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Best Practices Made Perfect

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Peripheral Neuropathy WARNING! South Jordan, UT—The most common method your doctor will recommend to treat your neuropathy is with prescription drugs that may temporarily reduce your symptoms. These drugs have names such as Gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Neurontin, and are primarily antidepressant or anti-seizure drugs. These drugs may cause you to feel uncomfortable and have a variety of harmful side effects.

survive. When these nerves begin to “die” they cause you to have balance problems, pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and many additional symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to the nerves often causing weakness, pain, numbness, tingling, and the most debilitating balance problems. This damage is commonly caused by a lack of blood flow to the nerves in the hands and feet which causes the nerves to begin to degenerate due to lack of nutrient flow. As you can see in Figure 2, as the blood vessels that surround the nerves become diseased they shrivel up which causes the nerves to not get the nutrients to continue to

3) How much treatment will your condition require? The treatment that is provided at The Scranton Clinic has three main goals: 1) Increase blood flow 2) Stimulate small fiber nerves 3) Decrease brain-based pain

Figure 2: When these very small blood vessels become diseased they begin to shrivel up and the nerves begin to degenerate. Figure 1: Notice the very small blood vessels surrounding each nerve.

NOTE: Once you have sustained 85% nerve loss, there is likely nothing that we can do for you.

The main problem is that your doctor has told you to just live with the problem or try the drugs which you don’t like taking because they make you feel uncomfortable. There is now a facility right here in South Jordan that offers you hope without taking those endless drugs with serious side effects. (see the special neuropathy severity examination at the end of this article) In order to effectively treat your neuropathy three factors must be determined. 1) What is the underlying cause? 2) How Much Nerve Damage Has Been Sustained.

The treatment to increase blood flow utilizes a specialized lowlevel light therapy (not to be confused with laser therapy) using light emitting diode technology. This technology was originally developed by NASA to assist in increasing blood flow. The low level light therapy is like watering a plant. The light therapy will allow the blood vessels to grow back around the peripheral nerves and provide them with the proper nutrients to heal and repair. It’s like adding water to a plant and seeing the roots grow deeper and deeper. The amount of treatment needed to allow the nerves to fully recover varies from person to person and can only be determined after a detailed neurological and vascular evaluation. As long as you have not sustained at least 85% nerve damage there is hope!

Figure 3: The blood vessels will grow back around the nerves much like a plant’s roots grow when watered.

The Scranton Clinic will do a neuropathy severity examination to determine the extent of the nerve damage for only $45. This neuropathy severity examination will consist of a detailed sensory evaluation, extensive peripheral vascular testing, and a detailed analysis of the findings of your neuropathy. Dr. Scranton will be offering this neuropathy severity examination from now until October 31st, 2018. Call 801-937-4412 to make an appointment with Dr. Scranton to determine if your peripheral neuropathy can be treated. The patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hours of responding to the advertisement for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination or treatment.

CALL (801) 937-4412 TODAY! Dr. Rob Scranton, D. C., Chiropractic Physician 4775 Daybreak Pkwy, #102 South Jordan, UT 84095 • www.SouthJordanNeuropathy.com

SANTA FE, N.M. May 2018. Utah National Guard soldier Eric Armijo takes top honors at the 2018 Region VII Best Warrior Competition. Armijo previously captured the top title on the state level. Warriors who compete will test their knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment. utah national guard / james dansie


va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y

CONTENTS Warrior Mentality Brings Two Worlds Together


Best Warrior Practices Made Perfect

WARRIOR’S EDGE pages 22-27

Reflecting on Those Who Didn’t Come Home

PEACE OF MIND pages 28-31

How Important It is to Remember

POW/MIA: NOT FORGOTTEN pages 32-35 DEPARTMENTS The Briefing / 4 Remembering WWI: The Doughboys / 5 Family Matters: Caring for the Givers / 6-9 On the Homefront: WWII History in the Classroom / 10-13 Doing Business: Black Rifle Coffee Company / 14-17 Service & Support: Missing in America Project / 36-37

WWW.UTAHVALOR.COM UTAH MEDIA GROUP / 4770 South 5600 West, West Valley City UT 84118 utahmediagroup.com To subscribe: 801-204-6100 / To advertise: 801-204-6300 PROJECT TEAM / Brent Low, Publisher / Megan Donio, Publications Manager Michelle Bridges, Project Editor / Utah Media Group Creative VALOR: A Salute to Utah’s Veterans and Military is a publication of Utah Media Group and distributed in partnership with Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. Copyright © august 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any format without consent of Utah Media Group. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication and assume no liability for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. on the cover :

CAMP WILLIAMS. April 2017. Utah National Guard soldiers and airmen compete in the Utah Best Warrior Competition. courtesy of utah national guard



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The Briefing U ta h h a s a n e n ga g i n g m i l i ta r y c o m m u n i t y w i t h d e e p r oo t s a n d b ra n ch e s t h a t r e a ch f a r a n d w i d e. O u r m y r i a d o f s to r i e s a r e tol d i n o u r s ch ool s , l i b ra r i e s , m u s e u m s , a c t iv i t i e s a n d h o m e s . E ve r y n o w a n d t h e n VA LO R c o m e s a c r o s s i n te r e s t i n g “ b i t s a n d p i e c e s ” t h a t w e w a n t to s h a r e w i t h o u r r e a d e r s .

Home Sweet Home

UTAH NATIONAL GUARD INTRODUCES APP FOR FAMILY SERVICES The Utah National Guard Family Services app is designed to provide information and resources to soldiers and their families, says Col. Gerald White, state family program director for the Utah National Guard. The app will not only allow the soldiers, but also their family members, to access information that may not have been getting to them previously.


With the Family Services app, you’ll always be a tap away from notifications, events and information on your mobile device. Find the closest Family Assistance Center or look up services and resources available to you and your family. You can browse the menu and easily read or listen to whatever you’d like, then share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter or by email. Download the Android app: bit.ly/2u7QPWw Download the IOS app: apple.co/2IROYvo —LOREN WEBB FOR VALOR


NEW FIRST TIME HOMEBUYERS GRANT FOR UTAH VETERANS f you are a recently separated veteran (last five years) or currently serving member of the military living in Utah and are interested in buying a home for the first time in Utah, this program is for you. The Utah Veteran First-time Homebuyer Grant gifts $2,500 to veterans and those currently serving who purchase their first home in Utah. Veteran eligibility is established by the Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs. Eligibility for this program are veterans and currently serving members of the military who can obtain a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility, and if they are no longer serving or have separated within the last five years. First-time home buyer means a veteran who has had no present ownership interest in a residence located in Utah at any time during the seven-year period prior to the date of execution Veteran First-Time Homebuyer Grant Certificate. (For an eligibility requirement worksheet, visit veterans.utah.gov. Veterans are welcome to call the Utah Department of Veteran and Military Affairs for assistance: 801-326-2372 or visit veterans.utah.gov —UDVMA FOR VALOR









A big thank you to all those who selflessly serve. All military, veterans, law enforcement and emergency services personnel can attend FREE with required proper identification. Many organizations provide information and assistance in understanding programs and benefits. Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, SLC, 10 a.m., veterans.utah.gov

Spectators welcome as Governor reviews nearly 7,000 troops in a pass-andreview parade. Other events: 19-volley cannon salute, music, classic car show and military equipment displays. Military Ball, 6-11 p.m., $10 donation. Camp Williams, 17800 S. Redwood Rd., Bluffdale, 10 a.m. Saturday. facebook.com/ utahnationalguard/

In one place, homeless veterans and others can partake of community providers like housing, legal advice, educational, vocational rehab and medical services for those that qualify. Gallivan Center, 239 Main Street, downtown SLC, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. veterans.utah.gov/calendars

Re-enactors in costume tell real-life stories of some of the cemtery’s more interesting citizens who now reside in the captivating and intriquing place. Children can also trick or treat at Officers Hollow just prior to the tour. All ages. Free. Fort Douglas Post Cemetery, 431 S. Chipeta Way, SLC, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. fortdouglas. org/events

va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y



Remembering WWI

Utah’s ‘Doughboys’


o honor the American “doughboys” of World War I, many cities and towns across the nation raised statues and monuments. In Utah, two different statues—by E.M. Viquesney and Gilbert P. Risvold—were erected during the 1920s and ’30s in recognition of local servicemen. A third doughboy statue by Avard T. Fairbanks can be found in nearby St. Anthony, Idaho. Created by the commercial sculptor and marketer E. M. Viquesney, “Spirit of the American Doughboy,” was designed to honor the veterans and casualties of WWI. It depicts a young soldier standing erect and throwing a grenade amidst the stumps, mud and barbed wire of the Western Front, thus conveying the heroic stance of Victorian statues and the muck of modern warfare. It was one of hundreds that made its way into American communities. One of the reasons so many communities installed the Doughboy was its affordability, made possible through modern production techniques. Four Viquesney statues are located in Utah in Beaver, Mt. Pleasant, Price and Vernal. The first World War I doughboy statue in Utah erected in 1920, sculpted by Gilbert P. Risvold, has also fallen into disrepair. Ogden’s American Legion Post 9, along with many other local organizations, has begun the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” large-scale effort to preserve and overhaul the statue. The statue in Price. courtesy utah division of state history goal is to rededicate the statue by Nov. 11, 2018, the 100year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended WWI. To local resident, veterans advocate and American Legion National Executive Committeeman Terry Schow, it will have a lasting impact well beyond the centennial celebrations. Provo-native Avard T. Fairbanks created the Idaho statue, “Victorious American Doughboy,” which has been a part of Keefer Park since being installed in 1922. St. Anthony City Clerk Patty Parkinson says over the years the statue has become a huge part of the community. “He’s on our city seal. He’s on our letterheads. He’s on everything. He’s everything that identifies our community.” After securing funding, work has begun to restore the statue to its original condition. “It means that we are preserving a piece of our history,” he says. “I am a firm believer in recalling our history for future generations and those who served from World War I through today. It’s preserving an important part of our history.” —LOREN WEBB FOR VALOR

NORTHERN UTAH TOWNS RESTORE THEIR ‘DOUGHBOYS’ The Weber County Heritage Foundation has been working with several partners and historians over the past seven years to repair and restore the WWI Doughboy statue in the Ogden City Cemetery. WCHF asked the WWI Commission for grant money to repair and face the dais with granite to help it withstand the weather. The Foundation applied and was approved for their grant to repair and restore Doughboy statues. Utah State University requested grant funds for the installation of a WWI monument. The monument will be located in front of the Military Sciences Building on the USU main campus. The monument will consist of an Avard Fairbanks “Doughboy of the West” statue at the top and on the base, an original 1919 Memorial Plaque that has been in storage since the 1980s. USU applied for and was approved for their grant to restore their WWI plaque and install their Doughboy on campus. These two grant applicants will help their communities focus on and understand the local sacrifices and contributions during WWI. The two Doughboy statues will enrich the towns and allow residents and educators to discuss how Utah’s role fits in the national and global scenes of WWI. —VALERIE JACOBSON FOR VALOR

OCT. 3 TO NOV. 11


Utah and the Great War: Ready and Willing.

