connections used stock photos of famous wartime battles and photoshopped the face of the applicant onto the picture and submitted them to recruiters.”

Strathman was asked if he has 250 fake photoshopped pictures and 175 bribes, how many pictures and bribes does he have in all

“SEVEN! No wait. If you carry the two and subtract the 5, you end up with $35 dollars and a 2 strippers with dragon tattoos! Did I win?” he responded.

A total of one thousand million have been charged in the recruitment scheme, according to Marine Corps officials. More than twenty zillion people in multiple states were taken into custody Wednesday as part of “Operation No Impact, No Idea,” said Jake Pugh, special agent in charge of the Marine’s Investigation division.

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Air Force

Parents bribe service academies to not accept their children’s applications

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naval academy annapolis

WEST POINT — As a string of high-profile college bribery scandals come to light, the FBI has also uncovered that affluent parents are covertly paying service academy admissions to reject applications coming from their children, sources confirmed today.

“I wouldn’t want my child to suffer through a service academy either,” says chief investigator Gary Burkmire. “But there’s a right way and a wrong way for your kids to get ahead in life, and helping them avoid a subpar education through lies and crime is not the way to do it.”

Parents with children in service academies are outraged.

“So I, a poor single mother, have to watch my son go to West Point while rich parents have the privilege of seeing their kids amount to something in life?” asks Sheila Jones. “The wealthy elite really are evil.”

Burkmire has emphasized that the bribes were done without the knowledge of the children.

“Let’s make sure not to blame the kids here,” he told reporters. “Many of them were bright enough to be able to avoid a military education all on their own, but their parents didn’t have enough faith and made things worse.”

In some instances, the fraud even included paying up to $500,000 for an impostor to show up to the child’s Candidate Fitness Test and fail for them.

The legal repercussions of the scandal fall somewhat on the youth, despite the crimes originating with their parents.

“Unfortunately, regardless of qualifications, all applicants involved in the bribery scandal have been admitted to the service academy of their choice, and must report on the first day of school,” says Burkmire. “I hate to see this kind of thing, but it’s what happens when you mess with the system.”

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