All Articles Tagged "military"

Get It Right! Military Revises Hair Regulations

August 14th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: US Army

Source: US Army

Earlier this year, the Army came under fire for their new rules regarding tattoos, grooming, uniforms and particularly hairstyles. The hair regulations banned women from wearing twists, dreadlocks and multiple braids, and cornrows that are bigger than a quarter of an inch.

Black military members spoke out about the rules saying that they were racially insensitive and they also objected to language which described natural hairstyles as “matted” and “unkempt.” Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard started a petition on the White House’s website writing: “These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”

The story caught the attention of several congress men and woman and even news sites and blogs, particularly Black women’s websites, like ours. 

After all of the backlash, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday, of this week, that the military is revising the ban to include a wider range of hairstyles.

Hagel’s review comes after female members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to the defense secretary calling the guidelines discriminatory and targeting “soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair.”

In a later to the Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, Hagel wrote:

At my direction, over the last three months, each Military Service reviewed its definitions of authorized and prohibited hairstyles, and eliminated offensive language, including the terms ‘matted and unkempt’ from both the Army and the Air Force grooming regulations. Additionally, each Service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting our military requirements.”

CBC member Barbara Lee praised Hagel’s announcement saying that while she was a daughter of a veteran and understands the need for uniformity in the military, they need to recognize that “natural hairstyles do not reflect or create a lack of professionalism or respect for the Armed Forces’ high standards.”

She said that she was pleased that words like “unkempt” and “matted” were being removed.

The hair regulations were actually keeping one military officer from being promoted. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims, 32 said wearing her hair in locs, pulled in a bun, while on duty. Her superiors told her to cut her hair or wear a wig and when she refused, her commanders processed her for separation for “serious misconduct.”

Here are some of the changes being made to the regulations.


  • Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them
  • Authorized temporary two-strand twists
  • Increased size of authorized braids, cornrows and twists; removed spacing requirement
  • Authorized a ponytail during physical training

Air Force

  • Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them
  • Changed the name “dreadlocks” to “locs”
  • Authorized two-strand twists, French Twists and Dutch braids


  • Determined no offensive language in the current policy governing hairstyles
  • Removed some dated terms and descriptions on the Navy’s “Frequently Asked Questions” website, including “‘Twist’ hairstyles are not authorized because they fall within the guidelines of being faddish.”
  • Authorized a two-strand twist and multiple braids may hang freely if above the collar and must encompass the whole head

Marine Corps

  • Determined no derogatory or discriminatory language in current uniform regulations
  • Convening a special uniform board this summer to consider the expansion of authorized hairstyles

President Obama To Sit Down With Three News Anchors To Discuss Potential Attack On Syria

September 8th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"President Obama attack on Syria pf"

President Barack Obama’s biggest challenge in his presidency so far has been trying to get the American people and world leaders on his side when it comes to an attack on Syria.  So on Monday, he will take his case to the media.

The President will tape interviews with Gwen Ifill of PBS, Wolf Blitzer of CNN and Chris Wallace of Fox News, this according to The Hollywood Reporter.  These three reporters are highly respected (well, many would argue that no one from Fox News can be highly respected since many of their criticisms of the President’s choice are extremely disrespectful in terms of their language), but no word from The White House press about how they were chosen.

The President is pushing for the authorization of a military attack on Syria.  There has been a civil war going on in Syria for over two years and things continue to get worse as the Syrian Presidential regime is now accused of using chemical weapons to kill its own people.  There has been a complete divide as to how more advanced and powerful countries should intervene, if at all.

President Obama returned to the United States earlier this week after having very tough and fairly unproductive meetings with international leaders. Here in the United States, various poll results have shown that the American people do not agree with going to war with Syria.  There is a very strong “We should mind our business and worry about our own problems” sentiment going around.

On Tuesday, one day after his taped interviews air, the President will then further make his case with an address to the nation.

The outcome of how the United States steps in will undoubtedly affect the President’s “legacy” as well as the nation as a whole.

Have you been following the Crisis in Syria? What do you think?

Facebook Finally Shuts Down Page That Degrades Female Marines

May 10th, 2013 - By CAP
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 (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

A Facebook page that degraded female troops in the Marine Corps was removed yesterday after California House Representative Jackie Speire complained to the Pentagon. Speire sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and also addressed Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos.

