The military lexicon and you!

Today I want to talk about a few things I’ve noticed that are trends around here and how we as a Family can change them, make no mistake we are a Family and we are all on this together.

First I want to start by saying the Army/Navy/USMC/USAF have their own languages. I’ve served in joint positions alongside those guys so while I may understand it I am by no means an expert. The first thing you need to know about us is we have titles, and confusing those titles can potentially set some of our tightly wound compadres off. A person in the Army is a Soldier (notice the capital S to go along with the capital F above? Army regulations say we always capitalize both words), a person in the USMC is a Marine, a person in the USAF is an Airman/Airwoman,  and a person in the Navy is a Sailor. Forgive me if this seems obvious but you would be surprised how often this gets confused.

Without devolving this post into a long list I’m just going to cover a few (Army) specific terms; hooah is the catchall if I don’t know what to say, if I’m acknowledging something or I’m giving a battle cry it’s what we are supposed to use. Hooah is a modern day derivative of HUA (pronounced the same, hoo-ah) during WW2 that meant “heard, understood, acknowledged” for me personally if you hear me use hooah it means I am beyond mad about something and am saying that rather than use something more colorful and to the point. “Mandatory fun or funishement” means an event that one is forced to go to that everyone knows will be lame but is a requirement. Funishement is my new favorite word to describe these. MOS is a job, “what is your MOS”= what is your job. There are a ton more; maybe one of these days I’ll start a running list.

The next two are very important to me personally–one for obvious reasons; the other maybe not so obvious. First is the use of “the big D” or anything else to describe a deployment. A deployment is a deployment. I know as parents we are scared to death for our kids; but you have to understand this is what they signed up for and as a parent you should have been preparing yourself for the inevitable day from the start. Call it a deployment, celebrate that your child is part of the 1% who cares enough to try to affect change. Calling it the big D shows that you are scared.  This will create doubt in your child that maybe he should be scared too because in the run up to the deployment he isn’t. Instead he is feeling invincible:  the Army has the best training and gear in the world. He has faith in it and so should you.

The second is something I’ve seen a few times in the MilitaryMama group and that is the phrase “boots in the house”. The first time I saw this I thought it meant your kid literally traveled with his boots to home. That makes sense for the Guard or Reserve, but (for Active) I’ve been in 12 years and never traveled with my boots. Then I thought you were talking about your new guy.  Personally, I like it because you are celebrating your kid. To me the term is endearing (if not slightly degrading).  As a new guy they will earn a nickname FNG, new guy, cherry, fuzzy and so on. One such term is boot; boot refers to a new guy as in “you are so boot I can still smell the new guy on you.”  So when I hear “boot”, I think brand new guy who is so new he doesn’t know what to do.

About once every 20 times the phrase pops up on our page someone goes off about how it is disrespectful and what it “truly” means. This story goes the phrase originated in WW2 when a service member died.  The War Department would send their boots to the family, giving the term boots in the house a horrible meaning. I went digging and couldn’t find anything to verify this at all. I can tell you for sure it is not done that way now; when a service member dies, boots and uniforms are burned and disposed of. I don’t know where the story started but let me squash it right now.  It most certainly doesn’t mean that now. For me and for the BoD,  we embrace the phrase and use it as we celebrate your kid.

Justin

OPSEC/PERSEC and other Sec’s

Disclaimer

*I am in no way an expert on OPSEC This should not be construed as expert advice regarding OPSEC.  If expert opinion is needed please seek someone with your required level of expertise*

So another week passes and another person yelling that we violate OPSEC on the regular, this time to the level of “making her stomach turn.” So I wanted to take a minute and cover what OPSEC and PERSEC is and more importantly what it isn’t.

Before I jump into the meat and potatoes I want to shoutout to the Admin team. I am usually the first one that wants to crucify you for making a mistake but you guys do a good job of being the gatekeepers. With that said situational security is an individual responsibility.

OPSEC

OPSEC is the abbreviation for operational security, nifty how that works huh? In a nutshell operational security covers anything that can be used by the enemy or an adversary for a TACTICAL advantage, notice how tactical is capitalized and bold there? This information consists of things like:

Troop movements, unit strength, unit capabilities, and current missions

What OPSEC isn’t is anything other than these things. OPSEC is like a puzzle, while you might not see an item to be a big deal one more puzzle piece may be what just what the enemy needs. There have been numerous reports of units having movements home scrubbed because of someone inadvertently leaking the dates/times/number of people. So while I know it’s hard keep these things to yourself.

Here is a great link that explains OPSEC in detail:

http://www.dodea.edu/offices/safety/opsec.cfm

Anyone who has done any work in the intel/information gathering field will tell you more than 90% comes from open source intelligence. Open source means I can get the information without breaking any law or really doing any work. Want to know how easy it is? Google “Army deployment cycle” and see what comes up, you will get a by unit list and a rough timeframe of when and where they are going. Published by the Army. So while you may scream at other moms/wives for saying your love one is “in Afghanistan” the truth is so are about 140,000 other people at any given time. Unless you’re SO is Chuck Norris and is capable of winning the war all by themselves one guy doesn’t make that much difference.

Examples

Prayers for my son as he heads to the desert. ✅

Good vibes for my husband as he preps to leave for Afghanistan ✅ (though this might fall under PERSEC, more on that in a moment)

Prayers for 2/502 PIR as they leave for Fob Walton ❌

Good thoughts for 1/101 CAB as they leave for Iraq on Wednesday ❌

Obviously people aren’t usually dense enough to go this far, but I think you get the idea.

Hopefully this gives you a good foundation for OPSEC, now moving on to PERSEC.

PERSEC

PERSEC is personal security and should be read to mean anything that should be kept confidential, though it’s not damaging if it gets out. The general rule for PERSEC is “would you put it on a billboard in your front yard?” If the answer is no then maybe rethink posting it. Going back to our example above; I know this woman’s husband is leaving the country, so that fact makes her a target of opportunity if I’m a bad guy. There is no one home to protect her and I know she is vulnerable.

Today someone was raising to the high heaven that they got a “My son serves” Army sign. This is an official thing created by the Army, but I look at it with a healthy dose of skepticism:

First:

you are identifying your loved one as a military member, some of us remember the threat of ISIS attacking our families from a little while ago. Come at me all you want but I would never knowingly put my family at risk.

Second

For me, as a recruiter, those signs lead to zero tangible returns so I have zero use for them.

Third

Going back to the analogy of the billboard, you are now literally doing that and is that truly wise? If the reward outweighs the risk let your flag (or yard sign as it were) fly, I just find it funny that those who scream about security are usually the first ones to run out and buy a sign.

Be safe and keep your loved ones safe. If you need anything you know how to reach us.

Justin

Recruiting 101: Part 3- Physical

After completing the ASVAB and TAPAS the next step is the physical. Most recruiters will have your child complete the physical and enlist the same day, as long as there is no indications he might not complete the physical that day. For brevity sake we are going to assume these two things are happening at different times.
Prior to taking the physical the applicant will complete DD form 2807-2 which is a report of the applicants complete medical history. It is incredibly important not to withhold anything, no matter how trivial you or them might think it is. If the applicant withholds or lies on the form and it is discovered that recruiter along with anyone else who might have dealt with the applicant comes under investigation which in medical issues can be a career ending thing. Most issues can be worked, you just have to inform us of them.

If the 2807-2 is clean the applicant will proceed to the physical.

If it’s not a pre-screen will need to be done. Medical issues are so large there is no way I could cover everything that might or could arise. For our example we will assume the applicant is clean but had an ACL surgery 3 years ago. The applicant would need to mark that on the form and then provide his recruiter with every document from the doctor for the issue. This includes any ER records, initial visit, pre-op report, surgery report, post-op report, and all follow-ups until the all clear is given.

