Local color has new meaning 

By Adam Strunk, Newton Now

Kris Thomas methodically tapes piece after piece of red white and blue construction paper on the glass window of Cato Fashion, where she’s an assistant manager.

She has 2,100 strips to hang by July 4. She’s quickly running out of space at the location, 401 Windward Drive, and will have to start hanging them at the store next door soon.

She has them arranged in an alternating pattern. She’s made an american flag out of the papers that hang above the door.

From the street, Thomas’ labor looks like someone went overboard on store decorations for Independence Day.
But when people walk closer, they can see the work represents a mosaic of American service. Printed on each piece of paper is the name of a veteran, either living or deceased.
“My son is in the military,” Thomas said. “So this is near and dear to my heart.”
While some people might hang a flag or light a few fireworks to celebrate July 4, Thomas said she wanted to do something more by honoring those who served.

She’s been asking on social media for names of veterans, and she’s been getting responses locally and from all over the country.

She handwrites them in a notebook, each with a name, branch and if they’re living or have passed away.

“I have people who have sent names from as far as Florida,” Thomas said, adding she had no idea what started as a very small display would grow into her current massive undertaking.

The project started out a few days before Memorial Day at the store. She said they had just gotten in some patriotic T-shirts. The store’s manager suggested they put some info on the window about the shirts.

Thomas said she’d like to put the names of some veterans up on the window next to the writing.

She put out a call online for some help.

“We had 350 names in four days,” she said.

Seeing the idea had struck a chord, beginning in June, she began asking in local social media groups if people had more veterans they wished to honor. And in little over a month, her count of names had grown to 2,100. She’ll be taking names until July 4.
She said the display has been a hit with customers.

“They love it,” she said. “A lot of them have enjoyed it—especially the American flag above the door.”
Thomas has had a little help with the work. Her sons, including the one in the U.S. Army Reserves, have come by to help with the project.

Thomas expects her son to ship out in the coming months.

Thomas said she hopes her entire project reminds people to think of those who served and are serving on this holiday.
“We want people to realize the military is the reason we are free,” she said. “I’m standing here in sandals and not having my face covered because our men and women fought.”

OPSEC/PERSEC and other Sec’s


*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 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:

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.


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 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:


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.


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


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.



MilitaryMamaNetwork hits three major milestones this month-

10k members on our main page, which puts total membership at 18,000

49/50 states represented in the network, along with 6 countries 

4 years old on June 24

Join us for a celebration on our Facebook group

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

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.


Top 10 fun facts about MilitaryMamaNetwork

1. Geriann Hanley Wiesbrook founded MilitaryMamaNetwork in June, 2013
2. It all started when she was sending care packages to her son in the Army, then to others in her son’s unit who were in need.

3. The demand kept growing so on 9/11/13 she created a FB group with other Military Moms to help more military with even bigger problems.

4. It has now grown to a Non-Profit Organization with over 16,000 members in just 4 short years!!

5. The leadership team works tirelessly; Geriann works full time and receives NO financial compensation whatsoever.

6. 100 % of the the military/veteran/family recipient in need receives benefits at no cost to them. 

7. People can donate at will, OR, be a “Mission Sponsor” with any amount given on a monthly basis! See this website/donate tab for your next step. 

8. Your donation is tax deductible.  

9. Like to shop Amazon? You can choose MilitaryMamaNetwork as your “smile” charity and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to Military Mama Network! We can even set up an “Amazon store” for you so a percentage of your purchases are donated that way too!

10. MilitaryMamaNetwork is filled with amazing women who arranged 20,000 cards to be sent to soldiers; helped the Marines when they got stranded in floods; helped a family bring their stillborn baby home for burial; arranged for a fallen veteran to be buried with dignity while taking care of the family; helped rehab a deployed Marine’s house when hit by hurricane, saved Christmas for 300+ Army children, and is definitely a network you should be involved with!