Post: JWV Post 692 (Rockville, MD)

Military Service: U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army

Member Since: 2017

1. Where and when did you serve in the military?
I served in the U.S. Navy between 1986 and 1997 at National Hospital in San Diego, California, NAS Moffett Field, NAS Alameda, CA and on the USS Carl Vinson. I served in the U.S. Army in the National Guard, Reserves, and on active duty between 1997 and 2009, and worked for the U.S. Public Health Service from 1999 to 2020.

2. Why did you join the military?
I joined the uniformed services initially because I wanted to serve my country. I also needed structure and a sense of purpose in my life. Back in 1986, I was living and working in London, England. After some thought, I decided I wanted to return to the U.S. and serve in the military, so I enlisted the U.S. Navy while I was in London at the U.S. Embassy.
Before living in England, I was in Israel. I lived on a Moshav in Israel called Moshav Tsofar and learned Hebrew while working and studying Hebrew on the Kibbutz, Mishmar HaNegev. Before going to Israel, I had completed two years of university and then dropped out of college to travel and go to Israel. I traveled outside of the U.S. for two years before moving to London. That’s where both my parents were born, and we lived there when I was a kid.

3. How did your Jewish faith impact your time in the service?
My Jewish faith definitely impacted my time in the service. While I was in the U.S. Navy, I served as a Jewish Lay Leader aboard the USS Carl Vinson from July of 1993 to January of 1997. During my time in the U.S. Army (Active/Reserves/Guard), I attended religious services and served as an informal Jewish Lay Leader. During my time in the U.S. Public Health Service from March 2009 to May 2020 I served as an informal Jewish Lay Leader. I led a Passover service during my deployment to Liberia in April of 2015.

4. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism at home or abroad?
Yes. Most of the anti-Semitism I experienced involved remarks or comments, and what we would call micro aggression. Since I was outspoken about my Jewish identity and religious identity I was exposed more to anti-Semitic comments. However, I also received praise and people would come up to me and ask me about being Jewish. I also experienced a U.S. military and uniformed service that was and is Christian-centric. As a Jew and a member of a minority religion, I feel we struggle to make sure the Christian-centric U.S. Military and uniformed service doesn’t over influence our lives and practices. Whenever, Christmas would come around it was always a struggle to make sure those that celebrated the holiday didn’t dominate the conversation and the focus. When I was in Liberia, I conducted Jewish services. The Christians who led the services would tell me what they knew about Judaism even though they didn’t ask me why I am waiting for the messiah when he has already come. This type of conversation was not just typical in the Public Health Service but with practicing Christians in the Army and Navy. I don’t think these types of experiences are anti-Semitic, but they are biased and culturally insensitive.

5. Why did you join JWV?
I didn’t know about JWV before 2017. I found out about it from Anna Selman while stationed at the USPHS Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. I was attending a Jewish Learning class at the local Jewish Community Center. After that, I went to a picnic for the local JWV post. When Selman then asked me to speak to children from a local Jewish school at the National Museum of Jewish American Military History, I was hooked.

6. How would you improve a current JWV program, or what type of program do you think JWV needs to add?
My goal is to be actively involved. I am currently the Chairman of the JWV Post-9/11 committee and an active member of the Rockville, Maryland post. I want to encourage, engage, and bring in more Jews into JWV; including Jews from all the uniformed services including the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

7. What is your favorite Jewish food?
Falafel. I love falafel. However, I grew up eating fresh bagels, fresh cream cheese, lox, and Kosher pickles. That is Jewish soul food!!!

Post: North County Post 385

Military Service: U.S. Navy

Member Since: 1974

1. Where and when did you serve in the military?
I enlisted in the Navy in my hometown of Chicago under the delayed entry program in 1973 and reported to Naval Recruit Training Center in Orlando in May of 1974.

After boot camp, I was assigned to Naval Air Station, Memphis.
In Boot Camp, the detailer asked me what I wanted to do in the Navy. I thumbed through the ratings handbook and chose Torpedoman’s Mate. The detailer said angrily, “That’s not open to women yet, but I’ll send you to a base that has a torpedo shop where you learn on the job.”
So he sent me to a naval air station where there wasn’t a torpedo.

