The Military Retirement System: How It Works

It has been the object of a lot of confusion.

When I was in the Army, the military retirement system was cut and dried.

But that is not the way it is now.

There are decisions that must be made by military members that could drastically effect their retirement income.

While I do have my opinions about the political moves that brought about these military retirement changes, I am going to keep them to myself.

But, at the end of this post, you are more than welcome to give your opinions.

But please be somewhat civil about those comments.

In today’s post, I am going to attempt to de-confuse people about the military retirement system.

I will explain what choices you have depending on when you joined the military branch.

I will also lead you to a military retirement calculator where you can get an estimate of what you will get when you choose to retire.

I hope this post will help you but if you have any questions, you can ask them in the comment section below and we will do our best to provide you with an answer.military retirement

Before I move forward I just want to say that no matter the changes in the military retirement system, it is still one of the best retirement plans available.

You can use the multiple tools toward the end of this post to determine which plan will suit you and your family best.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. The Retirement Process in the Army National Guard
  2. How to Calculate Your Army, USAR or ARNG Retirement Pay
  3. How to Correct Your Retirement Points Statement NGB Form 23
  4. The 2016-2017 Military Budget: 10 Facts You Should Be Aware Of
  5. NGB Form 23 Retirement Points Summary Statement

4 Military Retirement Plans

At this point in time, there are 4 separate military retirement plans.

Knowing which plan you fall under or have a choice of is dependent on when you entered service.

The 4 plans are:

  1. The Final Pay plan
  2. and, The High 36 plan
  3. The CSB/REDUX plan
  4. The Blended Retirement plan

For some military members, you will have to choose which plan you desire.

So let’s take a look at the entry dates for each plan.

Who can only take the Final Pay Retirement plan?

If you entered service before September of 1980, you are only eligible for the Final Pay plan.

You can scroll further to see how it works.

Who is under the High 36 Retirement plan?

If you joined after September 8th, 1980 – August 1st, 1986, you are under the High 36 plan.

If you joined after August 1st, 1986, you can choose this plan or the next one.

I will explain how this system works further down.

Who is eligible for the CBS/REDUX Retirement plan?

Anyone who joined military service after August 1st, 1986 can choose between this or the High 36 plan.

If the member does not make a decision, they will be automatically put under the High 36 plan.

And the Blended Retirement plan…

This is where the majority of confusion will probably be evident.

Starting December 31st, 2017, any members who entered service after December 31st, 2005 will have the choice of the Blended Retirement plan, the CBS/REDUX plan or the High 36 plan.

For anyone who enters service after January 1st, 2018, the Blended Retirement plan will be their only option at this point in time.

Now I will attempt to explain how each system works.

The Final Pay Retirement Plan

The Final Pay system is actually quite simple.

You receive 2.5% for every year of service so if you were in for 20 years, you will get 50% of the pay you retired at… Your final pay.

Each year there should be a COLA cost of living adjustment, but for the past few years it seems these have not been added.

These are to be measured by the Consumer Price Index.

This has been a huge protest against political factions, but that is a whole different post at some point.

The High 36 Retirement Plan

The High 36 retirement plan works essentially like the Final Pay plan with the only difference being the system does not go by the service member’s final pay; it measures it by averaging the service member’s highest paying of 36 months during their complete service.

Many service members who were deployed for long periods find this plan to be more profitable.

The CBS/REDUX Retirement Plan

This is the plan that every member who is eligible for will really want to research if it will be their best option.

CBS stands for Career Status Bonus.

The first point of this plan is at 15 years you will receive $30,000 if you promise to serve 20 years.

While that lump sum seems great, you really want to add the other losses that will incur.

You will receive a multiplier of only 1.5% unless you put in 30+ years.

If you can handle 30 years, the multiplier will rise back to the 2.5%.

So, if you retire at 20 years, you will only get 40% of your highest 36 months instead of 50%.

Another negative point is the cost of living raise if one is given.

If the CPI means a cost of living raise of 2%, the member who is on the CBS/REDUX plan will only get a 1% raise because it is CPI minus 1%.

Will the $30,000 be worth those losses?

The Blended Retirement Plan

Should you accept this new plan or not?

Just recently the Pentagon accepted this new plan that will take affect in 2017.

It has similarities and differences to the CBS/REDUX plan.

You do get a bonus after 12 years of service with an obligation to serve 20 years.

That bonus is 2.5% of your annual base pay.

At retirement, just like the CBS/REDUX plan, you will receive 40% of the highest paying average of 36 months.

1 huge difference is the military will begin matching funds in the member’s Thrift Savings Plan account.

It does seem like this may be a good plan, but you will want to really research it closer before accepting it.

Calculate Your Retirement

Calculating your retirement pay under the various choices is a wise move.

The people over at Military.com have provided some calculators that can help you get a close estimate of your retirement pay.

They also developed another tool that can help you make the best decision on which retirement plan would be your best option.

Try out their retirement choice calculator here.

National Guard and Reserves Retirement

The National Guard and Reserves Retirement system has not changed.

You must have 20 years of service to be eligible for retirement pay, and pay is based on accumulation of points.

This link explains the system to compute your retirement pay for National Guard or Reserves.

Final thoughts

I really hope this post was able to give you a better understanding of the military retirement plans.

I want to add another factor that was made in 1980.

If you are a Commissioned Officer, you must be so for 10 years to be eligible to retire at your commission rank.

If not, you will be retired at enlisted rank.

Now, lets hear all thoughts.

You can give your opinions, suggestions and questions below.

Please keep it at a sane level.

Debate is good, but arguing is bad.

There is a HUGE difference.

Thank you and have a great day.

References

  1. The Military Retirement System

  2. Military Retirement: Too Sweet A Deal?

  3. http://militarypay.defense.gov/Pay/Retirement.aspx

  4. Retirement Changes Mean Tough Choices For Troops

  5. Understanding Military Retirement Pay

  6. The New Military Retirement System Has Major Flaw, Financial Experts Warn

  7. New Military Retirement Law Creates Big Decisions For Many Troops

  8. New Military Retirement System Gets Pentagon Ok

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Introverted? 17 Tips To Be A Successful Leader

While it is not an issue I have… I am extroverted, but I do know many introverted people.

When I really look inside these people, I see leadership capabilities that would make me look shameful in comparison.

But, bringing those leadership capabilities out of introverted people can sometimes be similar to pulling a tooth out of a bear’s mouth.

I have taken a look at some famous introverts, and I discovered that some of the best leaders in history were introverted.

People like:

  • Microsoft founder: Bill Gates
  • One of our greatest Presidents: Abraham Lincoln
  • A long standing First Lady: Eleanor Roosevelt
  • The great Albert Einstein
  • And, did you realize Mahatma Gandhi was an introvert?
  • Another First Lady: Laura Bush
  • She battled civil rights abuses and was introverted: Rosa Parks
  • And a man I look up to: Warren Buffett

That is just a few of great leaders in history who were, or are introverted.

Are you introverted?

Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured…Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” Susan Cain

I have done extensive research both online and offline to provide you with 17 tips to help you be a great introverted leader.

Just because you are different than the majority does not mean you cannot lead as well as, or better than others.

So use these tips to your advantage and become the best leader you possibly can be.introverted

1: Carry a smile

Smile a lot.

It will help break the thoughts that others may have that you are “stuck in the mud.”

Sometimes people will make judgments just on appearance, and if you generally carry a smile, it will be difficult for them to judge you negatively.

2: Be the voice of reason in crisis situations

Crisis is a moment when you can use those introverted traits to your advantage.

While others are in, or near panic mode, you can be the calm, cool and collected leader who is the voice of reason.

That is probably how President Lincoln grew in a solid reputation so quickly.

3: Find a mentor

I would give this tip to all would-be leaders whether they are introverted or extroverted.

But there are going to be some difficult circumstances as an introverted leader where a mentor can help guide you through them.

So find a mentor that will help you.

And, it may even help if your mentor is also introverted.

4: Find the other introverts

There is power in numbers.

Just consider it the introverted “Good Ole Boy” system. (Just joking!)

Do not neglect the extroverts, but find the other introverts and help and learn from each other.

5: Empower subordinates

I have known many introverts who eel they need to do everything themselves.

As a leader, your job is delegating more than doing, so learn to delegate and empower your subordinates.

And, do not micro-manage them!

