Before you go all-in on your relationship with that soldier stationed abroad, know this: Military romance scams are on the rise, and the objective isn't love—it's money. Con artists pretend to be in the military so they can target people who support the armed forces, pulling their heartstrings and manipulating them out of money. "Soldiers are stuck in faraway lands, risking their lives to protect the rest of us," says Donna Andersen, founder of Lovefraud.com and author of Red Flags of Love Fraud. "We're already primed to trust and feel sorry for them."
The truth is, everyone is susceptible to online scams, and romance scams can be hard to detect. After all, when someone has catfished you, they've created the persona of your ideal match, and their love bombing can feel like the attention you've always craved. "Scammers typically find an authentic soldier's social media page, and as they work on seducing you, the scammers keep sending pictures," Andersen says. "The sheer volume of pictures creates the illusion that you are communicating with the soldier. All that's needed is a little nudge, and you fall in love and send money."
All romance scams, including military romance scams, are on the rise. In 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received more than 25,000 romance fraud complaints. And that's just what's reported; the genuine number is likely much higher. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your money—and your heart. Familiarizing yourself with common military cons is a good place to start.
Military romance scams typically occur online—where it's easier to fake an identity—but they can happen in real life too. "My ex-husband claimed to have served with the Australian military in Vietnam, joined Vietnam Veterans of America and was the keynote speaker at a Veterans Day event," Andersen recounts. "He walked my dog every day wearing his military beret, but it was all fake. He was never in Vietnam. He was never in the military. He forged all the documents. But by claiming to be military, he surrounded himself in a mantle of respectability, which helped in his efforts to scam me."
Online scammers work in a similar way, assembling complex backstories and supporting documents, and they assume the identity of an genuine military person by using stolen photos of them in uniform, on foreign soil, receiving an award and more. "They'll pretend to be in love with you right away, deployed and unable to see you, which fits their narrative conveniently," says matchmaker Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. "And then they hit you for money—asking for gift cards and wire transfers—while attempting to get control of your bank account."
Military scams are complex and take a lot of effort to put together, so scammers hit multiple targets at once. "The con artist behind the fake profile is usually a group of cons from a foreign country," Trombetti says. Military romance scams can show up on any dating or social media site, but Facebook seems to be the king of con artists posing as military men. "I have had so many, but usually by the end of the day, Facebook has removed their profiles," she says.
Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, now serving a 27-year sentence, created fake dating profiles—one was an American soldier stationed overseas—that he used to con women out of millions of dollars. "Sunmola concentrated on women, typically those recently widowed or divorced and often over 50," explains Lisa Schiller, director of investigations and communications for the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. "He often used the name and picture of a colonel in the U.S. Army stationed overseas."
These fraudsters tend to target women more than men, and savvy scammers will look for single women in their 40s and 50s who support the military, which can be easy to figure out through social media.
If you want to protect yourself from military scams, start by understanding the types of fraud you might come across. Knowing how scammers work and being aware of romance scammer stories will make you more skeptical the next time a so-called service member strikes up a conversation on social media or a dating app.
This is usually the first step in military romance scams and a red flag that your new beau isn't being honest. In other romance scams, it's plausible that your new love really does need funds for basics like food. But if someone claims to be in the service, know that the military always provides housing and food for soldiers. Don't fall for this phony plea.
Military scammers will ask for money for a plane ticket to visit you. If you send money for this, you'll never see it or the soldier, and you'll likely never hear from the con artist again. One thing to keep in mind: The military always provides transportation for active service members.
Some military romance scammers will ask for money for "leave requests." The scammer may tell you it's a "little-known fact" that the military makes soldiers pay to go on leave, but it's far from a fact. It's a bald-faced lie.
In military romance scams, fraudsters will tell you they want to retire early because they can't wait any longer to be with you. Don't fall for this lie. Soldiers don't have to pay to retire early.
Your soldier may tell you he's been badly injured and needs money to pay for the treatment of combat wounds. He might even say it's a matter of life and death. The goal is to heighten your emotions and get you to act on impulse, a likely reaction considering you're bound to be in love by this point. Of course, it's a total lie. The military provides medical insurance for soldiers as well as their children and dependents.
Your supposedly deployed love interest will tell you that a loved one needs financial assistance for an operation or money for prescriptions. Their mother has cancer, they need money for a caregiver—both are common requests from romance scammers. What makes military romance scams so effective is that the victim feels bad (and obligated to help) because the love interest is protecting our country.
Scammers may tell you the military won't let them access their personal bank account, which is another lie. The military can't cut someone off from their own money. They may also tell you that the person they trusted at home to handle their paychecks stole from them.
Your scammer may ask you to send money or goods to someone else. If they ask you to buy something, it will most likely be a luxury item or the latest technology, such as an iPhone or Mac computer, which can be easily resold. The scammer will ask you to send it to a third party in a different country, a sure sign that this is a scam. They're likely working with other con artists.
Fraudsters may ask you to send gift cards to their children or other family members for birthdays or other special occasions. Gift card scams—and, for that matter, Cash App scams—are commonly coupled with romance cons, including military romance scams.
The military member you've been dating online is finally moving back to the United States. Good news ... or is it? Chances are, this twist in the story marks a new request for money—for so-called moving costs, for instance, or rent. But the U.S. Department of Defense provides relocation allowances to high-level military members (which these scammers all claim to be), even paying for food and accommodation while transitioning from one place to another. In short, this story doesn't hold water.
Scammers like to use this one because it gets them out of phone and video chatting, but anyone who is really on a secret mission doesn't have time to be on dating apps and wouldn't risk his safety and reputation by telling a stranger. Consider this lie just one more way to identify a scammer.
Your true love has come across a big chunk of change and needs your help getting the large sum of money out of the country in which he's deployed. Should you assist? That's a definite no. Deployed soldiers do not "find" large sums of money, and even if they did, they wouldn't ask someone they met on a dating site to help them move the money out of the country.
