Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
There are few sounds more welcome to U.S. military personnel than the sound of an A-10 Thunderbolt II's GAU-8/A Avenger 30mm autocannon raining down a hail of lead on an unsuspecting enemy force.
But here's a question: How the hell do you actually spell (and, in turn, pronounce) that sweet, sweet sound of freedom?
How we found out about a shocking loophole in a military policy meant to protect victims of domestic violence
How We Found Out explores recent reporting from Task & Purpose, answering questions about how we sourced our stories, what challenges we faced, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at how we cover issues impacting the military and veterans community.
In December, Task & Purpose published a longform feature that explored domestic abuse in the military, the Pentagon's attempts to curb it, and how a policy loophole meant to support victims of spousal abuse has left the very people it's meant to help in dire straits.
Written by our Pentagon-based Army reporter, Haley Britzky, the story focused on Ellizabeth Grimes, who was allegedly assaulted by her husband, Army. Col. Jerel Grimes.
In the wake of the alleged attack, Ellizabeth was left to deal with a number of physical injuries that still require medical attention. Hospital records from that night say her injuries included a "closed head injury, hematoma, concussion, cervical strain, extremity contusion or fracture." She also was put on medication she'd never needed before, to help with anxiety, depression, and nausea, as well as to help her sleep at night.
However, as a dependent of a service member, her health coverage is through Tricare, and once she divorces her husband — which she filed to do almost immediately after the attack — she'll no longer be a dependent, and no longer have Tricare. This will leave her to start over with new doctors. Additionally, because her husband hasn't been charged with anything, and hasn't been separated from the Army, she's unable to qualify for transitional compensation, which exists to help abused dependents retain their Tricare coverage.
Given the sensitive nature of reporting on domestic abuse, combined with navigating a nebulous Pentagon policy, Task & Purpose spoke with Britzky about how she found the story, what obstacles she faced while reporting it, and how we as a news site handle allegations of wrongdoing when criminal charges have been filed but no verdict has been reached in a court of law.
This is the third installment in the recurring column How We Found Out.
This Vietnam vet once spent a cold Christmas without heat. Now he just paid off the utility bills of 36 families
Dozens of Florida families who were at risk of having their water or gas shut off by Christmas got a wonderful surprise in the mail.
Mike Esmond, a generous Vietnam veteran who once spent Christmas without heat, decided to pay the utility bills of 36 families whose accounts were past due, a remarkable act of kindness that has stunned residents in the city of Gulf Breeze.
"I'm just in awe," one of the recipients, Angela GiGi, wrote on Facebook last week. "Sometimes I get discouraged with life hitting me from every angle and then there are people and companies like this that restore my faith."
You can't see Bobby Grey's scars.
On the surface, he's just an ordinary 35-year-old husband. FedEx driver. Racing fan. Philadelphia Eagles diehard. Dog owner.
He's also a former Marine, 2003 to 2007 — a mission that has given him great pride and great anguish. Twelve years later — anguish or not — he still loves the Corps to the core. Semper Fi — always faithful.
Grey acknowledges, though, that that's where the scars originated.
As a young devil dog, a PFC scarcely six months out of boot camp, Grey deployed to Iraq and got his first taste of combat when he was only 20 years old. One day, Marines in his convoy — guys he knew — died when a roadside bomb blew up beneath them. On another day, during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, bullets whizzed over Grey's head, close enough that he could hear them. Seconds later, when the bullets shattered the windows behind him, a shower of glass rained down on his head.
But those days were nothing compared to Dec. 3, 2004, the day a suicide bomber rocked his unit's base with an explosion so violent that it literally blew him out of the chow hall where he'd been dining. He suffered a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury — as if anything traumatic could be mild — but several comrades fared worse, suffering broken bones and dislocated hips. Two of his buddies died in the blast, and Grey had to put them in body bags himself.
"It's like losing a brother," he says softly. "No, it is losing a brother."
Gary Sinise may be best known for his role as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, but in the 25 years since the Oscar-winning film's debut, he's leveraged his stardom to give back to the military and veterans community through the Gary Sinise Foundation.
On Dec. 7, Sinise's foundation partnered with American Airlines to fly more than 1,700 Gold Star family members from across the country to Orlando, Florida, for a five-day Christmas vacation to Disney World.
Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.
Then a thumbs-up.
McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.
By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.