Kim Jong Un, the spoiled, young, megalomaniacal “diary-of-a-mad-buffoon” dictator of North Korea is known for a number of things, including starving his people, even his soldiers. The only members of the North Korean armed forces who are given enough to eat are those in the Special Forces. In order to survive, some soldiers sneak into China to get food and then sneak back into North Korea before they are shot for desertion. It is alleged that Kim feeds his troops as little as two potatoes a day, while Un, (shall we attempt to say kindly) struggles with his weight. The Sun, out of the UK, recently reported the following based on the accounts of those who have made it to the South:

“Half of those [of all ground troops] were returned home suffering from the effects of malnutrition.”

“Soldiers are given home leave to recover. Most are too weak to even walk by themselves, so their parents pick them up and feed them back to health.”

“When they improve they go back to the army.”

“The lucky ones serve in the special unit, or serve under good officers who take care of them.”

“The unlucky ones die of hunger before their parents have a chance to help them. The only thing these parents pray for is the safe return of their sons.”

Meanwhile, back at the “Pyongyang Ponderosa,” Un feeds his addiction to ultra-expensive Emmenthal Swiss cheese, which results in the incremental increase in the size of his waistline. He does so to the tune of nearly one million dollars a year, and with regard to his troops, they are Korean equivalent of “red-headed stepchildren.” He has also required that every other man in North Korea who was given the same name at birth as Kim change their name to something else so he can be the one and only Kim Jong Un.

Recently two North Korean soldiers defected to the South, which brings the number of North Koreans (both civilians and soldiers) who have risked life and limb for freedom to a number upwards of 30,000. This is no small feat, as the Demilitarized Zone has been filled with mines, “to keep South Korea out,” but everyone knows Un lined the DMZ with mines in order to keep everybody in place. One walked across the DMZ; the other swam across a river on a makeshift foam raft. Both surrendered to the South Koreans, and it is because of these two as well as the others that anyone has any understanding of just how bad it is. They are issued one set of summer clothes every two years, and allegedly their boots are so poorly made that it causes the wearer great pain. Nonetheless, the North Korean ground troops form one of the largest armies in the world, and the question is, how could they survive any ground-based offensives? The answer is that they could not, and apparently Mr. Un does not care, due to the fact that his sights are set on a nuclear offensive that will obliterate anyone who stands in his way.

Another very sad thing about the North Koreans is that they have been so brain-washed that those who have defected and have been “de-briefed” by South Koreans amply demonstrate a startling inability to follow any train of logic or produce logical assertions of their own. This was one of the ways Germans were controlled: literally your cognitive thinking skills devolve when you don’t have the proper type of nutrition to support the parts of the brain that were made to figure things out. Rape of female soldiers is routine and not prosecuted. I must admit I almost feel sorry for them. And if the French Revolution is any indicator of what could happen, Mr. Un just might say, “Let them eat kimchi” one too many times and wished he hadn’t.

Until then, may we pray he is nixed from getting handy with the nukes.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Athens Now spends a fair amount of time in this column discussing the prospects and possibilities for true wholeness after traumatic events, as a service to our troops and first responders. Doing so is another way of our saying “Thank you” for all the risks you take to keep us safe both here and abroad. It is so important for everyone to know, especially soldiers, that there is documented proof of complete, drug-free recovery from the fallout of war, and I am always glad when I learn about new resources that can be of lasting help.

One of the things at which vets chafe is having to “talk, talk, talk” in a standard therapeutic setting about their problems or the scenarios which caused them, especially to someone who has no clue (outside the realm of the theoretical) what soldiers go through long after a war is over. That is why when vets who have faced down and triumphed over their own demons band together to help other vets, there is just more impact, and it is often much quicker. Their triumph serves to extend an invitation to police officers, firefighters, EMTs, Emergency Dispatchers, and others to come and “heal with honor,” and that is why I am so pleased to talk about Warriors Heart.

Warriors Heart is a movement, a facility, and a community. It is located at a gorgeous ranch near San Antonio, TX, and the site itself is one of the powerful components to jump start healing. The sheer beauty of the place, designed to be like a well-appointed hunting lodge, has its own therapeutic power. It is co-founded by Josh Lannon, a successful entrepreneur who himself has beat alcohol addiction and has started other treatment facilities, and Tom Spooner, a vet with PTSD who knew that vets and first responders needed their own exclusive place to deal with their very specific issues.

