Military and Veteran Community Choice Awards winners announced

Military Influencer Conference

Winners of the Military and Veteran Community Choice Awards were announced at the Military Influencer Conference in Washington, D.C.

Trish Alegre-Smith

The winners of the first annual Military and Veteran Community Choice Awards sponsored by Caliber Home Loans were announced yesterday at the Military Influencer Conference in Washington, DC. The awards celebrate brands and organizations who provide outstanding service to the military community.

Service members, military spouses and veterans participated in the open nomination and voting process and winners were determined solely by popular vote. Five awards were given in two categories: non-profit organizations who serve the military and veteran community and military, veteran and military spouse influencers.

Award Category: Non-Profit Organizations (who serve the military community)

Small Non-Profits

1. Active Valor

Active Valor is a combat veteran run non-profit dedicated to giving new purpose to veterans by pairing them as mentors to Gold Star children.

2. Valors on Eighth

Valors on Eighth engages with veterans through a wide variety of events to create a sense of purpose and belonging.

3. My Warrior's Place

My Warrior's Place honors, supports and promotes healing of the mind and spirit by providing a relaxed setting and special programs.

Large Non-Profits

1. Team RWB

Team RWB works to enrich the lives of our nation's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

2. Workshops for Warriors (WFW)

WFW is a school that trains, certifies and helps place veterans, wounded warriors and transitioning service members into advanced manufacturing careers.

3. Operation Care and Comfort

Operation Care and Comfort allows Americans the opportunity to donate their time, talents and treasure to honor those currently serving our country and those who have served through various programs.

Award Category: Military, Veteran and MilSpouse influencers

Veteran Owned Businesses

1. One Nation Coffee

One Nation Coffee supports traditional American values upheld by members of the military, law enforcement and first responders with delicious coffee.

2. Military Talent Partners

Military Talent Partners provides mentorship, coaching and career discove3ry to help military talent realize their potential and define their professional goals.

3. Military Fresh Network

Military Fresh Network is a veteran ran media company created to "show and prove" to the world that they can serve our country yet remain the unique individuals they were created to be.

MilSpouse Owned Businesses

1. Begin Within

Begin Within is a military spouse owned business that provides holistic career services that focus on candidate fulfillment and satisfaction.

2. Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos is a military lifestyle brand that serves and assists military spouses and families streamline their lives and thrive in every season and challenge they face.

3. Instant Teams

Instant teams connects highly skilled military-connected talent to their clients professional remote opportunities.

Social media influencers

1. Adam Braatz

Adam is an Air Force veteran and career coach who has built a reputation as a world class relationship builder.

2. Military Fresh Network

Military Fresh Network is a veteran ran media company created to "show and prove" to the world that they can serve our country yet remain the unique individuals they were created to be.

3. Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado

Ashley is a marketing specialist in the VA's Office of Corporate Communications and a Veteran Program Consultant.

The MVC Choice Awards were hosted by Task & Purpose, PCSgrades, Blue Star Families, GovX and the Military Influencer Conference and sponsored by Caliber Home Loans. Congratulations to the winners of these inaugural awards. To learn more about the awards, click here.

Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.

On April 11, 1966, Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger (played by Jeremy Irvine) responded to a call to evacuate casualties belonging to a company with the Army's 1st Infantry Division near Cam My during a deadly ambush, the result of a search and destroy mission dubbed Operation Abilene.

In the ensuing battle, the unit suffered more than 80 percent casualties as their perimeter was breached. Despite the dangers on the ground, Pitsenbarger refused to leave the soldiers trapped in the jungle and waved off the medevac chopper, choosing to fight, and ultimately die, alongside men he'd never met before that day.

Decades later, those men fought to see Pitsenbarger's Air Force Cross upgraded to the Medal of Honor. On Dec. 8, 2000, they won, when Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the nation's highest decoration for valor.

The Last Full Measure painstakingly chronicles that long desperate struggle, and the details of the battle are told in flashbacks by the soldiers who survived the ambush, played by a star-studded cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, and William Hurt.