6: Connect in ways that work best for you

As an introvert, you are creative; so use that creativity to find ways to connect with your peers and subordinates.

One CEO of a huge corporation who is introverted started writing handwritten notes to employees.

He would tell them how much he valued them and their talents.

Just little moves such as that can show that you care about them.

7: Speak up at meetings

This may be a difficult thing to do, but you just need to force yourself to speak out at meetings.

It doesn’t mean you need to say a lot, but speak when you have that idea or thought.

And do so holding your head high.

8: Be accessible and approachable

As an introverted leader, you may have the tendency to hide away from people.

You need to defeat that tendency and keep yourself accessible.

Use an open-door policy and be approachable.

9: Carry yourself with confidence

When you are walking, carry your head high and show the confidence that you have.

Keep from looking at the floor.

Look straight with your head held high.

And smile.

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  4. The Hunt for the Red October: Military Leadership Lessons Learned from the Movie
  5. Military Leadership Mistakes: 7 Reasons Your Subordinates Don’t Respect You

10: Leave your comfort zone

This is an area that everyone needs to cover as a leader no matter if they are introverted or extroverted.

We need to step out of our comfort zones and take risks.

As they say at Nike… “Just Do It!”

11: Be the role model

Remember that all your followers are watching you.

You are their role model.

They will do what you do and act as you act.

So show your followers the correct way.

12: Keep a notepad and write your ideas

I have been told that introverts have ideas running in and out of their heads at super-high speeds.

These ideas will probably help in meetings and when explaining things to your subordinates.

But, you are apt to forget some of these ideas, so carry a notepad and pen with you and jot down your ideas.

When you are taking alone time, you can put all these ideas in a systematic order.

13: Speak with authority

You need to choose your words wisely and when you speak them, use authority.

When you are speaking, keep your head up and do not stutter and stammer.

When you speak this way, your peers and subordinates will know you are serious and they will act accordingly.

It may take practice, but you can do it.

14: Take quiet times

You deserve those times when you can reflect and gain composure.

Find a place where you can take that time to get away from people and situations.

Reflect on what you did right and what you did wrong.

Change the wrong things, and build on the right things.

You can also take this time to put your ideas and thoughts into a systematic order so you can use them to their utmost in meetings with your superiors, subordinates and peers.

15: Break the fear and play the game

This goes right along with leaving your comfort zone, but I just had to reiterate…

It is okay to be introverted but to gain success, you need to defeat fear and play the game you joined in on.

And, that is the best way to look at your leadership role; a game.

I used to have a deep fear of roller coasters, but I just had to overlook that fear, buy the ticket and get on the ride.

It is so satisfactory when you defeat that fear and just go or it.

So as an introvert, get over that fear and play the leadership game you have been given.

Just look at the whole thing like a game, and it may make it easier.

16: Listen and then talk

One of the key factors in communication is to listen.

Our maker gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

We extroverts sometimes have an issue with speaking before listening.

Introverts can fall into an opposite extreme and only listen without speaking.

We all need to ind that “happy medium.”

Introverts have a great talent of listening… so use that talent.

But know when you should talk too!

Be willing to give your input!

17: Converse with subordinates and peers

I brought up meetings earlier in this post, but as an introverted leader, one-on-one conversations can help your respect level.

It may be difficult, but force yourself to have those face-to-face conversations with subordinates and with your peers.

Ask simple questions and listen to their answers.

Respond accordingly.

Final thoughts

I want to again remind you that I am extroverted, so these tips come from friends and acquaintances that are introverted.

If you have any tips that you would add to help introverted leaders, I would greatly appreciate them.

Also, if you have any introverted leadership stories you would like to share with us and our readers, we would love to hear them.

Remember, the power is in you.

Just do what you know is best… Lead from the front and be the best leader you possibly can be.

You can leave all comments, questions and suggestions below.

Thank you.

References

  1. An Introvert’s 5 Tips for Career Success
  2. 5 Simple and Effective Leadership Tips for Introverts
  3. How to Be a Great Manager if You’re Shy
  4. 5 Leadership Tips for Introverts: The author of The Introverted Leader explains how to turn solitary tendencies into business strengths.
  5. 5 Habits Of Effective Introverted Leaders
  6. Quiet Leaders— 5 Tips for Success
  7. Leadership tips for introverts

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The History Of The Military Helmet

One of the most lethal places to attack any human being is in the head.

Since days of old, warriors have been taught or self-adopted that attacking an enemy at their head and face can stop them quickly.

So, in an effort to defend against such attacks, helmets or head wear was adopted.

But do you know when the first military helmets were used?

Do you know of all the variances in military helmets?

In today’s post, I am going to go through a history of the military helmet.

We will look at helmets used by militaries worldwide.

I am using a wide list of resources to research all this information, so you can view the references at the end of this post.

Keep in mind that the weapons used would determine the headgear wore.

So over the years, the design and materials have changed tremendously.

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  5. 17 Cool Facts About Alexander the Great

The first military helmets

The first known helmet wear came in the area of 2300 BC.

The Sumerians and Akkadians were warmongers that ruled in Mesopotamia.

Their empire consisted of modern day Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and parts of Turkey.

There is even a reference of Akkad in the Bible.

They were known to wear leather helmets to protect their heads.

As time moved on, other ancient civilizations adopted helmet use:

And these were just a few of many.

Knights and the middle ages

As weapons progressed, so did armor and head wear.

In the Middle Ages, we began to see full body armor with helmets even sometimes attached to the other armor.

Some of the helmets that were wore consisted of:

  • The armet which was a fully enclosed metal helmet that would have a visor that flipped open. The armet was used in the 15th century all throughout Europe.

    Armet helmet

    armet made by daniel tachaux in 1915 to replace the missing original on an English Greenwich armour

  • The zischagge, or better known as a lobster tail helmet was developed in the Ottoman empire (Turkey) in the 1600’s. It was wore by primarily cavalry soldiers and we still see similar head wear today.
  • The nasal helmet was recognizable in that it always came with a piece that guarded the wearer’s nose. These were used throughout the Middle Ages.

These are just a few of the helmets that were donned in the Middle Ages.

Early modern

As we moved into a more modern time, the development of modern weapons took warriors into a different level of warfare.

Helmets changed and we saw helmets such as:

  • The Tarleton was a crested leather helmet that was more of a show piece than a protection. Many British and even American officers wore the Tarleton.
  • The Pickelhaube was a spiked helmet mainly used by Prussian military. While the Germans were the main wearers, many other military systems adopted a similar helmet.

    Pickelhaube helmet

    Kaiser Wilhelm II August Von Mackensen and others wearing Pickelhauben with cloth covers in 1915

  • The Dragoon helmet was a decorative helmet wore by French cavalry.

As you can see, this period was more about show then protection.

In many ways, the headgear that was used in these periods gave enemies targets to go for.

As we moved further in time, the realization that headgear needed to protect became evident.

When World War I commenced, military units saw that shells were lobbed into bunkers.

Helmets had to be developed to give some protection for troops.

We saw these helmets developed:

  • The Adrian helmet was first issued to French troops. Made of steel, it gave more protection then the simple skull caps they wore.
  • The Brodie helmet was designed in London and became the helmet of the British army. The U.S. copied the design with the M1917 helmet.
  • The Stahlhelm helmet was the German steel helmet. It had a unique design that could help our forces recognize German soldiers easily.

World War II

Designs changed somewhat as we entered World War II.

The United States designed a helmet that would be used for many years and adopted by many other nations.

The M1 helmet would be used by soldiers in the U.S. up until 1985.

This helmet did save lives and I know that I had no issues with my M1 helmet.

Other helmets designed were:

  • The MKIII Turtle helmet used by British and Canadian forces
  • The Bulgarian M36 helmet which had a design similar to the Stahlhelm helmet

There were others but overall, we saw heavy production of the M1 helmets.

Today’s helmets

Just as weapons and warfare has changed, so has the style of helmets that soldiers and officers wear.

While the M1 was a great helmet, the thought of having a lighter helmet that was still as protective or more so became a priority.

The Department of Defense opened up contracts and many different designs were implemented for short times but many were recalled.

The primary ingredients in helmets became lightweight Kevlar or Aramid.

These helmets were even better at protecting soldiers and lighter to carry too.

The military keeps looking to upgrade helmets further.

The current helmet used by American soldiers is the Advanced Combat Helmet.

It is made from ballistic fibers of Kevlar and Twaron.

It is designed to be able to wear night vision and communication headsets.

There has also been a “nape pad” developed that reduces the risk of shrapnel wounds to the back of the neck and lower head.

The United States has designed a newer version called the Enhanced Combat Helmet that is thicker.

ECH helmet

enhanced combat helmet prototype

We should see more soldiers equipped with this version soon.

It is made of the same basic materials as the Advanced Combat Helmet, but it will offer a lot more protection.

Many United States allies are using versions of the Advanced Combat Helmet, and other countries are developing similar designs or their soldiers.

  • French forces use the Spectra helmet that is made from polyethelene that is an ultra-high molecular weight. It will stop small shell fragments traveling at 2,200 feet per second.
  • British forces use the Mk 7 helmet which is similar to the Advanced Combat Helmet
  • Argentine military use the Cabal II which is also similar to the Advanced Combat Helmet but with a greater slope in the front
  • The OR-201 is the Israeli Defenses helmet that is also used by many other militaries.
  • Russian forces and their allies are still using a steel helmet. The Ssh-68 is a tough helmet, but is heavy.
  • The Iraqis were behind the game as they used a compressed canvas helmet called the M80.

What does the future hold for helmets?

As we move into more sophisticated weapons and styles of war, I personally see cyber becoming a bigger priority.

Will this equip our soldiers with what could be similar to a video game in their vision?

Time will only tell.

If this does happen, I believe we will see helmets made from similar lightweight materials, but cover the complete head and have a shield that acts as a video screen.

I do believe we are closer than many think to this type of system.

It may be similar to Star Wars outfits.

Final thoughts

What are your thoughts about the helmets of the past, present and future?

Do you think that the newest version of helmets are satisfactory?

What would you change?

I do want to add that I worked for a short time at Nike in the St Louis area.

We were subcontracting a design that was being used within helmets along with floors of troop carriers that cut down on injuries.

I was fascinated by this simple design made with plastic that has saved many lives and limbs.

I think you should take a look at the material that is being used that I had the opportunity to make.

It is through a company called Skydex.

The helmet padding is a superior design that will save lives and is quite cost effective.

So leave your comments, questions or suggestions below.

Thank you.

References

All photos used in this post are courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons.

  1. A brief history of the combat helmet
  2. Evolution of Combat Helmets based
  3. Advanced Combat Helmet on Wikipedia
  4. M1 helmet on Wikipedia
  5. Combat helmet on Wikipedia
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19 Tips For Helping Your Peers At Work

Getting promoted in your career, whether it be in the military or a civilian career, entails a measure of being able to help your peers.

While you need not do their job for them, it is in your duty to help when it is needed.

And even if it doesn’t fall within your duty or responsibility, it is the right thing to do.

Now of course, you do have your own responsibilities and duties, but I have often discovered that when you help others, somehow or someway, our tasks become easier and we get them completed with time to spare.

I have decided to share 19 tips for helping your peers at work.

I hope they will help you.

1: Be approachable

If you give off an attitude that no one should talk to you, no one will even approach you for help.

Plus, they will probably talk behind your back.

One of the first steps in helping your peers is just being a person they will want to approach.

2: Listen

Here is where many people falter.

Just paying attention and actually listening to what your coworker says can help you determine where and what they need help with.

So put down the smartphone and listen.

3: Show interest

This goes hand-in-hand with #2.

If you show interest in your peer and show that you care, that in itself is helping them.

Not only that, in showing interest, you may be able to learn some new things yourself.

4: Establish trust and respect

It is important that you establish trust and respect with your peers.

By doing so, they will know that you really do want to help them, and they will also be willing to help you.

5: Identify your goals

It is important that you know what your own goals are.

In most cases, goals carry a desire to step up the ladder, and the best way to do that is to help your peers with their tasks and to fulfill their goals.

Even if your goal is not promotion, helping your peers can at least give you a sense of fulfillment.

6: Identify your peer’s goalspeers

This goes right along with #5.

If you can identify and help your peers reach their goals, you will be helping yourself in reaching your goals.

It is a win-win situation.

7: Honor your commitments

This goes right along with gaining trust and respect.

When you make a promise to a peer, make sure and honor that promise.

If you are not sure if you can do for your peer, be clear about that fact with them.

8: Be positive

This is a key way you can help your peers.

Just by seeing you with a positive outlook no matter the circumstances, it can raise the overall morale.

9: Follow up

You may have helped your peer get through a difficult task, but it can add a lot just to follow up 1 or 2 days later and see if everything came out well.

This will show that you truly care that their jobs get done properly too.

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  3. Massachusetts National Guard Tribute for Helping Citizens During Boston Marathon Attack
  4. How to Identify Up and Coming Leaders: 25 Things to Look For
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10: Get to know your peers

Do you know their first and last name?

Do you know if they are married?

How many children do they have?

Just these little things will show your peers that you value them.

11: Ask your peers where they are having difficulties

If you know exactly where they are having problems, it will give you a good idea how you can help them.

12: Ask your peers for help

Sometimes the best way you can help someone else is to simply ask them for help.

Sometimes the help they need is filling the desire to help someone else.

And, that someone can be you.

13: Give pats on the backs

Just acknowledging that your peer has done a good job can be a huge help to their morale.

Sometimes all we hear is what we did wrong but never anything about what we did right.

Just give your peers a “good job,” or a pat on the back for a job well done.

14: Communicate

This really goes along with almost all the other tips, but I must give communication its own spot.

Just conversing with your peers can help you identify where they need help even if they are not requesting help.

15: Do not be a complainer

The complainer can really lower the morale in a group.

Don’t be that person!

Save your complaints for someone other than your peers.

Better yet, just say them in the mirror to yourself and get over it.

16: Use empathy

One of the best ways we can help our peers is to just put ourselves in their place.

If we use empathy, we can normally discover what would be the best method we could use to help them.

17: Remember to examine yourself

Personally, I believe this should be listed as the most important tip.

Before you hit the sack, try doing a self-examination.

What could have been done better during the day?

How could you have helped your peers more?

What did you do wrong?

What did you do right?

Just by examining yourself, you will be able to help your peers more.

18: Spend some non-work time with your peers

I am not saying to go out and get super drunk with your peers, but it can help if you just spend some non-work time with them.

By doing so, you will get to know them better and you can find great ways to be able to help them at work.

19: Don’t play favorites

It is important that you try to help each and everyone of your peers.

Try not to favor any certain peer over the others.

While this may be difficult because a certain peer may need more help than others, try to acknowledge the others and at least ask if they need your help.

Final thoughts

While these tips are geared toward military personnel, nearly anyone can use these helping peers at work tips even in civilian job atmospheres.

One other tip I just have to throw in here is: do your job better than is expected.

If you are performing far above standards, your peers will also be helped because they will see it can be done, and also the whole team will be recognized for the great accomplishments.

What are your thoughts?

Did these tips help you get some good ideas on how you can help your co-workers?

Do you have any tips that you would add?

You can leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the comment section below.

And, would you please help this peer out?

Share this post with your friends and family at your favorite social media outlets.

Thank you.

References

  1. Manage Your Peers: See 12 Tested Ways
  2. 10 Rules of Effective Peer-to-Peer Communications
  3. 8 Tips To Transition From Co-Worker To Manager
  4. 10 Tips For Getting Your Colleagues To Work With You Better
  5. 5 tips to develop effective working relationship with your peers
  6. Do Unto Others: 10 Tips on Improving Interaction with Your Coworkers
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19 Tips On How To Raise Patriotic Kids

I remember very clearly when I would enter the classroom and the principal or assistant principal would come over the loudspeaker asking all children to stand and face the United States flag, put our hands on our hearts and recite:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This was in the 1970’s and I had never heard of anyone debating the saying of the pledge in schools.

Often we would also sing the National Anthem too.

Being in the heart of the United States, patriotism was everywhere.

We heard of “hippies” in California protesting what was happening in Vietnam, but in our minds, California was a 3rd world country that really didn’t count.

I remember when my Uncle came home after fighting in ‘Nam and we all waved our small flags and showed our support.

And, I dreamed of being just like him.

We found more and more people arguing that we should not “force” patriotism on our children.

There were court cases, and we witnessed a downfall in the belief that we should support our country and its policies.