While at Memphis, I applied three times for Torpedo School. Twice my request came back, “Request Denied – Rating not open to women.”
Undiscouraged, I applied again and the third time was the charm. The woman Personnel man who had become my friend called me at the barracks. “Paula, you have orders,” she said excitedly, “You’re going to basic electricity school at Great Lakes and then TM school in Orlando.”
I became the third female Torpedoman’s Mate in the Navy.

After finishing my schools, I was sent to the Mark 37 wire guided submarine torpedo shop in Groton, Connecticut.
I stayed there until I re-enlisted for SUBROC school, becoming the first woman to receive this training and finished my enlistment as a TM2 (E5) at Naval Magazine, Guam.

Women were not on ships in my day. My assignments were at shore torpedo intermediate maintenance facilities.
I was always the only woman TM, so I constantly had to prove myself, but I was determined to earn the respect of my male peers. I worked hard and studied diligently for the advancement tests. Finally, when I made E4, I felt I was accepted and had proven to myself and the Navy that women could do anything!

2. Why did you join the military?
I loved military and naval history. The first non-fiction book I read was in 4th grade. It was “The Longest Day” about the D-Day Invasion. From then on, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be sailor!

3. How did your Jewish faith impact your time in the service?
At Boot Camp, I attended Friday night Shabbat Services. A JWV member was there and signed us all up.

Upon orders to each new base, I contacted the local Jewish community center to find a rabbi and services. I kept Kosher as often as I could. The Jewish Welfare Board provided me with canned kosher food and anything I needed.

Two Jewish Chaplains crossed my paths, Rabbi Bruce Kahn at NAS Memphis and Rabbi Botnick at Great Lakes. They nurtured me, inspired me, and left an indelible spiritual treasury in my life.

4. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism at home or abroad?
While in the Navy, a thief used to break into my locker and steal my kosher food, but that could have been a statement about my gender, not my ethnicity.

After the Navy, while attending New Mexico State University on the GI Bill, I formed a Hillel group to change the name of the yearbook, which was called Swastika, a supposed reference to Native Americans of the era, but totally unacceptable to us. Our local synagogue, JDL in Denver, and JWV joined us in our fight to change the name. I wrote an article for JWV about the struggle for an issue of “The Jewish Veteran.”

Several times throughout my 30 years of teaching high school history, students have written ethnic slurs and drawn swastikas in their notebooks. I designed a Holocaust course in my district to address this ignorance.

5. Why did you join JWV?
It was a safe and loving place to be Jewish!

6. How would you improve a current JWV program, or what type of program do you think JWV needs to add?
I have no idea which members of my shul in Pomona, CA are veterans. I would like to be able to swap sea stories. Maybe recruiting at synagogues would be good project. I would like to connect nationwide with other female JWV members.

7. What is your favorite Jewish food?
Challah. I am never without it on Shabbat!

Post: Heritage Post 644 in St. Louis, Missouri

Military Service: U.S. Army

Member Since: 2005

1. Where and when did you serve in the military?
I received a direct commission into the U.S. Army Dental Corps and went on active duty in July 1981. My assignments were Dental Activity at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina from 1981 to 1984, Dental Activity in Bad Toelz, Germany from 1985 to 1987, Dental Activity at Ft. Benning, Georgia from 1988 to 1993, Dental Activity at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina from 1993 to 1995, Dental Activity and Dental Officer for the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Ft. Campbell, KY from 1995 to 1999, the Dental Clinic in St. Louis, Missouri from 1999-200, and Dental Activity at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri from 2000-2002. I also deployed to Grenada in 1983 as part of Operation Urgent Fury and Saudi Arabia in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm. I retired from the military in 2003.

2. Why did you join the military?
I come from a strong family tradition of patriotism and American pride. Both my grandfather and father served in the U.S. Army. Many of the dental school faculty at Washington University were retired dental officers or had military experience, which had a positive effect on my decision to join. Lastly, I was looking for an opportunity to get dental practice experience before going into private practice. My family had a very positive experience during my first two tours, so I decided to continue for a full military career.