Archives Month is a national effort every October to celebrate archives and the value of historic public records. Utah State Archives and Records Service will host a number of free events focusing on Utah’s contributions to World War I and the impact the war had on our state. A month-long afternoon lecture series related to the Great War and/or records about the war at will begin Oct. 3 at noon and continue each Wednesday. Speakers include Rebekkah Shaw discussing letters from a WWI soldier and USU’s Dr. Tammy Proctor discussing gender issues. Other collaborative events throughout the month will be announced. Utah State Archives, 346 S Rio Grande Street SLC, utaharchivesmonth.org or archivesnews.utah.gov n DISCOVER MORE about Utah and World War I, including upcoming events, through the Utah World War I Commission at heritage.utah.gov/history/wwi



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Angie Toone is a full-time caregiver for her husband, Kenneth. Their daily lives can be exhausting living with behavioral health issues Kenny sustained as a combat veteran. Angie makes self care a high priority while caring for Kenny. She mentors others to recognize that they are indeed caregivers, and once they do, they are more likely to reach out for the help that they desperately need. courtesy of toone family / randi kaufman


va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y



Family Matters E ve r y s e r v i c e m e m be r n e e d s a s t r o n g a n d h e a l t h y s u p po r t s y s te m to d o w h a t i s a s k e d o f t h e m . T h e e ve r w i d e n i n g ba n d s t h a t e n c i r c l e s t h e i n d iv i d u a l i n c l u d e s pa r t n e r s , f a m i l y, pe e r s a n d c o m m u n i t y. VA LO R e x pl o r e s r el a t i o n s h i p s t h a t c o n n e c t s , e m b ra c e s a n d u pl i f t s .

CARING FOR THE GIVERS NO TWO CAREGIVER STORIES ARE EXACTLY ALIKE, BUT WE CAN BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER by Angie Toone wi t h david brin g h urs t and mic h elle brid g es for valor maga z ine


re you real?” I always hate that question because it means we’re in for a long night. “Are YOU real?” I shoot right back. His face scrunches, he twitches a bit and I can tell the voices in his head don’t like the question. “What’s your name?” “You already know my name.” I can tell he needs my attention right now, but I’m trying to get dinner done. A minute passes. “What are you doing?” “What does it look like I’m doing. I’m making dinner.” “What’s for dinner?” “I’ve already told you 10 times today. Think hard and see if you can remember.” He gets a confused look on his face and he mumbles, “I’ll stop bothering you ...” He shuffles off to the bedroom and pangs of guilt instantly wash over me and the tears start to flow. Lack of patience with my husband Kenny’s endless and often illogical questions is the first sign of caregiver burnout in my life. I stop what I’m doing, turn off the stove, take a few deep grounding breaths and go to check on him. I reassure him that yes, I am real, I’m his wife and I love him. I tell him what I’m making for dinner and ask if he’d like to come help me finish cooking, then I make a mental note that I need to schedule some sort of self care break for myself as soon as possible.


Most caregivers take on the responsibility for their wounded, ill, or injured loved one quite naturally and often without hesitation. In their mind, they are just doing what a loving caregiver—spouse, parent, sibling, family member, or friend—would do. They feel august


their loved one needs them, and they are ready to sacrifice their time, energy and personal needs and wants for their warrior. Remarkably, many of those who are fulfilling a care-giving role often do not consider themselves a “caregiver.” What is a caregiver? Such a simple sounding question can often require complex answers. Especially when law and financial reimbursement for care giving are considered. One definition is: “A caregiver is someone who provides care for another … It is generally one who gives assistance to another person who is no longer able to perform the critical tasks of personal or household care necessary for everyday survival.” The Veterans Administration reports that 89 percent of veteran caregivers are women. They fulfill the critical tasks for their loved one’s survival, also referred to as “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs).

A CHANGING REALITY When I met my husband, Kenny, in 2009, he had been home from Iraq for six years. As a Marine Corps combat veteran, he had been receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a back injury during those years, but still functioned at a fairly normal level. He had a job, working as an aircraft mechanic at Hill Air Force Base. He was social and fun-loving. About the time we met, he was experiencing his first full psychotic break. I had him hospitalized just two months after meeting him. It was the first of about a dozen inpatient psychiatric stays he’s had in the last nine years. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


As his best friend, I was able to help him and be there for him when he needed me, but I watched with a sad heart as he lost his job, his home and his visits with his children due to his growing mental health issues. He became homeless, choosing to live in the mountains, with limited interaction with people. Months would go by without a word from Kenny. Over the years, a simple PTSD diagnosis morphed into a seemingly endless stream of mental health conditions that all fall under the combat PTSD umbrella. I married Kenny almost four ago, knowing I would become his full-time caregiver. He was no longer able to take care of himself. He was living in an almost constant state of visual and auditory psychosis, having all the symptoms of a schizophrenic, along with bipolar disorder, paranoia, major anxiety, panic attacks, chronic depression and still battling combat PTSD symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks. This is our reality.


The VA notes that caregivers of those who experience PTSD have a care burden similar to caregivers of someone experiences dementia or chronic schizophrenia. Spouses, who are often caregivers for those with PTSD, are particularly vulnerable to developing trauma-related symptoms through secondary trauma. Studies conducted on caregivers of Vietnam veterans with PTSD found the caregivers experienced noteworthy psychological impairments such as guilt, substance abuse, vicariously experiencing the veteran’s pain, increased depression, and other mental health challenges.

THE COST OF CARING As Kenny’s full-time caregiver, life can be exhausting. It’s one thing to have conversations with a four-year-old who asks the same questions over and over, never fully hearing or understanding the answer. It’s quite another thing to deal with this on a daily basis with your spouse. When it comes to treatment, it’s always one step forward, two steps back. Because he doesn’t fully grasp his situation and has major paranoia about doctors, it’s difficult to get him to comply with medications and therapy. There are many sleepless nights and long days dealing with his illness. He is not the person I met nine years ago. He’s not even the person I married just four years ago. Symptoms are constantly changing and evolving into new challenges. With medication, we can manage the most difficult symptoms and keep him, and me, safe but it’s a constant battle.


Changes in work situations are often required to care for a loved one. These changes can impact finances, yet even when employment is maintained, finances can still be impacted by the medical needs of the wounded, ill or injured family member. The VA reports there are “spillover” costs to spouses, children, siblings and parents. For these families, out-of-pocket medical expenses are 2.5 times greater than other families (11.2 versus 4.1 percent of total family income). Two thirds of working caregivers miss work. One third cut back their hours. Half quit or take early retirement. 8

va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y

MAKING SELF CARE A PRIORITY Sometimes self care means getting away for a weekend with other veterans’ wives. I’ve been able to plan and host local caregiver retreats here in Utah. I am currently developing a new program with the Battlin’ Betties (battlinbetties.org) to teach other caregivers how to plan similar retreats in their own areas and how to raise funds for them. This is not only great self care to get away for some respite time, but the bonding between women in similar situations is incredible, and it’s very empowering to be able to plan something yourself instead of putting your name into a lottery and hoping an organization picks you for a getaway! A huge part of my self care is attending weekly individual counseling and a spouse support group at the Vet Center as often as I can. These have been such helpful things for me! I’m surprised how many people aren’t aware that the Vet Centers (saltlakecity. va.gov/locations/other_facilities.asp) can see spouses as well as the veterans. Even my husband’s VA doctor had no idea!


Physically, caregivers often have worsening health and fatigue as they take less time to take care of themselves. Moreover, life and future plans might need to be changed. And in some cases grief, anger, anxiety, guilt and any other number of emotions can be experienced when hopes and dreams may no longer be possible. Isolation and loss of social support can take a substantial hit when the role of care giving becomes a primary factor within the family.


Depending on how my husband is doing, it can be hard for me to get out, but it’s a necessity for the good of my own mental health. I often meet veteran caregivers that tell me that they just can’t get away because of their care-giving responsibilities. I tell them that they must get away BECAUSE of their care-giving responsibilities. Hearts of Valor (heartsofvalor.org) has been a good group for women in that category because HOV only meets once a month. Every other month is support group and opposite months are a fun activity where we socialize. We’ve done things like go to the movie, have dinner or attend a local festival. I’ve never met someone who can’t get away for at least one evening a month for a little self care. Sometimes self care just means allowing myself to break down and cry when I need to. It means asking for help. It means saying yes when someone offers to bring in a meal. It means admitting when things are rough and I’m not OK. Self care doesn’t always have to look like a spa day or a big vacation. It can be allowing yourself to identify as a caregiver and recognizing that the role you play is an important one. Just because someone isn’t getting paid by the VA to take care of their spouse, doesn’t mean they aren’t a caregiver. Once someone recognizes that they are, indeed a caregiver, they are more likely to reach out for the help that they desperately need.




RESOURCES FOR CAREGIVERS VA CAREGIVER SUPPORT Includes tips and tools for family caregivers, stories, and videos of family caregivers of veterans, and a zip code look-up feature to find closest VA caregiver support coordinator. Also, provides a caregiver toolbox, diagnosis care sheets, everyday tips and help staying organized. caregiver.va.gov or caregiver. va.gov/connection/connection_ caregivervideos.asp CAREGIVER RESOURCE DIRECTORY

getty images / solstock

Long-term research shows that when caregivers accept and use available resources, their mental, emotional and overall well-being are better, even when compared to their loved one’s overall improving condition. That is to say, if a caregiver burns themselves out in behalf of their loved one’s recovery, the negative results of that burnout will not be overcome just by their loved one having recovered.

ETERNALLY GRATEFUL I choose to be open and honest about the caregiver life I live for two reasons. One, I want other veteran caregivers to know that they are not alone. No two caregiver stories are exactly alike, but we can be there for each other’s support and comfort. And two, I think awareness needs to be brought to the fact that combat PTSD does not always look like it does in movies. It’s not all alcoholism, anger and abuse. My husband is the sweetest man I’ve ever known. He is caring and respectful.

Directory provides a multitude of resources, categorized to make it easy for a caregiver to search for services specific to their situation and location. Below are a few selections copied from the directory. The VA Caregiver Support website is particularly helpful. warriorcare.dodlive.mil/files/2018/04/ Caregiver-Directory-2018-Edition_ Cover.pdf THE ELIZABETH DOLE FOUNDATION The organization empowers, supports, and honors our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers—spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. Link for caregivers to register: https:// hiddenheroes.org/registration/ elizabethdolefoundation.org UTAH COALITION FOR CAREGIVER SUPPORT

People often say to me that they don’t know how I do it. I serve as the Utah Dole Fellow with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (elizabethdolefoundation.org)and the Utah Platoon Leader with Battlin’ Betties, as well as take care of my husband full time. I’m the first to admit it’s not always easy, but I’m able to take care of him because he’s a kind, supportive and loving person who is doing the best he can. He joined the Marine Corps at 17 thinking he was invincible, and war tore him apart, not in the way that requires a wheelchair or that is visible to a stranger passing by, but he was severely injured just the same. All these years later he still relives the horrors of war, and it breaks my heart.

Provides education and resources specifically to caregivers and caregiversupport agencies throughout the state.

As Americans we should also be eternally grateful for the hidden heroes taking care of those American heroes. Without veteran caregivers, where would these veterans be?


Angie Toone is a mother, wife and the full time caregiver of Kenneth Toone, Iraq War veteran and subject of documentary, Thank You For Your Service. Angie is the founder of The American Homemaker. She is an advocate for veteran and caregiver issues and currently serves as the Utah Dole Fellow and as the Battlin’ Betties Utah Platoon Leader. David L. Bringhurst, Ph.D., LCSW, grew up in Utah before serving as a social worker for 21 years on active duty for the U.S. Air Force. He’s had many positions including Chief of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, Chief of Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention for the Air National Guard, and Chief of Air Force Family Research. He now resides in Mapleton and is a Clinical Associate Professor teaching for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work via their Virtual Academic Center. august


801-891-7901, UtahCares.org HEARTS OF VALOR Provides female caregivers opportunities to build relationships, access resources, and enjoy brief moments of rest and respite. Link to register heartsofvalor.org/ formsauth/register/

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT Learn more about veteran family program and caregiver support. Work many parents, siblings, caregivers and more like yourself. We empower you with the tools to be there for your warriors. Link to register as a family support member https:// programportal.woundedwarriorproject. org/register/Program_Registration_FS woundedwarriorproject.org

va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


On the Homefront



or Copper Hills High School teacher Lorna Murray and West Jordan High School teacher Alyse Almond, teaching about World War II to their students is not just a job—it’s personal for both of them. Murray’s father, Eugene Nielsen, was a prisoner of war in the Philippines at Palawan, while Almond had four great uncles who served. Each teacher brings a set of skills and experiences to their classrooms that help make their elective WWII history classes relevant to the students’ experiences today.

TEACHING KEY CONCEPTS One of Murray’s top goals with teaching World War II history is for her students to Remember, Understand and Honor. “I want these kids to remember what has been done on their behalf,” Murray says. “I want them to gain an understanding of the sacrifices that have been made for them, and I want them to honor those who did it.” She also wants students to know that they can solve problems that society has today if they are willing to work, plan and reach out for help when they need it, just as the “Greatest Generation” worked and sacrificed and unified to get an impossible job done by preserving freedom against all odds. Murray, who has been teaching for 21 years at CHHS, teaches U.S. history and World War II history. The WWII course began when Principal Todd Quarnberg asked if she could help develop more elective history courses. Murray began collaborating with Dave Johnson from Riverton, who started the process to come up with essential questions and learning objectives. The curriculum examines the causes of the war, which means students have to understand World War I, the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of the dictators, Murray says. Murray uses a hands-on approach to help students understand the relevancy of World War II to today. There is no textbook. 10

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Instead, she uses interactive maps, video clips and YouTube to teach key concepts. Students do not use computers in the classroom, but are given out-of-class assignments where they do. The main class project for Murray’s students is to find a relative who took part in World War II. “They start with finding out how much their family knows by talking to grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Then they come to me, one on one, and I teach them tools of deep internet research to build on what they’ve learned. My results have been spectacular,” Murray says. “When those kids find out that their own family members sacrificed to win this war, it becomes very real for them,” she says. “Together, we find out that this particular soldier gave his life for this country. At times, it gets so emotional; the tears flow freely from both my students and myself.”

CONNECTING PERSONAL EXPERIENCES Almond, who has taught at WJHS for 11 years, teaches AP European History, World History, concurrent enrollment U.S. history through Snow College, and World War II history. She began teaching the WWII course five years ago and developed her own syllabus based on the Jordan School District’s curriculum. Almond has loved studying World War II ever since she was a kid. She grew up on the war stories of her great uncles: two served in the Coast Guard; one was at Pearl Harbor and saw the Japanese planes come over the naval base; another uncle served in the Army Air Force where he rebuilt Japanese Zero planes so they could learn how it functioned; and a fourth served in the Navy. In sixth grade, she interviewed her father’s parents to find out what they remembered about the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Their memories were so vivid with what happened and how they felt, and that drew me in,” she says. “And, I still have the audio recording.” In college, she took history classes that helped her develop the curriculum for her own classes. august


WAYS TO CONNECT STUDENTS WITH THE WWII EXPERIENCE Jordan School District history teachers, Lorna Murray and Alyse Almond, share tips for teachers and/or home schooling parents to strengthen their World War II curriculum. 1. Make connections to your neighbors and relatives who are veterans of World War II, or any war.

West Jordan School District history teachers Lorna Murray ( above ) and Alyse Almond both say their World War II history classes are more than “just a job, it’s personal.” Both instructors use hands-on approaches to help their students connect with the “Greatest Generation” through family research, field trips, digital media, artifacts and talking with local veterans who actually fought in the war. umg photos

Almond also receives inspiration from her participation in the Utah Military History Group (UMHG) where she draws on the research and experiences of other members “which adds personal stories into my teaching,” she says. UMHG does World War II reenactments by dressing up in war-period military uniforms, meeting with veterans and educating the public at events throughout Utah. “The thing I focus on the most is I teach the war through the experiences of those who lived it,” Almond says. Much of her curriculum is project based. She uses a lot of primary sources, photographs and documentary videos as well as resources on the Pacific and European Theaters from the National World War II Museum. She notes that this fall the museum will be releasing curriculum on the American home front. Field trips are a big hit with Almond’s students. She’s taken them to visit the Heber City Airport where the Commemorative Air Wing preserves period aircraft, gives demonstrations and tells stories of WWII planes and pilots. At the Wendover Airfield, students learn about the “Enola Gay,” the airplane that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and catch a glimpse of “life in the barracks.”

BUILDING A BIGGER PICTURE What Schyler Vuyk, a former student of Almond, liked about the WWII history class “was that she talked about many things you wouldn’t normally hear in a U.S. history class.” He explained, for example, Almond taught in-depth about the home front and how people got involved in supporting the war effort. She also shared stories about the campaigns in North Africa, Italy and the China-Burma-India Theater. august


2. Take advantage of the resources that are online from museums and educational institutions to learn about the war. 3. Visit sites in Utah that have connections to World War II, such as Topaz in Delta, the Air Field in Wendover, Salina’s POW Camp Museum, Fort Douglas Military Museum or Memory Grove Park in Salt Lake City. 4. Focus on individual stories from World War II that people tell. 5. Let the kids pick an aspect of the war they are interested in and let them research it and figure it out for themselves. That will stick with them, and they will want to know more about the war. 6. Attend events that are military-related such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and/or attend re-enactments at Camp Floyd State Park or Fort Douglas Museum. 7. Observe anniversaries like Pearl Harbor, Victory in Europe (VE) Day or Victory in Japan (VJ) Day, and think about what these anniversaries mean. 8. Watch films and videos that are ageappropriate about World War II. 9. Plan trips to places that are important to military history. If you go to Hawaii, go see Pearl Harbor. If you go to Washington D.C., go see the World War II Memorial. If you are lucky enough to get to France, go see Normandy. —FOR VALOR

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he old man sits in his easy chair telling a story nearly threequarters of a century old to someone young enough to be his great-grandchild. The eager listener, a young man whose life experience is roughly 20 percent of the person being interviewed, hangs on every word. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but the young man slept the previous night in his car after driving hundreds of miles—simply for the honor of being able to visit with one of his heroes. For 20-year-old Rishi Sharma from Agoura Hills, California, this is an almost every-day occurrence. For the last few years he has made it his life’s mission to interview all World War II combat veterans until the last one passes away. He has interviewed 900 veterans since he started reaching out to them when he was in high school. “World War II combat veterans are my biggest heroes,” says

Sharma, who founded his nonprofit organization Heroes of the Second World War (heroesofthesecondworldwar.org) in 2016. “I am trying to meet and interview as many as possible to get a better appreciation and understanding of the sacrifices they made—so people like me could have a chance at life.” The combat veterans who agree to an interview generally are eager to tell their stories, like Quentin Murdock of St. George. Murdock, 99, fought with the 1st Infantry Division in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy. He was captured in North Africa and was a prisoner of war for nine days before returning to combat. Murdock’s 16th regiment assaulted bloody Omaha Beach during D-Day operations, June 6, 1944. “I don’t know quite how he does it,” Murdock says of Sharma following their visit in 2017. “It’s good to know people care about