Warriors Heart also understands the need for good nutrition, body work and massage, exercise, healing spiritually, massage, and EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming. Briefly, our brains are so amazing that if we are re-presented with the memories that cause PTSD incidents simultaneously with visual stimuli such as the rapid eye movement needed to gaze at sunlight dancing through leaves on a breezy day, the brain essentially creates a modified memory that no longer has the power to traumatize. I have a dear friend, a ‘Nam vet who wrote the introduction for my book, who went through EMDR about five years ago, and it changed his life. I was with him about 25 years ago when he had a PTSD episode, and it brings my heart great joy to know that healing is at last his.

Warriors Heart is run by professionals and is certified by the State of Texas. Treatment is covered by most insurance programs, including Tri-Care. They also have a specific program for older vets who “fell through the cracks” due to the fact that very little was understood about the assault on the brain and heart when they were fresh home from the battlefield decades ago. For more information, go to warriorsheart.com, or call 844-448-2567 24/7. Warriors of all kinds, healing for your heart and the rest of you is waiting.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Ten years ago, Sonja St. John lost her brother Jon to an IED in Taji, Iraq. Sonja is both a violinist and an artisan violin maker, and Jon was one of her biggest fans. She can still describe in detail how she slid down the wall to the floor as she fielded the call from her folks that informed her that Jon had been killed. She married in 2008, and was divorced seven years later. Her world began to unravel, and she was simply lost. For a good while, Sonja was so overcome with grief from losing her brother that she subsequently became overcome by alcohol. She stopped playing her violin completely. It took more than one self-admitting stint in rehab for her to get clean. One significant part of her recovery after she got out functioned as a powerful, creative, meditative process: making violins for the families of other fallen vets.

Each violin Sonja makes, whether it is for a vet’s family or not, is a hand-crafted work of art. Then she adds a special touch. Inside the body of each violin, she puts a note she writes herself which is glued in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with the distinctive vibrations that make up a violin’s unique sound. For veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us, she writes something along the lines of “In honor of past, present and future souls of courage and wisdom.”

While she made great progress through making violins for others, another enormously important aspect of her healing was to start making music again, not just instruments. Enter Jason Moon, himself a musician as well as a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He and Sonja had known each other as teenagers, and while Jason came home from Iraq in one piece physically, inside he was battling PTSD. He felt badly that he hadn’t been able to be much help when Jon died, but truth be told, he was barely hanging on himself. One of the things that made such a difference for Jason was music, and as a result, he became the head of a non-profit arts organization for veterans, which he called Warrior Songs. He also has a band, and they write and record music especially for veterans. The CDs are given to veterans for free, and are intended to be therapeutic in nature.

Jason asked Sonja if she would help him with a second project. This one was to focus on female soldiers and their stories. It is also for wives, sisters and mothers who’ve lost loved ones in combat. Sonja agreed, picked her violin back up, and started practicing. She saw the project as a way to heal, to help, and to stay sober.”I just really woke up when I realized I know that my brother was willing to die for me and our country,” she said. “I better be willing to live and take advantage of what I DO have.”
Though Sonja is an accomplished violinist, she had never been in a recording studio, and was nervous. To help calm herself down during the session, she kept a picture of her brother on a music stand near her and “played for him.” The result, according to all who were present, including her parents and the sound staff, “was lovely.” For her part, Sonja replied through the studio mic, “Let’s all thank my brother.” Indeed, let’s all thank Jon and everyone else who has made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and may they hear our song of thanks loud and strong.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

It is difficult to believe that it has been six years since a SEAL team took out Osama bin Laden, and I would guess that the recent jihadist “inspirational and instructional” video released by his son, Hamza, was done so to commemorate the death of his father. One thing is clear: Hamza is most definitely his father’s child. He unequivocally calls for the type of jihad that we have been told constitutes the hi-jacking of “the religion of peace,” and Hamza looks to be the new “hijacker-in-chief.” Once upon a time Hamza was considered the “poster-child” of the movement, and was nowhere near the compound in Pakistan where his father and others were killed. He has sworn, however, to follow in his father’s footsteps, and below we’ll discuss some of Hamza’s call to action, which is also known as “Advice For Martyrdom Seekers In The West.” It is about ten minutes long, and is surprisingly transparent. In any case, it is a reminder that we need to be vigilant, especially when we are in crowded places.