Here we are in the 21st century and we find those who show a patriotic spirit, but we also find another side that thinks that patriotic thought is similar to cult behavior.

I often wonder how those people would react if they lived in a country like North Korea, Burma or China.

The fact is: our children are going to hear and see these points of view, so it is up to us to instill a patriotic spirit in them at an early age.

In today’s post, I am going to share 19 tips on how to raise patriotic kids. patriotic kids

Let’s take a look.

1: Give them choices

It is important that we teach our kids that we live in a democratic system and as such, we have choices we can make.

Explain that some people have chose to not be patriotic and they will suffer the consequences of that choice at some point, but we have to allow them to have that choice.

You can then give your child simple choices and after they make their decision explain how their choice could effect other areas.

“What do you want your bedtime to be? 9:00 PM or 10:00 PM? The usual answer will be 10 where you can explain that it may be more difficult getting out of bed to do chores and get ready for school.”

2: Get involved in school functions

The reason non-patriotic parents have been able to “push their weight” in the school systems is because they are involved.

It is up to parents to “fight back” by getting involved and pushing patriotic activities in school.

3: Teach them respect of the flag

Our kids need to know proper respect of the flag.

They should know how to fold the flag, when and where to fly the flag, and how the flag should not touch the ground.

4: Read patriotic books

No matter our kids ages, they should be reading, or be read to.

I recommend finding patriotic books and having them read.

5: Speak softly but carry a big stick

This system was made famous by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Our children will understand it if used properly.

They will make mistakes and those mistakes may be at the edge of being unpatriotic.

If you use President Roosevelt’s method, you kids will know where you stand and what will happen if they go against your rules.

6: Teach your kids the meaning behind all patriotic holidays

Each patriotic holiday should be explained to our kids.

That includes:

  • Veterans Day
  • Pearl Harbor Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Patriot Day
  • Loyalty Day
  • POW/MIA Recognition Day
  • Flag Day

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. Veterans Win Big with a Little Known Phenomenon Called “Corporate Citizenship”… HOO-RAH!
  2. How to Talk to Your Kids About Joining the Military
  3. The 20 Coolest Historical Places in the USA to Visit for Veterans
  4. The History of the US Flag
  5. The Top 20 George Washington Quotes Ever

7: Say the pledge

I mentioned how we did it at school, but why not at home?

You could teach your kids to say the pledge and how to face the flag with hand on heart.

8: Sing the National Anthem

We sing other songs with our kids.

Why not sing the U.S. National Anthem with them.

Teach them about the history of the Anthem.

9: Visit historic sites

No matter where you are, there is surely a historic site somewhere nearby.

Make some time to visit historic sites and explain to your kids why they are historic.

10: Celebrate Independence Day

This doesn’t mean you need to run out and spend a lot of money on fireworks, but do find a way to celebrate the day with your kids and explain to them why you are celebrating.

11: Organize a family debate

Now this should probably be with older kids, but a good, friendly debate can open up minds to why being patriotic is important.

It shows your kids that they do have a right to have their views, and you will allow them to have those views even if you disagree with them.

I come from a large and loving family, and political debates are usually something everyone looks forward too even though there is a huge mix of views.

The key is being able to agree to disagree.

12: Teach your kids about why we have protectors and that we need them (police, military, etc…)

With the many people talking negatively about police and soldiers, we need to instill in our kids how important these people are.

13: Get your kids on-board jumping into a volunteer project

Explain to your kids how that we need to help in various ways as our patriotic duty.

It could be a day of litter pick-up, helping elderly shop or any number of other volunteer activities.

14: Teach your kids about our Presidents and how our government operates

Just explaining how our democratic system works in electing a President, Senators and Representatives can help them understand how our process works.

15: Introduce your kids to a war veteran

Let them hear the experience of a veteran…a patriot, that fought for our country.

Allow them to ask questions.

I am sure the veteran will be happy to answer them.

16: Teach them about our rights and our responsibilities

Explain to your kids how they have rights that people in other countries do not have.

They have the right to speak openly and to pray.

In some other countries, people are not allowed to do these things.

But, we must also explain that with these rights, we also have responsibilities.

Paying taxes and obeying laws are part of our responsibilities.

Even just picking up some litter is a responsibility to keep our country clean.

17: Take your kids with you when you vote

It is good to have your kids see the voting process.

Explain to them why you vote, and you may even tell them why and who you voted for.

As they get older, allow them to listen to political debates and ask them who they would vote for and why.

Tell them your views, but do not force them to accept your views.

18: Explain the acceptance of various cultures

You will probably want to tell your kids how the United States was built on a “melting pot” of various cultures.

Explain to them why and how we accept various cultures.

You may also want to tell them that there are people who will not accept others.

Explain to them that these people are just ignorant and lost.

19: Take your kids to meet a congressperson or legislator

In a similar way as meeting a veteran, take them to meet a legislator.

Allow them to ask questions and learn what they can about how their job works.

Final thoughts

It is not an easy chore to raise a patriotic child, but one thing I can say is: your kids are watching you and will try to follow in your footsteps.

You may say you are patriotic but then you start “bashing” the way our military works or the way our government charges taxes.

When your kid hears these things, they get confused about how patriotism works, and then they hear things on the internet or on the television and it confuses them more.

So, keep your actions and words in mind when your kids are near. They are learning from you.

And use these tips to teach them to be patriotic.

Yes, there may be times you think our government or system is falling apart but no matter what, we still reside in the greatest country on Earth.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to raise patriotic kids?

Do you have any questions?

Please post all you questions or comments below.

Thank you.

References

  1. 5 Tips for Raising Patriotic Kids
  2. 10 Ways to Teach Kids to Love America
  3. Want to raise proud, patriotic kids? Then do this.
  4. How to Teach Patriotism and Respect
  5. Teach Your Kids About July 4th and Patriotism
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The Other Victims In War: Gold Star Families

With the 2016 Presidential election nearing, you may have “caught wind” of the term Gold Star families and Gold Star mothers.

It seems that one of the Presidential nominees has upset a large percentage of these Gold Star members with a policy he wants to institute if he is elected President of the United States.

The Father of a United States soldier who is Muslim demanded that Donald Trump apologize for his proposal and to take a look at the sacrifice that even Muslim soldiers have made in the War on Terror.

Before I tell you Trump’s policy proposal and the backlash from the Father of United States Army Captain Humayun Khan, let me first explain what and who Gold Star families are.

What is a Gold Star family?

You may have driven by a home that was flying a flag that had a gold star on it.

Maybe you met a person wearing a lapel pin with a gold star on it.

These are people who had a family member who was a member of one of the United States armed forces and lost their lives in war or conflict.

The United States recognizes that not only did the soldier sacrifice, but their family also made an ultimate sacrifice.

To recognize their sacrifice, they are deemed Gold Star families.

The history of the Gold Star family

It was during World War I that families of servicemen deployed began flying flags with a blue star.

If the knock came on their door that every family member does not want to hear telling them their family member was killed in the service of their country, the blue star would become a gold star.

This recognition continued to grow in stature.

It was a way for families to grieve as well as support other families with soldiers deployed to the war zone.

A woman by the name of Grace Seibold who lost her son in World War I started a group called Gold Star Mothers.

President Woodrow Wilson approved the wearing of a gold star on a black arm band by U.S. women that showed their loss.

The last Sunday of September has become known as Gold Star Mother’s Day and has been recognized as such since 1936.

Just before the end of World War II, a group that honored the wives was formed called Gold Star Wives.

Since that point, the term Gold Star Families has been used readily.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. Army Family Separation Pay: What it is and How it Works
  2. Family Readiness Groups: Are They All That They Can Be? by Lauren McBride
  3. How to Prepare Your Family for an Army Deployment
  4. How to Balance Your Military Career, Civilian Job and Family Life
  5. The 2016-2017 Military Budget: 10 Facts You Should Be Aware Of

Now in the political arena

Before I dive into this controversial subject, I must say that I am attempting to write this piece from a “center ground” position.

I am not at all happy with either presidential candidate, but I also do not approve of the wide stance taken by journalistic sources on a Democratic side.

I have watched what is supposed to be professional journalists standing and writing all-out attacks against Republicans on a regular basis.

It makes me sick because the media wants to control the outcome of elections.

