1SG Katrina Moerk, SHARP detriment?

Updated 12/31 to remove dead links, due to Soldier Betty’s blog setting changed to private, and added text support and clarifying information.

Substantial criticism of 1SG Moerk’s ARCOM was on news feeds and blogs over the weekend. To recap, she encountered an offensive video online, exchanged comments via Facebook on why it was inappropriate, then directly notified Dr. Altendorf, who oversees the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program Army-wide. For ‘defending values’, 1SG Moerk received an ARCOM. “Big Army’ thought it was a great story and published it on several outlets.

While most agree it was appropriate to address the offensive video and comments, there is virtually universal condemnation for not handling this NCO to NCO, and for jumping the chain of command. 1SG Moerk admits she paced the house for three hours, infuriated, and then contacted Dr. Altendorf. The facts that 1SG Moerk felt it appropriate to email Dr. Altendorf, and the email had it’s desired effect – investigations and punishment – is a dangerous precedent. This sends a couple messages; first that SHARP is in such disarray that NCOs really don’t care, plus the message that directly contacting the SHARP Director is acceptable. Does that office have resources to handle such complaints, or did it give 1SG Moerk special consideration?

Rather than using proper channels, the 1SG went directly to what she refers to as her ‘Email Heard Around the Army’. Her description of events:

“Being diplomatic on Facebook was not getting my point across. I looked them up in Global, and decided to send them an email. It was a great piece of work, my email. I cannot tell you how many times I had to delete expletives when referring to these Soldiers. I wanted to jump through the computer and choke them, I was so angry.”

1SG Moerk acted in anger, went directly to the top, and was happy she was able to end careers by leveraging SHARP. While she claims she was not motivated by personal gain, the Email Heard Around the Army and blog post Stepping Into The Light seem to contradict that claim. One other possibility for contacting Dr. Altendorf may have been to draw attention from the highest levels to the units. Regardless, the manner this was handled with a lack of transparency and leadership likely dealt serious setbacks to sexual harassment prevention efforts, which rely on a positive climate and an environment of trust and respect.

Repeating her ‘go-to-the-top’ action over the weekend, when news of her ARCOM was published on TAH 1SG Moerk sent a tweet to CAPE, the SMA and G1. (Twitter account now deleted). However, SFC(R) Lilyea’s article contains no inappropriate material, it’s a blog and he is entitled to write opinions based on facts.

Instead of using the unfortunate circumstances of the video to teach Soldiers, enhance SHARP efforts, and move necessary cultural change forward, 1SG Moerk set out to destroy careers while furthering her own. Perhaps at some point she will self-reflect and understand why she faces such universal condemnation for her actions.

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Self portrait homework

Posting a copy of the assignment for photography class. Pretty much self explanatory, and this ‘hobby’ took over when I quit smoking and switched to healthier eating. And yes, those are all Asics 2170s. When I find a shoe I like, I stay with it. Need to make a Goodwill donation soon.


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Fisher House Fundraiser

This will be the third year fund raising for Fisher House at the Army Ten Miler. Fisher House is the charity who stepped up to pay death benefits when the government shutdown in October 2013, even though that is not their mission. Their mission is to provide lodging for families of wounded warriors receiving medical care, and there is a Fisher House on every major military installation. Virtually all (~95%) of funds go to the program NOT administration, salaries or overhead. Fisher House has one of the highest ratings on Charity Navigator.

If you’re interested in helping, the donation page is HERE. It’s tax deductible and any amount is greatly appreciated!!

Last year’s Fisher House Team:



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Memorial Day

Today many social media feeds had messages on the meaning of Memorial Day, some were thoughtful, poignant and very well written. My weekend was spent at the Candlelight Vigil at the Wall on Friday, at the Fairfax American Legion on Saturday where Madison Rising had a free concert, and then up at 4:00 am to help stage and ride in the Rolling Thunder Demonstration Ride. It was amazing to see thousands of riders and thousands of supporters lining the streets around the National Mall. But this afternoon the only flag flying in the neighborhood was the one on my house. A weekend of contrast.

Some of the images from this weekend:

Tiger Cage display at Rolling Thunder:







North Pentagon Parking Lot







Madison Rising:







Outlaw Platoon Author and CPT (R) Sean Parnell and Gold Star Mother Karen Vaughn








The Saluting Marine, SSgt Tim Chambers:





















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Memorial Day Weekend in DC

Some events in DC to Honor the Fallen.

  • Friday, 7 pm: Ride from Fairfax Post 177 to Candlelight Vigil at the Vietnam Memorial
  • Saturday, 4 pm: Madison Rising in concert at Post 177, and dinner courtesy of Concerned Veterans for America
  • Sunday, 7am: Patriotic Ceremony at Post 177, depart for Rolling Thunder

More events, directions and information: ALR Run to the Thunder 2014






Madison Rising Star Spangled Banner:

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Caisson Platoon and Carhartt Jackets

During a recent Patriot Guard Rider Mission at Arlington National Cemetery there was a bit of a mix up and our staging area ended up being the same as the caisson. Horses and motorcycles generally don’t mix well and we usually are not nearby. This chance encounter gave us a chance to meet the horsemen, which was totally unexpected and an honor. These soldiers really are the best of the best and impeccably conduct thousands of missions regardless of the conditions. They shared some stories of their horses, care, white horse teams, black horse teams and the number of cemetery ready horses in the barns and training.

PGR and Caisson Platoon:
ARL_12_13 Unrelated to the PGR mission, an article in the American Legion magazine shared that due to budget cuts, the soldiers could use new stable gear and received some from Carhartt: “the horse caretakers’ cold weather jackets were getting a bit threadbare and (Leta Carruth) appealed to the Michigan-based Carhartt company, which “happily agreed” to replace the troops’ worn gear with new articles, including jackets, shirts and undershirts.” Also of note is Carhartt offers a 10% military discount through Troop Swap. Kudoes to the American Legion, Leta Carruth and Carhartt for making this happen.

If you’re looking for warm weather clothes or uniforms, Carhartt has decent gear and they’re a family owned business. Please give them consideration.

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DOD’s secret cost saving ideas

Balancing the budget on the backs of soldiers and veterans, again. But it’s a secret.

DOD has hinted at closing commissaries as a part of the FY 15 budget, but there is more in the article: Retirement healthcare, basic allowance for housing, cost-of-living adjustments, civilian pensions and pay increases may all be on the chopping block. Everything is under wraps until February.

To wit, Congressman Walter Jones, who has been speaking against potential commissary closures, said during a phone interview with The Daily News on Tuesday, that commissaries are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cuts:

    - Retirees will be urged forced to use private-sector insurance when available as opposed to Tricare health insurance.
    – Basic Allowance for Housing may also be affected with individuals having to pay more of their own housing costs
    – For retired military who are working in civilian government service, pensions may be eliminated.
    – Military and civilian pay increases would be limited.

So, budget balancing on service members and veterans continues while Congress critters protect unwanted weapon systems, bases that should be closed, and other pork barrel social entitlement programs. Great, just great.

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Tuition assistance cuts

Thought about naming this article ‘Balancing the Budget on the Backs of the Military’ but it’d be a never ending series…

Beginning next year the Army will enact several restrictions to TA. This isn’t the first time the program’s been cut, and I get it, there is only so much money to go around. During my time in the Army we faced 75% caps and FYs where funds ran out. Got it.

Still, senior leadership recently made statements that show how unaware they are of the benefit process, and how little it actually pays. SMA Chandler recently stated: “Another area that creates tension is that we provide enough tuition assistance in the Army that a person technically can be a full-time student.”

Brig. Gen. MacEwen, adjutant general of the Army’s Human Resources Command later stated “We just kind of lost control over it in the last few years … so we are really trying to get some discipline into the program,” MacEwen said. “What we found was we had some soldiers who were using it as almost a full-time thing.”

Um, no. TA is capped at 18 credits, and full time enrollment is at least 24 credits, and in most cases 30 credits per year. The benefit generally pays for about 50% of the cost of education. In other words, soldiers understand the importance of education and are paying substantial amounts themselves. TA is only offsetting a portion of the cost, and NEVER pays for full time school.

So, feel free to scale back the benefit, Big Army. But please take care to understand how little the benefit pays, and stop showing your ignorance by parroting sound bite quotes from others.

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Worst Pearl Harbor Article – Ever

Donnie Johnston decided to exercise his right to free speech and spewed forth a pitifully written article on remembering Pearl Harbor. I suspect Donnie was previously inconvenienced by a funeral procession since his article was basically a rant against bikers.

He alludes that escorts only occur in fair weather, sarcastically stating: “I would assume there will be thousands of bikers on the road Saturday.” But of course escorts and events occur year round, as examples on Saturday 6,000 wreathes were laid at Quantico National Cemetery, and Patriot Guard stood a Flag Line at Ft Belvoir.

He asked “I’ve often wondered how this biker honor guard custom got started.” Two seconds of internet searching would have led him to the origin, protestors disrupting military funerals: 24 July 2005 when American Legion Rider Terry Houck’s wife, Carol, learned that a group of protesters disrupted a Newkirk, Oklahoma soldier’s funeral.

He solidifies his lack of research and ignorance by stating: “I recently spoke to someone who participates in funerals at the National Cemetery, and she complained that often no one can hear the service because guys on motorcycles go roaring past.” Anyone who has attended a service at Arlington or other National Cemetery knows bikes don’t roar during services. This is likely why this person is unnamed, they don’t exist outside the imagination of Donnie Johnston.

So Donnie Johnston, please stop by Dulles or Reagan when an Honor Flight arrives, perhaps attend a funeral or visitation, check out what the Legacy Scholarship is about or help out with the Snowball Express, maybe escort a Veteran to their new Home For Our Troops.

Until then, feel free to utilize your right to free speech, but try not to sound so much like a moron. It’s unbecoming.

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Pics of Washington DC #1mvetmarch

Went to the Million Vet March in DC today. It was a well attended event and despite short notice, the crowd was well organized and our message was heard. I arrived a little late due to some difficulties finding parking; some of my favorite spots were closed off due to the shutdown. By the time I arrived at the WWII Memorial the marches were underway, a small contingent headed directly to the White House, while most went to the Lincoln Memorial. All of the pictures below are mine, with the exception of the last one that was downloaded from Twitter.

Lincoln Memorial, chants of USA USA, taking down the barricades:



Law enforcement looking on as barricades were dismantled:






If you look close, here are the barricades being transported from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House, along Constitution Avenue:


The barricades final resting place, the White House:


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