3. How did your Jewish faith impact your time in the service?
Prior to my military service, my Jewish involvement was at a basic level, with nothing significant after my Bar Mitzvah. That changed when I was asked to be a Jewish lay leader at Ft. Benning in 1988 and received my Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) certification. It was a very rewarding experience to take care of the religious needs of our Jewish military men and women. I also served as the lay leader at Ft. Bragg from 1993 to 1995 and during my deployment for Operation Desert Storm.
Serving as a Jewish lay leader had a profound impact on my overall military experience. One of the highlights of my lay leader experience was during Operation Desert Storm. Our Jewish services were held in Kobar Towers near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Religious police roamed the area and severely restricted our public Jewish practice activities, so we had to be discrete about advertising and conducting Jewish religious services. Rabbi Amos Chorny was deployed with us during the High Holidays and Sukkot. As Sukkot approached, Chorny and I secretly built, as far as we know, the only sukkah in Saudi Arabia. It was on the roof of one of the apartment buildings in Kobar Towers. It was a challenge trying to sneak the palm branches we brought in from the desert into the building for the s’chach (roof) of the sukkah. It was a true religious experience for me to sing with our small congregation in our clandestine sukkah while at the same time listening to the Moslem call to worship which could be heard in the surrounding area.
Another lay leader highlight was during a gap between the assignments of rabbis at Ft. Bragg, the division chaplain asked if I would represent the Jewish community and make some comments along with chaplains representing the other religious denominations at the funeral for actress Martha Raye. I was so proud to represent our Jewish community at that occasion.
These experiences significantly strengthened my Jewish pride and involvement and added an important dimension to my military service.

4. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism at home or abroad?
No.

5. Why did you join JWV?
I joined JWV in 2005. Joe Iken, a member of our shul, invited me to join Heritage Post 644 in St. Louis, Missouri. My father had been a member of JWV in Long Beach, New York, so I was familiar with the organization.
I immediately got involved with Post activities, elected commander a couple of years later, and have been very active since then.

6. How would you improve a current JWV program or what type of program do you think JWV needs to add?
One of my areas of focus is membership. I think our national membership and marketing committees are doing a phenomenal job. At the Post level, we need to keep promoting JWV in our communities. In spite of all our marketing and presence in the community, we still have people tell us they’ve never heard of JWV. With the current guidelines, if an individual has a DD-214 and an honorable discharge, he or she can be a member. We need to remind potential members that it is not a membership requirement that they served in a combat zone or oversees. I get many veterans tell me that they already belong to other organizations and have no time to add another organization. My response is that even if they don’t have time to participate, their membership is important not only at the Post level, but on the National level as well. Their membership helps JWV maintain the leverage it needs to take care of military veterans and support Jewish values.

7. What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Noodle kugel and matzoh brei.

Post: Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 (Dallas, Texas)

Military Service: Lt Colonel, USAF Retired (January 1967 to April 1994 — roughly equal parts Active & Reserve)

Member Since: 2015

1. Where and when did you serve in the military?

– Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ. 1967-69 (various admin & public affairs duties)
– Air Force Institute of Technology (at Syracuse University) 1969-70 — graduate program,
Mass Communications (TV/Radio/Film)
– Carswell AFB, Ft Worth, TX. 1970-73 (Exec. Officer, Aerospace Audiovisual Service – now Combat Camera – Detachment creating video training materials for Strategic Air Command
– U.S. Southern Command, Albrook AFB, Canal Zone, 1973-76 (Detachment Commander, AAVS)
– Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, MT. 1976-79 (Minuteman Launch Officer)
– Kelly AFB, San Antonio, TX. 1980-94 (HQ Air Force News Service, “Individual Mobilization Augmentee” to the Commander, AF Broadcasting Service (i.e., “shadow commander”)

2. Why did you join the military?

For one, the dreaded draft. I joined at the height of the Vietnam build-up in early 1967. But more importantly, the opportunity to serve and spread my recent college-grad wings somewhere far away from my New York City comfort zone.

3. How did your Jewish faith impact your time in the service?

I was fortunate to be “adopted” by a Jewish family at the local Jewish Community Center within weeks of arriving at my first duty base in Arizona. I was absorbed into their extended family gatherings for High Holidays, boisterous Seders, and assorted simchas. I experienced similar connections at my other active duty assignments. For example, the base Chaplain in Montana provided a portable ark and space for monthly Shabbat services with the handful of “townie” families. The Jewish Welfare Board occasionally sent in a circuit-riding Rabbi to officiate, once for a 76-year-old local’s Bar Mitzvah!

4. Have you ever experienced anti-Semitism at home or abroad?

Rarely – at least nothing overt, beyond the occasional ignorant comment or question. Early on, a “born again” senior officer felt it his mission to “save” me with Bible verses and twisted facts; the Wing Commander caught him red-handed and halted the crusade.