After Operation Abilene, some of the men involved moved on with their lives, or tried to, and the film touches on the many ways they struggled with their grief, trauma, and in the case of some, feelings of guilt. For the characters in The Last Full Measure, seeing Pitsenbarger awarded the Medal of Honor might be the one decent thing they pull out of that war, remarks Jackson's character, Lt. Billy Takoda, one of the soldier's whose life Pitsenbarger saved.

There are a lot of threads to follow in The Last Full Measure, individual strands of a larger story that feel misplaced, redacted, or cut short — at times, violently. But this is not a criticism, quite the opposite in fact. This tangled web is part of the larger narrative at play as Scott Huffman, a fictitious modern-day Pentagon bureaucrat played by Sebastian Stan, tries to piece together what actually happened that fateful day so many years ago.

At the start, Huffman — the person who ultimately becomes Pitsenbarger's champion in Washington — wants nothing to do with the airman's story, the medal, or the Vietnam veterans who want to see his sacrifice recognized. For Huffman, it's a burdensome assignment, just one more box to check before he can move on to brighter and better career prospects.

The skepticism of Pentagon bureaucracy and Washington political operators is on full display throughout the movie. When Takoda first meets Huffman, the Army vet grills the overdressed and out-of-his-depth government flack about his intentions, calls him an FNG (fucking new guy) and tosses Huffman's recorder into the nearby river where he's fishing with his grandkids.

Sebastian Stan stars as Scott Huffman alongside Samuel Jackson as Billy Takoda in "The Last Full Measure."(IMDB)

As Huffman spends more time with the grunts who fought alongside Pitsenbarger, and the Air Force PJs who flew with him that day, he, and the audience, come to see their campaign, and their frustration over the lack of progress, in a different light.

In one of the movie's later moments, The Last Full Measure offers an explanation for why Pitsenbarger's award languished for so long. The theory? Pitsenbarger's Medal of Honor citation was downgraded to a service cross, not because his actions didn't meet the standard associated with the nation's highest award for valor, but because his rank didn't.

"The conjecture among the Mud Soldiers and Bien Hoa Eagles is that Pitsenbarger was passed over because he was enlisted," Robinson, who wrote and directed The Last Full Measure, told Task & Purpose.

"As for the events in the film, Pitsenbarger's upgrade was clearly ignored for decades and items had been lost — whether that was deliberate is up for discussion but we feel we captured the spirit of the issues at hand either way," he said. "Some of these questions are simply impossible to answer with 100% certainty as no one really knows."

The cynicism in The Last Full Measure is overt, but to be entirely honest, it feels warranted. While watching the film, I couldn't help but think back to recent stories of battlefield bravery, like that of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who ran into a burning Bradley three times in Iraq to pull out his wounded men — a feat of heroism that cost him his life, and inspired an ongoing campaign to see Cashe awarded the Medal of Honor.

There's no shortage of op-eds by current and former service members who see the military's awards process as slow and cumbersome at best, and biased or broken at worst, and it's refreshing to see that criticism reflected in a major war movie. And sure, like plenty of war movies, The Last Full Measure has some sappy moments, but on the whole, it's a damn good drama.

The Last Full Measure hits theaters on Jan. 24.

Protesters and militia fighters gather to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), outside the main gate of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. (Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani)

With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Read More
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF), 101st Airborne Division, board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, on January 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez)

The Defense Department has remained relatively tight-lipped regarding the brazen Jan. 5 raid on a military base at Manda Bay, Kenya, but a new report from the New York Times provides a riveting account filled with new details about how the hours-long gunfight played out.

Read More

Roughly a dozen U.S. troops showing concussion-related symptoms are being medically evacuated from Al-Asad Air Base in Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, a defense official told Task & Purpose on Tuesday.

Read More
U.S. soldiers inspect the site where an Iranian missile hit at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province, Iraq, on January 13, 2020. (Reuters/John Davison)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump, who initially claimed that "no Americans were harmed" in the Iranian missile attack on U.S. forces, told reporters Wednesday that recently reported injuries suffered by U.S. troops — at least a dozen of whom were treated for concussion symptoms and possible traumatic brain injuries — were "not that serious."

Read More