In what they hope you'll believe is an act of kindness, military romance scammers say they have a special piece of jewelry for you. The catch? They need money to pay a diplomat to deliver it to you. This isn't something that would ever happen and is a huge red flag. If your online love has dropped this lie, run.
One way to protect yourself from military romance scams is to do a reverse search on their images and check the GPS coordinates. "Sometimes that will reveal where they really are located if they took the photo but didn't strip the coordinates," Trombetti says. "Also, if they stole the photo from a real person's social media, you may catch the scammer that way."
Rori Sassoon, a relationship expert, author of The Art of the Date and co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire, suggests an even deeper dive. "If you feel like their story is not adding up, check to see if they really are part of the military," she suggests. "You can implement the Defense Manpower Data Center's Military Verification Service."
Military romance scammers are easy to spot once you know what to look for, and you can protect yourself by taking these steps:
While it may seem logical to report military scams to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, these scammers aren't actually military members, so there's nothing the Criminal Investigation Division can do—it only investigates within the armed forces.
What you can do is report military romance scams to:
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The post How to Spot Military Romance Scams: 13 Telltale Signs to Watch Out For appeared first on Reader's Digest.
The Army missed its recruiting goal by about 15,000 new soldiers in 2022, coming up 25% short of its goal at a time when each of the services were struggling to meet their benchmarks. Military officials worry that all of the branches have had to reach deep into their pools of delayed entry applicants, a move that puts them behind in recruiting for the new year.
Military recruiters have leaned on tried-and-true factors to explain the challenges, including low unemployment and a dearth of applicants up to physical, educational and behavioral standards.
But the truth is, no one keeps detailed data on what’s stopping America’s youth from signing up. Experts and senior military leaders point to the perennial factors of competition from the private sector and a dwindling number of young Americans both qualified and interested in military service. But what they don’t have much information on is why that propensity is going down, and whether the country is undergoing an ideological shift in attitude toward military service.
One possibility that is increasingly resonating with veterans is that the military is too “woke.” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., for example, is among a group of Republican senators who have repeatedly blamed recruiting problems on the Biden administration for trying to build a “woke Army.”
Thomas Spoehr, director of the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, recently opined that wokeness is the “chief worry of grizzled American veterans today.”
“The largest threat they see by far to our current military is the weakening of its fabric by radical progressive (or ‘woke’) policies being imposed, not by a rising generation of slackers, but by the very leaders charged with ensuring their readiness,” he wrote. “Wokeness in the military is being imposed by elected and appointed leaders in the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon who have little understanding of the purpose, character, traditions, and requirements of the institution they are trying to change.”
Spoehr acknowledged that “direct ‘cause and effect’ studies on the impact of woke policies such as these do not exist,” but suggested that “common sense” dictates that it is having an effect on recruiting.
“Is anyone surprised that potential recruits — many of whom come from rural or poor areas of the country — don’t want to spend their time being lectured about white privilege?” he wrote.
In an interview with Fox News, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a West Point graduate and Army officer who served in Germany during the Cold War, talked about the campaign he is launching, including TV ads and a website, to target what he calls “woke polices” directed toward the military.
“How can we ask young men and women who have decided to risk their lives for America, even die for America, to affirm that our country is inherently racist?” Pompeo wrote in a Sept. 28 opinion column for Fox. “How can we ask them to view their brothers and sisters in arms through the narrow prisms of race or gender? The clear and obvious answer is that we cannot — not without putting their lives at risk on the battlefield. A woke military is a weak military.”
But Defense Department leaders, while often apprehensive to address the intersection of politics and recruiting, have said they don’t see a connection anecdotally or statistically
“That whole ‘woke’ terminology has me a little perplexed,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass told Air Force Times Sept. 6. “I don’t know that I agree [with] and appreciate that term.
“I’ve said it before; I think perhaps we do need to wake up to what our society is about today. Perhaps we need to wake up to how we actually have more in common than not. Perhaps we need to wake up to the goodness of the diversity that America brings to the table. That diversity is not just singular to demographic diversity, but … it’s experiences and it’s cognitive diversity as well. I don’t subscribe to the ‘wokeness’ in the way that it’s discussed. I actually think that, yeah, we probably need to wake up to the goodness of what all airmen and what all people bring to the fight.”
In reality, service members spend hundreds of hours a year on mandatory training, covering everything from operational safety to financial responsibility and suicide and sexual assault prevention, with a tiny fraction of that focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion education.
But what seems to incense people is that the issue of racial disparity is discussed at all, not that it’s truly cutting into time spent on training.
When Marine Corps Reserve Col. Matthew F. Amidon, director of veterans and military families at the George W. Bush Institute, wrote a commentary urging veterans to help during the recruiting crisis by recommending military service to their kids and other young people, Military Times was inundated with a hundreds of emails from veterans saying they would do no such thing.
Their reasons varied, but most said wokeness is to blame. They accused the military of becoming so “political,” or such a “social experiment,” that even proud veterans wouldn’t recommend service.
“I’ll be blunt. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to join today’s armed forces and I discouraged both of my sons from considering serving,” wrote Peter Demas, who described himself as a third-generation veteran. “America’s military leaders have sold out the Services for their own advancement and reflect all the poorest qualities of civilian ‘leadership’ from whom they accepted thirty pieces of silver; instead of being the nation’s repository of integrity and moral courage, they have become more political than the political animals they grovel before.”
Survey data compiled by the Defense Department three times a year shows that propensity to serve has been dipping in accurate years. A report from fall 2021 shows that just 9 percent of 16- to 24-year-old survey respondents affirmed that they were likely to be serving in the military “in the next few years,” down from highs of 13% in 2018 and 15% in 2013.
But the survey doesn’t drill down into the why, leaving open questions of whether that’s due to disinterest in the military, known factors that would prevent someone from joining, or a concrete aversion overall. So, while the Pentagon regularly takes the temperature of American youth and their likelihood to join up, they don’t regularly drill down into the “why.”