5. Why did you join JWV?

Frankly, JWV wasn’t on my radar until a chance encounter at a Super Bowl watch party. The gentleman seated across from me introduced himself and asked if I was a veteran. I attended a few monthly meetings and nearly walked away (too many “grumpy old men” arguing) but was pulled-in by the Post commander to work on some needed projects.

6. How would you improve a current JWV program or what type of program do you think JWV needs to add?

– Start with visibility and credibility: As an organization, JWV has become a “best kept secret”
and a Voice of the Jewish Veteran that’s not being heard outside our own echo-chamber.
– Seek to engage Gulf War and veterans of the more recent conflicts in ways that resonate with their generation’s culture and norms. Most are raising families and have full-time jobs. Perhaps we can gain mindshare online, then transition into physical meetings as they edge toward empty-nesters and retirement.

7. What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Warm corned beef on freshly baked rye bread slathered with strong deli mustard. That, and a “real” bagel, not the ubiquitous Franken-donut pretenders served nowadays, even in New York.

 

Post: Martin Hochster Memorial 755

Military Service: Marine Corps

Member Since: 2019

1.Why did you join the military?

I wanted to see the world. My list of deployments include, two UDP’s (Unit Deployment Phase) to Okinawa including an exercise with Thailand’s marines and one with Australian service members. These were in 1997 and 1999. After 9/11 I was a part of Task Force 76 in Afghanistan, stationed at Bagram, Salero, Organi, and Chester in 2004 and 2005. I returned from Afghanistan in 2005 and Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana that August. At the time I was stationed at NAS/JRB Belle Chasse, which is south of New Orleans and right next to a levee of the Mississippi River. The next nine months were a traumatic time for everyone. In 2007 I did another combat deployment, but this time it was in Iraq.

2. How did you get introduced to JWV?

I learned about JWV from my friend Michael Ross at Torah study

3. What was your most memorable Jewish experience while serving?

Having a Rabbi as our squadron’s Chaplain during my 2004 tour in Afghanistan. I was surprised to see that we had a Rabbi. This made me feel a lot better, as I am usually the only Jewish Marine in my unit.

4. What is an American tradition that makes you the most proud?

Standing up and singing our National Anthem.

5. What is your favorite movie and does it relate with your experience in the military?

The movie 1984. I believe it is a good example of foreshadowing to the current political situation that we are in today.

6. With the rise in popularity of superhero movies, who is your favorite superhero and why?

Agent Coulson of S. H. I. E. L. D., because he is a regular man who helps fight super bad guys and keep the balance of power in check. He’s a good example for our youth.

7. What is your favorite traditional Jewish food?

Falafel with a nice tahini sauce, chopped peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickled turnips.

Post: 1LT Raymond Zussman Post 135

Current Residence: Bloomfield Hills, MI

Military Service: US Army 1969-2004; Operation Desert Storm

Member Since Year: 2011

1. What’s your military story?

It’s a 35-year story beginning with my enlistment in the Army Reserves when I contracted as an Advanced Course ROTC Cadet in college in 1969. I was commissioned in Armor in 1971, and had a string of assignments in and around tanks for the next 33 years. My career was about equally divided between assignments considered “operational” (with and around troops in tank units from platoon through division or other training roles), and the business or acquisition side of the Army as a program manager for some of the Army and Marine Corps’ most significant modernization programs. I served in Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, Maryland, the Pentagon, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Michigan.

During Operation Desert Shield I was Executive Officer of 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized)) and deployed from Ft. Riley, Kansas to Saudi Arabia over New Years in 1991. When the air campaign started on 17 January 1991, and Operation Desert Storm commenced, all of our equipment was still en route from Kansas and was in ships southeast of the Straits of Hormuz. Immediately after its arrival we deployed into the desert along the Saudi-Iraq border to begin rehearsals for our upcoming operations should Saddam not yield to the demands of the United Nations. Early in the morning of 24 February 1991 we conducted a deliberate combat breach into the Iraqi defenses as the VII (US) Corps main effort brigade. We continued the attack for the next four days and ultimately were called upon to secure the airfield of Safwan, Iraq at which GEN Schwarzkopf dictated terms to the Iraqi army for its surrender.