Speire has recently put pressure on the pentagon to take more action with sexual harassment cases and wrote in her letter, “I am confident that if you reviewed the contents of this webpage that you would be horrified by the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment depicted on the web site.” She also wrote that the Marine Corps inspector general has been aware of the site and monitoring it for over three years.

speierA statement was released on behalf of the Marine Corps by Captain Eric Flanagan showing that the Marine Corps appears to be taking the Facebook issue seriously stating, “Marines are responsible for all content they publish on social networking sites, blogs, or other websites. There is no tolerance for discriminatory comments. It goes against good order and discipline.”

No one knows who created the page or has been managing it to date, and even as the existence of the page was being threatened, inflammatory comments were being posted about Representative Speire, calling her vulgar names and threatening her for causing the page to be shut down.

This week the military has been getting lots of attention due to a report released by the Pentagon estimating that 26,000 troops had been sexually abused in 2012, up by 35 percent since the last survey was conducted in 2010. The removal of this Facebook page seems to be one step in the right direction, but there is certainly more to do.

MN Daily Salute: Tanzania Alexander

March 8th, 2013 - By Marc Polite
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Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 5.17.47 PM

Tanzania Alexander is a former Marine recruiter who currently works as an Aviator Supply Specialist. During her time as a recruiter, Tanzania mentored high school students and kids in the foster care system. She is the mom of a 9-year-old, and will graduate in June from Ashford University with a degree in Business Management. This is her story.

Why did you join the Marine Corps?

I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to travel and see the world. I also wanted to do something different, get an education, and have the opportunity to serve my country.

What did you enjoy most about being a recruiter?

In my time as a recruiter, I enjoyed talking to the youth about military service. Recruiters have to put the word out about what the military has to offer, often dispelling misinformation along the way. I regularly visited high schools, and spoke to parents as well about the Marine Corps.

What leadership skills have you gained?

I have to say that one of the greatest leadership skills I gained is the skill of listening. By this, I mean listening to the needs of people. People join the military for different reasons, be it financial,  going to college, or career-based pursuits. Everyone has needs, and a leader has to figure out how to fulfill those needs. Being a successful recruiter involves being attentive to the concerns of each individual, not just listening to respond.

Why is it important to you to mentor men and women in foster care?

I have always wanted to be a mentor. I see the need to expose the youth to a broader existence. There are so many young men and women out there who are not in the greatest environments. I reached out to them, taking them on museum trips, among other things. People have to see that there is more to their world than their immediate surroundings. Youth in a foster care predicament often are unaware of the other choices out there that they can make to have a different path in life.

How do you balance motherhood and Marine life?

I could not do it without the support of my family and friends. The time away from home required other people to step in and help. Marine life is demanding, and it requires a great deal of commitment. I have included my child in Marine life, and have done so for years.

What is the best thing about being a Marine?

The best thing about being a Marine is knowing that I am making a difference. By supporting the larger mission of the American armed forces, I am making a difference for the country. Not everybody can say that.

What advice do you have for Black women who are considering joining the Marines?

Do a lot of research, and ask a lot of questions. Make sure that you would be a good fit for the Marine Corps, and that the Marine Corps will be a good fit for you. Plan for the end, come in with a set goal, and set yourself up for success.

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MN Daily Salute: Sheila Moore

February 19th, 2013 - By Marc Polite
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Sheila Moore is a proud Marine and mother of two girls who has done two tours in Afghanistan, and is currently an Aviation Supply Specialist. Sheila talked with MadameNoire about her experience in the Marines, the strength she drew from her service, and how she balances military life and motherhood.

Why did you join the Marine Corp?

Recruiters reached out to me in high school when I had no military experience and it was hard, but I listened and paid attention.  It was a learning experience. I take with me everything I have learned and I can do anything now because I am a Marine.

What leadership skills have you developed as a result of your service?

Through the marines, I have learned how to always seek self-improvement, and the importance of learning something new everyday. I Learned to look out for others, instead of just myself. One must always set the example for others to follow.

How old are your daughters and how do you balance life as a Marine and mother?

My daughters are 10 and 11 now. I’ve received a great deal of help with family care from my unit. The support of my marine family, the family readiness officer, and me managing my time well has allowed me to both be a good mom and a good marine.

How long were you deployed in Afghanistan and how did you handle being away from your family during that time?