Still, a vocal group of veterans insist they know the answer.
“With a woke military, whose most senior officer is concerned about ‘white rage,’ searching for a tattle tale process to discover and discharge white ‘extremists,’ blaming it on toxic masculinity, discharging real warriors for not getting vaccinated, having a two-day stand down to discuss white extremism, the promotion and expansion of women in combat, lowering physical fitness standards to accommodate naturally weaker women, recruiting with social justice and diversity ads, stating we need more female and minority pilots, promotions based on the color of one’s skin or genitalia, lowering recruiting standards, blaming the military for 247 years of institutional racism, is not the military I was in for 26 years,” wrote Dale Papworth, who said he was a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel.
Papworth’s comments run counter to some evidence. For instance, the dearth of women and people of color in the upper ranks suggests that if there is a biased promotions system, it’s biased toward white men.
His comments resemble those made by Fox News host Tucker Carlson last year, in response to news reports that the Air Force had authorized a maternity flight suit.
“So, we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,” Carlson said, also referring recently updated Army and Air Force hair regulations allowing braids and ponytails. “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”
That statement was misinformed at best, and deliberately misleading at worst. Pregnant women in the military are not allowed to deploy, while pilots and aircrew are required to secure waivers from their doctors in order to do training flights.
That is without even mentioning that the maternity flight suit that so incensed Carlson is not just worn by aircrew onboard aircraft ― it’s a standard day-to-day office uniform in aviation units.
Reader feedback suggests that a military and veteran population that has traditionally leaned conservative is no longer supportive of an institution they find unrecognizable.
“My 19-year-old has expressed in no uncertain terms he does not want to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity,” wrote Adam, who asked to be identified by his first name only. “The politicization of our [government] institutions is creeping into the services now, and that is also having an effect. They may as well put out a sign that conservative or right of center Americans are not welcome. They just keep making it worse with their messaging. Boys want to be challenged and go on adventures, not be schooled on pronouns or the sins of their skin color. Girls want to beat boys and prove themselves.”
Since 2020, the services have ramped up their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, following a lead from then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who in the wake of George Floyd’s murder called on the department to do better.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ran with that idea in the early weeks of the Biden administration, ordering a day-long stand down in every unit to discuss the threat of violent extremism, following years of proclamation from the FBI that right-wing domestic terrorism is on the rise.
But to some, these efforts were a direct attack on their worldview.
“Instead of training and preparing for combat, today’s military is too busy worrying about teaching proper pronouns, how to incorporate men who think they’re women and women who think they’re men into the barracks and showers,” wrote Ron Eslick, describing himself as a 1970s-era Navy submariner. “[Joint Chiefs Chairman] General Milley and Sec Def Austin are a disgrace to the uniform I once wore. They are nothing less than lap dogs to the current administration. What a shame that our country has now become a second rate threat in today’s world.”
And then came the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, one of nearly two dozen inoculations service members must receive in order to join and/or stay in the military, but one whose controversy pushed thousands to preternaturally end their careers.
“Covid vaccine mandates are undermining the military’s recruitment goals as well as harming overall morale,” wrote Harrison Wills. “Even if most troops complied with the mandate, how many did so only because their livelihoods were threatened? How many troops applied for exemptions but were denied? How many soldiers suffered and/or are suffering from side effects? How many people would consider joining the military but now won’t due to coercive mandates?”
A survey released this year of more than 8,600 military families found that troops are becoming less likely to recommend that their kids join up, potentially cutting into a traditionally reliable recruiting pool.
But it wasn’t because of politics, according to Shannon Razsadin, president and executive director of the Military Family Advisory Network, who put out the survey. It was because of quality of life.
“At the end of the day, families are having a hard time making ends meet, and that’s affecting their overall well-being,” she said in July. “We see the connection between well-being and loneliness, well-being and housing, well-being and food security. When you layer that on top of the fact that fewer people are likely to recommend military service, it paints a very clear picture of concern related to the future of the all-volunteer force.”
Notably, however, the survey doesn’t ask specific questions about politics.
Each of the services, along with DoD, are continuously researching the recruiting environment, including tweaking resources and messaging to draw in more prospects.
“The Department continues to review our recruiting programs to ensure current funding and policies align with the realities of today’s youth market. We recognize we must ensure the Services have the resources and support they need to successfully man the All-Volunteer Force,” Army Maj. Charlie Dietz, a Pentagon spokesman, told Military Times.
But they don’t always get it right. In 2018, the Army missed its recruiting goal by about 6,500, the result of an end-strength bump that opened up the doors for more accessions.
The service announced a host of initiatives to Excellerate its 2019 prospects, including a push into major metropolitan areas, with the feeling that their suburban/small-town Southeast well was starting to dry up.
“They did report some positive effects, but the fact that they’re not doing that now suggests that they were limited,” Bruce Orvis, a senior behavioral scientist at the federally funded think tank Rand Corp. who has done dozens of recruiting studies, told Military Times on Sept. 13.
It’s unlikely the Pentagon’s strategy for communicating about its initiatives will change.
“The communication methods on new policies continue to follow a long-standing standard and there have not been any discussions of framing the policies to appease someone that will mold it to meet their argument,” Dietz said.
So, while department officials don’t plan on getting into a direct argument with some of its detractors, they will continue to present their case in as straightforward and nonconfrontational a manner as possible.
“A policy that may increase diversity and inclusion makes us a better military because it brings new perspectives of decision making, operational decision making that we conduct, as well as better ideas, more unique perspectives and increased understanding of experiences which might actually make us smarter on the battlefield,” Dietz added. “We are a stronger military because of our diversity and because we represent all Americans, just like we defend all Americans.”
The chief master sergeant of the Air Force described the path forward differently.
