By Willow Nero
For Maj. Jeffrey P. Bennett, ARNG, winner of MOAA’s Harley-Davidson Sweepstakes, it wasn’t so much the draw of a Harley as the convenience of entry — which he says is characteristic of MOAA’s calls to action — that led him to enter and eventually win a 2014 Harley-Davidson FXDL Low Rider. (He opted for the Harley’s cash equivalent.)
“You get caught up in the day-to-day of your life, and you’re in the military,” says Bennett. “Your life pulls so much of your focus and your mind away. The [MOAA legislative emails] I get are not only convenient, but they’re germane to my interests and my needs.”
Not surprisingly, Bennett was in disbelief when he heard the great news. He even called MOAA to confirm.
In addition to doing military intelligence for the Washington National Guard, Bennett implements software for Constellation HomeBuilder Systems. He started off as a naval officer and learned Russian at the Defense Language Institute before being posted in the Soviet Union in the 1990s. In 2002, he received a commission from the Army. In that capacity, he has worked as a platoon leader in Iraq and as a company commander in Afghanistan.
A well-deserved National Book Award honoree in 2014, Redeployment covers stories from real soldiers who have been through the worst of war, and sometimes struggled to come to terms with what they’re done or seen once they were back home.
Some of the stories are poignant, some funny, but all are potentially life changing.
From the National Book Award profile:
In Redeployment, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.” In “After Action Report”, a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System”, a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball.
If you’re looking for more material to beef up your book list, you can check out the military professional reading list recommendations, or books written by MOAA members!
In honor of African American History Month, we’re sharing some of our favorite past features and stories about African Americans in the military through the month of February!
This feature on the Harlem Hellfighters, from the February 204 Military Officer magazine includes historical photos, and even video.
Members of the predominantly black 369th Infantry Regiment overcame the color barrier to find success on the front lines during World War I. This regiment spent more time in continuous combat (191 days!) than any other American regiment in that war and managed to never have a single man captured by the enemy. Despite suffering huge casualties, they remained unknown to the majority of Americans and had to join the French 4th Army to get into combat.
The front side of the New York National Guard regimental personnel card for New York National Guard Sgt. Arthur Curtis, a member of the 369th Infantry Regiment. This is an example of one of the 2,596 New York National Guard regimental personnel card containing information on New York National Guard Soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted in the 369th Infantry – later the 369th Coast Artillery – between 1921 and 1949. The cards are being scanned and the information digitized on data bases and posted on the New York Heritage Digital Collection and will also be posted on the New York State Military Museum website.
Cover of the February National Geographic magazine. © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic
National Geographic has put our servicemembers front and center on their February 2015 magazine cover, with their latest feature, “Healing Our Soldiers“ – a two part article on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and how it affects the lives of veterans.
Writer Caroline Alexander’s piece The Invisible War on the Brain takes a close look at the signature injury of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars—traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by the shock waves from explosions. TBIs have left hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans with life-altering and sometimes debilitating conditions, the treatment of which can be extremely complicated.
Photographer Lynn Johnson’s images Revealing the Trauma of War depict veterans who have taken part in a unique program at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There, soldiers paint masks to help them cope with daily struggles and express their emotions. As one veteran says, the artwork “is a silent testimony to pain that speaks volumes, yet has the capacity to heal.”
Great, in-depth feature on what our servicemembers and their families may be dealing with when they come home.
For more on this topic, visit www.moaa.org/wfs for information on MOAA’s annual Warrior-Family Symposium. This year’s event will be held in September – details coming soon.
Marine Cpl. Chris McNair (Ret.) – Afghanistan 2011-12
Impeccable in his Marine uniform and outwardly composed, McNair sits on the porch of his parents’ home in Virginia, anonymous behind a mask he made in an art therapy session. “I was just going through pictures, and I saw the mask of Hannibal Lecter, and I thought, ‘That’s who I am’ … He’s probably dangerous, and that’s who I felt I was. I had this muzzle on with all these wounds, and I couldn’t tell anyone about them. I couldn’t express my feelings.” © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic.
Information has been circulating recently on the internet that is critical of the Wounded Warrior Project. Several defamatory blogs circulating on the internet — along with various email chains – contains information criticizing the Wounded Warrior Project for incurring excessive expenses and “ripping off military veterans.”
The Military Officers Association of America recently reviewed the information available on the Wounded Warrior Project and it has convinced us that the allegations are completely without merit and that the Wounded Warrior Project is an honest, charitable organization that is making significant and valuable contributions to the military and veterans community.
Like all charitable organizations, the Wounded Warrior Project’s audited financial reports are matters of public record and they are regularly examined by a number of respected oversight organizations, including Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator.
Some key highlights are summarized below: