30 March 2015

How do we define an "enemy"?

When considering the enlistment oath all of us took (or something similar) is as follows:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

How does one define the term “enemy?”

Dictionary.com defines this term as such:
  • a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
  • an armed foe; an opposing military force:
  • a hostile nation or state.
  • a citizen of such a state.
  • enemies, persons, nations, etc., that are hostile to one another:
  • something harmful or prejudicial
When following this basic definition, how do we specifically define the enemies that we have sworn to fight against? This is easily defined in such groups as ISIL and the Nazis, but what about the more subtle enemies? What about the domestic enemies?

Example 1: When police officers perform illegal searches that are against the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution we vowed to protect, are these officers by definition enemies that we must protect the country against?

Example 2: When Congress passes a law that counters the Constitution or that law ultimately means citizens are being harmed or having their rights taken away, are they considered an enemy that we must defend against?

Example 3: When groups such as “Anonymous” hack known hate groups such as the KKK to shut down their websites, are the hacking groups an enemy?

While this line is easy to draw with enemy combatants, where does this extend to non-violent actors that may be operating outside the parameters of the oath we took?

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

25 March 2015

Local Veteran-Friendly Establishments Need Us

When I first left active-duty Marine Corps back in 1993, I walked away from a close-knit family and brotherhood that I had grown accustomed to over the years. I had gotten engaged and moved in with someone I fell in love with, and within a few years, our first child came along. My life was busy and exciting, but I never stopped missing what the Corps provided.

This was back in 1993, before the Internet was well known and established. People had AOL and CompuServe, and the really cool kids were using bulletin board systems for years, but it still wasn't all that great at bringing post-military-service people together. 

After a few years, I looked into organizations like the Marine Corps League, the VFW, American Legion, and even the Masons. I was looking to capture what I had before, but I quickly realized that there weren't many younger people my age. After a few meetings, I just wasn't feeling it and I walked away. 

When social media became a thing, and Facebook started to dominate the market, I discovered several groups dedicated to the Marine Corps. I felt connected again, and I was IN it. Discussing topics that mattered to military-oriented people - it was a powerful new way to connect, and I found myself constantly drawn to those communities. If I could get this much personal satisfaction talking with my brothers and sisters online, imagine how much better it would be face-to-face at a Legion, or VFW, or some other military-friendly establishment?

I ended up returning to the local Legion, but this time, I had a renewed outlook on the importance of these places. I wanted to get involved for the networking possibilities, the healing factors, and of course, to help reinvigorate these clubs who are seeing their numbers dwindle. 

If you are a younger veteran or active duty serviceperson, please look up information on your local American Legion or VFW, and pay them a visit. Get a beer, buy a good meal, and shoot the breeze with WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan war veterans. It is worth it. It makes a difference. 

As you look around each day, seeing the news or reading the paper, it is no surprise to see a nation torn apart. We have lost our way, and the soul of this country was sold off long ago. It feels like we are circling the drain. If we could all just come together, united under our love of country and service to protect our nation's citizens, I believe we would be better off. Better off as individuals, as veterans, as a local community, and as a nation. 

I live in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and have been making regular visits to several local American Legions for over 3 years now. I am 44 years old now, and sadly, I am often the 'younger' face in the crowd. I hope and pray that more people my age, but especially those younger than me, will reconsider the Legion and give it another shot.

The Legion needs us. We need each other.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

24 March 2015

Bringing Veterans into the Technology Business

The average American today is surrounded by technology. The smartphones in our pockets, the individual apps on those devices and the fitness monitors on our wrists are just a few of the artifacts symbolizing how technology has permeated into our everyday lives.

What is missing in all of this technology is the collective influence of U.S. military Veterans in the business and engineering efforts behind modern software and hardware. The most successful technology companies in the United States today were not founded by Veterans and are not currently led by Veterans.

There are certainly Veterans involved in the technology business, but there is a noticeable void of Veterans on the executive teams that are building the contemporary technology industry. Veterans are not shaping the technology market or leading the cadre of businesses building modern enterprise and consumer tools at companies like Google, Apple, Samsung, Uber, Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote and Twitter.

I have seen the drought of Veteran influence in the technology industry first hand as a member of both the military and technology tribes.