Individual jihadists need to “avenge” the “children of Syria,” the “widows of Palestine,” the “free honorable women of Iraq,” and “the orphans of Afghanistan.” Forgive me while I particularly choke on the use of the word “free” when it comes to describing the women of Iraq. Trust me, they ain’t free.

“Exercise patience and deliberation, for it is among the qualities loved by Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon Him,” says Hamza. “Accomplish your goals with secrecy. Attain the highest level of perfection in your actions, exercise utmost care and caution, and prepare diligently to inflict crippling losses on those who have disbelieved.”

“Be perfect in your choice of targets, so that you may damage your enemies more,” Hamza advises. “Be professional in your choice of weapons. It is not necessary that it should be a military tool. If you are able to pick a firearm, well and good; if not, the options are many.”

“Know that inflicting punishment on Jews and Crusaders where you are present is more vexing and severe for the enemy,” Hamza asserts. “It is sharper than a hundred warheads directed against their agents.” Please note that now that the fight has been brought to us, our need is to be both vigilant as well as unafraid. Tough to do, and only by grace.

“Next, look out for Jewish interests everywhere.” But if the jihadist is not able to locate these, then “target American Crusaders.”

“If you are unable to go for American Crusaders, target the interests of the Crusader member states of NATO,” he says. “And since Russia has forgotten what it tasted in Chechnya and Afghanistan, and has returned once again to interfere in matters concerning Islam, do not exclude it from your targets of priority. Give Russia a pertinent reminder of the days of your predecessors.”

Is it too cheeky to posit that President Trump may not have been out of line at all when he discussed with Russians in a semi-private setting the fact that they are targets, too, and laptops are the current airborne IED of choice? If Hamza wants jihadists to give Russia “a pertinent reminder,” I think you can connect the dots.

This column is usually dedicated to the concerns of those in uniform who serve us, up to and including making the ultimate sacrifice. Clearly the playing field has been leveled, and it’s time we recognize that if Hamza bin Laden has his way, the way of his father, we as private citizens may be called upon to give in the same way as those we honor in the month of May.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

The month of May has been designated as National Military Appreciation Month, and it is something that stretches through all 50 states. Many retail chains and vacation destinations give discounts to current or former military members all year long, and others wait to offer deep discounts during May only. With the expenditure of a little legwork and fact finding energy coupled with some planning, current and/or ex-military men and women as well as their spouses can reap some serious benefits in this last month of spring.

Here are some basic ground rules, guidelines and caveats:

You must be able and ready to prove that you have served. Equally important: if need be, you must be able to prove that you are currently serving, if those are the terms of the deal. Some outfits will take your word for it, but most will require official proof that you are/were, in fact, in one of the branches. Sometimes this involves typing in a code for online purchases or giving it to a live agent on the phone. Some establishments extend the discounts to the entire family, or to the couple, and some only to the one person who served. Find that out before you trek across country with your entire tribe in tow and discover that the only one who is getting in at a discount is you, Mr. or Ms. Ex-Mil.

Some discounts apply to certain branches only. You will find this more often in businesses that were themselves formed by former members of a particular branch. Don’t take offense; you will find from a list below that there are plenty of businesses who will welcome you during the month of May as well as the rest of the year. Some hospitality chains and theme parks require that you use your discounted reservation before May 31, others will grant you the discount if you make your reservation during May, but for a date that is later in the year.

Here are some more tips from Karen Jowers, who covers Morale, Welfare and Recreation-type issues for the Military Times:

  • Check the fine print before you hit the road, and call the participating organization to make sure the offer is available when you want to be there.
  • ”Free” is not always completely free. For example, a free meal doesn’t always come with a beverage, so be prepared to pay for your drink and other extras.

Double check to make sure that the local installation is, in fact, participating in the program. “At participating locations only” may apply, as well as other restrictions; so do your due diligence and avoid an awkward situation for you as well as the poor schlub behind the counter who is just following orders.

Here is a list of some of the businesses that have signed on to especially show their appreciation for you during the lovely month of May: Home Depot and Lowe’s, the Hilton and Homewood Suites, Red Roof Inn, Westgate Resorts, Disney, Blue Star Museums, the National Park Service, Valley Fair, the Bronx Zoo, and Penske truck rentals. There are more, and you will need to contact each organization separately.