“I feel like I’m a pretty conservative American, but … I’m a conservative American who values what everybody brings to the fight,” Bass said. “… We actually have to educate ourselves and help make ourselves more aware. Often, what you see in a two-second sound bite is not truth. When we read things like, ‘Hey, the military is focused more on pronouns,’ that could not be more inaccurate. We are not focused more on pronouns. We are focused on warfighting and ensuring that we’re able to defend the homeland. That’s what we’re focused on. But the quick two-second sound bite always seems pretty attractive.”
If a misunderstanding of policy is driving down propensity to serve, particularly in communities that have been more likely to join the military in the past, the service could take steps to diagnose that.
One would be to expand the DoD Youth Poll’s questions to drill down into why the respondents answered the way they did.
A task force is already dedicated to looking into some theories about why propensity to serve is down, Orvis said.
The trick will be determining which factors can be remedied without second and third-order effects. For instance, if tight regulations on past mental health history, or criminal history, are keeping the recruiting pool small, the services may be wary of risking continued issues once someone is in uniform.
“Because you don’t want to implement something nationally, on a more or less a permanent basis, if it turns out it’s going to bite you later on it, and you just don’t know,” he said.
The services will also have to redouble their efforts to explain to American youth what it means to serve in the military.
“We must also increase desire to serve in the Army by reconnecting to America through improved marketing and meeting America through interactive events across our nation, including a dedicated surge of Army leaders and soldiers telling their stories,” retired Gen. Paul Funk II, formerly head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, told Military Times last summer.” American youth simply don’t understand us, we owe it to them to ensure they understand all the benefits of service.
But in the meantime, with every report of lower recruiting numbers, military leaders will have to fight a perception of political indoctrination.
“The U.S. Army has fallen 15,000 soldiers short of its recruitment goal this year,” tweeted Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. “Maybe we ought to stop imposing vaccine mandates, preferred pronouns, and woke education training on them. Just a thought.”
Is there truth to any of that? Maybe, but the research hasn’t been done. Until it is, the narrative belongs to the loudest voices.
Air Force Times senior reporter Rachel Cohen contributed to this report.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.
Occurred on October 3, 2022 / Tucson, Arizona, USA: "Driving home from a trip and saw the train. The whole train was just military vehicles. I had never seen that on a train before. Was with my husband and kids on I-10"
While President Biden's Secretary of the Army has defended its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs this week as "important," several current and former members of the U.S. military, who have put their lives on the line to ensure America's security and defend its freedoms, are sounding the alarm over what they call a culture putting "wokeness" before training and combat effectiveness.
Those service members, some of whom served with Special Operations Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are blaming that culture for its recruiting challenges, which have risen to a level unseen since it was transitioned to an all-volunteer force.
"The military is extremely woke," one service member told Fox News Digitial recently.
"I do perceive the Army leadership as woke, and probably the lower enlisted (they have been indoctrinated in school)," another service member said. "Equity-diversity is another way to divide and control the masses. It does nothing for the warfighter."
"We get criticized, frankly, sometimes for being ‘woke,'" Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at a Monday discussion with other military leaders on national security and the branch’s modernization efforts. "I'm not sure what ‘woke’ means. I think ‘woke’ means a lot of different things to different people."
She continued, "But, first of all, if ‘woke’ means we are not focused on warfighting, we are not focused on readiness, that doesn’t reflect what I see at installations all around the country or overseas when I go and visit."
ARMY MISSES RECRUITING GOALS WHILE OTHER BRANCHES FALL BEHIND FOR NEXT YEAR
The service members, who remained anonymous so they could speak freely, almost universally shared a similar sentiment, with many noting that senior members who speak out on the issue risk their careers or retirement pensions.
"Merely questioning the goals or methods used to promote ‘Equity & Diversity’ is punished and that punishment is swift, harsh, and public," one service member said.
BIDEN'S ARMY SECRETARY RESPONDS TO ‘WOKE’ CRITICISMS, SAYS DEI PROGRAMS ‘IMPORTANT’
"I 100% believe the military is woke. I see daily minorities, overweight people and women not adhering to military standards," another said. "Nobody corrects them due to the fear of being fired and labeled a racist or a sexist."
"I do think we do have a wide range of soldiers in our Army, and we've got to make them all feel included," Wormuth said Monday. "And that’s why a lot of our diversity, equity and inclusion programs are important."
Another service member pointed to the military's COVID-19 policies, noting the vaccine mandate has forced many members in good standing into difficult decisions.
LAWMAKERS SOUND ALARM OVER U.S. MILITARY RECRUITMENT CRISIS: ‘WHY WOULD I JOIN?’
"Most of us who serve did so because we came from military families. Patriotism and American values are no longer appreciated or expected," one service member said. "Troops themselves are largely treated as expendable and they don't even pretend otherwise. Spending 15+ years in the military during wartime with multiple deployments risking their lives only to be tossed out like garbage. Losing the retirement they have worked years to earn because they didn't want to take an experimental vaccine for an illness that was mild for fit and healthy people."
The military has been facing a recruiting crisis, with the Army failing to meet its recruiting goals in 2022 and the Marines, Air Force and Navy all dipping deep into their pools of delayed entry program candidates to scratch by this year, putting them well behind the pace for meeting next year's goals.
"In the Army's most challenging recruiting year since the start of the all-volunteer force, we will only achieve 75% of our fiscal year '22 recruiting goal," Wormuth said in a statement after the numbers were publicly released.
While the military has faced several challenges in accurate years, including restrictions to entering schools brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a tight jobs market, many others have pinned the blame for the issue on a culture becoming less focused on winning the nation's wars.
"How can we ask young men and women who have decided to risk their lives for America, even die for America, to affirm that our country is inherently racist?" former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote for Fox News last month. "How can we ask them to view their brothers and sisters in arms through the narrow prisms of race or gender? The clear and obvious answer is that we cannot – not without putting their lives at risk on the battlefield. A woke military is a weak military. Unfortunately, woke and weak are exactly what our military is becoming under Biden’s leadership."