The first time I was gone for ten months, the second time my deployment was three months. At the time, my youngest had just turned one and it was hard. The first time was much harder because of the extended amount of time I had to spend away from my family. It was hard not seeing my kids everyday, as well as being in danger. I experienced rocket attacks during my tours but thankfully made it home safely.

How do you instill the importance of education and community service in your daughters?

I instill those qualities through leading by example. My daughters see me reading books for school, do my own  homework, and watch the news. I participate in toys for tots, and take the girls with me to basketball camp on weekends so they understand the importance of giving back.

What makes you most proud of being a Marine?

Just to say that I am one. Everyone didn’t go through that twelve weeks of training. Everyone cant say that and no one can take that away from me.I am blessed to have gone. I am much more decisive in how I proceed through life because of my experiences in the service. The friends I have gained throughout the years…I have friends all over the world. I could go to any state, and know a fellow marine. We take care of one another.

Why should more Black women consider joining the service?

Black women are strong in general. If they can get through what we have [as a people], they can get through boot camp. The sisterhood that one builds in the marine corp is a powerful thing. I have learned that I can do anything.

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Defense Department to Lift Ban on Women In Combat, Opening Doors for Military Advancement

January 24th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Army Maj. Sequana Robinson. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Army Maj. Sequana Robinson. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

In one of his last moves as Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta is planning to announce today a lift to the ban on women in combat roles. According to The Washington Post, the Army and Marines “will present plans to open most jobs to women by May 15.” Right now, the Army, which has the largest number of people in combat positions, excludes women from 25 percent of roles.

“The decision comes after a decade of counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where women demonstrated heroism on battlefields with no front lines,” the newspaper writes. Nevertheless, there are those opponents who say that male-female attraction would be an unwelcome side effect of greater female inclusion. There are also concerns about a woman’s ability to keep up with the physical nature of the job. I tend to agree with retired Col. Jack Jacobs who spoke with TODAY show’s Matt Lauer this morning:

When people are trying ardently to kill you, it really doesn’t matter to you who is on to the left and on your right as long as they’re doing their job. We fight to accomplish the mission. We fight for the country, but most of all, we fight for each other.”

Women have slowly been assuming greater roles in the military in the 25 years or so that they’ve been allowed to enlist. Women comprise about 14 percent of total active-duty military, according to Defense Department numbers reported by The Post, and 152 female members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. About 238,000 positions will now be open to women.

According to another Washington Post article, a study of 30,000 active-duty military members found that African-American women were the most satisfied with their jobs of any other demographic. African-American men were the second most content. Hispanic women and men, in that order, were the next two. The least satisfied were white men.

“For women, pay and job benefits are more equal in the military than in the civilian labor,” Jennifer Hickes Lundquist, the University of Massachusetts researcher who worked on the study tells the newspaper.

“A more fair playing field, at least at lower military ranks, would be a boost for minorities and women. It would also be a potential drawback for white males,” the article continues. Some have said that, with this barrier broken, issues of gender discrimination and assault will be diminished.

Military women across the board will be pleased with the move, although it’s unclear how many women will jump at the chance and it will be at least a couple of years before women actually occupy the new available positions.

Because black women are so satisfied with their military service, it stands to reason that they will be enthusiastic about the chance to advance their careers. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost her legs serving as a combat pilot in Iraq, told NBC Nightly News, “It’s hard to make it to a general without a combat arms command at the brigade or the battalion level. And this will now allow women to have some of that command time.”

Say You’re Sorry: Gabrielle Douglas Wants An Apology From Dad

December 1st, 2012 - By MN Editor
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The road to success for Gabby Douglas hasn’t been easy. Thankfully, the young gymnast relied on her mother, Natalie Hawkins and three siblings, Arielle, John and Joyelle. But one person’s been noticeably absent from her life, Gabby’s father Timothy Douglas, an Air National guardsman.

According to an interview with People, the Olympic gold medalist says she didn’t see him much growing up—especially after her parents divorced in 2007. And things haven’t changed much since then. “I haven’t heard from him,” said Gabby. “He’s doing his own thing. What can you do? Everyone has hiccups in their families.”

She hopes to receive an apology from him “at some point.”

Read what else Gabrielle has to say about her family over at ESSENCE.

Semper Fi: The Marines Want African-American Women To Join The Few, The Proud

November 12th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Jason Stitt /Shutterstock

On Veterans Day, the US honors its military. And one branch, the Marines, wants you. A new Marine ad is targeting multicultural recruits, including African American women.

Titled, “Fighting With Purpose,” the campaign was created by the advertising and marketing firms UniWorld Group, an African-American ad agency, and JWT. The new ad features 1st Lt. Drexel King, an African-American based at Camp Pendleton, and Capt. Monica Meese, a Latina raised in Irvine and based at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

With more and more African Americans entering military service, the Marines was to attract them to their ranks. “In the last fiscal year, 4.7% of those joining as Marine Corps officers were African American and 8.4% were Hispanic. In the overall force, enlisted and officer, the Marine Corps has 10% African American and 12.9% Hispanic,” reports The LA Times.  Women make up about 7 percent of the Marine Corps.

The Marines are responding to what they saw during the election cycle: the changing demographics in the U.S., the LA Times says. “Polling and market research had shown that men and women in the 17 to 24 age group are attracted by the Marine Corps’ tradition of being ‘first to fight,’ but also its involvement in humanitarian missions. Also, minorities and women are interested in being leaders and role models in their communities, according to the polling and research,” the paper writes.

Of the 167,000 enlisted women in the military, 31 percent are black (53 percent are white women). “Black women are enlisting in the military at far higher rates than are white or Hispanic women, and they now represent nearly a third of all the women in the armed forces, a new study by the Pew Research Center has found,” according to an article in The New York Times.

Right now, the Marines aren’t the first choice for African-Americans women. The first military branch of choice, the NY Times says: The Air Force. The last choice: The Marines. “The study also found that women were far more likely than men to serve in the Air Force, but far less likely to join the Marine Corps.”

The first black female Marines enlisted in 1949.

Liz Trotta on the Increase in Military Assaults on Women: ‘What Do They Expect?’

February 13th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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You’d think if anybody would be sensitive to the plight of women in the military it would women, but that’s just not the case when it comes to Fox commentator, Liz Trotta.

Yesterday, she appeared on a news segment discussing the Pentagon’s recommendation to let women serve at the battalion level in the military, and she wasted no time attacking the Department of Defense for increasing spending on support programs for victims of sexual assault.

“We have women once more, the feminist, going, wanting to be warriors and victims at the same time,” Liz said of the women pushing to be allowed to serve closer to the front lines. And when it comes to the 64% increase in such assaults since 2006, she had this to say:

“Well, what did they expect? These people are in close contact.”

Liz went on to cite the huge increase in spending that has come along with women being granted more rights in their military service. According to stats she read from the McClatchy Newspapers, the budget for the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office went from $5 million in fiscal year 2005 to more than $23 million in fiscal 2010, and now the total exceeds $113 million annually. That sounds like a pretty huge jump, but as news anchor Eric Shawn pointed out, the programs are obviously necessary…right?

“That’s funny, Liz said, “I thought the mission of the Army, and the Navy, and four services was to defend and protect us, not the people who were fighting the war.”

Wow. While I get Liz’s point about the greater risk putting women on the front lines poses in terms of sexual assault, it’s a little 1920s to say we won’t allow women to serve on the battalion level because predators can’t control their urges. Maybe we should allocate more funds to provide counseling for men who might seek to attack these women, rather than limit their ability to serve.

What do you think about this debate? Should women be allowed to serve on the front lines given the risk of sexual assault?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Black Women Are Joining the Military in High Numbers

December 27th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
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Black women now make up almost one-third of all women in the armed forces–doubling their representation in the civilian female population.

A new study by the Pew Research Center found that of the 167,000 women in the U.S. combined forces, 31% are black. When you look at the fact that white women make up just 53% of the women in the military, but represent 78% of the general female population, that percentage is huge.

Beth J. Asch, a senior economist and defense manpower specialist at the Rand Corporation, suggested in a New York Times  article that the large number of black women enlisting is a result of the military’s recruiting practices. She said the military tries to attract high school graduates who are looking for job training, good benefits, and help with college tuition which appeals to a lot of black women.

“That is the group the military targets,” Asch said.

Although overall nearly a third of the women in the military are in administrative jobs, the study showed an increase in the number who were  being assigned to combat areas; 24% of women who served since 1990 spent time in combat zones, compared with 7 percent before 1990. Women also represent 14% of the enlisted ranks and 16% of commissioned officers.

Are you a proud member of the armed forces? Do you agree with Beth Asch’s reasoning for why black women make up such a large percentage of the military?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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