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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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General Dunford picks this week to start sniffing glue again

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THE PENTAGON—A shot down drone, a murderous Navy SEAL, and a near war with Iran all faded into the distance as Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took a long draw off a tube of super glue.

“That’s some good sticky shit,” said Dunford. “I’ve been off the Elmers for a few years now, but whoowheeeee, there’s no getting through this week without a little schnozz candy.”

Dunford leaned back, breathed deeply, and told his aide-de-camp that the come down off this glue was going to “make that shitshow circus of a military trial happening in San Diego kind of look good” in comparison.

While sniffing glue is not new to the position of Chairman, Dunford was the first to pass around a Costco 48 pack of glue to the National Security Council after yelling, “Fucking A, I can’t just sit back and watch this” as air strikes were called on Iran.

Witnesses say hours later, National Security Advisor John Bolton was observed trying to cut one of Dunford’s tubes of glue out of his mustache after Bolton fell asleep on it.

Duffel Blog Washington correspondent Grumpy contributed to this report.

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Navy

RQ-4A shot down by Iran was ‘just days from retirement’

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PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, Md.—The U.S. Navy RQ-4A surveillance drone shot down on Thursday was “just days away from retirement,” according to several people with knowledge of the matter.

The move comes as tensions between Iran and the United States, which have had strained relations for decades, escalated. Iran reportedly attempted to shoot down another U.S. drone last month, and claimed the surveillance drone shot down this week had entered Iranian airspace. The U.S. insists the drone was in international skies.

Sources close to the Global Hawk drone, who went by the call sign “Black Sparrow,” said it was nearing the end of a successful, 20-year Air Force career and hoped to retire to Texas in the coming months.

“Sparrow was on his last mission before heading home and retiring,” said one of the drone’s colleagues, an MQ-8 Fire Scout. The Reaper’s SAR/MTI synthetic aperture radar  pod gently quivered as he spoke. “The poor guy had two little sUAS drones back home he was looking forward to spending more time with. He’ll never get to fly around with them again.”

Navy officials confirmed that “Black Sparrow” was on his 18th overseas deployment, including tours in Iraq and South Korea. After 20 years in service, he would have been eligible for a full military pension as of  23 June, just three days after he was shot down.

“I’ve seen a lot of terrible things at war,” said the drone’s squadron commander, Cdr. Rick “Rock” Brett. “I’ve blown up, you know, whole families with killer robots. But this is by far the most tragic thing I have seen. The idea of Sparrow not getting to enjoy his pension really makes me view my own career in a different light.”

“Drones are people, too.”

Several other drones said the strike has had a significant impact on morale of U.S. robots flying near Iran.

“The President literally said that he didn’t care that a drone got shot down because there were no humans on board,” one drone told Duffel Blog, speaking on condition of anonymity so he could operate in restricted airspace in the National Capital Region undetected. “You can’t fucking tell me that we should be okay with that. This drone, on his last fucking time out, get’s shot down, and we just sit here.”

The drone’s AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, slung under its wings, began flashing red as the drone spoke.

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Navy

Humble SEAL drives ’93 white Ford Bronco to war crimes trial

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SAN DIEGO—Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a quiet professional accused of murdering a prisoner of war and other innocents, humbly rode in his friend’s old white Ford Bronco to his trial this week.

The Bronco, which was purchased at an auction years ago in southern California, is indicative of Gallagher’s simple lifestyle and mild temperament, and is in no way symbolic of another historic case involving a similar sociopathic murderer and botched prosecution.

Because of all the commotion around the trial, Gallagher and the white Bronco also received a complementary police escort of several squad cars and helicopters through southern California all the way to the courtroom.

The U.S. Navy, which has recently been plagued by controversy including SEALs killing a defenseless Special Forces soldier and then rationalizing that murder to his widow before trying to get in bed with her, are happy to have an unsung hero like Gallagher as its new public image.

Attorney Tim Parlatore believes that spending time in the courtroom is “a glove that doesn’t fit” for the SEAL community.

“These guys are just ready to put all the court room drama behind them and get back to murdering,”  Parlatore said.

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Navy

Navy says its not the size of the fleet, but how you use it

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NORFOLK, Va.—The Navy says the size of its fleet is just fine, thank you, and to stop counting its ships and start thinking about the service’s skill in using them. The Navy raised the subject in rolling out its new slogan, “Presence, not size, matters.”

The U.S. Navy currently has about 290 ships, significantly smaller than China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with over 300 vessels, plus several hundred more in the China Coast Guard. But Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson recently said that the best measure of sea power employment effectiveness—”How you use it!” in Richardson’s phrasing.

Naval analyst Norm Marpol called this viewpoint an overcompensation for inadequacies as a result of “fleet envy.”

Commander Ward Burke, a staff officer with DESRON 9, disagrees with the naysayers. “Sure, the PLAN has a lot of width and depth,” Burke says. “But they’re unskilled in maneuvering and seamanship. They can’t get the job done if they can’t use their tools.”