AMERICA’S MILITARY AND OUR COUNTRY WON’T SURVIVE IF WOKEISM CONTINUES TO RULE
Many of the service members reached by Fox News Digital expressed similar concerns, with some saying they would not encourage their children to join the military.
"I would not have my children join for the same reason they are in private schools vs. public schools," one service member said.
"I couldn’t allow my kids to join the military, and risk having them serve under commanders like I saw on deployments," another service member said, citing the failures of leadership witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"They’d be better off serving for one of our allies who are focused on defending their country and will come to our aid when our woke and unready force embarrasses itself," another said.
"Why would I have my kids join an institution who works every day to call them evil and diminish the contributions of their ancestors," said another.
AIR FORCE ACADEMY PROMOTES FELLOWSHIP THAT BANS ‘CISGENDER' MEN: ‘THIS PROGRAM ISN’T FOR YOU’
Service members also complained of an overly-political culture among the military's leadership, arguing it has hindered their ability to prepare the country for conflict.
"The DOD is absolutely politicized. No matter what party is in power. Generals have basically become politicians, and ‘yes men’ and will conform to whatever party is in power," one service member said.
"It seems like in the '90s, DOD was apolitical, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now. It seems like more and more leaders are more overtly supporting a political side, rather than their oath," another said.
Though most of the members expressed concern about the direction of the military, some shared optimism that the culture could be turned around.
"I still think the military has values that are salvageable," one service member said.
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Others stressed that the military needs to return its focus on the mission in order to turn things around.
"I prefer a military that was more concerned with the standards of the unit, rather than equity," a service member said, describing those initiatives as "disruptive towards the real training the military should focus on."
Fox News' Houston Keene contributed to this report.
It can be a struggle for transitioning veterans to connect their military experience to potential civilian employers — especially when applying to work in industries different from those they excelled in during service.
Britt Brown, who served in the Air Force as a commissioned officer for six and a half years, achieving the rank of captain, says, “I was very intentional about seeking out resources to help support a successful transition.”
According to Jacqueline Owens, talent acquisition lead — military recruiting at PayPal, Brown’s approach is spot on. “Do your research so that you are working smart,” she says. “There is an abundance of information out there and you would be amazed how much the FinTech community keeps track of what is going on within it; so stay in the know.”
For the first half of her career, Brown worked as an aircraft maintenance officer where she was responsible for developing and executing maintenance support and aircraft sustainability project plans. After roughly three years in that position, she was competitively selected for a career broadening program that allowed her to become formally trained and work as a logistics officer.
“Considering that I earned my degree in public relations — a field completely the opposite of either of the industries I served in — and had zero knowledge of either aircraft maintenance or logistics industries before stepping into these roles in the Air Force, I take great pride in the accomplishments I was able to achieve throughout my military career,” Brown says.
Brown says the confidence that came with knowing she could lead teams and produce results with little to no prior industry knowledge, felt like both a blessing and a curse. “On the one hand, I was optimistic that I could enter any field I put my mind to and be able to produce results based on my passion for improving processes and implementing metrics from which to measure success,” she says. “But on the other hand, telling myself that I could do anything made me feel incredibly overwhelmed by choice, and I initially struggled with how to start the search to determine what my next career path would be.”
Brown applied to graduate school to get her MBA with the intent of gaining knowledge about the corporate business world that she could use to bridge the connection from the military to future civilian experience.
Her introductory management of information systems, or MIS, classes led her to discover a passion for leveraging technical systems as a way to Excellerate business processes, she says, “causing me to voluntarily take so many additional courses to quench my thirst for knowledge, that I ended up completing a dual degree MBA and Masters of Science in Management of Information Systems before it was all said and done.”
Brown was introduced to the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, where she focused her efforts on connecting with companies that aligned with her values and the job outlook she sought.
PayPal’s Owens says, “We have been a participant [in Hiring Our Heroes] for three years. We have partnered with the Private Public Partnership Office with the U.S. Army Reserve in an effort to provide meaningful employment opportunities to reservists and we are looking to develop additional partnerships to establish a stronger presence in the veteran, service member and military spouse community.”
Brown also participated in a Breakline Education Cohort, which provides educational resources, interview tips and focused opportunities to connect veterans, women and people of color to job opportunities in the tech industry. She was assigned with a mentor in the IT space through American Corporate Partners and she signed up for Veterati, another mentorship program, where she was able to reach out to veterans that had successfully transitioned in roles she aspired to and conducted dozens of hour-long informational interviews to learn about their transition successes and pitfalls to avoid.
Owens says it is important to remember that veterans bring to the table something that typical candidates do not have. “Do not lose sight of that in the interview process,” she says.
At the end of the interview period, Brown says she was fortunate enough to match with her first choice and completed her fellowship working with the Business Technology Office at PayPal.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to learn so much about the company and industry during this fellowship, and demonstrate to myself and my supervision that I absolutely was an asset to the team and the business, ultimately landing a job offer at the company following the fellowship, which I gladly accepted,” Brown says.
When tinkering with your Raspberry Pi projects, there will often be times when having a monitor connected to your board is inconvenient and unnecessary. You might be turning your Raspberry Pi into a weather station or making a smart human-following robot. Neither project would need a display to fully function, and having one would only make things too bulky to be portable.
However, without a monitor, how do you control your board? This is where the handy SSH feature comes into play. The Secure Shell (SSH) protocol lets you access the Raspberry Pi command line from a remote PC as long as both devices are connected to the same network (via Raspberry Pi). Here's how you can enable this tool from the command line:
If you haven't installed the Raspberry Pi OS on your microSD card yet, you can also enable SSH using the Raspberry Pi Imager's advanced options (via Raspberry Pi). Simply click the gear icon on the app before writing the image.
SEOUL — Will BTS take a forced break for military service?
That question has vexed many in the music world for over two years as some of the seven members of the K-pop act come of military age. Even before BTS announced in June it was taking a break from group activities to focus on solo projects, sentiment inside South Korea’s government seemed to be building for the boy band to become the first K-pop group to receive a special exemption to mandatory military service, which is required of all able-bodied Korean men ages 18-28.
