When her husband Hunter died in Afghanistan in 2012, Brittney Hogan needed to find a way to turn her grief into something positive.
Only 21 years old, Hogan realized she had her whole life ahead of her and needed to do something more.
“I knew that I had only two choices: I could give up completely, and feel sorry for myself the rest of my life, or I could take this struggle and turn it into strength,” she wrote in her website’s biography.
That line of thinking became the basis for her business — an athletic apparel line called Virago Fitness.
The word “virago” is an archaic English word, and although it has largely fallen out of use, it means strong or spirited woman, or female warrior. Originally, Hogan discovered it through a friend’s Instagram account name, she told Task & Purpose in an interview.
Having been through so much with the loss of her husband, Hogan clung to the word. After a year of spiraling downward, she turned to fitness to pull her out from rock bottom, and “virago” became the inspiration for her now-thriving apparel line.
As a result, “turn your struggle into strength” is the company’s motto.
The company, which started in 2014, has helped Hogan overcome her grief and find a sense of broader purpose.
“I just wanted to be a business owner my whole life,” Hogan said. “In this day and age, it’s really easy to start a business online.”
When she realized how important the work felt, Hogan quit her job as a wedding coordinator to focus full time on the fitness apparel. Once she was able to dedicate all her attention to it, Virago Fitness took off, becoming a fully sustainable company in less than two years.
Hogan encouraged others who are grieving to find something they are passionate about and use it to move forward in the wake of major loss.
“Nothing you can do can change what happened or what you’re going through. You just have to move forward,” she said. “For everyone, it’s different. I think you just have to be honest with yourself and be really reflective.”
For her, fitness became a way to cope with the loss of her husband, and ultimately led to the foundation of her business.
“Get involved with something that you’re passionate about,” she said. “It might not be fitness for some people, it might be something else.”
But whatever it is, she added, it just needs to be something you can focus on that gives you a sense of purpose while you’re grieving.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.