For more information, you can go to www.nmam.org, and we thank you for your service!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

It was 75 years ago this week that Colonel “Jimmy” Doolittle and his Raiders carried out a successful operation against the Japanese just 4 months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. To commemorate the bravery of Doolittle’s Raiders, there was an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with several WWII vets present and ready to lay commemorative wreaths this week at the ceremony.

The Doolittle Raid was one of the most interesting of WWII because it indirectly proved the validity of symbolism and the power of psychological warfare. The raid itself did not do that much physical damage to Japan, even though Tokyo was in fact bombed. However, it provided Americans with a greatly needed boost in morale, and exposed the fact that the Japanese were indeed vulnerable to air strikes. This proved to be their undoing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It also inspired the Japanese to attack Midway, which led to their demise at sea.

The Raiders were hailed as heroes, which indeed they were. The story was the stuff of legends due to them having to leave out early because the Japanese found out they were coming, running out of fuel and having to abandon their planes over China after they delivered their payload, and the fact that some were captured and executed. One plane landed in Russia, and the crew was detained there for a year. Doolittle’s Raid has been the subject of several books and movies, and Doolittle’s memoires are considered a must read for any serious student of the Pacific Theatre in WWII. The newsreels that ran in movie houses and reported the raid during the spring of ‘42 were greeted with cheers all across America.

Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, who planned and commanded the operation, was sure that he would end up being court-martialed due to the fact that the planes were all lost. To his surprise, he was promoted up two slots from Colonel to Brigadier General, and received the Medal of Honor. Every Raider received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and those who died received the Purple Heart. Two received Silver Stars. One who had been held captive by the Japanese became a missionary and returned to Japan to serve for three decades. Many returned from the Raid and served with other units during the war, and some lost their lives in the Mediterranean Theatre.

For their part, the Japanese scoured the coast of China in order to make sure it could never be used again for an air attack. They also used germ warfare and committed brutal atrocities. It is estimated that at least 10,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Japanese during the post-Doolittle campaign known as Zhejiang-Jiangxi. It is said that if any of the Chinese were found possessing anything that was American they were automatically killed, and many others were tortured.

The Doolittle Raiders have all passed on, but at the Honor Flight Ceremony this past Monday, the WWII Vets who were serving 75 years ago reminded us of their bravery. God bless the Raiders, and God bless those who make Honor Flights possible.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

When I saw the trailer for Hacksaw Ridge, I knew it was one of those things that I needed to see, and also that doing so would be rough. I was right; and while watching it was difficult, just like other films such as Saving Private Ryan, Lone Survivor, and American Sniper, I came away from it thankful once again for the prices that have been paid to keep me safe and free.

Hacksaw Ridge is the true story of Desmond Doss, a medic who served in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Desmond was a Seventh Day Adventist and had the unusual distinction of being a conscientious objector as well as someone who wanted to help his country become victorious over the Empire of the Sun. He refused to even touch a gun, let alone learn to shoot one, while he was in Boot Camp. To say that he was hazed by his fellow grunts is an understatement, and his commanding officers thought that he was some kind of combination of crazy and cowardly, which nearly landed him in Leavenworth.

How strange it must have been to fight for the right to fight, but not the way everyone thought you should! And, how tempting it would have been to cave in and forsake your personal values in a situation such as Desmond faced. His enemies were everywhere, and many were supposed to be his comrades in arms. The U.S. Army finally ruled that if he wanted to go into combat without any protection other than prayer, he could. And it was straight into a hellish fight where his faith was tested, and his strength of conviction was divinely rewarded.

The Battle of Okinawa is considered by many to be the bloodiest of the entire war. “Hacksaw” was the anglicized nickname for Kakazu Ridge, a 280-foot elevation that was described as “hell’s own cesspool.” There was an extensive set of bunkers, underground tunnels, and the more than obvious advantage of height. Wave after wave of American soldiers were repelled, and units were decimated. Once any American soldiers made it to the top, the Japanese were waiting, and were not to be deterred.

Desmond’s unit had to retreat down the ridge, as had their other brothers in battle. Desmond chose to stay up on the ridge all night and found a way to lower the wounded down through a system of ropes. He was past being exhausted, beyond being traumatized, and got his guys through it by passionately praying “Lord, let me get one more. Just one more.” God heard his prayer, and by the next day, 75 of his unit were carried or drug by Desmond to the edge of the ridge, and then lowered down. His hands were torn open, and he was nearly captured by the Japanese more than once.