Instead of just reporting the news, they are playing it to support Democratic views.

So in an effort to teach proper journalism, I will write this the way sources such as Time, CNN, MSNBC and all others should.

What Donald Trump said

Mr Trump’s policy proposal is to do much better background checks on any and all Muslims in the United States and entering the United States.

Actually he said about Muslims, “They are not coming to this country if I am elected President.”

It seems that Khizir Khan, the father of the Army Captain I mentioned earlier took great offense to this.

He and his wife stood at the Democratic National Convention and spoke out against Trump and this policy.

He stated that Trump was attacking American Muslims.

Donald Trump, in his “tell it like it is” demeanor spoke out and asked why Khan’s wife had nothing to say.

The mother of Captain Khan is a Gold Star Mother, and I will be the first to say that what Donald Trump said was uncalled for.

It must have been very difficult for her to stand seeing pictures of her son and trying to keep from breaking down in tears.

But, I must also say shame on her husband too!

Is the policy Trump proposes an attack against Muslim Americans?

Hillary Clinton took a completely opposite approach and actually said, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant.”

We have witnessed several attacks within our country by, you guessed it…Muslim Americans.

They used radical means to kill other Americans.

Were these the peaceful and tolerant ones?

And at this point in time, it seems our greatest enemy is coming at us from Islamic radicalism.

This is just a point that should be considered.

But back to the point…Gold Star Families.

Gold Star Families need to be honored and respected

I really hope that Donald Trump will read this, because I will say that he does owe Mrs Khan an apology.

No, I do not believe he owes Muslim Americans an apology, but he does owe this mother of an American soldier an apology for his statement about her.

Now we as a nation have to go to some drastic means to protect our nation.

I understand that Gold Star families have signed a petition that Trump should say he is sorry.

But to claim that Hillary Clinton is a better choice and to use your position as Gold Star families to push people to vote Democrat is in my opinion, WRONG!

Have we already forgot about Benghazi?

The Gold Star Family recognition was not meant to be a politically generated program.gold star families

It is meant to honor and respect the families of soldiers who gave their lives defending the United States.

So please wear your lapel pins and fly your flags.

Mourn and remember your son or daughter; but please do not use their sacrifice as a political means to have your favorite candidate elected.

Keep in mind that the Gold Star Family registry is maintained by Military Families United which is a 501(c)(3) organization.

As such, I believe they are not supposed to take sides politically.

When members of this organization begin doing so, it makes this non-profit look bad.

Let’s keep this election on a solid system and not bow to this level.

Please.

How many Gold Star Families are there?

There are well over 450,000 service member families registered as Gold Star Families.

You can learn more at the Gold Star Family Registry website here.

You can also follow the Gold Star Family Registry on:

Final Thoughts

I hope that I was able to get my point across about keeping the Gold Star Family designation non-political.

This may cause a debate, so I just ask that all comments be kept civil and respectful.

We do have people of other cultures who have or still fight gallantly for the United States of America.

We owe them our thanks, and we owe a huge thanks to those families who have sacrificed a loved one.

You can leave all comments, questions and suggestions below.

Thank you.

References

  1. Factbox: Gold Stars mark sacrifices of U.S. military families
  2. Gold Star Families: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
  3. American Gold Star Mothers on Wikipedia

  4. Gold Star Families For Peace on Wikipedia

  5. What Is a Gold Star American Family?
  6. Gold Star Legacy
  7. Khizr Khan and a Brief History of the American Gold Star Family
  8. https://www.army.mil/goldstar/

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How To Train For The Army Ten Miler

Every year in the fall, there is a race that starts at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and ends in the same location.

That race is called the Army Ten Miler.

Many people enter, but some are not able to finish.

Why?

Normally, it is because their training is not up to par.

There are some rules that you should know immediately.

  • Runners have to maintain a fifteen minute per mile pace or better.
  • Runners must complete the race within two hours and thirty minutes to qualify for an official race time and result.
  • Slower runners will be turned and not allowed to complete the race.
  • You are not allowed to have listening devices, cameras, weapons, etc. on the racecourse.
  • You are allowed to have cellphones, heart rate monitors, water bottles, GPS watches, medical kits, etc.
  • Runners must have a registered race bib.

I have decided to look at three various runner training methods for the Army Ten Miler.ten miler

These runners all have done well in this race before, so their training methods must work.

I suggest you use either one of the training methods or a variant.

Let’s take a look at these Army Ten Miler training methods.

You can find more information on these trainers by following the links in the reference section at the end of this post.

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  1. What Sports Programs Are Offered at The USMA – West Point?
  2. The Army Rugby Team: History and Cool Facts
  3. The Top 10 USMA (West Point) Football Teams Ever
  4. The Army Ten Miler: History, Tips and Cool Facts
  5. Military Analyst Mobile Training Team Instructor & Combat Intelligence Support Operations Specialist: My Experience

The Fitness Motivator has 2 different Ten Miler training programs.

One is for experienced runners who run at least ten miles per week.

The other is for those who are just starting out running.

Here are the two Ten Miler training plans:

New runners

This schedule is set for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The other days should be for rest.

Week #1 – Monday, Wednesday and Friday: alternate walk/jog one hundred meters each for one mile.

Week #2 – Monday, Wednesday and Friday: alternate walk/jog two hundred meters each for one and one quarter miles.

Week #3 – Monday, Wednesday and Friday: alternate walk/jog three hundred meters each for one and one half miles.

Week #4 – Monday, Wednesday and Friday: walk one quarter mile, jog one half mile. Keep doing the same for one and three quarters miles.

Week #5 – Monday: jog one half mile, walk one quarter mile. Keep the same pace for two miles. Wednesday: jog three quarters mile, walk one half mile. Follow that method for two miles. Friday: jog all two miles.

Week #6 – Monday: jog one half mile, walk one quarter mile, jog three quarters mile, walk one quarter mile. Keep that same program for two and one quarter miles. Wednesday: jog one mile, walk one quarter mile. Follow that for two and one quarter miles. Friday: jog two and one quarter miles

All weeks following, add one quarter mile each day to your jog.

Experienced runners

This schedule is for each day of the week and is a 10 week training schedule to prepare you for the Army Ten Miler.

Week #1 – Monday: jog 3 miles (comfortable pace), Tuesday: rest, Wednesday: same as Monday, Thursday: rest, Friday: same as Monday, Saturday: rest, Sunday: 4 miles (slow pace).

Week #2 – Follow the same pattern as week 1 but add 1 more mile to the Sunday run.

Week #3 – Follow the same pattern again but add another mile to Sunday making it 6 miles.

Week #4 – Monday: jog 4 miles (comfortable pace), Tuesday: rest, Wednesday: jog 3 miles comfortable pace, Thursday: rest, Friday: same as Wednesday, Saturday: rest, Sunday: a slow 7 miles.

Week #5 – Follow the same schedule as week #4 but make your Wednesday jog a brisk pace and add a mile Sunday.

Week #6 – Same as week #5 only making Sunday 9 miles.

Weeks # 7 & 8 – The same but add a mile making it 4 on Wednesday and a mile each week to Sunday so week 8 will be 11 miles.

Week #9 – Follow the same as weeks 7 & 8, but on Sunday just run a brisk 5 miles.

Week #10 – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: Jog 4 miles (comfortable pace), Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: rest, Sunday: run 10 miles.

Katie at Bamrbands offers this training regiment.

All weeks: rest on Sunday and Thursday and rest also on Monday of week #1 and Friday and Saturday of the final week.

All weeks: dance cross-training on Tuesday and Friday and adding Wednesday on the last week.

All Mondays run 3 to 4 miles except week #1.

On Wednesdays of the first 6 weeks run 3 to 4 miles, and the last 5 weeks, 5 miles with the final week being dance cross-training.

On Saturdays week #1 – run 3 miles, week #2 – run 4 miles, week #3 – run 5 miles, week #4 – run 6 miles, week #5 – run 3 to 5 miles, week #6 – run 7 miles, week #7 – run 8 miles, week #8 – run 6 to 8 miles, week #9 – run 9 miles, week #10 – run 10 miles, week #11 – run 6 to 8 miles

I saved the best for last

Army Colonel Liam Collins is the coach of the All-Army Cross Country Team.

He has trained top finishers since 2009 in the Army Ten Miler.

Colonel Collins does not lay out a prescribed training plan like the 2 before.