2. Do you have a favorite Jewish military holiday story?

At Pesach in 1991 (5752), after direct combat operations in Iraq had ceased, I was able to surprise my wife and our extended family by calling into the Seder at her parents’ home in New Jersey. This was before the proliferation of mobile phones and was done from a telephone center courtesy of one of the larger US-based phone companies. The call lasted only about 5 minutes because there was a line of Soldiers calling home (the first night coincided with Easter), and it has never been forgotten. As it happens, at that point I was only about 60 or so miles from Ur, birthplace of our patriarch Abraham. All things considered, it was quite a memorable call looking out at the stars in the early morning desert while recalling the story of Passover.

3. What made you decide to join JWV?

I retired from the US Army in 2004 and transitioned into a business career. Along the way, my family grew older and we transitioned into the less hectic lifestyle of a civilian family. In 2011 I was asked to speak at the Veterans Day Shabbat at my synagogue in Michigan. A member of JWV who was helping organize the event, which included not only a color guard but also a procession of Veterans into the sanctuary, approached and asked if I was a JWV member (at the moment I was not). I decided to sign up on the spot. It just made sense to me to select one VSO with which to associate, and JWV was the right choice. It was also a choice I wish I’d made earlier in my life. I’ve made many friends along the way, and I’m still associated with the man that asked me to join—Marty Levine—not only thru JWV, but also in the Veteran-focused not-for-profit I lead today.

4. What causes would you like JWV to work on?

I think JWV really needs to focus on youth and vitality if we’re to keep this organization operating as a going concern. We need to recruit and retain members from the post-Vietnam era (Cold War, ODS/OEF/OIF/OND) remembering that our numbers from those eras are likely to be found in the professional ranks (e.g, doctors, lawyers, mental health fields) more so than traditional rank-and-file. We need to educate both clergy and lay leaders about our organization because they are in touch with their membership base and can advocate for us. Those leaders, too, are getting younger and probably neither know nor appreciate on a personal level the service of Jewish Veterans. We need also to be present on high school and college campuses telling our story at day schools and Hillels in our community, planting the seeds of awareness of the organization and service to the Nation early and often. Our Jewish Chaplains must advocate as well to the Jews on active duty so they join JWV and we keep their membership after leaving the military. More work sharing best practices thru a web-based platform could assist in spreading good ideas, as well as lessons learned in the “not so good” department.  We’re going to be around for a long time—here for good so to speak—and there is a role for everyone.

5. Who would you say is your most influential mentor in JWV?

I have several mentors in JWV. One would have to be our Department of Michigan Senior Vice Commander, Art Fishman (Post 510). Art is a World War II sailor who spent his time on destroyers. He’s extremely—and justifiably—proud of his service on ‘Tin Cans.’  Don’t ever let his era of service or age fool you—he is a dynamo of activity and the most knowledgeable man I know in JWV. He really sets the pace and standard for what right looks like in Michigan. The other is Ed Hirsch (Post 474). Interesting story—a Special Forces Dentist with some remarkable service in Southeast Asia, all of Southeast Asia it seems. He’ll tell you much of it, but not all of it. Ed was recently elected as Commander of the Department of Michigan. He and Art will both be at Tampa in August. Look them up.

6. What advice would you have for new members in JWV?

My advice to new members is get actively involved. Volunteer to lead in your Post and your community. Listen to the older members because their stories are important to our history, and remember they want to hear from you as well since your experience in 2018 is just as important as theirs of 1948 or 1968 or 1998. There is more that unites the various age groups than separates them. While all of our experiences might be different, none are less meaningful for the country.

7. Last question, Hamentaschen or Latkes?

Hamentaschen…less cholesterol, more options.  Plus, Purim is just a more adult party anyway.

Post: Col. Irving Heymont Post 299

Current Residence: Hedgesville, WV

Military Service: West Point class of ’03 (Mickey Marcus award recipient from JWV), United States Army, Infantry Platoon Leader and Civil Affairs Officer in Iraq (OIF 05-07) with 2-8 Infantry, 4th ID

Member Since Year: 2003

1. What drove you to join the military?

The examples of service from my family and a desire to be part of something bigger than myself. Both my grandfathers served in the Army. My father’s dad, Sam Scheinberg, was a combat engineer in WW2 and helped to liberate France and concentration camps in France and Germany. Both of my parents served in a different way as public educators. I joined the Army through West Point and my younger brother, Joshua, joined the Air Force shortly after 9/11.