Rishi Sharma ( right ) has made it his life’s mission to interview all World War II combat veterans until the last one passes away . photos courtesy of rishi sharma


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Vuyk says Almond encouraged group work in her history classes, and she focused on having students find documentation for their research papers. “One time she brought in her World War II-era New York Times and let the students go through them, including the advertisements,” Vuyk says. But Vuyk’s favorite part of Almond’s class was when she brought in artifacts from the war and arranged for people from UMHG to come and speak. Almond was a big factor in Vuyk joining the group following his graduation. He’s become so enthralled with WWII history that he’s acquired an “authentic WWII Army uniform” and gotten his father to help him purchase a 1944, three-quarter ton Ford weapons carrier “to tinker with and to show it off ” at events around the area. what you did during the war, to want to hear what it is like for a shell to hit next to you and the concussion that bumps you out of your foxhole. I can still remember most of it.”

moving the work forward Encounters like this keep Sharma going. Full of boundless energy and enthusiasm for the gargantuan task he shoulders, Sharma has been on the road continuously for nearly two years. Largely due to the media coverage his mission has generated, Sharma has raised more than $180,000 to finance his travels. Yet because of his age, he says, he finds it difficult to get a hotel room or rent a car. Often, he spends the night before interviews curled up inside his sedan. He endures this minor inconvenience—“better than sleeping in a foxhole,” he quips—because he knows he is facing a losing battle. The Veterans Administration estimates approximately 360 WWII veterans die each day, and fewer than 500,000 of the more than 16 million who served during the war remain. “Once I sit them down and talk about life in the Great Depression and get them on a roll, then they become eager to share and are an open book,” Sharma says. “They are happy to know there is someone out there who cares about them.” Among Sharma’s most memorable interviews include a man in Ohio whose twin brother helped him knock out four German tanks, four machine guns nests and three mortar positions. Two days later the twin brother died in his arms. In Canada, he interviewed a Dieppe raid survivor who was a prisoner of war for three years. Then there was the Navy Cross recipient who lost an eye on Tarawa but kept fighting. “This isn’t a job,” Sharma says. “I love this. If I had all the money in the world, I would still do what I do right now. I am 100 percent committed to doing this until the last World War II combat veteran passes away.” Often, family members of the veterans are hearing those stories for the first time, thanks to Sharma. “A lot of people just don’t ask. I think that is one of the bigger issues,” Sharma says. “I think people think that they can’t ask their grandparents about the war, or that it is something they are not supposed to do. These guys aren’t just going to tell you about their service; if you ask them, they are probably willing to talk about it. Take that first step and make the effort.” Although Rishi doesn’t know what, if anything, he is going to do with these interviews (he does give a DVD to each veteran he visits with), you can be sure he will always listen. —DAVID CORDERO FOR VALOR august


“I would say that was one of the biggest highlights (of Almond’s class) was getting out of the classroom to witness living history,” Vuyk says. “And WJHS students should consider taking Ms. Almond’s classes because she has a new way of teaching history and bringing a new perspective on how you learn about history.”

KEEPING STORIES AND SACRIFICES ALIVE Each semester, Almond begins her World War II class by showing her students many people died in the war and then weaves individual stories into the context of the war. “When you tell individual stories, I think it hits home with the kids. It affects their home and where the war was being fought. I think this helps students understand the experience of the war and who fought in it,” Almond says. “Understanding what individuals sacrificed to protect our freedoms helps students to see the war on a deeper level. Otherwise, it’s just numbers on a page. ” “I hope my students take away that this war was truly a world war—it affected everyone. When you ask if any students had a relative who fought in the war, it creates a personal connection. It shows sacrifice and freedom and democracy and gets them talking to their parents and grandparents,” Almond says. “I think one of my favorite things is seeing the kids get passionate about learning about the war,” Almond shares. “I love the opportunities that it gives for discussion, especially regarding moral choices.” For example, one question she asks is, “What would you do under these circumstances ... like whether to bomb civilian or military targets, or what were the pros and cons of dropping the atomic bomb?” What means the most to Almond in teaching the World War II class “is that the stories (of the veterans) will not be forgotten. The kids will keep the stories and sacrifices alive and they will pass on what freedom means to their kids,” Almond says. “Whenever I talk to World War II veterans,” Almond says, “I try to ask what they want kids of this generation to know about the war, and inevitably the veterans will say, ‘Freedom isn’t free.’” A native of St. George, Loren R. Webb has been a reporter in community journalism and teacher of history and English in southern Utah and Nevada. He is an avid historian and spends his summers volunteering at Camp Floyd & Stagecoach Inn State Park in Fairfield. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


Doing Business T h e B e e h ive S ta te h a s a d y n a m i c a n d d ive r s e e c o n o m y. D e f e n s e - r el a te d i n d u s t r i e s a r e pa r t o f t h a t e n v i r o n m e n t . Fr o m b u s i n e s s boa r d r oo m s , go ve r n m e n t o f f i c e s , e d u c a t i o n a l c l a s s r oo m s a n d i n d iv i d u a l l ivel i h ood s , VA LO R i n t r od u c e s r e a d e r s to t h e m a n y pa r t n e r s a n d r e s o u r c e s f i n d i n g s u c c e s s i n t h e m a rk e t pl a c e.



lack Rifle Coffee Company may have burst onto the scene rather recently, but for founder and CEO Evan Hafer, the story starts more than 20 years ago.

“Like every good story, it starts with a girl,” he says with a laugh. As he attended Walla Walla Community College in Washington State, he met and dated a barista, frequenting the coffee shop where she worked. Hafer’s life and relationships changed, but the love of coffee remained. “When I’m interested in something, I want to go into the weeds with it,” Hafer says. “What is it, how is it made?” He details years of studying small batch roasters, reading up on processes and making friends in the industry. He eventually graduated from the University of Idaho and joined the National Guard. He put the coffee-making dreams on hold when he tried out to become a Green Beret in 2000. His work first took him all over Asia, where he experienced all sorts of new coffee shops, and he was eventually deployed to Iraq. Hafer made adjustments to his gun truck so he could grind and brew his own coffee on patrol. It turns out French presses aren’t common among deployed military personnel. Hafer’s tours in Iraq also brought the opportunity to try Arabic and Turkish coffees—methods and flavors he took home with him for his personal hobby. For a time, he worked as a contractor for the CIA, deploying for about 300 days out the


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year. His R&R, he says, was more like R&R&R: “running, rivers and roasting.” In late 2014, Hafer turned the hobby into a side gig small business venture, using about $1,800 of his own money to start roasting coffee in his garage in Salt Lake City. He sold his Freedom Roast coffee through Article 15 Clothing, a company founded by his former colleague and good friend Mat Best. Around this time, Hafer was teaching courses at a local range. While chatting with a student after class, he’d joked about starting a full-fledged coffee company. The man pointed to Hafer’s service rifle resting in the bed of his truck as possible naming inspiration. It was only a few short months later, in March 2015, that Hafer launched Black Rifle Coffee Company (blackriflecoffee.com). To date, BRCC has made over $70 million and has more than 100 employees. “I just wanted to be able to roast more coffee,” Hafer says. “I really didn’t expect it to become this huge company.” But here it is, and Black Rifle is just getting started.

FROM PASSION TO SUCCESS STORY After getting its start in Salt Lake City, the rapidly-expanding company is growing elsewhere. (“I started a coffee company in Utah, which is crazy,” Hafer adds, the novelty not lost on him.) The company recently moved its corporate location to San Antonio, Texas, pursuing the city’s large veteran population and considerably larger customer base. august


(ABOVE) According to Black Rifle Coffee Company CEO Evan Hafer, he “just wanted to be able to roast more coffee” and didn’t expect it to become a huge company. (TOP) Since launching in 2015, the company has expanded beyond its Salt Lake City headquarters to include operations in San Antonio, Texas, and Tennessee. And soon, franchising opportunities will be available. To date, BRCC has made over $70 million and has more than 100 employees. courtesy of black rifle coffee company / richard ryan august


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Black Rifle Coffee Company is ‘creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable.” courtesy of black rifle coffee company / richard ryan

“Huge percentages of the (Utah) population don’t drink coffee, but they do support veterans,” Hafer says, adding that it has been easy to recruit talent in Utah’s veteran community. The roasting operations, manufacturing, coffee shop store front—and all the jobs with them—will continue in Utah. BRCC is officially a national company though: In addition to corporate operations in San Antonio, the company is opening roasting operations in Texas and Tennessee. Remarkable is the fact that Black Rifle has run entirely off its own profits for its first four years. The team only recently sold a stake in the company for some future growth plans. But especially remarkable is the fact that the company has served as an impromptu incubator for several other companies.

‘RAISING ALL SHIPS’ AMONG VETERAN-OWNED BUSINESSES Best, who serves as vice president and brand manager at Black Rifle in addition to running Article 15 Clothing (article15clothing. com), lists a few of the companies with ties to BRCC: Readyman (readyman.com), Savage Gentleman (savagegentleman.com), Bison Union (bisonunion.com), Brass Tacs (facebook.com/ TheBrassTacs) and 5.11 Tactical (511tactical.com). “Our goal is to not necessarily to pride ourselves on individual success but collective success,” Best says, noting how Black Rifle has taken these companies under wing, providing operation space and advice from the lessons they’ve learned in their own rapid scaling. “It’s a true testament to how awesome the veteran community is.” Jeff Kirkham, president and owner of Readyman (and also a partial owner at Black Rifle), served in special forces with Hafer. Around the time Black Rifle was born, Kirkham invented the Rapid Application Tourniquet System, for which he has two patents. With “master the art of self-reliance” as its tagline, Readyman is set up to be a premier education company for the survivalist community. The company provides nearly 700 free tutorials on its website, Readyman.com, as well as a shop for products, many of which Kirkham designs himself. 16

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To him, what’s happening at Black Rifle is only natural in the veteran community. “You gravitate to what you know,” Kirkham says. “With other veterans, you almost have an instant rapport.” Black Rifle essentially unofficially heads a family of veteran-owned businesses. And Readyman, like much of the family, is growing rapidly. The company is moving toward a member-based model with subscription programs like “Plan 2 Survive,” “Plan 2 Rescue” and “Plan 2 Bug Out.” The subscription provides members with live charts to help them determine their level of emergency preparedness. From there, they receive video and other content customized for budget, health, where they live, and more. The content also links to applicable Readyman products for purchase. Kirkham, a military brat who went to high school in Utah, enjoys living and working here (his wife also works at Black Rifle) and uses that as a selling point to recruit other emergency preparedness companies to Utah. His hope is to build a thriving emergency preparedness community in Utah. “I’m a big believer in collaboration, even with companies we’d consider to be competitors,” he says. “I’m a firm believer that the tide will raise all ships.”