He recognizes that everyone is different, and training needs to fit each person’s lifestyle.

But he does provide some basic tips that can drive you to properly train for the Army Ten Miler.

I will attempt to condense these tips into an easy to understand way:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to start training for the Army Ten Miler 2 weeks before the start of the race. Make it a 3 or 4 month training program. It isn’t about running every single day of the week. If you do that, you are not giving your body the rest it needs.
  2. One long run per week. You need to schedule one day that you will run a long distance. Every 2 weeks increase that distance. But, only 1 per week and run it at a slow and steady pace.
  3. Increase and decrease. Colonel Collins mentioned increasing that long run every 2 weeks. Many others increase it weekly. He uses a different approach. If you ran a 5 mile on this week, only run 4 miles the next week and the week after, run 6 miles. Use that same system with your shorter runs. This gives your body short rests.
  4. Use a mid-week fast run. It doesn’t need to be a sprint, but run a fast pace. Some run a slow pace for a short distance and then sprint the same distance and back to the slow pace. Back and forth for ½ to 1 hour.
  5. Take days off. As mentioned earlier, your body needs breaks. The Colonel gives an example week as: Sunday – long run, Monday – day off, Tuesday – just an easy run, Wednesday – high intensity run, Thursday – day off, Friday – easy run, Saturday – day off.
  6. Warm up and stretch. This is very important. Doing jumping jacks, stretching exercises, push-ups and such will get your muscles warmed up and ready for the runs each day. It is wise to set a warm up regiment each day; even on days off.
  7. Cool down. This is also very important. After a run you need to do the slow cool down. This is simply jogging slow, walking and stretching to allow your muscles to come back to normal slowly.
  8. Body fuel. A huge breakfast before a long run is not wise, but neither is no breakfast. The Colonel recommends a bowl of cereal or a half of a bagel. He also recommends taking a sports bar with you just in case you feel hunger pangs. Be sure you have plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. After your run, a bottle of chocolate milk or a high protein drink is a great choice.
  9. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. He also pointed out that it can be inevitable that you may have to park 2 miles from the race, or the weather could be terrible. If you are set for any of these, you will not freak out and lose your calm. You will still run a great race because your mind will be in line.

As the Colonel says, nearly anyone can train and successfully complete the Army Ten Miler.

As long as you have the proper mindset and prepare yourself, the Army Ten Miler is not a hard race.

Final Thoughts

The 2016 Army Ten Miler is going to be run on October 9th.

In 2015, Paul Chelimo of Beaverton, Oregon ran it for a 1st place finish with a time of 48:19.

That is quite the time.

The record time was in 2009 when Alene Reta ran it in 46:59.

That same year the female record was set at 55:25 by Samia Akbar.

Have you raced in the Army Ten Miler?

If you have, please tell us when and how you did.

You can also share with us if you plan on running.

Thanks and have a great day.

References

  1. http://www.the-fitness-motivator.com/10-mile-training-plan.html#sthash.YhCaJdnb.dpbs

  2. http://www.the-fitness-motivator.com/start-running.html#sthash.tAvbztkR.dpbs

  3. http://www.armytenmiler.com/runner-information/course-race-rules.cfm

  4. http://www.bamrbands.com/2012/07/27/army-ten-miler-training-plan/

  5. http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pt365/2015/10/25/train-for-your-first-10-miler/74583456/

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31 Places To Visit In Europe On Military Leave

I was recently talking with an old friend of mine and he described to me his time in the Army and stationed in Germany.

I asked him what all places he visited when he was on leave, and he told me a few but when I asked about some well-known sites, he said, “I didn’t think of that.”

One of the biggest selling points in joining the Army or any branch of the military for that matter is to travel and see places we never would have had the opportunity to see.

That is why I am writing today’s post.

I want to point out the many great locations that you should visit in Europe when on military leave.

Do keep in mind that you will need a passport.

Even military members must have a passport when traveling on leave.

The only way a passport is not needed is if you are on orders.

So, get your passport and try to visit all of these 31 places in Europe when you are on leave.

These places are in no particular order.

1: Venice, Italy

This is a location that you will love.

And, if your mate is with you, even better.

Take your time and enjoy the amazing architecture as you float down one of the canals that make this city popular.

2: Herculaneum, Italy

See how the rich Romans lived in this town that was destroyed when nearby Mount Vesuvius exploded with fire and lava.

The preservation from the lava was unreal.

You can really gain a true understanding of the Roman culture when you visit this UNESCO World Heritage site.

3: Amsterdam, Netherlands

The capital city of the Netherlands is a must see.

I suggest renting a bicycle and traveling as the locals do.

There are some amazing museums and structures in this city.

But do watch your wallet as there are a fair share of criminal elements too.

4: Versailles, France

Versailles is near Paris and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Known for the great Palace of Versailles, this is a site you definitely should visit.

Versailles has a rich history in the monarchy of France.

5: Zadar, Croatia

This ancient city is located on the Adriatic Sea.

There has been evidence that the area was inhabited in the Stone Age.

The rich history and beautiful beaches make this a great place to visit while on military leave.

6: Mezquita de Córdoba

Located in Andalusia, Spain, this great cathedral was first a Catholic worship site.europe

When Muslims conquered the area, they destroyed the original structure and built a mosque.

The Christians retook control and the Mezquita is now Catholic.

Muslims have tried to gain access to say their prayers, but the Vatican will not allow it.

This old structure is well worth visiting.

7: Strasbourg, France

This large city in France is on the German border.

It has a heavy German influence, and you will be amazed at the architecture both old and modern.

You will want to take your time and see what you can see in Strasbourg.

There is so much, you will probably want to visit several times.

8: The Pantheon

In Rome, Italy sits a very magnificent structure that was built under the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian around the year 126AD.

With its round interior and ornate Corinthian columns, it has been used as a model for many other buildings over the years.

9: Saarburg, Germany

This beautiful little town in Germany is a perfect getaway from the military hustle and bustle.

This town was originally started in 964, and the architecture shows the age.

10: Vík í Mỳrdal, Iceland

The beach near this Icelandic community is absolutely breathtaking.

The sand is a black and you may wonder how it is this color.

It is from volcanic rock that has been crushed to sand over many years.

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  5. About The Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal

11: Provence, France

Not actually a town, but a complete territory in Southeast France.

You will take in so much beauty in this area that you may be in danger of being awol.

Do go back and revisit Provence again on your next leave.

12: Alhambra

This large palace was built by an Islamic emir in the 1200’s.

It is a highly visited tourist location, and is located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain.

13: Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the 2nd largest city in Spain.

It is located on the Mediterranean Sea, and the architecture will astound you.

There is so much to do and see in Barcelona, that this city alone could take your whole leave.

14: Eiffel Tower

You must absolutely see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

And, you must go to the top deck and look over the whole countryside.

15: Sistine Chapel

This is the location where new Catholic Popes are elected.

This chapel has artwork by the famed Michelangelo, and the ceiling is his best known.

It is located in Vatican City.

16: Ephesus

This is a city of ruins that can give you a great idea of the Greek civilization of those times.

Ephesus is located in present day Turkey, but was under Greek rule when it was prosperous.

I highly recommend that you visit Ephesus.

17: The Acropolis

There are many various acropoleis in Greece, the Acropolis is known the best because of where it stands up and above the city of Athens.

There are several ancient buildings standing with the Acropolis.

You will want to take pictures.

18: Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome was built to hold nearly 80,000 people.

It was used to display gladiator fights, shows and other entertainment for the Romans.

This is a popular tourist location.

19: Pamukkale

This area is in Southwestern Turkey.

It is full of hot springs and limestone deposits called Travertine.

People flock to Pamukkale to allow their bodies to enjoy the natural hot springs.

Many believe there are healing affects from it.

20: Lake Bled

When you first see this majestic lake, you will think you are looking at a painting.

The view is tremendous, and in the midst of this lake is an island with a church and other buildings.

Lake Bled is in Slovenia.

21: Holy Week In Seville, Spain

If you can take your leave on the week leading up to Easter, Seville, Spain is a great choice.

It is known as Semana Santa de Sevilla, and there are processions like you have never seen before.

No matter your spiritual beliefs, this is still a wonderful thing to see.

22: Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is a large region in central Italy.

Tuscany is rich in artistic history.

You can see amazing works of art, landscapes and sip some of the amazing wines of the region.

23: Ayasofya Müzesi

This piece of architecture is located in Istanbul, Turkey.

Originally built as an Orthodox church which was Greek, it later became a Muslim mosque.

It is now a museum that holds many amazing artifacts.

24: Zermatt, Switzerland

The Matterhorn is an amazing mountain on the border of Switzerland and Italy.

The town of Zermatt, Switzerland sits below the Matterhorn.

Whether you plan on climbing this peak or not, Zermatt is a great place to spend a vacation.

25: Brandenburg Gate

Built in the 1700’s, this gate within the midst of Berlin, Germany was built to represent peace.

It has been the location of many demonstrations in a divided Berlin when Communists controlled the East partition.

The Brandenburg Gate should be a site on your military leave.

26: Château de Chenonceau

This château is in the Loire Valley of France.

The design is unique.

It spans the river Cher, and those who stayed were atop the river.

Every year, thousands of people come to see this architectural marvel.

27: Charles Bridge

A visit to Prague, Czechoslovakia is well worth your time and while there, you need to see Charles Bridge.

The first stone of this bridge was laid by Charles IV himself in 1357.

It has held up through many tragedies.

28: The Atlantic Road

A visit to Norway deserves a drive on the Atlantic Road.

I bet you have never seen anything like it.

It is just over 5 miles long and has 8 bridges.

It feels as if you are driving in the ocean.

29: Leaning Tower of Pisa

Please don’t be one of those tourists who has a picture taken of them pretending to hold the tower up.

This bell tower started sinking on one side during construction in the 1100’s.

Located in Pisa, Italy, you really need to see it.

30: The Blue Mosque

This creative design gives this mosque in Istanbul, Turkey the name Blue Mosque.

Blue tiles are on the interior walls and at night, the domes are all lighted with blue bulbs.

The real name is Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and it was erected in the early 1600’s.

31: Sainte Chapelle

When you see the stained glass in this chapel of, and for, royalty, you will probably gasp.

Located in Paris, this structure was completed in 1248 for Louis IX.

He used it to safeguard his collection of relics from Christ which included the Crown of Thorns.

Final Thoughts

There you have some great ideas for places to see in Europe while on military leave.

Do you have any other places you would add to this list?

What is your favorite?

Leave your comments below.

Thank you.

References

  1. Can you travel without passport on military ID?
  2. http://militaryingermany.com/5-cities-you-must-experience-while-in-europe

  3. 5 Places Military Families Stationed in Europe MUST Visit
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17 Good Questions To Ask Your Boss

Whether you are in the Army, Army National Guard or Reserves or in a civilian job, you may have some questions.

But do you dare ask them?

Well, it does depend on the question, but it has been said that the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.

Many employees and subordinates are frightened to ask their boss questions.

They may have the feeling that they will look ignorant, like a butt-kisser, or they feel too inferior to ask their boss any questions.

First, again the ignorant question is the one not asked.

As for the butt-kissing assumptions, whoever thinks that and states it to others is probably the actual butt-kisser who is being jealous.

If you feel inferior, you need to remember that your boss puts their boots on the same way you do, sleep and snore the same as you, and they have to eat and breathe the same as you.

They are no better than you; they just have the insignia that says they are the boss.the boss

If you want to move forward in your career, it is wise to ask questions.

By not doing so, you really do not know what is expected of you by your boss, and what makes your boss “tick.”

In today’s post, I am going to provide you with 17 good questions to ask your boss.

These questions are in no particular order.

It is up to you to know when the best moment is to ask each question, but do not be scared to ask any of these questions.

By doing so, you can learn more about your boss, what they expect of you and how you can move forward in your career goals.

1: How was your weekend?

This is a good way to find out what type of mood the boss will be in this week.

It can help you know if you need to stay somewhat clear, or if they are in a joyous mood.

While the boss’ personal life should not play a role in how he/she handles work, it does.

No matter who we are, our personal life can, and does play a roll on how we treat people we work with.

2: Where are you from originally?

Questions such as this one need to be asked in a sincere way and come across as if you truly do want to know the answer.

There is nothing wrong with a little “small talk,” and by knowing where your boss originated from, you may be able to tell some other things about them, along with knowing what not to say. (example: boss is from Texas, you won’t start saying how terrible the Texas Longhorns are in football)

3: What college did you attend?

This goes along with #2, small talk.

Plus, you can learn more about the level of education your boss had, and if it was a strict college.

It doesn’t hurt to ask what they majored in after receiving the first answer.

That way you can get a good idea on the education factor behind their leadership approach.

4: What are my primary job duties?

While you were trained with an understanding that you would have certain job duties, your boss may have a different understanding of what your job duties are.

By asking this question, you will have a better understanding of what he/she expects from you.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. How to Earn Your Boss’s Respect In the Army
  2. Top 9 Tips to Deal with a Difficult Army Boss
  3. What Do You Look For In a Good Army Boss?
  4. 12 Common Army Leadership Mistakes
  5. 8 Good Reasons And 7 Bad Reasons To Join The Army

5: Who is the best to learn from?

Your boss will know who can best teach you the ropes.

Naturally, your boss wants you trained correctly, so they will have who they believe knows the job the best give you pointers.

6: How often do you want updates?

Some bosses want to be filled in daily on what has been completed and what is left to complete.

Other bosses only need you to fill them in on a weekly or even monthly basis.

By asking this, you will know when you should approach your boss with updates.

7: When is the best time to meet with you if need be?

Most bosses will appreciate this question.

They are busy and unexpected visitors can cause extra stress.

While your boss probably has an open door policy, we need to show the respect that they are busy, and we should not take advantage of that policy.

8: What changes do you foresee for our unit?

This can help you plan your career.

Usually your boss will have more of a heads up if there are going to be major or minor changes.

If they share some of that information, you can make the changes you need to for adaptation reasons.

9: What is one thing you feel I should do differently?

What we all want to hear is: “Nothing, keep doing things the way you are,” but the odds of that happening are low.

Be prepared for the answer because it may be something you wasn’t expecting, and do not get defensive.

Just listen and then go out and change that one thing.

10: Can I have some help?

The majority of bosses will be understanding if you feel you need help, unless you are a person that asks for help on every task you are given.

Your boss will probably find you some help, or will explain why they can’t.

11: Can you provide me with _____ (tool) so I can do my job more efficiently?

All bosses want the job to be done quickly, competently and in the most efficient way possible.

If you explain how a certain tool can make the job more efficient, it is a good chance your boss will go to all lengths to get you that tool.

12: Did I do it (the task or job) correctly?

This gives your boss an opportunity to explain if there is any part of the task you could have done in a different way.

This is another question that you do not want to get defensive with when you are given an answer.

Just listen and learn.

You may not agree, but they are your boss and you need to follow their lead.

13: What schools or courses do you believe would be in my best interest to take?

This question will show your boss that you truly value their opinion.

And, I recommend that you listen and try to follow their advice.

Your boss knows you, the job and the career possibilities.

He/she will lead you down the proper educational path normally.

14: What books or literature do you suggest I should read?

This goes along with #13.

Leaders are readers, so it is a good possibility that your boss has a good list of books and literature he/she will recommend.

I suggest you take notes and try reading the books they recommend.

15: Can I have more responsibility?

Prepare yourself to see a look of surprise on your bosses face.

No many subordinates would ever ask for more responsibility.

Just the fact that you are asking for more will show your boss that you do have the drive and ambition that makes a great employee.

16: What is the biggest problem or issue right now, and how can I help you solve it?

Now be prepared for a huge smile, because your boss has probably wanted to talk about this with someone for awhile now.

But, he/she may also be apprehensive to spill all that information to you at this time.

Do be prepared to help your boss brainstorm a way to solve the biggest issue they have right now, and that will lead into our last question.

17: Do you want to go have lunch?

What a great way to sit and figure out a way to solve that issue in #16.

A big hamburger, fries and Coca-Cola will make it easier to hash out a plan of action for solving that issue, and while you are at it, you may be able to solve several world problems too.

Now there is the chance that your boss will say no to lunch, but it shows that you do care about the operations, them as well as your own career.

Sure, there may be some that will say it is butt-kissing.

But, if that is butt-kissing, then some of the greatest leaders in Army history must have been butt-kissers, because many of them followed these same question techniques with their bosses.

Final Thoughts

So what do you think?

Do you agree with the questions to ask your boss that I put here?

Do you think it is butt-kissing?

Personally, I just think it is wise actions for someone who cares about their career.

Please tell us your thoughts.

You can leave all comments, questions and suggestions in the comment section below.

Thank you.

References

  1. 5 Questions You Need to Ask Your Boss Today
  2. Ten Questions to Ask During Your Performance Review
  3. 8 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Boss
  4. 8 Questions To Ask Your Boss That Can Make Or Break Your Career
  5. Ten Questions You Should Ask Your Boss

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Surviving Ethical Dilemmas In The Military

Life is full of decisions.

Many of those decisions are made in reflection of our moral and ethical values.

And then, we are faced with those circumstances when we feel as if we are in a corner.

It is an ethical dilemma, and we must choose the proper path.

As a freelance writer, I consistently face decisions that are made because of my beliefs and morals.

A potential client may want me to write on a subject I am firmly opposed to.

I will not go into those areas, but I find these ethical decisions easy; I just say no.

But in the military and in other vocations, these ethical decisions are not always that easy.

After all, you are in a “family” of warriors.

You are supposed to follow orders and “back-up” your fellow soldiers.

Ethical dilemmas can be harder to handle in these situations so in today’s post, I am going to explain my opinions on how to survive ethical dilemmas in the military.

This being the debatable subject that it is, we ARE open to your comments and opinions, but please keep them civil and respectable.

We all have our beliefs, and in many cases they will not match other beliefs.

That is what makes the United States so great.

We can have our beliefs and morals in opposition to our neighbor, and still live in peace and harmony for the biggest part.

I recently read an excellent paper written by Chaplain Colonel Kermit Johnson entitled Ethical Issues of Military Leadership.

I suggest you also read it – ETHICAL ISSUES OF MILITARY LEADERSHIP

There is a quote by Chaplain Johnson that resonated with me:

“Perhaps in order to have an ethical consciousness we should be aware of our personal fallibility.”

Just consider some of the possible ethical dilemmas you could be in if in war or peace as either an officer or a soldier:

  • You are in charge of supply and you are aware of a local family who is in danger from opposing forces. You know that you have extra bullet proof vests and these people have asked you for help. You know it is against regulations to hand these to the people. Do you?

  • You are ordered by a 2nd Lieutenant who recently was transferred to your unit to shoot a small child who is holding a IUD. Do you?

  • 2 soldiers in your unit are on trial for raping an Iraqi woman. These men were good soldiers in wartime, but they broke the law. You saw what happened and your testimony could ruin their lives and careers. Do you testify?

These are some “hard-core” ethical dilemmas, but all of them have been faced by soldiers and officers.

Maybe not in exactly the same picture I painted, but close.

It is my belief that every human at some point in their life will “break” an ethical dilemma.

I know I have; have you?

You don’t have to answer that to me, but please do not lie to yourself.

Here is where I am going with this.

Before you judge another about breaking an ethical issue, you should first take a close look in the mirror.

My opinion about ethics training in the militaryethical dilemmas

Personally, I think the military ethics training needs a lot of work.

But, I also understand why it is in bad shape.

Ethics in the United States have disintegrated as well as in much of the world.

It seems it is okay to lie if you don’t get caught.

You can steal if it is for the good of you, your family or someone else.

I consider former Presidents of the United States who have done unethical things and were actually praised for doing them.

But enough of my opinion, how do we revert back and mend our ethical issues?

It starts with leaders

Leaders must practice what they preach!

If the rules say no, it means no.

It really is that simple.

You then stand your ground in all circumstances.

  • With you subordinates

  • And, with your boss

  • With your spouse

  • With your children

The key is consistency.

Once those around you realize that you will stand strong on your ethics, they will be less apt to test you in those cases.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

  1. Army MOS 25M: Multimedia Illustrator
  2. Army JROTC: What it is and How it Works
  3. Understanding The Civilian Employer And The National Guard Duty Relationship
  4. Army 79S MOS: The Army Career Counselor
  5. Army Trial Counselor in a Maneuver Enhancement Brigade: My Experience

Your leadership style and ethical dilemmas

The leadership style you have can reflect how you handle ethical dilemmas.

Leadership styles can also help those under those leader decide whether to “break” an ethical standard.

Let’s look at these leadership styles.

Commanding leadership

This is the most prevalent leadership style in the military.

The focus is fast results without input from workers.

I call it the “Git “er Done” form of leadership.

With ethical dilemmas, the worker reflects the leader.

If the leader shows it to be okay to break ethics, the follower will normally follow suit.

Visionary leadership

The idea with this form of leadership is creating a common goal.

If followed correctly, the visionary leader will develop both a mission and a vision statement.

These statements will cover ethical issues, and workers will not tolerate unethical behavior under this leadership style.

Set the pace leadership

These leaders are go-getters.

They often set hard paces and workers are usually under heavy pressure.

While the leader may be ethically correct, workers may face temptations to break ethics, and if the see others breaking ethics, they will often ignore them.

Coaches

The coaching leadership style is excellent in my opinion.

The coach is approachable but is set on the ethics and will immediately deal with any ethics violations in a fair and just way.

Democratic leadership

While we may believe in a democratic political system, in the military or any other similar organization, democratic leadership can equip those who break ethical standards.

The idea is to meet and discuss.

The time standard is so drawn out the unethical issues are usually “swept under a rug.”

Affiliate leadership

This style is about having a harmonious and happy workforce.

While that can be a beautiful thing, if ethical situations arise, affiliate leaders will often turn their heads the opposite way because if they do anything else, it may drop the overall morale.

Personally, I believe leaders should try to utilize all leadership styles with a focus on the coaching leadership style in the terms of ethics violations.

Ethical decisions in combat situations

One of the most difficult places to make ethical decisions is in combat situations.

A decision must be made quickly and cannot be a 2nd thought, or you or your fellow soldier may die or be seriously wounded.

There have been officers and soldiers brought up on ethical violations that felt they made the correct decision at the time.

Many of the people that are judging that warrior is a person who has never been confronted with making a life and death situation.

I do question if these people should be the judge, jury and executioner.

I often read a blog of a Danish soldier and writer who has given those in combat a solid way to make these ethical decisions in combat.

Soren Sjogren in his blog post titled Ethical Decisions In Combat Leadership explains that before any decision is made, 3 questions need to be asked in order.

  1. Is the action legal? Soldiers are provided with rules of engagement along with the Geneva Convention rules of warfare. If there is any chance the action is illegal, the soldier must find a different option.

  2. Is the action proportional? As a leader that has determined the action is legal, they must determine if it is proportional. How will it ultimately affect the entire mission? Is it too much for too little? If so, it should not be carried out.

  3. Does it feel right? Here is where some people may argue, because killing another human should never “feel right.” What Soren means is, does it feel as if you are doing what is best in service to your country, your military and the overall situation you are in. What does your intuition say? If the other 2 questions were positive answers, if your gut says yes, then by all means squeeze that trigger, pull that pin or push that button.

Some actual military ethics violations

When you read some of these, you may ask, “What were they thinking?”

But again, think about your life.

Have you been ethically wrong at some point?

I would bet that the answer is yes.

  • A military purchasing agent recommended a new AT&T system. He then received a free ticket to Hawaii from an AT&T employee. In 1992, he received 1 year of probation, restitution and a $5,000 fine.

  • Several service members defrauded the military marriage allowances by “marrying” Russian women that they never even lived with. They were all court-martialed, reduced in rank and had to pay full restitution.

  • An officer in Afghanistan used military transport and his own personal soldier as a courier to transport rugs and shotguns for cash to the U.S. The officer was relieved of all duties and had to pay full restitution.

Those are just a small amount of the long list of military ethical violations.

Final Thoughts

So let’s hear your thoughts on ethical dilemmas in the military.

Do you think the military is doing enough to stop ethical violations?

Feel free to leave your comments or questions below.

Thank you.

References

  1. CSA: Ethical dilemmas pose tough calls for Soldiers
  2. May Leader Blog-“Ethical Dilemma Zone:Practice What You Preach”
  3. http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/01/30/the-military-has-cataloged-its-ethical-failures-and-theyre-kind-of-awesome/

  4. How Do Leadership Styles Address Ethical Dilemmas?
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