In accurate months, the band’s soft power has surged to the forefront of discussions in Korea, the world’s seventh-largest music market. So much so that Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said during a parliamentary hearing in August that a public poll on whether BTS should be exempted from mandatory military service would figure in the decision. The next day, the defense ministry appeared to change its mind, declaring it “will not arrange a public poll on the matter, nor make decisions on the issue of BTS’ military service solely based on the result of a poll.”
The members of BTS have already deferred their compulsory service thanks to the so-called “BTS law” passed in December 2020 that allows K-pop entertainers awarded government medals to join the armed forces by age 30 — up from 28 — with the recommendation of the culture minister. With or without the deferment, all able-bodied Korean men must serve at least 18 months in the military — a requirement that has to do with the threat of invasion from North Korea.
The issue could come to a head as early as December when Jin, the group’s oldest member, turns 30. With the pressure building, on Wednesday (Oct. 5) Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon suggested a timeline for a final recommendation, saying, “Our ministry will settle on a position soon, before Jin’s enlistment is decided on in December.”
South Korea’s National Assembly is currently considering at least three revisions to the conscription law. On Sept. 19, Kim Young-bae, a representative from the main opposition party, proposed a law extending to “pop celebrities” like BTS provisions that already allow athletes and artists such as classical musicians to serve as “art and sports personnel,” allowing them to continue their careers in a sort of “alternative service.” (The culture ministry has said it favors that proposal as well.)
The mayor of Busan, Park Hyung-jun, has also expressed support for a BTS military exemption, as the members are ambassadors in an effort to bring the 2030 World Expo to Busan, a southern port city that is hosting a free 90-minute BTS concert on Oct. 15.
The ultimate decision-making power, however, resides with the national assembly, which can either change the law on military conscription or add exemption qualifications for K-pop artists like BTS.
“The national government and its authorities are interested in giving the group an exemption to military service for political advantage and to thwart any risks to the group’s value to the economy,” says Lee Taek-gwang, a professor of cultural studies at Kyung Hee University. “But no one is willing to take responsibility and is deferring making a decision on the possible exemption as it’s such a sensitive matter,” he says. “Sentiments of egalitarianism are still strong in our country.”
For his part, Jin said in 2020 that he would “respond whenever the country called.” Then in April, during BTS’ concert in Las Vegas, he said he “decided to leave most matters in the hands of the label” when it comes to discussions of the military.
While BTS members have expressed their willingness to join the military when called, HYBE, the parent company of BTS label Big Hit, has been more circumspect when it comes to questions about the group’s military duties. It’s an understandable stance considering BTS’ share of HYBE’s revenue was about 60% in 2021, according to one analyst estimate, although that is down from 85% in 2020.
HYBE acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in April 2021, which has helped diversify its revenue. But with a forced BTS split looming, on Thursday (Oct. 6) NH Investment & Securities, one of South Korea’s largest securities firms, lowered its target stock price for HYBE by 19% to 250,000 won ($177) citing a “delay in growth even after acquiring Ithaca Holdings.”
Other K-pop groups with members who were born in 1994 and 1995 will also face the military deadline soon, including four of 10 members of SM Entertainment’s NCT 127, half the members of YG Entertainment’s iKON, two of nine members of FNC Entertainment’s SF9 and two of seven members of IST Entertainment’s Victon.
Government exemptions have been granted to Olympic medalists, Asian Games gold medalists and winners of domestic and international competitions. In the sports world, exemptions haven’t caused “too much of a commotion,” says Kwon Joon-won, a professor of entertainment management at Dong-ah Institute of Media and Arts. But in music, there is “the perception that these pop stars already have it all when it comes to money, fame and fortune.”
Since 2000, 607 artists have been awarded military exemptions, with 87 receiving them after winning at the Dong-a Korean Traditional Music Competition. (As many as eight competitors per year have been awarded the exception at the annual competition.)
A Gallup Korea poll taken in April found that 59% of respondents want pop stars to receive military exemptions. But a poll in September by marketing firm Jowon C&I showed 54.1% of people thought BTS should carry out its military duties. The pro-military sentiment was even higher among younger respondents: Around 73% in their 20s, and 60% in their 30s, said BTS should serve in the military.
Some have also argued that a BTS breakup could harm the Korean economy, however. The attention around BTS helps generate some $3.54 billion in visits from foreigners and exports of consumer goods like clothes, makeup and food, according to the Hyundai Research Institute. Representative Sung Il-jong of the ruling People Power Party has estimated that a No. 1 song on the Billboard charts — which the band has achieved six times — could create a halo effect that generates an economic boom of $1.38 billion.
Military service hasn’t been kind to other K-pop groups’ careers. K-pop contracts, typically seven years for new acts, can end while members are in the military, leading some members not to re-sign. Boy bands like 2PM and Big Bang have significantly limited their public appearances or paused group activities after its members entered the military.
Big Bang, the first K-pop act to sell out a world tour, hasn’t released a full album or appeared as a five-member group in public since member T.O.P. entered the military in 2017. (Members of Big Bang were also caught up in drug and sex scandals, contributing to the group’s absence.)
In 2PM’s case, it took almost four years for the group to return as a six-member team after their military enlistments.
For BTS, that could be too long. “It will likely be the end of the group in terms of its capital value if the members go to the military,” says Kyung Hee University’s Lee. “There’s just no ensure that they will be as active as a group afterward.”
Between the campaign, Turf Wars, Salmon Run, and competitive modes, there’s no shortage of things to do in Splatoon 3. This latest entry is packed with content to keep you engaged, no matter how you like to play this third-person shooter, but it doesn’t just limit itself to that genre. Despite being a unique game in its respective field, focusing on teamwork and covering the ground with ink over purely eliminating other players, Splatoon 3 went the extra mile to create a fully featured side-game based on their iconic Turf War mode.
Called Tableturf Battles, this card game follows a similar ruleset to Turf Wars, only played in a 1-v-1 format on a grid. At first, this might seem like an easily ignorable distraction, but can actually be a very fun and tactical way to spice up your time in Splatoon 3. Plus, you can earn even more special rewards to bring back into the core game. If you’re not familiar with card-based games like this or are having trouble developing a good deck or strategy, here are some key tips and tricks to help you dominate in Tableturf.
Before you can even access Tableturf Battles, you need to play enough of the core game modes to at least hit rank four. Once you’re at level four or higher, you can participate in these battles by going to the Tableturf Battle Dojo behind the Grizzco building. Talk to the staff there to receive your first deck of 15 cards and a brief tutorial on how the game works.
The basics of the game are simple to understand but allow for plenty of complexity and strategy as you progress higher in the ranks. Here’s how the game functions:
A single match is 12 rounds long, with you and your opponent each starting with a hand of four cards. These cards have shapes that indicate what squares on the grid you will cover in ink. You both choose a card and where you want to place it at the same time. Note that you can rotate these cards like Tetris pieces to better cover the area. These cards also have a number value on the lower left. This comes into play when you and your opponent play cards that have ink spaces that overlap. If your card is higher, any contested ink square will be yours, and vice versa. If the cards are equal, neither player will claim that area.
You will also notice that almost all cards contain something called Special Spaces. When placed, you will want to surround these spaces in your own color to collect a Special Point (SP). Building up SP allows you to use a Special Attack that can let you play a card directly on top of an area your opponent has already inked, taking it for yourself. The only restriction is that this Special Attack card has to be connected to a Special Space.
After all 12 turns are up, whichever player has the most area of the grid covered in their color ink wins. Depending on how well you do, expect to earn anywhere between around 40 to 150 points per match.
You will only be able to play against NPCs, there’s no PvP mode for this game, and you start out with just one opponent: Baby Jelly. Each opponent has three difficulty ranks to overcome that unlock by beating their current highest rank three times. As you rank up yourself, you will unlock more familiar NPCs from the game to challenge.
As stated, you are given your first deck of 15 cards, which you are forced to use in your initial battles. However, there are a total of 162 different cards in Splatoon 3 to get. You will earn new cards via Card Packs by increasing your Tableturf rank and Catalog Level, spending Card-Bits, finding them in the campaign, or getting them out of the Shell-Out Machine. Each pack adds five more cards to your collection, but you can never have any duplicates. Any duplicates you would get are turned into Card-Bits. Your deck can also never have more than 15 cards in it, leading to an absurd amount of possible deck configurations. To make things more convenient, you can save up to 16 different deck configurations to swap between.
Once you’ve gotten more cards, you can customize your deck by opening the menu and going to the Status screen. Here, choose Tableturf Battle, and you will see all your cards and be able to build custom decks. While every Card Pack you get has random cards, you can purchase specific individual cards with your Card-Bits. Each card is priced depending on how rare it is, with Common level costing five bits, Rare costing 15, and Fresh at 40.
Upgrading your cards, despite how it sounds, actually isn’t important to winning. Upgrades are purely cosmetic and won’t make your deck any stronger. To do this, you will need those Card-Bits mentioned before. Using the Card-Bit Exchange, you can upgrade any card twice. The first changes the card’s background color, while the second makes the image holographic. Common, Rare, and Fresh rank cards each cost 10, 20, and 30 bits to upgrade respectively.
Try and construct decks with configurations that fit well (literally) together. You want to cover as much area as possible, just like in Turf War, so having cards that link together with as few possible blank spots will save you from leaving points on the table or wasting cards to clean up spots you missed.
Because the grids will change depending on who you’re battling, you will need to adjust your deck to best suit the shape of the map. It’s never a bad thing to try out a match, lose, and learn what cards you would want to best suit the map.
Unlike in Turf Wars, you should immediately press the offensive by attacking the center of the map with a high-level card right away, rather than covering your starting area. By conquering the middle ground early, you will have a much easier time covering your own territory later, since you will basically be locking your opponent back to their side of the map. If you manage to cut them off early, there’s not much they’ll be able to do in retaliation.
The best way to do this is to give your deck a good number of cards that have nice long edges to effectively wall off space. These are best used early anyway, since later in the game there won’t be many good locations left to fully take advantage of their long coverage.
Once you’ve fought over the center, you will probably have to cover your flanks right afterward, since maps almost always are too wide to fully block off in a single move or two. This will all vary depending on the layout of your current board, as well as which side your opponent seems to be angling for, but aim to completely block them off from getting a foothold on your side as fast as possible. Even if you just match their card on a flank and make neutral spaces, that’s still better than them creating an opening on your side.
So, aside from the pure fun of a new way to play Splatoon 3, what are the benefits of playing Tableturf Battles? Well, rewards, of course! There are 50 levels to rank up through, with each one offering something, such as a new opponent, Card Packs, Badges, Banners, Emotes, boards, and Stickers. Each rank will take more XP to hit, but win or lose, you will earn XP. Here’s how much XP you get for how you do and what level opponent you play against:
As far as rewards go, here’s a full breakdown of what you get at each rank, starting at two, along with how much XP you need to hit that rank.
|100||2||Rival: Cool Jelly|
|250||3||Pack of cards|
|400||4||Rival: Aggro Jelly|
|550||5||Stage: Thunder Point|
|700||6||Title: Fun – Tableturf Battler|
|1000||8||Stage: X Marks the Garden|
|1150||9||Pack of cards|
|1500||11||Rival: Gnarly Eddy|
|2050||13||Rival: Jel La Fleur|
|2400||14||Stage: Square Squared|
|2810||15||Rival: Mr. Coco|
|3270||16||Pack of cards|
|4370||18||Stage: Lakefront Property|
|6440||21||Rival: Li’l Judd|
|7250||22||Stage: Double Gemini|
|8120||23||Pack of cards|
|10060||25||Banner (TableTurf Tiles)|
|12260||27||Stage: River Drift|
|13460||28||Locker decoration (Tri-Stringer Card)|
|16070||30||Emote (Card Shark), and badge|
|17480||31||Rival: Big Man|
|20510||33||Pack of cards|
|23840||35||Stage: Box Seats|
|27480||37||Locker decoration (Trizooka Card)|
|33540||40||Card sleeve and badge|
|35720||41||Rival: Agent 1 (Callie)|
|40340||43||Locker decoration (Smallfry Card)|
|42780||44||Rival: Agent 2 (Marie)|
|50640||47||Rival: Clone Jelly|
|59683||50||Title: The Strongest – Card Gamer and badge|
With improved noise cancellation and sound quality, the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro are one of the best sets of earbuds on the market. From Personalized Spatial Audio and world-class active noise cancellation (ANC) to the smaller things like extra-small eartips and case customization, the AirPods Pro 2 have a lot to offer. With so many features to experiment with, it's possible you're missing out on a little-known feature or two. But not anymore!
We have rounded up all the best AirPods Pro 2 tips and tricks so you can make the most out of your new earbuds.
The AirPods Pro 2 already offer excellent active noise cancellation, but you can get even better results by choosing the best-fitting eartip size. The pack comes with four sizes: extra small, small, medium, and large. Choosing the best fit among these is important to ensure the earbuds create a tight seal in your ear and no background noise seeps in.
Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do with the Ear Tip Fit Test. We already have an in-depth tutorial on how to perform the Ear Tip Fit Test, and here are the steps in short.
Step 1: Connect your AirPods Pro to your iPhone.
Step 2: Wear your earbuds. Then, go to your iPhone's Settings and turn on Bluetooth.
Step 3: Select the "i" icon next to your AirPods Pro 2.
Step 4: Select the Ear Tip Fit Test option and click on the Blue start button to begin. The program will take it from here.
Step 5: If the results say "good seal," you have found the perfect tip size for you, and you can continue using it. If the results say "Adjust," you may want to repeat the process after adjusting the earbud position or working with different eartip sizes.
If you're using AirPods for the first time, it can help to familiarize yourself with all the available touch controls and gestures. These will make it easy for you to adjust music, take calls, and switch noise-control modes on the go.
Step 1: Swipe up and down the stem to increase and decrease the volume.
Step 2: Press the Touch control on the stem once to play and pause the song. The same action can also be used to answer an incoming call.
Step 3: Press the Touch control on the stem twice to skip the song or send the call to voicemail.
Step 4: Press the earbud three times to play the previous song.
Step 5: You can also set up custom controls by going to Settings > [Name of your AirPods[ > Left and Right earbud control options.
Step 6: Now you can assign any action to be activated by tapping either the left or right earbud stem. You can set up Siri (more on that below), play/pause the song, and skip songs, depending on which features you use most often.
If you're riding a bike, eating a meal, or working with your hands, you can control your AirPods Pro 2 by giving voice commands to Siri. There are many ways to activate the voice assistant.
Step 1: Make sure the earbuds are connected to your iPhone and say, "Hey Siri." Now, you can give any control commands like, "Siri, turn down the volume."
Step 2: Another way to activate Siri is to press and hold the Indent on the stem. When you hear a chime, give any command.
Active noise cancellation can create an optimal immersive listening experience, but it's not always safe to use this feature when you're walking down the street. That's where the AirPods Pro 2's Adaptive Transparency Mode can help. It offers some noise cancellation while letting you pay attention to your surroundings when needed. Here's how to turn it on.
Step 1: Connect your AirPods Pro 2 to your iPhone.
Step 2: Go to Settings and tap the [Name of your AirPods].
Step 3: Look for the Noise control tab and select the Transparency option.
Step 4: You'll see a toggle option called Adaptive transparency. Turn it on (make it green).
This will reduce extra loud sounds like construction work and noisy vehicles in the background while still letting you hear people talking and smaller vehicles moving around you.
If you ever find yourself on a long, boring journey with only your earbuds for entertainment, you'll want to make the battery last for as long as possible. A lot of features like ANC and the aforementioned Adaptive Transparency Mode consume more battery power to function, so turning them off can give you a longer runtime.
Step 1: Wear your earbuds, go to the iPhone Settings, and tap the [Name of your AirPods Pro].
Step 2: Under the Noise control tab, you will see three options: Noise cancellation, Off, and Transparency. Select the Off option to switch off noise cancellation and reduce the battery drain.
Step 3: When you're able to charge your AirPods again, you can just switch it back on by repeating these steps.
Thankfully, Apple has extended the Find My feature to the second-generation AirPods Pro, so you can track lost earbuds or the case anytime, anywhere. Here's how to use it.
Step 1: download and open the Find My app on your iPhone.
Step 2: Open the Devices tab and choose the [Name of your AirPods Pro 2].
Step 3: Now you can choose to play a sound to manually find the AirPods Pro 2.
Step 4: You can also choose to get an alert if you drop your earbuds or accidentally leave them behind. Go to the Devices tab, choose your AirPods, and turn on the Notify when left behind toggle.
One of the best features offered by the second-gen AirPods Pro is Personalized Spatial Audio for an enhanced listening experience. With this, your iPhone captures your unique head and ear shape, and the earbuds customize the audio to match it. Love it or hate it, the feature is at least worth a try. Here's how to set it up.
Step 1: Connect your earbuds to your iPhone and open Settings.
Step 2: Tap the [Name of your AirPods Pro 2] and look for the Spatial audio section.
Step 3: Click on Personalize spatial audio to start the scanning process.
The camera will scan your head and both ears, so we recommend tying your hair back and removing any obscuring accessories to get the most accurate results.
Step 4: After the scanning process is complete, your profile data will be saved and synced to other Apple devices via iCloud, so you won't have to go through the same steps for every new device you pair the AirPods with.