A UNIQUE COMPANY CULTURE Kirkham’s passion for collaboration and vision for community echoes the culture at Black Rifle Coffee Company. Black Rifle’s culture takes the fierce sense of community among veterans to new and improved heights. The company is considerably diverse. With a veteran hiring rate above 50 percent, its employees include men, women, amputees— oh, and Afghan refugees. “Those veterans aren’t just American service people,” Hafer explains. The company employs Afghan commandos and their wives, a total of 10 employees. At Black Rifle Coffee Company, there’s no question that everyone belongs. “My vision for this is to create a company culture that really celebrates individualism,” Hafer says. “There’s a lot of talk in today’s august


society around ‘tribes.’ Our company is built for the tribe of service.” Service men and women, of course, includes military, law enforcement, firefighters and EMS workers, among others. “In corporate culture, people just find reasons to be offended. We want to find reasons for individualism. To be open-minded is to be more accepting.” Best explains how the often politically correct environment and rigid corporate culture of most workplaces is restricting to many veterans. Black Rifle, he says, “is a space for them to be who they are without restrictions.” Employees are encouraged to speak their minds, laugh and enjoy themselves as they work hard. “Most veterans have to conform to a civilian corporate environment when they transition to the workplace,” Hafer adds. “At Black Rifle, it’s the reverse.” Anyone not accustomed to military culture is likely in for an adjustment working at Black Rifle—but it’s a good one. In fact, part of the company’s success can be attributed to its military roots and performance-based expectations. “Everybody sees ethnicity. We only care about the performance,” Hafer says. “We are probably some of the least discriminating people in the U.S. based on the fact that we are ‘mission first’ people.” Hafer discussed “radical transparency” and “you do you” as guiding principles at the company. When workers are honest about who they are, it is easier to get to the heart of their skills and work ethic, he says. “We really want people to be who they are. … We just want rational, mission-driven results.”

A NEW KIND OF COFFEE SHOP And the results are pretty obvious. The aforementioned stake in the company was sold for franchising purposes. That’s right: Black Rifle Coffee Company will be building coffee shops across the country. A very new kind of coffee shop to boot. Hafer details how his father, a lifelong logger, doesn’t feel comfortable walking into most coffee shops as they are today. He envisions mechanics, construction workers, bus drivers and “the hipster who rode in on his one-speed” all enjoying the environment at a Black Rifle Coffee Company shop. “For me, it’s more than a coffee shop,” Hafer says, noting that the franchising process will be similar to their current hiring practices— the shops will likely be run by service men and women from all walks. “We’re celebrating a product, but we’re also creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable.” A veteran-owned coffee company. Talk about disruption. “We are the antithesis to contemporary coffee culture,” Best says, acknowledging past naysayers but pointing out Black Rifle’s incredible growth. “Everybody says we can’t do it, and we’re doing it.” Hillary Bowler Davis is content specialist at Utah Media Group. She has worked for the Deseret News covering arts, culture and religion, as an advertising copywriter for small business clients, and as a PR and content specialist for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Her work ranges from in-depth articles and editorials to video scripts and taglines. august




at Best, CEO at Article 15 Clothing and Vice President at Black Rifle Coffee Company, heads up Black Rifle’s popular video marketing.

It started as a hobby for Best. “I made videos literally to entertain my 150 friends,” he says. His personal YouTube Channel, MBest11x, is now pushing a million subscribers, so his content obviously resonates with a few folks outside his personal friend group. It started as a hobby for Best. “I made videos literally to entertain my 150 friends,” he says. His personal YouTube Channel, MBest11x, is now pushing a million subscribers, so his content obviously resonates with a few folks outside his personal friend group. The videos he produces for Black Rifle have a very similar flavor. Informative gear tutorials (such as “How to Make Coffee with a Chemex”), drink recipe videos and “It’s Who We Are” company profile videos are intermixed with hilarious shorts including “Horror Film Survival Tactics” (in partnership with 5.11 Tactical) and “Christmas Songs on Steel.” “I’ve always had a humorous side of me,” Best says. “I was always the guy that was poking fun at the dire situations we were in.” “Dire” meaning mid-mission at 3 a.m. and going on 24 hours without sleep or food. “Laughing provides the ability to work through pain and struggle. I always did that through my military career.” The recipe works well for Black Rifle, he says, and the feedback from the military and service community has been amazing. “Not only are we here to entertain, but we are here to inform and to build the community.” The videos work well, for example, in pushing Black Rifle’s campaigns to donate coffee to deployed troops. The platform has proven very engaging to veterans and currently deployed service members alike. Best mentions that military humor—decidedly NOT politically correct—has a certain extreme irreverence to it, and that the videos might be offensive to some. But he’s only concerned with appealing to Black Rifle’s primary customer base—the military and civil service community, Best’s peers. “At the end of the day, I just want to create videos for my culture, my tribe. If it helped make a service member or veteran laugh or smile, I know it was worth it.” —HILLARY BOWLER DAVIS FOR VALOR

1144 500 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 844-899-9330, blackriflecoffee.com va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


getty images / globaroman

ONE WARRIOR’S CREED If today is to be the day, so be it. If you seek to do battle with me this day
you will receive the best that I am capable of giving. It may not be enough, but it will be everything that
I have to give, and it will be impressive for I
have constantly prepared myself for this day. I have trained, drilled and rehearsed my actions
so that I might have the best chance of defeating you. I have kept myself in peak physical condition, schooled myself in the martial skills and have become proficient in the application of combat tactics. You may defeat me, but you will pay a severe price and will be lucky to escape with your life.
 You may kill me, but I am willing to die if necessary. I do not fear death, for I have been close enough to it on enough occasions that it no longer concerns me. But I do fear the loss of my honor and would rather die fighting than to have it said that I was without courage. So I will fight you, no matter how insurmountable it may seem,
and to the death if need be,
in order that it may never be said of me


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lashing lights and blaring sirens, victims in distress, traumatized witnesses, well-meaning but less-thanhelpful bystanders, the threat of further injury and lives hanging in the balance. For first responders—law enforcement, firefighter or paramedic—this picture is a familiar one. Every day, emergency workers face quick-decision scenarios that leave little margin for error at a crime or accident scene. Suppose you were the victim in such a situation. What kind of responder would you want at your side—one with only the prescribed training at the fire or police academy or one who has not only seen it all in your town but has also “been there” and “done that” in a combat situation?

airman or Marine—for those still serving in the National Guard or Reserve? Workman, who is not a service member himself, sees a difference in firefighters who bring military experience to their job. “Those from the combat-medical side—which means they have seen worse traumas than we see—are better able to do triage and do critical thinking. They bring an inherent type of leadership.” The men and women in blue are not any different, says Watt. “Police work is a steady diet of stress. If you don’t have tools to deal with the constant stream, you’re going to struggle in a number of ways.”



According to Randy Watt, chief of Ogden Police and 34-year veteran of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, about 15 percent of his officers wear—or have worn—the uniform of our military. Salt Lake City firefighter and hazmat technician Myke Workman puts that number at closer to 40 percent of the 350 sworn firefighters in his department. In either case, most would agree that the extra seasoning these warriors bring can help them be that much better at their first-responder job when lives are on the line.

Watt knows whereof he speaks. He began acquiring those very tools first by spending 13 years on Ogden’s SWAT team, with a total of 35 years on the force and still counting. On the military side, he grew up in the home of a World War II hero and bomber pilot who was shot down, did time at Stalag Luft III, broke out three times and was part of The Great Escape in 1944.

So how might a warrior mentality in their first-responder role give that law-enforcement officer or firefighter an extra edge? And does it work the other way—meaning their time behind the badge also makes them a better soldier, sailor, august


In his own right, early in his police career Watt took a year and half off to go to Basic Training, Airborne School and the Special Forces Qualification (Q) course. Beyond that, he served in several staff positions and commanded a company and battalion, all with the 19th Special Forces Group of the Utah National Guard. He rose to the rank of colonel and was va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y


(LEFT) Randy Watt completed three combat tours to the Middle East, one with the Utah National Guard’s 19th Special Forces and two as a counterterrorism advisor to Iraqi forces. (RIGHT) As Ogden City Police Chief, Watt practices small arms fire. courtesy of randy watt

commander of the 19th for two-and-a-half years. He also completed three combat tours: Afghanistan in 2001–2002, where he earned the Bronze Star with “V” (Valor) device, and two hitches in Iraq in 2006–2007 and 2010–2011, where he was a counterterrorism advisor to Iraqi forces. Coming up through the military ranks, Watt was known as a “mustang,” a label given to Army leaders who started out as enlisted soldiers before becoming infantry officers through Officer Candidate School. He believes that his military background and his eight years of enlisted time had a huge impact on his ability to serve as a police officer. “The U.S. Army has the finest leadership development program in the world,” says Watt. “At the Infantry Officer Basic Course, we learned small-unit tactics and urban combat, which was easily applied to my work with SWAT teams.” He believes that there was a mutual back and forth between SWAT and military tactics and they evolved together over time.