“You can’t just slap your dick—er, your ship—on the water and expect it to perform,” he added.

The Russian Navy, with about 300 ships, also has a lot of “big, powerful submarines capable of penetrating our most sensitive regions,” Burke said. But the Russian Navy is also known for the limited duration of its operations. “What good is the size of their fleet if they have no time on station?” asked Burke.

Burke said that “a lot of people” know that smaller-than-average navies, properly applied over the right maritime terrain, are often more effective than large fleets.

Some naval theorists disagree with Richardson’s concept.

“You know who says that the size of a navy doesn’t matter?” asks Professor Sherri Higgins of the RAND Corporation, “Countries that have small navies, that’s who.” “The best approach is to combine a large fleet with effective and sensitive employment. As usual the Navy is missing the boat.”

Higgins added, “France thought size didn’t matter until Britain’s Admiral Nelson handed them their asses at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson had only one eye and one working arm, but he had a fleet of big ships and he knew how to use them, if you know what I mean and I think you do.”

Nevertheless, the Navy appears unwilling to bend. Burke concluded, “We’re totally satisfied with our smaller than average fleet. We really are. Like, really.”

Reports that senior Navy leaders are attending self-affirmation therapy groups behind the O club right now are unconfirmed.

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Navy

Chief of Naval Operations lauds return to tradition of ‘false flag’ operations

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A U.S. merchant vessel sunk by a Nazi submarine. Or was it?

THE PENTAGON — Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson applauded the Navy’s return to what he called “its storied tradition of false flag operations” in a speech on Friday, several attendees confirmed.

In remarks to senior Navy leaders, Richardson noted that the American fleet has been blaming provocations at sea on outsiders since Yankee sailors dressed up like Indians at the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

“Even before we had declared independence,” he noted, “we were already doing our best to pretend other people started our first war.” Richardson also noted half a dozen times that such operations would help the Navy during “great power competition” and in the “high end fight,” as official Navy guidance on speeches given by senior officers require.

“False flag operations” refer to operations intended to give the impression that another actor launched the initial attack. “The term false flag literally refers to pirate ships hauling up an English or Spanish flag before they attacked,” noted Bill Roberts, a naval warfare and vexillology expert at the Center for New American Security Studies (CNASS). “It let them get close to merchant vessels, before unleashing a deadly broadside of artillery and seizing them.”

Attendees of the speech say Richardson emphasized the timeliness of the Navy’s return to false flag activity. “As we face increasing maritime gray zone threats, including Chinese maritime militias, the Russians in the Black Sea, and North Korean smuggling, it is imperative that we learn how to deceive our enemies so they cannot deceive us,” he told his audience of admirals, captains and senior civilians.

The admiral did not provide any specifics about what false flag operations the Navy had resumed.

According to Roberts, in the last several decades the CIA had increasingly taken over responsibility for all false flag operations.

“Ever since the DoD botched Operation Northwoods during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the ’60s, which was a plan to blame Fidel for CIA-orchestrated terrorist attacks, the boys at Langley have liked to keep uniform personnel far away from this kind of stuff,” he noted.

“I can’t think of a single occasion since Vietnam where military personnel have faked a terrorist attack. It’s great the Navy’s getting back into it.”

Richardson’s remarks came as American leaders sought to assign blame for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which they claim were likely a covert action by Iran.

When asked for more information by reporters, Pentagon officials said the American public would just have to “trust us.”

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Army

Army not looking forward to prostate exam after 244th birthday

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WASHINGTON—The Army will celebrate its birthday today with the rite of passage every service endures once it reaches a certain age, the dreaded prostate exam, sources say.

Over the past 244 years, the Army has enjoyed relatively good health, with the exception of a few minor hiccups post-Vietnam and after the Gulf War, the Army recently told Congress. “Unfortunately, recent tensions with Iran, Russia, China, and Venezuela—along with recurring flare-ups in Iraq and Afghanistan—have left the Army concerned about the health of its aging combat systems, aching readiness numbers, and our likely basketball-sized prostate,” it said.

“I can’t seem to ‘force-flow’ troops into theater, if you know what I mean,” the Army told the Duffel Blog. “So I guess it’s time for the old finger sweep. I just hope the doc doesn’t have massive sausage fingers. I don’t want to walk around for the rest of the day looking stiff and constipated like the Marine Corps.”

Sources close to the Army say it has been secretly looking forward to the exam ever since its finger accidentally broke through some MRE toilet paper during its last deployment.

Nor will this be the first time the Army has had an invasive procedure involving its rectum. During the past several years of sequestration, the House and Senate Armed Service Committees have given the Army multiple unwanted colonoscopies, aimed at finding out why it was so bloated.

“Turns out I was just backed up with wasteful acquisition programs and a bunch of officers and NCOs who had never deployed,” the Army chuckled. “The colonoscopy prep flushed out most of it out and I took care of the rest with a few rounds of retention boards. Unfortunately, it looks like I will have chronic DCGS-A and a few other maladies for years to come.”

The Army has an appointment with the same doctor it saw at the Military Entrance Processing Station back in 1775, who sources say looked to be about 90-years-old back then. Though it will continue to face readiness health challenges as it ages, Army says  it will be ready to fight and win the nation’s wars—given enough warning and several billion more dollars than whatever Congress is currently appropriating.

Duffel Blog reporters Addison Blu and WT Door contributed to this article.

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Army

Chaplain’s wife drives to different state in disguise to buy dildo

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A person disguised in a ghillie suit

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—The wife of Army Chaplain Mike Phillips, Amy, has just been spotted entering a dildo store 350 miles from her home, sources confirm.

According to anecdotal reports, it is often difficult for spouses of the clergy to indulge in their love of cock, due to the busybody nature of congregants and parishioners. Spouses in need of “marital aids,” costumes, and restraints must travel far outside the Fort Hood area to procure the items required for a satisfying, make-you-weep orgasm.

Mrs. Phillips declined to comment to Duffel Blog reporters, but another chaplain’s wife offered some thoughts on condition that her real name not be used.

“It’s tough, it’s true,” said “Danielle,” the wife of Protestant Chaplain Steve White, the brigade chaplain of Panther Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, “because many of your husband’s flock think that you shouldn’t have needs and desires like a normal woman”

She continued, “Like just because your husband nurtures and shepherds young soldiers in their spiritual lives, you’re somehow supposed to be above just needing a thick tool slammed up in your clam.”

Danielle paused to adjust her Carmen Sandiego disguise while glancing furtively around the parking lot outside The Toybox, the best-Yelp-reviewed dildo store in Des Moines, Iowa—more than 1,000 safe miles away from Fort Bragg.

“Honestly, we have children, so they know we’ve had sex at least twice. I need a little more than man-on-top missionary once in a while, gosh darnit,” she added. “He is deployed all the time, and it’s only the Catholics and Mormons who are against self-pleasuring. I just need a little release, for crying out loud.”

Sources further confirmed that Mrs. Phillips was unfortunately thwarted in her attempt to covertly make her purchase (a 7 inch veiny Caucasian-color rubber vibrator that features “realistic squirting,” and several brand-associated refill vials of fake semen) when she ran into the wife of her husband’s head deacon, also in a beret and fake mustache, at the cash register. She was forced to ninja-roll under a rack of feather boas and fair-trade leather whips and dive out the window like Bruce Willis.

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Marine Corps

All Marines are rifleman first, according to Marine who is admin clerk second

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Making copies

WILMETTE, Ill – On Saturday evening, Private First Class Mark Vance told a collection of fellow New Trier High School graduates “Every Marine is a rifleman first.” Vance, whose primary Military Occupational Specialty is as an Admin Clerk—“not at all like a secretary,” according to Vance—spends virtually all day, every day typing.

Vance’s comments confused several partygoers, who were uncertain whether that meant Vance’s admin clerk duties were of secondary focus and if being a “rifleman first” had any impact on the young Marine’s actual schedule.

“I asked him what his job was and he said the rifleman thing from movies, but he didn’t really elaborate,” said Vance’s classmate Will Shields. “When I asked him what he meant, he said something about ‘lions not being concerned with the opinions of sheep’ and walked off.”

Sources confirm that Vance stood out among at the party thanks to his cargo shorts, tucked in Grunt Style t-shirt, dog tags worn over said shirt, and exceptionally pale skin characteristic of someone who lives his life under industrial fluorescent lighting.

Vance spoke at length about what it’s like to be a “living weapon” and to “know you can kill everyone in the room if you have to.” Since completing Marine basic training and earning his eagle, globe, and anchor, Vance has spent the majority of his time in the service handling admin actions as part of his unit’s S1 administrative division. Such actions include filing paperwork, filling out paperwork, taking calls, and not allowing his fellow Marines to sign out on leave.

Vance’s fellow Marines unit confirm that Vance’s training since leaving Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island has not included any specific courses in tracking enemy combatants across the desert, snapping a man’s neck like it was nothing, or something Vance vaguely referred to Saturday as “insane-o mode.”

Despite the “lean mean killing machine’s” apparent lack of formal training in advanced combatives and tactics, multiple party guests confirmed that Vance responded to a question asking if he had ever killed by saying “Not yet” completely without irony.

He then went on to explain that if he did deploy and if an ISIS fighter assaulted his forward operating base, and if said fighter were to make his way past the FOB’s outer defenses, and if they were to then fight through the other units on base, and if said terrorist were then to enter the Battalion Headquarters, and if they were to then make their way to the S1 shop, he would, “totally end that motherfucker.”

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