Wilcox RAID-Xe

Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

Rocky Account Manager Ralph Borja To Be Inducted Into US Army Ranger Hall Of Fame

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Ralph Borja, a national military account manager for Rocky Boots, has been selected for induction into the National Ranger Association’s Ranger Hall of Fame. Borja is one of 15 members of the 2021 Hall of Fame class and will be honored in a ceremony July 21st at Fort Benning, Ga.

“Ralph embodies every quality you would expect of a former Army Ranger, and Rocky has been fortunate to have him as a part of our sales team,” said Mark Dean, Vice President of Rocky’s Commercial Military division. “We thank him for his service to our country and salute him for his induction into the Ranger Hall of Fame.”

Borja, a native of Agana, Guam, served a total of 31 years in the military in numerous special operations roles. He entered the Ranger Indoctrination Program immediately after basic training and then joined the 75th Ranger Regiment in January 1980. During his career, he served as a Ranger instructor, Sergeant Major at multiple battalions, Brigade Command Sergeant Major with the 10th Mountain Division, and Command Sergeant Major at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

He is also a Master Parachutist with two combat jumps, first into Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and again into Panama as a part of Operation Just Cause in 1989. For injuries sustained in Panama, he was awarded a Purple Heart. He later deployed to Afghanistan twice, earning a Bronze Star during one of those tours.

Borja holds several other awards and decorations including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit award.

After concluding his military service, Borja joined Rocky in July 2013 and has demonstrated incredible acumen and leadership as a sales manager. He is a highly valued conduit to the world’s largest tactical distributors and has played an integral role in establishing Rocky’s Commercial Military Brand domestically and abroad.

The Ranger Hall of Fame was formed in 1992 to honor and preserve the spirit and contributions of America’s most extraordinary Rangers. The Ranger Hall of Fame takes particular care to ensure that only the most extraordinary Rangers are inducted, a difficult mission given the high caliber of all nominees. Inductees are impartially selected from the Ranger community and represent all units and eras of Ranger history.

Silent Warrior Foundation Brings Us More Information On The Operation Eagle Claw Modified Field Jackets And Gear

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

A few weeks ago I participated in an unboxing of a modified M65 field jacket and other gear worn on Operation Eagle Claw, the 1980 raid into Iran to attempt to free American hostages held by Iran.

Since then, several unit veterans have come forward to allow Dave Hall, President of the Silent Warrior Foundation charity to examine their jackets. In this second video, Dave meets with retired Sergeant Major Phil Hanson.

We’re fortunate that they produced not just one video during this visit, but two.

In the first unboxing video there were some surprises like the dog tags and watch cap. This time we get to see the non-issue boots worn by SGM Hanson in Iran along with some other items. You have got to watch these videos, if just to see the rigger modification to the Bianchi holster to make it a drop leg.

The information gleaned from these videos isn’t just of historical significance. The Silent Warrior Foundation is working Bergspitze Customs and Alpha Industries to recreate 10 examples of these jackets for a charity auction as part of their upcoming Whiskey and War Stories honoring Operation Eagle Claw event in August.

The jacket reproductions and many other items will be available for auction on www.auctionfrogs.org during the event.

ASA x SOC-F Freedom Raffle

Friday, July 9th, 2021

The American Suppressor Association and Special Operations Care Fund have teamed up to present an amazing raffle featuring 10 prize packages valued at over $60,000 combined!

However, in my opinion, one item alone makes the rest of the prizes seem mundane. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a skateboard deck which was signed by every SOF Veteran who attended this year’s SOC-F Sporting Clays event.

Normally, these types of items are auctioned off for thousands of Dollars rather than included as prizes in raffles like this one. This time, you don’t have to be a rich guy with a fat roll of hundies in your pocket to take it home. The only advantage you have to win it (and the other prizes) is to buy more chances at the raffle. And even if you don’t win, you’re donating to two great nonprofit causes: helping America’s warriors and their families in times of need and preserving our civil right to own and use suppressors as part of the second amendment to the constitution.

Go check out the website for the rules and a look at all 10 prize packs.

Get your tickets here. The more you buy, the less expensive each ticket is.

June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day and This is One Soldiers Experience

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is a condition that many veterans and non-veterans alike suffer.