When I left the active-duty Air Force in 2009, I went to Silicon Valley and took a sales engineering position at Google. After a few years I was promoted to a product management role. As I immersed myself deeper in the technology industry, I began to seek out other Veterans. The scarcity of peers and mentors in Silicon Valley with military experience was notable.

At Google, a company of over 30,000 employees when I resigned in 2014, there were only around 300 U.S. military Veterans. Many technology companies have recognized the need to recruit underrepresented communities and include Veterans in their diversity and inclusion strategies.

All too often though, the positions generated by these efforts are simply aimed at selling software, hardware or services to the government. These are not the coveted engineering and product management roles that are charged with designing complex software systems, leading development teams and creating new products.

When Veterans are able to join large technology companies, they are relegated to individual contributor roles or mid-level management positions. There are certainly exceptions where Veterans have  achieved more in technology companies, but the frequency of these successes is largely anecdotal.

There is a better way! The world is full of interesting problems that have not yet been solved, and Veterans are keenly equipped to meet these challenges. Rather than joining large technology companies and fighting their way to the top, Veterans can become technology entrepreneurs, start businesses and change the world on their own terms.

There has never been a better time to grow an idea into a scalable technology company. Developing a technology startup does not necessitate an MBA, it simply requires having an idea, creating a vision, sustaining motivation and investing hard work. These are character traits that many Veterans already possess.

There are Veterans out there right now forging this entrepreneurial path, and there are programs expressly aimed at helping others along the way. If Veterans invest a bit of time to learn the language, understand the processes and connect with the right mentors, they can build the next generation of great technology businesses.

In an effort to highlight the connective pathways linking Veterans to technology entrepreneurship, Patriot Boot Camp and RallyPoint have partnered to publish a series of profiles on successful Veteran-led technology companies.

Stay tuned for great startup stories, amazing personal transformations and a lot of raw entrepreneurial motivation!

Sean Maday is a director at Patriot Boot Camp, an intensive 3-day event that seeks to help Veterans become technology entrepreneurs. The program is free for U.S. military Veterans and/or their spouses. The next Patriot Boot Camp event is in New York City on April 17, 2015. Follow their RallyPoint group page here!: http://rly.pt/patriot-boot-camp

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

23 March 2015

How Do You Deal With Charismatic Malcontent?

Capt Matthew W. Tracy (USMC) wrote an essay for the 2005 Hogaboom Leadership Writing Contest called, Co-opting the Charismatic Malcontent. In the essay, he addressed the impediment that the charismatic malcontent (CM) poses to his or her command. I would like to know what you think about the main points of the essay and/or how you’ve seen this play out in your own experiences.

-Charismatic Malcontent (CM): A service member (in this case a Marine) who is disgruntled and dissatisfied with his command, whose power is garnered through charisma, and who exercises his ability to undermine the command. His destructive power ranges from breeding indifference and apathy within his circle of influence to participating in criminal actions.
-Professional Marine (PM): A Marine who would take a legitimate complaint with a program or decision to his superior privately in an effort to seek a resolution or improvement, and ultimate mission accomplishment.

Main Point #1: CM’s have a destructive power in the unit that ranges from breeding indifference and apathy in a fellow Marine to creating a criminal cartel within the organization.

Main Point #2: Overtly challenging the CM will likely do more harm than good. Therefore, more covert methods must be employed to co-opt him or her.

Main Point #3: Leaders can ill afford to allow the kind of fracturing and polarization that a CM can cause.

Main Point #4: Every member of a team or unit is an asset, including the CM, and if a leader has the skills to pull it off, co-opting him or her can be well worth the effort.

Questions for Consideration:
- Have you ever known a charismatic malcontent in your unit? Did the command co-opt him/her, wait for him/her to PCS or transfer, confront him/her directly, or allow him/her to sow seeds of malcontent within the unit and address symptoms of that as they crept up?
- What would you have done differently if you had read this article or understood these concepts at that time?
- Do you know of a different way to accomplish the same result as the one proposed here?

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

20 March 2015

Guns that Shaped US History

There is no doubt that the United States has produced some of the best weaponry in the world. Each firearm in our nation’s history has played its part, but some have become iconic. Here are a few of the guns used by our military which made huge impacts throughout time. 

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

19 March 2015

Why our “Take a Motrin” approach could be hurting our troops: Part I of II

This is Part I of a series on critical medical advancements that save troops’ lives, and how each of us can help our RallyPoint brothers and sisters facing medical challenges.