Pay attention here, notice I said ALL records. Bring everything, if only half the records get brought nothing will be done until everything is brought. It’s frustrating for everyone when the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) keeps requesting more documents because the applicant has failed to turn everything in.

Once a pre-screen is complete the CMO can either authorize the applicant to proceed (no restrictions), authorize a physical only to speak with the applicant and determine the extent of the condition, state a waiver is needed and submit to the Command Surgeon, or disqualify the applicant from service.

Physical: the physical is actually a pretty easy thing but there are a few things to highlight. The applicant will do a urine test, have blood drawn, do height and weight, and speak to the doctor. There are also a few specific things that will be done. One is the duck walk, which is the applicant will crouch down like a catcher and take a few steps maintaining that position. The applicant will need to be able to stand from a knees on the ground positron without he use of their hands.

After completing the physical the applicant will have a PULHES assigned. Information on that can be found at the link https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/PULHES_Factor

PULHES numbers run 0-4. A 0 means the PULHES is “open” and the applicant will need a consult, more on that in a minute. A 1 is optimal meaning no restrictions. A 2 means still qualified, small limitation such as wearing glasses. A 3 means the applicant is disqualified from service for a condition, but may be granted a waiver. A 4 means the applicant is permanently disqualified with no waiver authorized.

If the applicant needs a consult he will need to go back to MEPS at a later time to be taken to see a specialist. For example someone with a 0 in “S” might need to see the physiologist.

During the consult one of three things can happen. The doctor can clear the condition with no conditions. The doctor can submit a waiver to the Command Surgeon or the doctor can say the applicant is disqualified. If a waiver is needed a wait will happen, currently for the Army about a week after a consult.

Medical is so deep I could write a novel on it and still not cover everything. This is a real quick idea of how the process goes and what is happening.

Justin

Recruiting 101-Part 1

I’m going to turn this into a mini little series based on different milestone markers. This will be part 1 of  4. Today we will cover “so your kid wants to join the ….

Disclaimer: I am not all knowing and would never profess to give guidance on something I do not know. With that said these will be mostly Army related. For other service specific questions please find someone knowledgable for that service. 
It’s the day every parent dreads, mom/dad I met a recruiter and I’m thinking about the … Don’t think your child was fed some slick sales pitch first of all. The most successful recruiters let their career do the talking, telling stories and sharing experiences works best. But now what can you as a parent do?
First and foremost don’t panic. Things will be ok. 
Pre-visit: Odds are that your child wants to be just like or similar to his recruiter. Physiologically we recruit in our own image, I’ve put more MP’s in the Army than anything else. Find out what interests your child and work from there. Make a list of things you want to talk about (education benefits, continuing training, career progression expectations, and day to day for example). Be prepared but listen to your child. Maybe he only wants infantry now that doesn’t mean he will want it down the road. Make a list of career fields he is interested and ask questions about those. Plan the visit out for a specific date and time I can prepare much more detailed information based on your child if I have a heads up. If you fail to plan expect the recruiter to follow suit. 
During visit: I will always want you to come to me. It’s simple I have an advantage on the home turf. I also have the added benefit of my friends in the office that can help with their experience lines up with something that interests your child. Ask your questions, this is an information session. No recruiter can put your kid in the service from their office so stop thinking your child is enlisting right now. Have a conversation, find out about the recruiter what he has done and seen. Talk to the center commander as well. Take notes, ask for handouts explaining the things that are important to you. Ask questions and get into detail about the differences between Active, Reserve and Guard. Make sure you understand how each program works and what they are guaranteeing, not just promising. 
Post visit: sit and talk. You may not want this to happen ever but if your child does enough it will, nothing you can really do about it. Ask questions of where he is and what he liked and didn’t. Validate the information you were given through a secondary means. Shop around, that’s ok just don’t buy into the crap that they sell (I.e. The USAF is the smartest, USMC is toughest, that IS a recruiting pitch. No one is stronger or smarter than anyone else and everyone matters). Evaluate the information for your child and let them drive the conversation. Be supportive not discouraging, if your son wants Airborne Ranger and you talk him into being a computer guy it’s not the recruiter he will be upset with. 
Decision time: Pick the service that is best for your child. Don’t believe the hype of smart/strong make a decision based on the facts. When a decision is made notify the recruiter. 

If you need anything we are only a message away. 

Morals and convictions 

Sometimes inspiration stikes from the most unlikely places, today it comes from a picture of two of my favorite people who happen to be celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary. 

My best friend Steve is a walking talking contradiction. He is simultaneously humble and braggy, intelligent but always quick with a joke. He also happens to be a 1LT in the Air Force. Our history goes all the way back to 8th grade and makes for an unlikely friendship, the kind where our mothers would make each other’s favorite meals because they knew we would inevitably show up. He had a key to my house and a standing welcome. My parents still call him son and see him around once a month. When his father (also an Air Force vet) passed he stayed at my house for a week. 

Of all the things he is I am most proud of the man he became. Some people (like him) were destined for the military; dad was a vet of Vietnam, oldest brother is a LTC now, older brother is a security force officer, and then him. Others like me still can’t point to a single thing of how they ended up in the military. So what drives the average red blooded American to serve?

For me it came to morals and convictions; I almost joined the Air Force alongside Steve. I filled out all the paperwork and was ready to go. But no amount of money can entice me to do something I won’t find interesting so ultimately the Air Force wasn’t for me. In the end I found my way to the Army, but what led me there was ideals. 

People think highly of the military (for obvious reasons) and for some of us more than money, job security, school or whatever else that is what we respond to. The military is a values based organization and as long as an individual’s values line up with those of the service it will be a noble calling. 

Some of you know my day job is recruiting young men and women to join the United States Army. Recruiting is a fickle animal with politics, the economy, and the world climate all playing a part. One of the truest mantras in recruiting is “we recruit in our own image,” it’s the reason I put more MP’s in than anything else by a wide margin. But I’m at the point where the numbers don’t matter anymore instead I look for people that I would want to someday take my place. Recruiting has done two things to me: it makes me an excellent judge of character (very rarely am I wrong), and it has given me a healthy dose of skepticism. So when I go hunting I look for that kid that I used to be; patriotic, idealistic and strong in beliefs, if sometimes they may end up getting him in trouble. When I find people who remind me of myself I know they will be successful and while I will be the first to tell you my morals and convictions have not always been perfect if I can populate the Army with people who serve the greater calling, then all of America wins. 

The importance of reading the (fine) print

So in my normal everyday life I’m an Army recruiter (I know, I know) and because of that I have seen the Army try to do some downright shady things. When those things happen at my level it usually involves a Future Soldier who failed to read the print. I have a young woman who is supposed to ship out today, she had a qualifying ASVAB and a good physical. In  exchange for quick shipping in what ended up being 14 days the Army offered a 10k bonus. She took it and all seemed well. Today MEPS is trying to say she is not entitled to the bonus because of her ASVAB score being less than 50. 

It’s important to understand how MEPS works, they are their own thing. Yes those guys are wearing uniforms for their particular service but they don’t answer to us. Instead they only answer to the secretary of defense.

So of course my girl is mad because she feels like we lied to her and that is understandable. The issue is the fine print. It says VERY specifically on the reservation sheet that additional things may be needed and you must meet all qualifications. Here is a picture of the statement for reference:


So what does remaining qualified mean? It means you need to not screw around and mess yourself up. If you sign a contract understand it. Be aware of what you need to do so that you understand how to get your money. Going back to my girl today she changed her ship date from its original day back a week to today, because of that MEPS asserts it is not her first contract and thus is no longer eligible for her bonus. We requested an exception to get her 10k paid and am waiting to hear back. 

Moral of the story trust, but verify. 
Justin