 

June 27th is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Injury Awareness Day. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness around the signs, symptoms, and stigma, associated with PTSD. As a former Infantry Officer with two deployments to Afghanistan this issue is deeply personal to me. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has reported that somewhere between 10-15 percent of Veterans have a clinical diagnosis for post-traumatic stress. That number is likely far greater. A recent survey suggests at over a quarter of our population believes PTSD is incurable and those who have it are dangerous and mentally unstable – it is for this reason that so many Veterans refuse to seek help. 22 Veterans will take their own life today, two thirds of them will have never stepped foot inside a VA facility – 15 Veterans will die today without ever asking for help.

The redeployment process was like an assembly line, 2,600 soldiers going from office to office getting their checklist signed off by each office (dental, vision, finance, etc.). The mental health station was no different, walk in, answer a few questions, get your sheet stamped and leave. It was June of 2006, I had returned a week earlier from a 16-month deployment to Afghanistan. I walked into the mental health office and without looking up a man asked, “what was the worst thing you experienced while you were deployed?” I proceeded to tell him, in detail, about the suicide bomber attack on my platoon that resulted in every member of the platoon being awarded the Purple Heart. He looked up at me and said “Lieutenant, that is the worst story I’ve heard all day.” He left me with one question “am I still me?” I said yes, partially because I thought it was true, but partially because if I knew if I said no it would mean an early end to my career. Over 30 soldiers would recount the same attack that day, 30 soldiers would answer “Yes, I’m good” and walk out of the office with their paper stamped “cleared MENTAL HEALTH” and start preparing for the next deployment.

Fast forward a few years, I left the military, used my GI bill to get a master’s degree, and had started a new career in management consulting. The guidance most people gave to Veterans starting civilian careers was to not talk about being a Veteran, so I did not. During a conversation with a colleague, I happened to mention my service because it was related to the topic at hand. My colleague stopped and said, “I didn’t know you were in the Military, you’re remarkably well adjusted.” Not exactly a compliment but also not far from the truth – from the outside I was a normal businessman, from the outside you could never tell that had it not been for an Afghan guard who grabbed the suicide bomber at the last minute I probably wouldn’t have seen my 26th birthday, from the outside I was still me. On the inside, these memories are defining moments, “you can’t unsee a suicide bomber attack” or all the other memories associated with combat. Again, from the outside for the most part you can’t tell what another person has experienced but these memories tend to pop up at the unexpected times. A child’s nosebleed triggers a memory you’re not equipped to deal with as you comfort the child in the middle of the night. That’s PTSD. Its your past fighting with your present and no one on the outside can see that battle.

I cannot describe the weight of command, especially in a combat environment. As a junior officer I was given the responsibility of leading an amazing team of men and women. The mantra of “mission first, people always” was a heavy reminder that it was my job to maintain a balance of keeping my soldiers safe and accomplishing our mission. I wasn’t always successful at either, but we all came home alive.

Today, my office is built for our “zoom world” behind me hang the awards and pictures that represent the proverbial “T-shirt” as in been there, done that, I’ve got the T-shirt to prove it. In front of me, out of view of the camera, a collection of bracelets, each inscribed with the name of a friend or colleague I’ve lost, either to our enemies abroad, or the demons within. So, while the world see’s all my accomplishments I am confronted with my why – the friends I’ve lost. There is one in particular that inspires me to do more every day – the one I couldn’t save.

Every loss is painful. As I mentioned I was lucky, I had amazing NCO’s and soldiers, they are truly exceptional and many continue to serve our great nation. During our deployment in 2006 I honestly lost count of how many times we came into contact with the enemy, the suicide bomber was the worst, but not the only attack. We were lucky, we lost friends while we were out on mission, but when those wheels touched U.S. soil, we had all made it back.

June 16, 2019, it was Father’s Day, and I was up early, partially because I don’t sleep well, and partially because I enjoy the peace of the early morning. I learned through Facebook that I had failed. That night one of my soldiers had taken his own life. This was not my first, second, or 10th time dealing with suicide, but it was by far the most personal.

There is a certain power and resolve that comes with acceptance of a great loss. After that day it became clear that while I couldn’t change the past we could do more moving forward. We have a running Facebook message – which is mostly filled with the type of dark and profane humor that only and Infantry Soldier would understand but it connects us, a constant reminder that there’s always someone there who “gets it.” In the Ranger’s Creed there is a line “I will always shoulder more then my fair share of the task, whatever it may be;” with every loss, whether by combat or suicide, it’s our responsibility to shoulder their load and to carry the memory of them forward.

