Tag Archives: military

For Veteran’s Day, Help Veterans

This Veteran’s Day, I’d like to let you know about the DV Farm. It will be run by vets for vets – providing practical rehabilitation for homeless veterans through a combined program of housing & meals, animal care, a structured work schedule and the camaraderie of fellow vets working together to reintegrate back into civilian life.

These guys have been putting on comedy podcasts for the last two years, and built a community of vets who take care of each other when the system fails them. Click the picture below to go to their GoFundMe, and please consider donating.

dv farm

Donate!

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First Two Women Pass Ranger School – US Army History!

Each branch of the Armed Forces has been asked to integrate women into all positions—or provide proof that they cannot do so—by 2016.

Congratulations, lieutenants.

For the first time, women will graduate from the U.S. Army’s prestigious Ranger School, officials announced on Monday.

Two female officers have completed training in what is considered one of the most difficult military programs, and will graduate on Friday, alongside their male classmates, the Army said. Their names weren’t released. According to NPR, both are lieutenants who attended West Point.

The two-month Army Ranger School program, founded in 1950, is a physically intensive training that aims to mold participants into elite military fighters. It takes place in the hills of Fort Benning, Georgia, and in the swamps of Florida, where trainees hone combat and leadership skills while learning how to survive with little sleep and food.

Both women, officers and graduates of West Point, will speak on Thursday. Their names have not yet been released.

“Whether I agree or disagree with it, they have changed my mind,” says Sgt. Major Colin Boley, the operations sergeant major for the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. Boley, a recipient of the Silver Star who served in the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, completed more than a dozen Ranger deployments and won the Best Ranger competition a decade ago. “I didn’t think that they would physically be able to bear the weight and I thought they would quit or get hurt, and they have proved me wrong,” he says.

The Poacher Hunter’s Name is Kinessa Johnson

There’s been a photo floating around Facebook for a few days saying “There are poachers in Africa currently hunting Rhino. This woman hunts the poachers.”

kijo

Her name is Kinessa Johnson, and she’s part of vetpaw.org

Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW) is an organization that aims to provide veterans with meaningful employment protecting critically endangered creatures and their ecosystems. They do everything from anti-poaching patrols to medical care. Johnson is a US Army combat veteran, weapons instructor, and mechanic — just one member of the VETPAW team.

If you’re interested in learning more about their work and achievements, head over to their web site. If you have the unique skill set needed to further their mission, applications are available for both post 9/11 veterans and civilians. Each rotation lasts about four months.

Pass it on.

Dead Weight Blog Tour with M. Todd Gallowglas

For our very first Blog Tour Hosting Extravaganza, I’d like to welcome talented author and storyteller M. Todd Gallowglas.  His newest story, Dead Weight, grabbed my attention because it put artists on the front lines of a war against magical forces that bend men’s minds to breaking. For military folk all across history, war and insanity have gone hand in hand.  I asked our guest what his thoughts were on the subject, and how they related to his story. Please enjoy.

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First, for those of you following the blog tour, let me apologize for the hiccup/speed bump. The winter death crud descended on the Gallowglas household something fierce. When setting up this blog tour, Setsu offered to host me for a day and asked me to write about something very different than everyone else. She asked about how I went about researching the Military aspects of story. She noticed some parallels between PTSD and fae madness experienced by some of the characters.

When I was in high school, I spent several years in the Marine Corp Junior ROTC program at my school. I think I made it to cadet Gunnery Sargent. Every year I was in the program, I spent my spring break down at Marine Corp Air Station El Toro with the rest of my company. I fired M-16s, M-60s, threw grenades (smoke, not frags) marched around, road in trucks, ate in the mess hall, ran PT, and got a vague sense of what it was like to live as a Marine Corp grunt. During the rest of the year, I learned about military chain of command, history, tactics, went on a bunch of other field trips, and received training as a cadet drill instructor. The foundation of my writing about the military is based on my experiences in JROTC. Aside from my days in JROTC, I have a handful of friends in the military, several who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have been invaluable, and I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs of soldiers from Viet Nam to the present. Ultimately, I’m not going for factual accuracy in my depiction of the military, rather, like the rest of DEAD WEIGHT, I’m going for the feeling of a military experiencing a completely surreal conflict like The Faerie War.

As for the “fae” madness that the bards suffer from being similar to PTSD… well… that’s completely coincidental. In DEAD WEIGHT bards get a condition they call the TYS, or thousand year stare. Yeah, I took it from a common phrase that I think came out of Viet Nam, the thousand yard stare. It was a term to describe someone who had been “in the bush” too long and saw threats and danger everywhere. In DEAD WEIGHT bards use artistic creation to learn secret truths of the universe, in doing so, they usually learn secret truths about themselves, and in learning too many truths about the universe and themselves, their minds start to fray at the edges to compensate. Really, I was thinking of a Lovecraftian sort of madness thing going here, not any correlation to PTSD. I was also drawing from old legends like “Thomas the Rhymer,” poems such as “Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti, and even to an extent, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the old tales, dealing with the fair folk usually does not go well for human beings. I imagine channeling faerie energies through the mind in to learn secret truths of the universe is going to have some unpleasant side effects.

So, yeah, it all boils down to telling a modern faerie tale, as opposed to a fairy tale. Only, it’s an epic modern faerie tale, because I got my hands on it, and my brain just works in terms of epic. That’s why DEAD WEIGHT is disjointed and confusing, the magic isn’t really defined well, if at all, and not everything is going to make sense.

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Soldiers are issued armour for their flesh and bones, but they must fashion their own for their souls. Piece by piece.”
― Steven Erikson

It seemed a waste of time to try to explain that sometimes, on the front lines, there are no great options, jut bad ones and worse ones, so you do what you can with the knowledge that you’re dealing life and death no matter which way the decision swings. Then you live with the results and shut up about the rest.”
―Donovan Campbell

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M Todd Gallowglas is a professional storyteller (like on a stage with a show in front of real people) and the bestselling author of the Tears of Rage and Halloween Jack series. He wrote his first fantasy story for a creative writing assignment in the third grade. Ever since, he’s loved spinning tales that take the reader off to the far future or away mystical worlds. Todd received a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Throughout his time in at SFSU, several teachers tried to steer him away from writing that nasty “genre” stuff. However, they underestimated just how much Todd’s brain is hard-wired for telling tales of the magical and fantastic, and their efforts to turn him to literary fiction came to nothing. He is currently corrupting his children by raising them with a rich education of geek culture. Shiny! Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website: http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com

Writing Research: Crisis Intervention

I need to venture into a thorny subject for a moment.

One of the short stories I’m working on involves a hero who finds himself in trouble for doing the right thing. It’s in a high-fantasy setting. Most medieval-style stories feature beggars and extreme poverty; so I’ve been researching how social safety-nets, social work, and intervention function in order to integrate them into the setting.

Some key bits of world-building I’ll have to address include:

  • What are the social ills the organization seeks to address?
  • What is the motivation for creating the organization? (Religion was a big one in those days.)
  • How are members of the organization selected and trained?
  • Where does the funding come from?

Issues That Social Safety-Nets Address:

Precedent:

  • Charity in the Middle Ages: Discusses how ideology of charity became institutionalized, some known charitable organizations (Hospitallers of Saint John, Teutonic Order, Trinitarians, etc)  in the dark ages, and who benefited from these charities (the poor, sick, orphans, widows, prostitutes, etc.) The most fascinating tidbit was that these organizations were never centralized because the church couldn’t figure out how to fit them into the bureaucratic clergy. Priorities, guys…
  • Government Welfare Programs in Ancient Rome: Including corn reserves, food stamps, and subsidized education.

Fictional Examples:

  • Excision, by Scott H. Andrews: A fascinating fantasy tale where healers are the heroes, and disease the enemy.
  • Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy touches on child abuse. In an interview, Weeks mentioned that his wife had been working with abused children when he began writing the series.

Any resources I missed?  Have you read other fantasy stories with social safety-nets?    Share in the comments.

lone