2. How did you get introduced to JWV?

I knew of JWV through my grandfather, but really got to know the organization and members as a cadet at West Point. JWV truly helped me get through West Point by building a community at the Jewish Chapel on Post. Members, many who served in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam would sponsor our weekly Shabbat dinners, Sunday bagels, and would always provide mentorship as a group of folks who have been through what we were facing. My wife, Natasha, and I were later married at the West Point Jewish Chapel.

3. What was your most memorable Jewish experience while serving?

Flying from Haswah, Iraq, to Baghdad to meet up with the only Jewish chaplain in Iraq and helping to put on a Passover Seder for Jewish soldiers across theatre. The best part was seeing Jewish West Point graduates who I knew as cadets coming together from bases and outposts all over Iraq.

4. Is there a piece of legislation coming before Congress that you find that will best serve our veterans?

One of the highlights of my career in service is working for Senator Manchin on Veterans legislation. Senator Manchin has been on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee since he was first elected and is very active on veterans issues as West Virginia has one of the highest rates of military service in the country. Right now, a big focus of ours is on economic opportunities for veterans and suicide prevention.

5. What is your favorite movie and does it relate with your experience in the military?

There Will be Blood. I don’t think it relates to my military service, it’s just an awesome movie.

6. Who is your favorite superhero and why?

It’s always been Superman for me. When I was in high school, I won 7 gold medals in the Maccabee Games as a sprinter on the track & field team. I wore a Superman shirt after every event and folks started calling me “The Fastest Jew in America”

7. What is your favorite traditional Jewish food?

Everything bagel, veggie cream cheese, and lox with a side of creamed herring.

Post: Lehigh High Valley Post 239

Current Residence: Fogelsville, PA

Military Service: February 1980-May 2014

Member Since Year: 2009

1.When and why did you serve in the military?

I enlisted in the Air Force Reserves because I wanted to serve my country. I turned down a Commission to enlist as a Jet Engine Mechanic because I wanted to challenge myself and learn a new trade.

2. How did you get introduced to JWV?

There was several JWV members at my shul who encouraged me to join. I was definitely the most influenced by a Holocaust survivor who told me that JWV defeats the American concept that Jews do not serve in the military or fight.

3. JWV has many programs to help support both those in and out of uniform. Which program do you feel most connected to or would want to change and why?

JWV has many programs that are not known to the public such as scouting and the grants programs. The public and Jewish service members are not readily aware of these opportunities. I feel that our job as members is that we need to create an awareness and interest in everything that we do to support those in and out of uniform as well as their families. I am currently working to increase an awareness of women veterans. I do feel that JWV should work more closely with local Jewish organizations partnering or sponsoring programs and also feel that JWV National needs to create awareness with national Jewish organizations. I do believe that they have started to create an online persona to attract present service members and those recently discharged, but it still needs to be stronger and more robust.

4. As a woman who has served in the military and is also the Chairman for the Women in the Military Committee, what do you see as the biggest problems facing women who serve in the armed forces today?

The continued awareness and acceptance of Women Veterans. The areas of concern are gender specific medical conditions including gender specific prosthesis, ancillary or support issues such as babysitting service at VA facilities, programs for homelessness which often include the Veterans and her family. Gender specific therapy for PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and aging issues. As veterans age programs for maintaining quality of life at a home or services in the home. Also the mortality rate for women is greater hence issues of living alone may become prominent.

5. Can you tell us a bit about your Jewish background and what was the catalyst moment that called you to serve?

I previously attended a Conservative shul. Presently attend a modern Orthodox shul. There have been challenges to being observant and I hope this will be better in the future with more Jewish chaplains serving in the military. An example that I can give is a common problem, trying to find services on Temporary Duty (TDY). When I was activated for both the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom I was re-issued dog tags without my religion and a Christian Bible. No Chumash was available.

6. What is your favorite movie and does it relate with your experience in the military?

I like most war movies from WWII to present. I enjoyed the movie Interceptor in which part of the movies was on a mockup of a C-5 airplane. It was a thriller, but the interior of the plane was not correct. I was laughing in the theater. The patrons kept looking at me as if I was crazy. I enjoyed Twelve Strong and Zero Dark Thirty.

7. What is you most favorite Jewish food?

Kasha and bowties, noodle kugel.

Post/Command: Post 158 Old Dominion of Tidewater (effectively Southeast Virginia)

Current Residence: Norfolk, VA

Military Service dates: 1999-2019 (from 1995-1999 I was enlisted in the reserves while attending college)

Member since year:  Oh, around about 2006’ish tried to work with the post in Jacksonville Florida, but nothing ever came of it.