On any given day there are around 19 million Veterans, living and thriving in communities across the country. Approximately 22 Veterans take their own life, every day. This is nothing less than a national tragedy and we’ve dedicated an enormous amount of resource to trying to solve this issue. A recent survey found that almost 70 percent of Americans believe that most Veterans struggle with PTSD, while 25 percent of Americans believe PTSD is untreatable, and those with PTSD are violent and dangerous. The truth: PTSD is treatable, and many of those who carry a PTSD diagnosis are able to thrive in their post service life with minimal, if any, clinical intervention. The biggest threat to our Veterans is the stigma we attach to mental health issues like PTSD as it prevents us from seeking help.

As a society, and as Veterans we must do better, this same survey showed the misperceptions about PTSD were even more prevalent amount the Veteran community then our civilian counterparts. Steven Ambrose once said that Veterans gave the best years of their lives in the defense of our country, when they leave the service there is a strong desire to make up for lost time. Veterans thrive in civilian life when they are able to find their why, their new purpose. By having these candid conversations, we can break the stigma associated with mental health and make it easier for a Veteran to seek help when they stop being themselves.

Joseph Reagan is the Director of Military and Veterans Outreach for Wreaths Across America. He has over 10 years’ experience working with leaders within Government, non-profit, and Fortune 500 companies to develop sustainable strategies supporting National Security, and Veterans Health. He served 8 years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army including two tours to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division. He is a graduate of Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the country.

Run, Walk or March to Help Those Who Fought for Our Freedom

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

July 4 Virtual 5K supports American Humane’s lifesaving Pups4Patriots™ program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This Fourth of July, Americans have a new way to celebrate our nation’s freedom.   In addition to the usual frankfurters, fireworks and fun that make up so much Independence Day fanfare, one organization is asking people to lace up their sneakers and run, walk or even march to support those who have served our country and sacrificed so much to keep it free.

American Humane’s national Pups4Patriots 5K is a virtual weekend-long event, raising funds to train lifesaving service dogs for veterans coping with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Patriotic participants can show their solidarity with America’s veterans by walking, jogging or running at their leisure over the Fourth of July weekend. Participants can register online at www.AmericanHumane.org/P4P5K.

Research shows that specially trained PTS service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort and restore confidence to affected veterans. There are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs, however, including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs, often upwards of $30,000 per service dog. American Humane’s Pups4Patriots™ program pairs dogs in search of forever homes with veterans in need. The two are trained together at no cost to the veteran.

American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization and a top-rated charity that has been supporting the U.S. military, military families and military animals for more than 100 years. In addition to the nearly one billion animals it saves, shelters, feeds and protects around the world each year, American Humane brings home retired war dogs and reunites them with their handlers, trains lifesaving service dogs for veterans with PTS and TBI and helps provide critical healthcare to our K-9 warriors.

“American Humane is committed to putting healing leashes into the hands of more veterans in need,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO and president of American Humane. “This virtual event will serve as a rallying point to bring us together to provide veterans in need with the healing power of our four-legged friends.”

Participants can register at www.AmericanHumane.org/P4P5K.

Turns Out, CheyTac USA President Blaine Campbell Isn’t A Green Beret After All

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Last April we published a press release from firearms manufacturer CheyTac USA with the news that they had been purchased by Campbell Arms Manufacturing. It was refreshing to hear that SOF veterans owning businesses, particularly in the firearms industry.

Involved with Campbell Arms Manufacturing, and by extension CheyTac USA, is President and Chairman Blaine Campbell who has identified himself as a Special Forces qualified veteran of the US Army. Based upon information gathered during a joint investigation by the Guardians of the Green Beret and the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project, we have learned that while Blaine Campbell is an Army combat veteran, he was never Special Forces qualified.

Apperently, records indicate Campbell attended the SF Weapons Sergeant MOS portion (phase 2) of the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1994, but was dropped before completing the rest of the school.

According to the article posted by the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project, Campbell has issued an apology to the Guardians of the Green Beret, but we haven’t seen it posted anywhere yet.

“I did apologize to the Guardians of the Green Beret. I’ve retracted everything,” he (Campbell) said. “I’m a combat vet. I am humble. I shouldn’t have said it. So be it. It is what it is.”

This revelation is most unfortunate considering that CheyTac USA firearms have been employed for extreme long range sniper missions by US and allied SOF. By all accounts, Campbell is great at building guns. That’s what ultimately matters. We’ll never understand the need to lie about a background to get ahead in business.

Numerous, additional details are contained in the aforementioned article so be sure to go read it.

UPDATE: Guardians of the Green Beret have published the documents used during their portion of the investigation into this affair.

guardiansofthegreenberet.com/blaine-campbell-green-beret-not-so-fast-1

Military Exchanges Partner with RangeMe to Streamline American-Made Product Sourcing

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — May 13, 2021 — The Army & Air Force Exchange, Navy Exchange, Marine Corps Exchange, and Coast Guard Exchange are joining forces with RangeMe, the industry standard online product sourcing platform for retailers and suppliers, on a nationwide initiative to source American-made products for their shelves.

This endeavor is part of the ongoing commitment from the exchanges to bring more American-made products into their retail stores while enhancing categories that include pet supplies, PPE, housewares, toys, and more. 

“RangeMe has established strong partnerships with the U.S. military exchanges, and we are thrilled to take this next step with them,” said Nicky Jackson, CEO and Founder of RangeMe. “This enhanced commitment to sourcing American-made products will help further their dedication to providing innovative, quality products to the men and women of the Armed Forces.”

Through RangeMe, the exchanges will easily discover products manufactured in America and meet their consumers’ needs. With more than 175,000 suppliers, RangeMe provides a vast array of brands representing nearly 1 million products that can meet the exchanges’ needs as they deepen their efforts to bring in more American-made products now and in the future.

American-made brands interested in working with the Exchanges can submit their products for review here: app.rangeme.com/exchangemadeinamerica.

Vietnam Veteran Shares First-Person Account of Life in the Bush in 1968 in Debut Memoir

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

In ’13 Months,’ author Bruce A. Bastien reflects on his experiencesas a young U.S. Marine Corps grunt serving a 13-month tour in Vietnam

SAN DIEGO – For many Americans, the Vietnam War often conjures mental images of high-action military combat overseas, unprecedented frontline media coverage of the war as it unfolded in Vietnam, and tensions across the U.S. as protestors called for the war to end. In “13 Months: In the Bush, In Vietnam, In 1968,” author Bruce A. Bastien draws back the curtain of this high-conflict period to share his experience as a young Marine – both the common notions of war and the mundane, daily life experiences that shaped his 13-month tour of duty.

“13 Months” sweeps readers up on a coming-of-age journey through a U.S. Marine Corps grunt’s daily struggles, battles, and funny moments as he navigates a new and sometimes unforgiving environment. Bastien’s book shares with readers the range of emotions and physical discomfort he experienced during his service, from unmitigated terror to utter boredom, hot and dry to wet and cold, rested and ready to frazzled and wired.

“13 Months” also shares Bastien’s experience maturing from a young man to an adult as he grows philosophically, finds his confidence, develops the ability to handle stress and strain, and learns lessons about friendship, love, difficulty, danger, deprivation, and loss. Bastien reflects on his friendship with the other American men with whom he served who came from all different walks of life, backgrounds, races, and levels of learning. The common element among them was their humanity, bravery, and willingness to risk their lives to help one another, all the while hoping to find their way back home.

“This is a personal account of the feelings, frustration, horror and friendships, of a young man under very exceptional conditions. It describes the grassroot experiences of a young marine on a mission for his country, but where questions arise of the ultimate purpose, the Why,” Mårten Wikström wrote in an endorsement of the book. “It is not a story of heroes, but a sincere description of what a young American boy experienced. What was the purpose of this war? And even, what was the purpose of some of the movements of the soldier’s unit? This is a very realistic story of how many young Americans must have experienced their role in Vietnam. The narrative doesn’t dwell in excesses, or drama, yet describes the horror and fright very clearly, but also the extreme boredom and man-to-man conflicts that arose.”

Ultimately, Bastien’s book is a gripping and unforgettable story peppered with supporting photos about a boy’s journey to becoming a man that highlights the incredible power of camaraderie and friendship. “13 Months” keeps the memories of the people who served during the Vietnam War alive and provides a glimpse into the negative impact and harrowing toll of war on individual lives.

13 Months: In the Bush, In Vietnam, In 1968

By Bruce A. Bastien

ISBN: 978-1-6632-0456-1 (sc); ISBN: 978-1-6632-0458-5 (hc); ISBN: 978-1-6632-0457-8 (e)

Available through iUniverse, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

About the author

Bruce A. Bastien has had dual careers in data processing and aviation. Bastien’s previous roles include computer salesman for IBM, business applications computer programmer, consultant, and owner of a “Cloud” service bureau business that hosts client business applications. He has also worked as a flight instructor and owner of a Part 135 on-demand airline, and he earned commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates for single and multi-engine aircraft with instrument ratings. Bastien holds degrees in biometry, computer science, and accounting. He currently resides in San Diego with his wife, Carol. To learn more, please visit www.scsstories.com.