FIRST-RESPONDER SKILLS HELP SERVICE MEMBERS DO THEIR MILITARY JOB While Watt’s military training helped grow his capabilities with the badge, the Army had its own growing to do when it came to law-enforcement techniques in a combat theater of operations. “The Army in 2002 was behind the times in equipment and tactics,” says Watt as he recalled his first deployment to Afghanistan. “My experience in the police department prepared me better tactically and mentally for that mission.” After Afghanistan, Watt wrote his after-action report in which he suggested updated doctrine for the military-leadership structure, based on his police experience. The report went to the Army’s Special Operations Command, and by the time 20

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Watt returned to combat in Iraq in 2006 the Army had “caught up” with accepted best practices, he says. The day-to-day interactions that first responders have with the public and their understanding of law-enforcement techniques pay dividends for them when they bring those skills to their military missions. “In the 19th, we had a significant number of cops, firefighters and SWAT experts,” explains Watt. “They had a far better understanding of tactics and a how-to understanding of work with people.”

WARRIORS STRADDLING TWO WORLDS For many of those in both the military and first-responder communities, it is hard to tell where one job ends and the other begins. Both require that their members maintain the highest levels of physical conditioning and endurance. “Fire service is similar to that of the military,” says Workman. “Our recruit camp is based on a basic-training model. It’s physical, it’s hands-on activities and recruits train 10 to 12 hours a day for 15 weeks.” Mental and emotional toughness is also a must-have for both lines of work. “The military veteran has developed mechanisms for shedding the impacts of stress,” says Watt, while these emotional and psychological defenses may not be as pronounced in civilian police officers. “In fact, we have more PTSD problems with non-military police officers.” The military provides resilience training, which crosses over well, says Watt. “There is an exceptionally high suicide rate in law enforcement and among first responders,” he says. “On the police side we are trying to enhance resiliency training by importing techniques from military.” august


Salt Lake City firefighter and hazmat technician Myke Workman ( left ) says almost 40 percent of the 350 sworn firefighters in his department have worn or wear the military uniform. Many agree that the extra seasoning these warriors bring can help them be that much better at their first-responder job. courtesy of myke workman

Early on in the post-9/11 period, supervisors were not as understanding of the demands on their officers who also served in the Guard and Reserve. This included those who came home from the fight and struggled with emotional and psychological issues. And as the military ramped up the frequency of deployments and more training time away from the job, “many departments weren’t supportive of changes of schedule and drill weekends,” Watt says. However, Workman and Watt agree that the relationship between first-responder managers and their employees who serve in the military is much better than it was. “Fire-department leadership is very supportive,” says Workman. He explained that his chief had served in the military, and one of the fire captains is deploying soon with the full backing of his superiors. Watt sees more willingness by police administrators to work with combat veterans on the force who suffer from post-traumatic stress. “The stigma” that came from the need for counseling “is no longer there,” he says. “Things are much better, the two careers are more interactive.” Workman recognizes the benefits of embracing the common ground between the first-responder and military august


worlds. “Service members can learn leadership, medical and physical fitness in fire and take that back to their military unit.” “I was fortunate to have two careers going at the same time,” observes Watt, now retired from the military. “My police department treats its reservists well. It went out of its way to take care of its military, and I’m a better product because of it.” With the recent rifts in the relationship nationwide between law enforcement and persons of color, it has been difficult for police departments to recruit new members to its ranks. However, Watt believes veterans can fill the gaps. Their combat experience and a warrior mentality can be a big plus. “What sets military apart in law enforcement? Experience, more calm under stress and a willingness to accept some of the bureaucratic stressors. There are excellent recruits with Guard and Reserve background. Those who have served in war come with tremendous experience. All around they are better prepared.” Hank McIntire served 26 years from 1988 to 2014 with the Utah Army National Guard and U.S. Army in both military intelligence and public affairs. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Utah Valley University. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y



Decide what you want to do and start as soon as possible. Focus as many aspects of your life as you can on that one goal. Do not give yourself a way out when the road gets hard. Don’t have a Plan B to fall back on.” —Eric Armijo


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R’S EDGE BEST WARRIOR PRACTICES MADE PERFECT WITH TRAINING, EDUCATION AND MAINTENANCE by Apollo Burgamy w i t h m i c h e l l e b r i d g e s fo r va lo r m aga Z i n e


earning a skill can take hours, but mastery can take a lifetime. In all trades, there is a foundation of training, education and maintaining proficiency. In the military, mastering skills and equipment is central to survival. The military focuses on training to ensure effectiveness and readiness of units and personnel. This is nicely summed up in the military adage: we train as we will fight, and fight as we have trained. Just how much training does it take to gain mastery? You may have heard of the “10,000-Hour Rule” from Malcolm Gladwell’s book to explain the time needed to master a skill. Although disputed in some circles, the 10,000-Hour Rule helps us contextualize the amount of work it takes to learn and then master a skill. Beyond sheer hours, there are other factors such as a proclivity or talent that come into play, and learning the skill the right way through education makes the path to mastery a little less arduous. Certifications, degrees and apprenticeships all provide key milestones and a framework for learning structured by the success of prior experts. Building proficiency is key to maintaining skill level, but there are always new techniques to learn and adapt to refine a mastered skill. Refinement comes through competition and putting skills into action. Knowing that every expert and master started out as a novice, we reached out to a few local military experts to learn about their “best warrior practices” on mastery of their skill of choice in or out of uniform.



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ERIC P. ARMIJO SGT, 2-222nd FA HHB Eric Armijo has been preparing to join the Special Forces selection or U.S. Army Ranger school. He has been training “hard for about a year” and that’s why he was physically ready for the challenge of the Utah National Guard’s Best Warrior Competitions. All that hard work served him well because he won at both the state and regional competitions this last spring. “The hardest obstacle is winning the battle in your mind and focusing 100 percent on the task at hand,” Armijo says. He explains that competitors need to realize not every one will perform each task perfectly. It’s important to be ready to move on regardless of the level of your performance. “This is partially why I was unable to win the national competition in July,” he stresses. “For me the largest obstacle is usually land navigation.” Training and education are basically all on your own, explains Armijo. The resources are out there for any soldier to learn the skills and tasks performed during competition. However, to mastering each skill is easier said than done. Armijo says that simply memorizing steps is not enough. “With just about every task you are required to do, you need to understand how each task is performed a certain way, why it is so, and get as much hands-on training as you can.” Armijo personally works out with a company called Be A PJ—it is specifically designed to get people through pararescue indoctrination. “It is a great process for getting ready for a selection program. It requires swimming like U.S. Navy Seals and all aspects of airground communication such as a U.S. Air Force combat controller.” His diet is very simple: a lot of meats—steak and chicken—greens, salad and vegetables. Maintaining competency or reaching mastery depends on making “it a priority in your life,” Armijo points out. “It requires constant attention and work. You have to maintain your mind just as much as your body. And preparation is better than talent or skill if you want to be consistently successful.” —VALOR SANTA FE, N.M. May 2018. Utah National Guard soldier Eric Armijo takes top honors at the 2018 Region VII Best Warrior Competition. Armijo previously captured the top title on the state level. Warriors who compete have already mastered a series of benchmarks and will test their knowledge, skills and abilities by conquering urban warfare simulations, demonstrating critical thinking, formal board interviews, physical fitness challenges, written exams, and warrior tasks and battle drills relevant to today’s operating environment. utah national guard / james dansie


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“Be patient with yourself. Skill mastery and technique takes time to develop. Celebrate the things you are doing well, instead of focusing on what you are not yet able to do.” —Barbara Blanke

(ABOVE) SOLDIER HOLLOW. March 2018. Barbara Blanke from the Utah National Guard competes in the relay race of the Chief National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships. utah national guard / steven fairbourn (LEFT) Members of the Utah National Guard female biathlon team pose for a group photo after competing in the patrol race during the Chief National Guard Bureau Biathlon Championships. The patrol race requires competitors to stick together and work as a team to achieve the best time. utah national guard / amber monio

BARBARA J. BLANKE CPT, MS, UTARNG, Commander, HHD, 640th Regiment (RTI) Barbara Blanke started out as a Nordic ski racer first, and eventually got introduced to biathlon as a civilian. When she had the opportunity to join the U.S. Army Reserves as a medical laboratory officer, biathlon training kept her in shape. Eventually she transferred to the Utah National Guard and joined the biathlon team. Biathlon requires year-round training—on Blanke’s own time and dime. Physical training goes on all year with different focuses depending on the season. During summer, training consists of building aerobic endurance base, strength, and technique, all done august


with a variety of modalities: rollerskiing, running, road or mountain biking, circuit/weight training and more. During fall, the transition is to more aerobic training, with activities becoming more skiing-focused. A hard push in intensity develops speed in preparation for the competitive season.

activity and increased heart rate.

Marksmanship is also progressive. During the spring and summer, Blanke concentrates on shooting accuracy, fundamentals and positions without an elevated heart rate. During the fall and winter, she develops marksmanship skills in combination with physical

This last year, Blanke had a breakthrough in her shooting under pressure. She spent more time training in combat marksmanship using a “3-Gun” methodology, using long-range rifle, pistol and shotgun. This boils down to always performing a timed shooting stage in front of

Good skiers and shooters are made in the summer, where skills are developed before it turns cold; that way biathletes are able to keep moving without risking cold weather injury.

an audience. The result was stress inoculation, and she was able to worry less about the outcome, and focus more on the procedure. Mentally, it put her in a much stronger position, without the fear or negative thoughts that can accompany a stressful performance situation. Blanke competes individually and in team events. She says “working out with the team motivates me. When I work with others who are motivated, we can push our skill levels higher, and we all benefit.” —VALOR

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“You have to be self driven, motivated, dedicated and most importantly you have to love what you do in order to become successful.”

—Kayce Clark

KAYCE CLARK CW4, AV, UTARNG, Battalion Safety Officer, HHC, 2-211th GSAB Kacey Clark knew from a young age she wanted to fly. Watching her father fly set the spark inside her. After graduation, her father pointed her toward the Utah National Guard. So at 17, she was off. After her first deployment, she spent 14 months at flight school. “But that was just the beginning of the training. We learned to fly at flight school but the real training kicked in when we got home,” she says. “That’s when you learn correlation and comprehension between the aircraft and the missions we performed. With experience comes the skill level you are looking for and that doesn’t happen quickly. I’ve been flying since 2003 and still feel like I have lots to learn.” The U.S. Army requires its aviators to maintain a


certain amount of training and hours each year through a process which consists of a 50-question written exam with questions pulled from the aircraft operators manual; two flight evaluations on mission essential tasks identified by the commander and another on instrument flying; and then there are two programs about aircraft survivability and enemy identification. All of these tasks must be completed within a three month period. Aviators must also maintain 98 flight hours a year. This can be challenging being in the Utah National Guard because pilots must come in on their own time to fly. These are the basic requirements to maintain proficiency in the aircraft; it takes lots of time and lots of studying to master the aircraft.