For his courage, Desmond Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman and went on to live a quiet life with his wife and children. He passed away in 2006, and I doubt he ever expected to be the subject of a film which was nominated for six Academy Awards, and won two. It is exactly that kind of humility that makes the Greatest Generation just that, and I am sure if Desmond were with us, all he would say was, “I was just doing my job.” What he showed me was the most vivid example of the “greater love” of one who “lays his life down for his friends” that I have ever seen, and in this Resurrection season, I am most grateful.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

There is an understandable flap over the recent disclosure that myriads of explicit photos of female Marines have been posted on a closed, secret Facebook account that apparently has a membership of over 30,000. There have been hearings on the Hill, the NCIS is investigating, and yes, it appears we have another scandal to handle.

Here are some statements made by officials with regard to positions and portending actions that are going to be taken:

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, Republican Mac Thornberry of Texas, and the panel’s senior Democrat, Adam Smith of Washington State, separately called for a complete investigation. “Degrading behavior of this kind is entirely unacceptable,” Thornberry said in a statement. “I expect the Marine Corps to investigate this matter fully with appropriate consequences for those who willingly participated.”

There are times when I feel like the little kid in the crowd who cries out in the fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” that the Emperor is indeed naked, much to the chagrin of the crowd. This is one of those times, and I realize I could very well be accused of “blaming the victim” when I ask the obvious: “Honey(s), what in the ‘Billy Blue Sam Hill’ were you thinking when you either allowed the pictures to be taken or took them yourself in the first place? Did you have an expectation of privacy on Facebook???”
When I was in Iraq, there was a theatre wide regulation that was known as General Order Number One. The short version of the order was basically, “No booze, no porn, no proselytizing.” Did soldiers ever violate the booze/porn prohibition? Yep, right cleverly, I might add, and I locked horns with them when they did. And, here’s my JAG question in the age of social media: Are the women who knowingly caused to be published explicit photos of themselves to be held culpable as well? Should they be recipients of what Thornberry calls “appropriate consequences?”

Just to be clear, I am not in any way trying to be dismissive toward the dreadful comments that were posted underneath the pics. And anyone who knows me knows that I have no tolerance for true sexual harassment. I am not a “boys-will-be-boys” kind of gal. Allegedly there were threatening comments posted that sounded like something an “un-sub” would say under interrogation on an episode of Criminal Minds. There were also things like addresses, Social Security numbers, duty station locations, and more that constitute potential identity theft, which is a felony, and operational security violations, which can land you in Leavenworth. There were also pictures that were taken unknowingly, and voyeurism, whether cyber or physical is inarguably illegal.
I genuinely felt bad for General Robert Neller as he was being grilled at a hearing by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) because in her estimation he had no good answer as to why no one had been punished yet. I couldn’t help but think, “Is he floundering because he wants to raise the issue of culpability on the part of the females for the source of the porn in the first place, but knows he’ll be excoriated as a misogynistic Marine?”

There is a problem here, to be sure. Men who behave viciously toward women, fellow Marines or civilians, do not deserve the title of Marine, and they do not exemplify “Semper Fi” because there’s no “forever faithful” to be found in that type of behavior. And, if holding Marines to a higher standard is going to be insisted upon, then the Jarhead Janes need to take their lumps for sullying the saying on the recruitment posters of “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” by flashing folks. It swings both ways, Marines. Now, clean it up.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a true hero during WWII, and his story of shipwreck and rescue is the stuff of legends. He skippered a PT boat in the Solomon Islands designated by the number 109, and it was cut in half by the Japanese destroyer Amangiri. Eleven men survived, including Kennedy, and they swam three miles to the shore of a deserted island, unsure what they were going to encounter next. Natives in a dugout canoe paddled out to the island to help the sailors.

JFK carved a message on a coconut which he gave to the natives, and they in turn took the coconut to the closest PT base on Rendova, which was 35 nautical miles away. In block letters, Kennedy carved, “NAURO ISL…COMMANDER…NATIVE KNOWS POS’IT…HE CAN PILOT…11 ALIVE…NEED SMALL BOAT…KENNEDY”

A man by the name of William “Bud” Liebenhow, also a PT Boat skipper, was the one who was dispatched to rescue Kennedy and his crew, who were behind enemy lines. He, like JFK, was also a true hero from the same era. As is so often the case with warriors of the Greatest Generation, Bud was modest in his description of what happened. “Pulled right up to the beach,” Liebenow told WRAL-TV in 2015. “Just a part of the job, really.