  1. When and why did you serve in the military?

– Enlisted in the reserves in 1995 and commissioned in 1999.  It is our duty as Americans to serve our country in one form or another.  For me, it seemed like a good fit to do this through naval service vice some other civil service.  But, if you ask my good Jewish mother (sorry to keep referencing her but she is prolific in my life) I did it just to upset her.  I’ve never disputed that claim.

  1. How did you get introduced to JWV?

– I do not remember, just heard about it one day while stationed in San Diego, I was on sea duty with 1, 2, 3, 5 small children so did not follow up with it till much later.

  1. What is a program that JWV offers, in which you would like to be more involved with, and why?

– The main mission, Veterans Affairs.

  1. What is an American tradition that makes you the proudest?

– Being an American, there is a lot to be proud of.

  1. What is the best military Jewish holiday story you have?

– There I was in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba it was the 5th night of Hanukkah 2008 and my ship had bulled in for a brief refueling and resupplying.  There was a cool breeze blowing off of the Caribbean through the old battle field that was the Cuzco Well, and shaking the windows of the O’Kelly’s Irish Pub where my local detachment of American Jews had lit the menorah for the fifth night.  Through the flicker of these holy lights USMC Sargent C. Fox commenced to debrief the story of Hanukkah as only a Jewish Marine from West Virginia could…  I have tried to tell his story over again cleaning out the language and “civilian-izing” it, but it does not have the same comical punch to it!  This kid got so into telling the story about Judah Maccabi set up irregular gorilla operations against the Syrians through physical gestures (theatrics) of mock up squad  tactics (he got fellow Sailors and Marines to participate) and close order combat.  He really got into it.  We laughed so hard, I don’t think I had ever heard or seen anything so funny in my entire life!  Give me some time and I will try to recreate it….  It was funny.

  1. What is your favorite movie about the military and does it relate with your experience in the military?

– First off, any movie with John Wayne is top!  “In Harm’s Way,” “They Were Expendable,” “Operation Pacific,” et cetera!  But if you want a movie my wife says represents me it would be “The Last Detail.”  She says they managed to break my personality down into the three main characters.  Truth is my career has been more of a “Down Periscope” than anything else.

  1. Do you prefer Latkes or donuts on Hanukkah?

– Bourbon, was that a choice?

Post: JWV Post 243 FL

Military Service: 1993-2017

Current Residence: Miami, Florida

Member Since Year: 2002

  1. When and why did you serve in the military?

Back in 1993 I was twenty years old, working full-time as a cashier in a major supermarket while also going to school full-time. When I lost my job, I lost my means to pay for my education. So, I set out to find my next work opportunity. I happened upon a recruiting office for the New Jersey Army National Guard, already somewhat aware of the monetary benefits. Three days later I was swearing in. I left for Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, SC two months after that, followed by Advanced Individual Training in Fort Gordon, GA. The lifestyle fit me so well that when I became eligible, I transferred into the Regular Army, never looking back.

  1. How did you get introduced to JWV?

When I was stationed at Ft Monmouth, NJ, someone made me aware. I don’t remember the conversation or circumstances.

  1. What is a program that JWV offers, in which you would like to be more involved with, and why?

I am definitely focusing my time on increasing membership. I’m using my platform to improve relations with the local JROTC programs, supporting the US Navy Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) Training Division NAS Richmond, and advertising with social media and actual shaking hands with folks.

  1. What is an American tradition that makes you the proudest?

Seeing our National Colors flying in the local communities, where it is not a requirement but a choice.

  1. What is the best military Jewish holiday story you got?

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, 2007. As the Jewish Lay Leader, my Company Commander was able to secure everything we needed for Passover services, including some Manischewitz. He led the seder, we all embraced the significance of the moment, and finished off the wine.

  1. What is your favorite movie about the military? Did it relate with your experience in the military?

I don’t have a “favorite” military movie, I don’t enjoy them as I once did. But the last military movie I watched was American Sniper, and it was pretty spot on. Definitely relatable to my time in Iraq.

  1. What song gets you pumped up for a work out?

My workout playlist contains Chevelle, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold, a few others. Depending on what exercise I’m about to perform determines how much motivation I really need.

Volume 72. Number 3. Fall 2018