All of us have experienced – or at least heard about – this type of situation unfolding overseas: a troop suffers a potential head injury, is hastily evaluated (despite best intentions), and is put back into the fight too early.  “Take a Motrin,” the adage goes, where unit-level medics give troops a few Motrin, ask them to recite the alphabet backwards, and tell them to shake it off.  Added to this is that military personnel have a tough mentality; they too often avoid admitting they’re hurt or in pain until it becomes unbearable.  But by then, it could be too late, and tragedy becomes almost inevitable.

The unit-level “screening” tests conducted in the military actually do not tell us much about the true brain injury that may have occurred.  For example, we don’t know whether taking a Motrin helps or actually HURTS a troop with a serious head injury.  In a literal sense, this means a troop could have a TBI, and the military’s protocols could actually be hurting him/her.  It’s true, as much as I wish it wasn’t.

What we need is a test that tells us whether this troop is truly injured, how bad the injury is, and how we may be able to best treat him.  Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) is such a test.  It’s a unique version of an MRI that measures the chemicals in the brain – a completely harmless procedure that can tell if chemicals in the brain have changed.  A renowned Harvard brain scientist, Dr. Alex Lin, is spearheading an ambitious study to bring this test to the DoD – a change that would save the lives of countless members from among our military community.

Currently, we can look at MRS studies in mice to see how their brain chemicals change after head trauma from a blast.  We can also look at MRS studies from NFL players and professional soccer players, and make predictions about what chemicals might change in military troops due to a blast.  However, scientists don’t know exactly how the brain responds to an IED blast versus a high-impact football tackle.  This requires us to further investigate how an IED blast specifically affects troops’ brains.  

Through Dr. Lin’s MRS study, it will be possible to not only determine what chemicals in the brain change due to an IED blast, but also start the process of developing new treatments that could improve – and ultimately save – troops’ lives on the battlefield and years later at home, after they have taken off the uniform.

Perhaps most groundbreaking for readiness across the DoD today, these MRS studies will also allow doctors to easily identify troops at risk for PERMANENT damage if they are hit by another blast – thus preventing troops from returning to the fight before they are ready.  

-- How you can do your part to save troops’ lives –

While these studies are sometimes enigmatic, they are critical in that they enable us to learn what we don’t know.  The success of Dr. Lin’s study ultimately requires active troops and veterans to volunteer a few hours of their time to be scanned.  Being that I am a veteran who is no longer serving, the decision to take three hours to get my brain scanned was easy – the whole time I was thinking, “I am doing my part to save the lives of my brothers and sisters in arms.”  The medical community is working to equip line medics with better diagnostic tests and tools to protect troops suffering from a TBI, and as individuals we can all play a role in pushing this process forward.

Dr. Lin in Boston, MA is conducting this study.  If you are in the New England area, or are willing to travel to do your part just like I did, please say so by posting a response in this thread, or by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/bwh_study

In my Part II follow-up in this series, I will share my own experience going through this study with Dr. Lin.  Coming soon!

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

18 March 2015

Advice: Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Employment

I retired from military service in 2010.  For the last two years, I have assisted Veterans as they have been making the transition from their military career to a new career in the private sector.  Since then, I’ve noticed some mistakes they all seem to have in common.

The resume: Every resume I have reviewed from a Veteran is written as if they are applying for a job with the military.  In other words, civilians who review resumes do not understand what it is you did or accomplished because your resume contains military terms, acronyms, and jargon.  To them it is written in a foreign language.  

Keep in mind only 1% of the US population serves in the military at any given time.  The chances of human resource professionals knowing what a Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, Sergeant Major, Company Commander, Operations Officer or NCOIC, Battalion Commander, etc. does is highly unlikely. If you served in any of these leadership positions, you were supervisors or managers in civilian terms. Write out the responsibilities you had and your accomplishments, and then start changing them to fit the civilian world.  

Let’s take a look at SFC Joe Snuffy, who is getting ready to retire.  His resume says he was in charge of the maintenance of 14 M-1 Abrams tanks.  The price tag on an M-1 Abrams is $4.3 million.  How do I know?  I looked it up online.  Would it not sound better on the resume to say he was responsible for maintaining more than $60 million worth of equipment in operational order?  SFC Snuffy then must explain how he accomplished that duty and what results he caused.  “Received special recognition from senior executives for implementing effective work schedules, maintenance procedures, and training programs that kept $60 million of equipment operational,” sounds a lot more impressive than, “Responsible for keeping 14 tanks operational.”

Another mistake I’ve seen is Veterans expecting to start in a civilian job at the same leadership level they had in the military.  If you were an E-7 in the military and you transferred to a new duty station, you were put in an E-7 position.  It does not work that way leaving a military career for a civilian career.  I assisted a recently retired Colonel who was sending out a lot of resumes, but not getting any interviews.  There were two reasons why he was not getting invited for interviews.  The first was his resume; it was all military speak.  The second was the positions he was applying for.  He was expecting to get a vice-president position because he retired as a Colonel.  I had to give him the hard, cold fact that it was not going to happen like that.  I told him if he wanted a job, he had look for and apply to middle management positions.  After fixing his resume and applying for middle management positions, he started getting interviews!

Another thing transitioning Veterans need to realize is the fact that the economy is making it tough for anyone to find a good paying position.   The unemployment rate is still relatively high, which has increases competition.  Talk to any human resource professional and they will tell you they receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for positions their companies are advertising to fill. Transitioning Veterans need to keep this in mind so they do not become continuously discouraged when they do not immediately find employment.

The increased competition brings me to another mistake Veterans are making: not marketing themselves effectively.  First of all, I do not recommend wasting money and paying to have resumes professionally re-written because it is not worth it.  There is no such thing as a resume that will work for any job you apply for.  Looking for a job is a full-time job.  When you see a job posting on Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, et al., the employer is giving you the requirements they expect an applicant to have.  You need to rewrite your resume to reflect you meet at least 90% of those requirements.  You need to use the same action words used in those requirements because most HR departments are using software to scan your resume based upon those words.  If you are applying for “Basket Weaver Manager”, be sure the title of your resume is “Basket Weaver Manager.”  

Take this: You have rewritten your resume to apply for the “Basket Weaver Manager” position with ABC Company.  Now save it on your computer as, “ABC Company Resume.”  When you do that, and ABC Company calls you to come in for an interview, you can review the resume before you go to the interview. Remember, it is important that you print a few copies to take with you to the interview.  It never hurts to hand the interviewer another copy of your resume as they sometimes forget to bring a copy with them.

Cover letters should always accompany your resume when you apply for a job.  If you are applying for the “Basket Weaver Manager” position at ABC Company, then go to their website and look for their contact information.  Call the company and ask them for the name of their Human Resource Director.  If they do not have one, ask for the name of the Hiring Manager.  By all means, once you get that person’s name, ask for their contact info as well; telephone number and email address.  When you write your cover letter, address it directly to that person.  A few days after you’ve submitted your resume, call or email that person to follow up.  I prefer calling - that way, if they did not receive it, then you can ask to send it to their email address rather than count on them getting it through the company website.

Another problem Veterans make regards their use of social media.  If you use Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site that can be linked to your resume, take all derogatory comments off them.  Many prospective employers have been known to research potential employees before they decide to hire them.  You do not want to market yourself on these sites as someone who complains a lot or someone who would not fit into the culture of their company. 

While you were in the military, your career was YOUR responsibility.  You had to take the initiative to do what needed to be done to advance in your career.  The career fairy did not waive her magic wand and you were promoted.  It is the same thing when seeking a new career in the private sector – you need to take the initiative.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

16 March 2015

How the Military Family Foundation helped me

On July 4th, 2012 I lost my wife suddenly.  As you can imagine, it was a trying experience.  I had called my unit of assignment to find out about collecting my SGLI insurance, and they put me in touch with Army Community Services.  I guess it is a prerequisite that you speak with someone there before you can collect on an insurance policy.  I won’t draw out all the experiences I went through during that terrible time, but I was finally put in touch with the Military Family Foundation.  I did not ask for their help, nor did I think I needed it, but they really stepped up and helped me.

The Military Friends Foundation is an organization that was created in 2003 to recognize and honor the unique sacrifices made by men and women of the Massachusetts National Guard.  I am not part of the National Guard, but an Army Reservist who lives in Massachusetts, and the scope of their mission has expanded and now includes Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut.   The group was set up by an act of the legislature and some generous private donors.

I was visited by them during a time of great need.  You would think that they would help out the family of a fallen Soldier, but they do much more that that.  I was not the family of a fallen Solder, but I was a stricken Soldier none the less.  They came to me and helped me with the bills that were looming in the months ahead.  Again, I did not ask for this, but it was generously offered and grudgingly accepted.  They helped my close family with travel arrangements to attend the funeral, which was greatly appreciated.  They were a much-needed lifeline that I will forever be grateful of.  They are a group who deserve recognition.

MFF is much more than helping out families who have experienced loss.  If you have a chance, visit their website at www.militaryfriends.org.  There you will find many programs that they take part in.  They are involved in the “Tough Ruck” march in which a group of Military members don their uniforms and a heavy pack and walk the 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon route.  The “Tough Ruckers” were even at the scene of the Marathon Bombing and administered first aid to the victims.  Since then, this tradition has increased in popularity and I predict it will be one of the military’s great traditions.  

They also help families of deployed military make arrangements for daily life when the primary decision maker of the family is away.  If you look at the stories section of the site, you will see numerous tales of how families needed help in times of turmoil, and how the Foundation came to their aid.  If it was helping with an unexpected bill or a referral to help find a way to fix the car, they were there.  They helped coordinate and honor deploying units, and administered many blue ribbon ceremonies.  These people truly love what they do - help us - and they do it well.

If you’re looking to get involved in a great cause to help Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and their families, then look into the Military Friends Foundation.  They have many fun and rewarding programs, and they could use your help. If you are a Service Member or family member of one in need, then also give them a call.  They are one of the most compassionate groups of people you will ever meet.  

I, for one, would love to hear about other organizations you know of that do the same thing.  It would be great if you could share one of your experiences with this, or similar, organizations.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

12 March 2015

History & Statistics of the Vietnam War: Part VI of VI

The answer from the question in Part V on the young girl may surprise you...

Myth: Kim Phuc, the little nine year old Vietnamese girl running naked from the napalm strike near Trang Bang on 8 June 1972, was burned by Americans bombing Trang Bang.

No American had involvement in this incident near Trang Bang that burned Phan Thi Kim Phuc. The planes doing the bombing near the village were VNAF (Vietnam Air Force) and were being flown by Vietnamese pilots in support of South Vietnamese troops on the ground. The Vietnamese pilot who dropped the napalm in error is currently living in the United States. Even the AP photographer, Nick Ut, who took the picture, was Vietnamese.
The incident in the photo took place on the second day of a three-day battle between the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who occupied the village of Trang Bang and the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who were trying to force the NVA out of the village. Recent reports in the news media that an American commander ordered the air strike that burned Kim Phuc are incorrect. There were no Americans involved in any capacity. “We (Americans) had nothing to do with controlling VNAF,” according to Lieutenant General (Ret) James F. Hollingsworth, the Commanding General of TRAC at that time. Also, it has been incorrectly reported that two of Kim Phuc’s brothers were killed in this incident. They were Kim’s cousins not her brothers.

Myth: The United States lost the war in Vietnam. 

The American military was not defeated in Vietnam. The American military did not lose a battle of any consequence. From a military standpoint, it was almost an unprecedented performance. (Westmoreland quoting Douglas Pike, a professor at the University of California, Berkley a renowned expert on the Vietnam War)[Westmoreland] This included Tet 68, which was a major military defeat for the VC and NVA.

THE UNITED STATES DID NOT LOSE THE WAR IN VIETNAM, THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE DID after the U.S. Congress cut off funding.  The South Vietnamese ran out of fuel, ammunition and other supplies because of a lack of support from Congress while the North Vietnamese were very well supplied by China and the Soviet Union.

Facts about the end of the war: The fall of Saigon happened 30 April 1975, two years AFTER the American military left Vietnam. 

The last American troops departed in their entirety 29 March 1973. 

How could we lose a war we had already stopped fighting? We fought to an agreed stalemate. The peace settlement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973. It called for release of all U.S. prisoners, withdrawal of U.S. forces, limitation of both sides’ forces inside South Vietnam and a commitment to peaceful reunification. [1996 Information Please Almanac] The 140,000 evacuees in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon consisted almost entirely of civilians and Vietnamese military, NOT American military running for their lives. [1996 Information Please Almanac] There were almost twice as many casualties in Southeast Asia (primarily Cambodia) the first two years after the fall of Saigon in 1975 then there were during the ten years the U.S. was involved in Vietnam. [1996 Information Please Almanac]

POW-MIA Issue (unaccounted-for versus missing in action) 

Men like U.S Navy Lt. Mike McGrath who was 27, spent almost six years in North Vietnamese prisons, enduring torture and beatings before he was released in the spring of 1973 with nearly 600 men whose plight united a nation, otherwise bitterly divided by the drawn-out war.

Politics & People, On Vietnam, Clinton Should Follow a Hero’s Advice, contained this quote about Vietnam, there has been “the most extensive accounting in the history of human warfare” of those missing in action. While there are still officially more than 2,200 cases, there now are only 55 incidents of American servicemen who were last seen alive but aren’t accounted for. By contrast, there still are 78,000 unaccounted-for Americans from World War II and 8,100 from the Korean conflict. “The problem is that those who think the Vietnamese haven’t cooperated sufficiently think there is some central repository with answers to all the lingering questions,” notes Gen. John Vessey, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Reagan and Bush administration’s designated representative in MIA negotiations. “In all the years we’ve been working on this we have found that’s not the case.” [The Wall Street Journal]

Women – The Forgotten Soldiers

Between 1962 and 1973, according to the Veteran’s Administration statistics, approximately 11,000 women served on active military duty in Vietnam. Nurses made up the most of the bulk of the women serving in Vietnam.

One of the servicewomen decorated was First Lieutenant Sharon Ann Lane, who was posthumously awarded the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross and the Bronze Star for Heroism. She died from shrapnel wounds following a 1969 rocket attack on the hospital where she was working. She was only one of many that was placed in harms way. Under horrible conditions our military nurses worked to save our combat warriors. Some of these hospitals were on the front lines of combat. One location was called Cu Chi that served the local Vietnamese and our troops. Cu Chi was overrun by the Viet Cong, and we discovered they had tunnels beneath their base camp.

What was your greatest surprise?

Take a look at Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V of the series.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

11 March 2015

The 80%'ers

We are all pretty familiar with bell curves; a graph that is normally broken down into three sections, low, average and high.  Normally, the average section makes up about 80% of the graph with the other two sections having about 10% respectfully.

Recently I was having a conversation where this idea of the "80%'ers" came up.  What I mean by that is this: There are a ton of service organizations out there.  Some are doing some great things.  Some are out there flapping in the breeze while others are just starting that.  In this conversation I was having, we began wondering which group a lot of these organizations target.  We figured out if you put the Veteran population of any area into a bell chart, break them up into "severally wounded", "wounded but working" and "not wounded" (I'm sure we could use better terms but you get the point); the "wounded but working" section would be that 80% "average" section.  However, we figured out that a majority of the bigger service organizations - the ones you see on TV and hear about all time - are really only catering to the severally wounded, 10% population of the overall population.

Now, please understand, I'm not saying that our brothers and sisters-in-arms that were severally wounded in defense of this nation do not deserve it.  I feel they deserve it and then a lot more. However, what about the 80%'ers?  I can't even begin to count the number of times I've gone somewhere to speak and been greeted with "I pictured you missing a (insert body part)" or some other comment.  Granted; in general, the majority of the population doesn't have a true understanding of what sort of wounds go unseen.  Wounds like PTSD and TBI are ever-increasing.  Walk into a room and ask all the Veterans in that room to raise their hands if they carry a PTSD diagnosis.  You'll notice that most, if not all, raise their hands.  When you talk to Joe Q Taxpayer, when he/she thinks of wounded military members, our missing body parts come to mind.  

I work very hard every day to remind those around me that not every wounded Veteran sticks out, nor are we in need of "free soup and socks".   Veterans, regardless of the injuries he or she may have to live with, are not helpless.  Many of our brothers and sisters-in-arms are once told they will never walk again and end up showing the doctors that not walking is not an option.  They find a way.  Those of us with unseen injuries learn to adjust our methods to work within the new way our brains are weird.  We are not looking for freebies.  Sure, it is nice to get something once and awhile but don't baby us.  Don't treat us like broken goods.  I think that those of us, the 80%'ers, have a huge struggle with this.  Sometimes we need help, but we do not need freebies.  Still the question remains, where do we fit in?  

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.