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(ABOVE) August 2017. Back Hawk helicopter hovers over the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in Texas. reuters / johnathan bachmancey (RIGHT) Utah National Guard Army aviator, Kayce Clark, takes time to clean and prep her small arms. courtesy of kayce clark Pilots are responsible for maintaining their personal flight equipment that consists of helmets, survival vests, body armor, flight suites, flight gloves and flight boots. Clark looks over her equipment before each flight for readiness because “that equipment is what will save my life in the event something happens. I don’t take that lightly.” Clark tries to stay in the “books” to maintain her edge by studying something each day. She likes to branch out and work with her fellow aviators,

pick their brains on how they would do something in certain situations, read up on lessons learned and also to implement the best practices that are out there. “I think the best weapon I have at my disposal is my brain,” Clark exclaims. “If I maintain my knowledge of the helicopters systems, maintain my flight hours and continue to expand on my flight experience I can be unstoppable.” —VALOR



MATT RAINES SSGT, UTANG RECRUITMENT Matt Raines blames his older brother for getting him started in mixed martial arts. “It was a kind of competition thing. I was a tough guy because I was in the Army and he was fighting professionally,” he says. “I had to do it.” Raines took his first fight and came out on top. Not because he had finesse or skill. He simply outlasted his opponent. “I had the stamina because I was doing my regular military training— running six miles a day, three or four times a week, plus all the other physical stuff,” he says. “The next fight, the guy destroyed me.”

Raines began looking for places where he could get expert training. Eventually, he ended up winning 17 professional MMA fights. After a stint in the active U.S. Army, Raines enlisted in the Utah National Guard where he discovered the Army Combatives Program (ACP) and became a certified Level 2 instructor.

back or detain an aggressive enemy long enough for help to arrive. Designed with a JuiJitsu style at its core, the ACP teaches “grappling,” how to move your body, transitioning from one position to another and submission techniques, basically how to immoblize an attacker. A person needs to be constantly training and practicing to become proficient.

The ACP is basically a handto-hand combat fighting system developed to help soldiers survive a dangerous or combat situation when they can’t get to their weapon and have to fight with their bare hands to hold

Raines heavily emphasizes that whether he is teaching combatives during the recruitment sustainment program, drill weekend or in women’s self defense class that “these are fundamentals. This

is an introduction to what we do so that you can understand there are things you can do to enhance your chances in surviving a dangerous situation.” Raines continues: “It’s not always about who’s bigger and who’s stronger; it’s about the techniques and the fundamentals.” Effective self defense shows others, especially women, that they can go to a gym to learn and expand on those things. It empowers them to feel safe. It educates them to defend themselves. “Honestly, I want people to be safe; that’s why I do what I do,” says Raines. —VALOR

CEDAR CITY. May 2018. Utah National Guard recruiter Matt Raines teaches “grappling” techniques during a self-defense class at Southern Utah University with ROTC recruits and college victim response coordinators. Raines is a Level 2 instructor in hand-to-hand training using the Army Combatives Program. courtesy of utah national guard recruitment

It is challenging, engaging and fun. It builds confidence knowing you can do and learn things to win against a larger, stronger opponent.” —Matt Raines



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Memory Grove’s Meditation Chapel was built in the years immediately following World War II as a memorial to fallen service members whose bodies were never recovered or given a proper burial. umg photo / brock


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ucked into the east hillside of Memory Grove in Salt Lake City is a small, four-columned edifice known as Meditation Chapel. Other than the pinkish hue of the marble that makes up its outer walls and its Grecian entryway, the tiny chapel doesn’t call much attention to itself. But Meditation Chapel makes up for its diminutive size in the details of its design and the purpose and history of its creation. Meditation Chapel was built in the years immediately following World War II as a memorial to fallen service members whose bodies were never recovered or given a proper burial. Ross and Elvera Beason were the driving force behind the chapel’s construction. Their only son, Ross Beason, Jr., had died when his plane was shot down and plunged into the ocean near Italy on April 15, 1944. His body, like thousands of other service members during World War II, was never recovered. Understanding firsthand the difficulty of mourning a lost loved one whose remains had never been recovered and buried, the Beasons wanted both a physical place to memorialize their son and for others in their situation to mourn. The chapel was dedicated on July 24, 1948 in a ceremony attended by thousands. Ruth Morgan, a volunteer tour guide with Preservation Utah, a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting historic buildings throughout Utah, said the Beasons had the chapel commissioned for people to come and meditate and pray, and or do whatever they needed to do to mourn and connect with their lost loved ones. No expense was spared in its construction. “The outside is beautiful pink marble from Etowah, Georgia,” Morgan said. “The roof is Utah copper and the doors are beautiful cast brass doors. The inside is actually original.”



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Stained glass windows depicting the U.S. Air Corps ( left ), the U.S. Navy ( center ), U.S. Marines ( right ) and the U.S. Army ( far right ) glow in afternoon sunlight from their position on the south wall of Meditation Chapel in Salt Lake City’s Memory Grove. When the chapel fell into disuse and neglect in the decades between World War II and the late 1990s, the original stained glass windows were broken and had to undergo a meticulous process of restoration. Today, the windows have been fully restored to their original design and grandeur. umg photos / brock jones

In the decades following its construction, the chapel unfortunately fell into disrepair and perhaps even blatant neglect, and had to be shuttered. The stained glass windows were broken or shot out. The purpose for which the chapel was designed was practically erased from collective memory. The chapel was so run down that the city “finally had to padlock the doors and just close it up so nobody could get in here anymore,” said Morgan. Then in the 1990s, Murray Hiatt came to visit his older brother’s marker that lay in the grounds immediately surrounding the chapel. Hiatt’s brother, Don, had left Payson at 22 for the war as a submariner and had never returned, having been killed in a torpedo attack near New Guinea. When Murray returned to Utah from California to visit his brother’s memorial he saw the neglected chapel and felt that the state of 30

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the chapel was disrespectful to those memorialized there. He took action to correct the problem. “So [Hiatt] had people write news articles and then finally the city caught whiff of what was going on and they decided to set aside some money to get the chapel fixed,” Morgan said. The chapel was restored in 1998 and rededicated on a cold and rainy Veterans Day of that same year. Today, the chapel is open every Wednesday during the summer months for guided tours, and on special occasions, however, areas surrounding the chapel, including the 310 memorial markers of fallen service members whose bodies never made it home, are accessible any time Memory Grove is open. Brock Jones is an assistant professor of English at Utah Valley University. He has served in the U.S. Army and Utah National Guard for more than 16 years. august


(ABOVE) Meditation Chapel’s dedicatory inscription adorns the wall above the chapel’s entryway. Lt. Ross Beason, Jr., was killed April 15, 1944, when his airplane was shot down over the ocean near Italy. Beason’s parents, Ross and Elvera Beason, commissioned the creation of the chapel as a place to remember and mourn service members whose remains were lost and never made it home for burial. (BELOW) A high-backed sitting bench stands in the entryway providing a space for visitors to sit and remember their fallen service members. umg photos by brock jones



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(ABOVE) The Stars and Stripes and the POW/MIA flags wave in the wind under a cloudy sky. When displayed from a single flagpole, the POW/MIA flag should fly directly below, and be no larger than, the U.S. flag. gettyimages / blueskies 9 (CENTER) Black flags bearing the POW/MIA logo are paired with red, white and blue ribbons during a ceremony on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, in Philadelphia, PA. gettyimages / bastiaan slabbers

(LEFT) United States veterans of foreign wars were honored at a Veterans Day ceremony in Belmont, N.C., to those who served and currently serve in the Armed Forces. The ceremony was proud to honor veterans from World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and those who serve and have served in the Middle East and Afghanistan. An empty table has been set to honor Americans who are still missing in action. gettyimages / bauhaus 1000


NATIONAL POW/MIA RECOGITION DAY This rememberance ceremony is to remind everyone to never forget the many POW/MIAs who have never made it back home. No-host cocktails, 6 p.m.; dinner, 6:30 p.m., ceremony and program to follow. Hosted by Golden Spike Elks Lodge, No. 719, 801-773-1682, 1875 W. 5200 South, Roy. Learn more at facebook.com/pages/ElksLodge/113834308645202


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etired U.S. Navy Capt. Ron Lewis felt a mixture of pride and astonishment as friends, neighbors and complete strangers cheered for the New Harmony resident as he marched in a small-town Independence Day parade in 2007. “I realized it was the first time anybody ever applauded me for my service in Vietnam,” says Lewis, a 27-year veteran who flew helicopters off the USS Ranger. Sixteen years earlier he had tucked his uniform along with some mementos of his service away in his basement. Lewis moved on with life. Yet the parade stirred up long-dormant emotions. Lewis returned to the corner of his basement and retrieved his cruise book. The photos inside provoked memories and some laughter. His feelings took an abrupt turn, however, when he got to the final page. There, he found a list of his shipmates who died, as well as seven who were missing in action. As he read the names of those MIA, guilt pierced his soul. “I could not recall a single name there,” Lewis recalls. “I was bawling. We lived together, ate and flew together. How could I have forgotten them?” What began as a patriotic walk of a few blocks kick-started a quest for Lewis who, along with many Americans from all over the country, strives to gain closure for families of military personnel who were slapped with that painful moniker: missing in action.

A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR Amid an unpopular war, a push for recognition and repatriation of service personnel who were taken prisoner or missing in action was developing. In the late 1960s, a wife of an American prisoner in Vietnam helped establish a support group. august


This organization came to be called the National League of POW/ MIA Families, born out of the idea that “the U.S. Government policy of maintaining a low profile on the POW/MIA issue— while urging family members to refrain from publicly discussing the problem—was unjustified,” according to The League’s website, pow-miafamilies.org. The group grew quickly and soon gained a measure of influence. “Small POW/MIA family member groups met with the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris, and thousands of Americans flooded them with telegraphic inquiries regarding the prisoners and missing, the first major activities in which there was widespread public participation,” according to The League. As the country recovered from this tumultuous period, a devotion to remembrance ensued. In 1972, the now familiar POW/MIA flag was established. It’s remarkable in its simplicity. It consists of two colors, black and white, the emblem a white disk bearing, in black silhouette, the bust of a man, watch tower with a guard holding a rifle and a strand of barbed wire. Above, are the white letters “POW” and “MIA” framing a white five-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto: “YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.” The flag resonated throughout the country. In 1982, the POW/ MIA flag became the only flag, other than the Stars and Stripes, to fly over the White House. In 1989 the flag was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. And in 1990, the third Friday of September was designated as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (PMAA), more than 82,000 Americans who fought wars spanning from World War II to the Gulf Wars are still not accounted for. In va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y



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WELCOME HOME Utah’s replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall was dedicated at Layton Commons Park during July. “It is a memorial that belongs to all veterans of Utah,” says Dennis Howland, president of Northern Utah Vietnam Veterans of America. Howland and his group raised more than a half million dollars to construct the Wall. “It’s been an incredible team that has accomplished this,” Howland says. “It’s come from the community, city, county and little kids who donated $4.42 to represent what the guys on the Wall made in one day.” The Memorial Wall includes the names of those who died or went missing in action during the Vietnam War. It holds 58,317 names including eight nurses. The Wall is approximately 370 feet long, making it 80 percent of the size of the original in Washington, D.C. umg photo / michelle bridges

all but perhaps a few cases, it means they were either lost at sea or their bodies were destroyed beyond recognition. In recent years, some of World War II’s missing in action have been returned, including Navy Seaman 1st Class Edward Slapikas, who died aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and Medal of Honor recipient Alexander Bonnyman, decorated for his valor on Tarawa in the Central Pacific. WWII veterans comprise the largest percentage of MIAs, with nearly 73,000 still not found. There appears to be some movement toward recovering the remains of those missing in the Korean War (7,699 total) following the Singapore summit in June between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. However, as of press time none have been returned. Nearly 1,600 Vietnam veterans remain unaccounted for, as are a handful from the Cold War and Gulf Wars.

NEVER FORGET Remembrance is what drives a person like Mary Croxen of Roy, who has organized “hat ceremonies” on behalf of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In the ceremony, each branch of service is recognized when an individual bears each branch’s uniform hat into the room. When the POW/MIA flag appears in the room, carried in a very precise manner, few eyes stay dry. “To me, it’s about trying to make people understand how important it is to remember,” Croxen says. “We want to honor them and to think about how many we have that are still missing.” As Utah Elks Veterans Chairman, Robert Pagnani of Eureka, was selected to carry the POW/MIA flag into the 2018 Grand Lodge Convention in San Antonio. A Vietnam-era veteran, Pagnani devotes much of his time to veterans service organizations. Supporting the POW/MIA cause is dear to his heart. “I’ve spoken with MIA families and it is always a void,” Pagnani says. “I can’t imagine going to sleep at night and just wondering.” Erasing that uncertainty is also what motivates Lewis. He is not involved in any formal POW/MIA group, but, he has given presentations in several different states on the efforts to repatriate MIA military personnel. And it all began with that wakeup call back in 2007. Of the seven MIA in that long ago cruise book, three are yet to be identified and returned to the United States. Lewis’ work is not yet done. “From that day on, I have sworn I would never again forget them,” he says. “I found out so many people knew so little about those who were missing in action, so my mission has been—and still is—to educate the public.” David Cordero has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. He has won awards on a variety of subjects, including sports, education and military matters. Among his volunteer endeavors are serving as a board member for Utah Honor Flight and editing American Legion Post 90 newsletter.



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Service & Sacrifice



or years their ashes have remained in urns housed on dusty shelves and dark basement floors of mortuaries and crematories across the country. There are hundreds of thousands of them stockpiled away—some dating as far back as the American Civil War. These are they, the veterans, who once served their country but after dying alone have been for years forgotten, many of them tagged under the name ‘John Doe’ — until now. The Missing in America Project (MIAP) was launched in 2007 with the sole mission of locating, identifying and properly interring the unclaimed remains of forgotten military heroes who have served in the ranks of the nation’s military at different times in history. A national nonprofit organization, the MIAP is entirely a volunteer program filled with men and women whose only goal is to make sure those who have served their country are taken from the basements and backrooms and finally put to rest. “We are trying to put a period at the end of the sentence by giving these veterans a final resting place and the honorary burial they deserve,” said Roger Graves, Utah State Coordinator for the MIAP.

THE QUEST TO FIND LOST REMAINS Roger Graves, a Cedar City resident, volunteers with his wife Crystal Graves, who is the Utah MIAP state assistant coordinator. The couple have been volunteering with the MIAP since 2008 and have since visited around 40 funeral homes and interred 112 veterans in Utah alone. Roger Graves oversees the MIAP project in a five-state region including Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Montana. “We travel all over the country, going to funeral homes, crematoriums and coroner’s offices, searching out unclaimed cremated remains,” Roger Graves said. “Then we find out if 36

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they were veterans, if they were honorably discharged, and we honor them with a military funeral.” The cremains the MIAP inters are veterans who had no one available to identify them at the time of death. There are numerous reasons veterans can remain unclaimed. “Sometimes there is family dysfunction, homelessness. Some of it is old age or they’ve outlived their family. We’ve been to rest homes where the workers will tell us someone had not had a visitor for 15 years before they died,” he said. “There are often mental health issues, and many suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. These are the veterans that came back from the war but never really came home.” The organization first tries to locate family or friends to see if they will accept the ashes, but it doesn’t happen often. In Utah, the Graves are tasked with notifying the family of the loss of their loved one, a job that never gets easier, he said. The MIAP have also helped with the burial of cremains identified as spouses of veterans and on at least one occasion, the child of a veteran, Roger Graves said. The MIAP relies heavily on the assistance of state, federal and private organizations as well as donations to realize their mission. After names are gathered from funeral homes, the MIAP takes the cremains to the Department of Defense for verification. Volunteers then work with state organizations to arrange for funerals in state veterans cemeteries. The MIAP gives veterans proper rites at their burial, including a 21-gun salute, sounding of taps and the ceremonial folding of the American flag for each veteran. One flag from each branch of the service is then respectfully presented to a prearranged member of the audience who are sometimes dignitaries or estranged family members. To date nationally, the MIAP has visited 2,237 funeral august


(ABOVE) Members of the SLCPD Law Enforcement Explorer Program stand guard over the unclaimed cremains of Utah veterans being interned as part of the Missing in America Project. (BELOW) Transfer of urns. (LEFT) Part of the service is the ceremonial folding of the American flag for each veteran. courtesy of utah missing in america project


MISSING IN AMERICA PROJECT UTAH INTERNMENT SERVICES Full honors military service for unclaimed, honorably discharged veterans. Lineup begins at 8:30 a.m., Harley-Davidson Buell of Salt Lake City, 2928 S. State, South Salt Lake. Transfer of urns, 9:30. Departure, 10 a.m. Procession to Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park, 17111 S. Camp Williams Rd., Riverton. Internment service at UVMP Chapel, 10:30 a.m. Learn more at veterans.utah.gov

homes, found 16,832 cremains, identified 3,862 veterans’ cremains and interred 3,585 veterans.

UTAH LAWMAKERS EASE THE JOURNEY When Roger and Crystal Graves first began volunteering with the MIAP in Utah, the law prevented them from having access to the unclaimed cremains in the mortuaries. The couple turned to their state representatives Sen. Evan Vickers and Rep. John Westwood for help. Vickers and Westwood carried Senate Bill 74, “Dignified Burial of Veterans Remains,” in the 2013 legislative session. “Sometimes you have bills that are just really cool, and this was one of those bills,” Vickers said. “We had so many people come out and testify, and the other legislators were excited to get on board and help pass the bill. We all wanted to help make it happen and be a part of that process. The bill was very well received.” Once passed, the law opened the doors for the Graves to be able to do the work of the MIAP in Utah. “The law authorizes facilities holding these remains to release status information and allows for them to participate august


in the burial process by a state agency,” Vickers said. “It was important for us to do this. Veterans deserve to have their final respects. Whether they are unclaimed for 20 years, 100 years or one year, it’s too long for anyone to wait for someone to give them a proper burial, especially when that someone served their country.” Roger Graves said he hopes one day the MIAP will no longer be needed as they continue working to reduce the number of unclaimed service members now lying in mortuaries and crematories across the country. In Utah, the veterans’ remains are buried at the Utah Veterans Cemetery & Memorial Park, 17111 S. Camp Williams Road, Bluffdale, where they receive a full military funeral complete with police escorts. The Patriot Guard Riders also help to escort the funeral motorcade. Those interested in donating and volunteering to help with the Missing in America Project, can visit miap.us Tracie Sullivan is a coffee and chocolate connoisseur, loves everything to do with the outdoors and is a news junkie who happens to work in the business as a journalist. She has more than 20 years behind her as an award-winning investigative reporter. She recently launched her own news site: Behind the Headlines, where she reports on communities in Iron County, Utah. va l o r : a s a l u t e t o u ta h ’ s v e t e r a n s a n d m i l i ta r y




Our staff of trained professionals stand ready to assist you in many ways, such as: • Outreach Activities - Help with VA Pension, and Aid & Attendance - Service Connected Disability Claims • Job Fairs - Getting you employed, skills workshops, etc. • etc. • • The Homeless Veterans Stand-Down - Providing food, shelter, and clothing The Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs is here to serve you. We operate: • The Utah Veterans Cemetery and Memorial Park • Four Veterans Homes from Ogden to St. George • The State Approving Agency for Veterans Education Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs 550 Foothill Drive, Suite 150 Salt Lake City, Utah 84113 Phone: 801-326-2372 Email: veterans@utah.gov www.veterans.utah.gov

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Utah Valor Magazine August 2018  

Utah Valor Magazine August 2018  

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