Another “part of the job” was both clandestine work with the French Resistance in preparation for D-Day beginning of January of 1944, as well as the rescue of more than 60 troops whose boats had been destroyed by the Nazis in the Normandy Invasion that June. Again, with the characteristic modesty of his ilk, Liebenow said, “We went in to pick up survivors and do what we could.” He told the Mount Airy News in 2014, “We spent most of that day picking up guys out of the water.” Besides rescuing sailors from the USS Corry which was destroyed that day, Liebenhow’s boat transported the likes of General Dwight Eisenhower and British General Bernard Montgomery.

Eighteen years later, Liebenhow (from Bud) was invited to the inauguration of President Kennedy, and the President had the famous coconut shell turned into a large paperweight which he kept in the oval office. It is well known that the injuries JFK suffered as a result of the shipwreck set him up for a lifelong addiction to painkillers; he had a rocking chair that became iconic during his presidency in which he rocked to help deal with the pain. Liebenhow and JFK remained friends until the president was assassinated in 1963.

Liebenhow lived a quiet life as a chemist for thirty years, was a husband and the father of two children, and on February 24, passed away at the age of 97 from pneumonia. He was the only D-Day survivor remaining in the entire area of Fredericksburg, VA. Liebenow was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for valor in combat. He also received the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

I have no idea if Bud Liebenow was a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative. All I know is that I am grateful for his service, and from here on out may he experience smooth sailing.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Mikey Weinstein is at it again. For those of you who are not familiar with this fellow, he is the president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Please understand, for my purposes, Mikey is not interested in protecting anyone’s religious freedom. He is interested in making sure there is no trace of faith of any kind to be seen anywhere when it comes to our military bases. Mikey is the one who has been unhappy with Air Force Cadets putting scriptures on their white boards outside of their dorm rooms. Good Heavens! Someone might see a scripture! Quick, someone provide a safe place for our troops! Mikey was also unhappy that MWR hotel facilities had Bibles in the drawers of the nightstands, and successfully had them removed in order to “avoid offense.”

Now Mikey is accosting the higher ups at the Air Combat Command facilities at Joint Base Langley-Eustis due to the fact that they have two unacceptable posters on display. According to Mikey and the people he represents, they are “sexist, offensive,” and use “male-dominated and faith-based speech.”

In Building 602, there is a poster that has lights where the Twin Towers used to be before 9/11. They look like reverse spotlights, and the inspirational text reads as follows: “Men cannot live without faith except for brief moments of anarchy or despair. Faith leads to convictions — and convictions lead to action. It is only a man of deep convictions, a man of deep faith, who will make the sacrifices needed to save his manhood.” The line is a quote found in the Air Force Manual 50-21, and was published in August of 1955.

Notice there is no discussion of what constitutes faith, and in 1955 it wouldn’t have mattered. But, apparently because a historical military document tied to a relatively recent terrorist attack uses the word “man,” “his,” and “manhood,” rather than “person,” “his/her,” and “personhood” or “humanity,” Mikey says it has to go.

A female Airman had complained about the posters, and asserted, “As a proud American woman and equally proud officer in the USAF, those posters from an AF Manual from the mid-1950s serve only as a hurtful reminder of the second-class citizenship women had to suffer for generations prior to eventually being guaranteed equal status under the Constitution that we all swear our oaths to support and defend.”

It is at this point that I want to send everyone involved on a mandatory field trip to Yemen just to gain some perspective on true second-class citizenship, but thankfully, so far the Air Force is standing firm. Major A.J. Schrag told Military.com, “The posters do not officially endorse, disapprove of, or extend preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief, which is the standard established by regulation that would warrant action.”

Mikey has countered by citing Air Force Instruction 1-1, section 2.11, in “Air Force Culture.” It states that airmen, especially commanders and supervisors, “must ensure that in exercising their right of religious free expression, they do not degrade morale, good order, and discipline in the Air Force or degrade the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.”

Mikey, I’ll tell you what degrades my confidence in the United States Air Force. It’s when they listen to people like you. And at least for now, because of people who have common sense as well as some spine, a poster which I would have never otherwise seen has inspired me and strengthened my faith. That may not have been your intention, but fella, I gotta thank you!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner