I wrote a piece for Front Towards Gamer yesterday addressing the way combat veterans are depicted in media and why that’s important, focusing on the character David Madsen in Life Is Strange.
A lot has been written about the way combat veterans are depicted in television and movies. True Detective (season 2, bleh) featured a stereotypical combat veteran – fucked up. What’s great about Life Is Strange is the game writers deliberately introduced each character as a walking stereotype, and David Madsen is no different:
He is: from the south, a gun enthusiast and concealed carry holder, a fan of right-wing talk radio, obsessed with surveillance and security, and an anti-intellectual (“I don’t trust grown men with goatees”). He views everything through the prism of security and is convinced there is some ominous plot unfolding, which in the context of the game, is actually correct.
That’s pretty much the combat veteran stereotype. As the game unfolds, though, David is revealed to be a much deeper and nuanced character. Video games often get a bad rap for being behind movies and television in terms of their depictions of real life. Because video games are so immersive (as opposed to other forms of media) it’s super important to get these depictions right. I’m really happy with the way David’s character in Life Is Strange is going so far.
Check it out – and if you’re so inclined, please share it.
I co-authored an article that is published in the May-June issue of Military Review. It’s called Operational Resilience in the Infantry Rifle Platoon and details efforts our platoon took over the past year to implement resilience techniques at the platoon level.
I submitted the article last year, and the process for getting published in Military Review is long, but the timing couldn’t be better. A couple of weeks ago, USA Today published an article criticizing the Army’s resilience program and it was widely shared on social media among veteran friends with the damning headline Army morale low despite 6 year, $287 million optimism program. The insinuation is that the implementation of the resilience program was chiefly an effort to raise morale, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the case. Anyone who has served in the military knows that maintaining high morale is tough nowadays – it’s not just chow, mail, and free time anymore.
I’m a fan of resilience training. It makes sense to me and as someone who spends a lot of time reading about productivity (Gretchen Rubin is my spirit animal), integrating resilience training and letting it set seems like a good idea in today’s Army.
The major problem with resilience training, as I point out in the Military Review article, is that it has been implemented mostly at the individual level. That is, NCOs go to the Master Resilience Course and learn the material, and then (mostly) return to their unit and periodically give a class on resilience. The only person who really benefits from that is the NCO, who has had the in-depth experience in the class to actually use some of the techniques. Implementing reslience at the unit level has not really been accomplished. My argument is that if units actually worked at implementing the techniques beyond the individual level, we might actually see better results.
The point of this post is not to simply counter the USA Today article, but to get you to go check out the article in Military Review, where you have at least one example of a small unit utilizing resilience techniques – not to raise morale – but to do better work.
My story on my 4 day pass to Qatar in 2003 was published in Vice this week, a much more suitable home than this blog. It is also is getting a little bit of love on the Military subreddit, which is cool.
Check it out: Going on R&R in Good Ol’ Qatar (Vice)
I particularly liked the way Vice decided to tag the post:
Yesterday, for Veterans Day, a piece I wrote was published on The Daily Beast. It’s about William Broyles’ ‘Why Men Love War‘ from the November 1984 Esquire. I still think it’s the single best piece of writing on ‘why’ we go to war.
Check it out.
Last year I wrote the “What is the Infantry” essays when the topic of women in the infantry was burning hot. Those essays have been scrubbed clean and are getting a new life over at the very shiny Task and Purpose.
While I still love them in their original, stream-of-consciousness form, they do look pretty good over there.
Part I, Black Magic and Voodoo is out today. The others will be posted through the week. Check it out.