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EAST HAVEN, Conn. – Soldiers and Airmen from several units throughout the Connecticut and Rhode Island National Guard came together to test their team and individual marksmanship skills during the Connecticut Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Competition at the East Haven Rifle Range here, Aug. 1-3. 

In addition to being a competition with awards presented to top competitors, the event was also a combat focused shooting event which was intended to expose participants to both distant and close-quarter battle with the M16 rifle and M9 pistol, according to Lt. Col. Paul Thompson, state training officer, Connecticut Army National Guard.


The weekend-long match tested the participants’ shooting abilities with both weapons in a variety of scenarios. Depending on the particular event, the competitors were either judged individually or as a part of a 4-member team.


For instance, during one event each competitor was given a short amount of time (15-30 seconds) to draw their pistol from their holster and engage a target approximately 15 meters away. They were then scored according to the number and accuracy of the shots that hit the targets.


In another event, the competitors had to work as a part of a 4-member team, running 300 meters together to the firing line, where they then had to come on line together and engage several targets with their M16 rifles at a distance of approximately 25 meters. During this event, the entire team was graded on their ability to hit the targets.


The purpose of that event was to test the competitors’ abilities to shoot with an elevated heart rate, said Staff Sgt. Larry Davis, an automated logistical specialist, 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group, CTARNG.


Davis, from Voluntown, Connecticut, said that he, like many of the competitors, participated in the competition as an opportunity to better himself and his fellow Soldiers. He also said his desire to participate stemmed from “a competitive drive and the pride involved in the chance to represent his unit.”


“This event is pretty cool because it’s not just a standard weapons qualification,” Davis said. “You get to learn different cool techniques, like shooting from the hip or shooting off-hand, which we can use to improve our shooting, and take that back to our unit,” he said.


“Everybody is having fun,” said Davis. “We’re getting to meet so many really great people,” he said.


This is especially true, Davis added, if we move on to further rounds of the competition.


The top two shooting teams two individual competitors qualified to compete in the Military Advisory Council Region 1 Combat Marksmanship Competition, scheduled to take place at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont. Sept. 18-21.


The MAC 1 regional competition will pit the Soldiers and Airmen against fellow military competitors from throughout the entire Northeast region of the United States for a chance to compete at the National competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark. next April.


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Experiencing War - Hispanic in Service

Stories from the Veterans Hispanic Project

Whatever their individual backgrounds before they came to serve their country, the Hispanics in these collections all found opportunities without impediments by donning the uniforms of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Some, like Joseph Medina, came from a family with a rich military background; others, like Eva Jacques or Raymond Ayon, were students enticed with the notion that their country needed them. None expressed that even a hint of prejudice marked their experiences, a remarkable testimony to the democratic ideal of military service.

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Afghanistan:  Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) / Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States responded by deploying military personnel in Southwest Asia. By January 2002, more than 30,000 active duty were involved and additional reserve personnel continue to be called to duty. 

As a result of Iraq’s refusal to comply with United Nations’ mandates, U.S. began deploying troops to the Gulf region in late 2002.  Coalition forces subsequently won a decisive victory against the forces under the regime of Saddam Hussein, during April 2003, in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  Coalition forces remain in Iraq today as part of ongoing peacekeeping/nation-building activities.  

Currently, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), U.S. troops are on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and neighboring countries of the former Soviet Union.  

Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)
On September 11, 2001 the United States of America was the victim of a series of suicide bombings. Nineteen  members of a terrorist organization boarded commercial passenger airplanes, hijacked them, and subsequently crashed them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.  Following the attacks, it was discovered that Al-Qaeda, an extremist Islamic militant group, was responsible for these acts of violence. Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist group’s leader, was rumored to be hiding in Afghanistan, where he trained and armed men to perform terrorist acts.  While 15 of the 19 people accused of the hijackings were from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan was chosen as a battle ground because it housed many terrorist training grounds and was a meeting place for terrorists around the world.   

The United States government immediately responded to these acts of terrorism by giving Afghanistan an ultimatum. The Taliban did not comply with the demands of the ultimatum and on October 7, 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was launched.  The stated goals of OEF became ousting the Taliban regime, which was harboring Al-Qaeda, capturing and prosecuting Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of Al-Qaeda, and permanently destroying Al-Qaeda’s organizational capacities.  The first objective, removing the Taliban from governmental power, was easily accomplished by a joint effort of US and British forces.   Also, several top leaders of Al-Qaeda have been found and either prosecuted or killed.  The remaining goals have proved much more difficult because the nature of the warfare has turned to counterinsurgency. Since the Taliban was eradicated, a power vacuum has been created which is being filled by US forces and the International Assistance Security Force (ISAF).  US officials fear that if they leave this power vacuum will be filled with counterinsurgents and Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for terrorists.  The United States remains in Afghanistan, and is likely to remain until a strong central government, capable of enforcing stability, can be established.   

Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Iraq War
The United States, with the aid of Great Britain, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 20, 2003.  Prior to the conflict there was speculation as to whether or not Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  In 2002, The United Nations Security Council, demanded full access from the Iraqi government to ensure that they possessed no weapons of mass destruction.  The United Nations found no verification of weapons of mass destruction when they searched Iraq, but evidence was said to be inconclusive.   

After OIF began, the search for WMD continued, but no such weapons were ever found.  Another justification for Operation Iraqi Freedom was that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaeda and coordinated the September 11th terrorist attacks with the organization.  No evidence of a connection was ever found between Hussein and Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda.  The last justification for the attack was that the people of Iraq were being oppressed by Hussein, and The United State’s goal was to free these civilians.  Due to the controversial nature of the invasion justification, the Iraq war was protested against in many European countries.

Despite the controversy surrounding the entrance into the war, the initial attack was very successful.  With the help superior weapons, technology, and leadership the U.S. military, with the help of their British allies, quickly and soundly defeated the Iraqi military.  Saddam Hussein and his brothers went into hiding and Hussein was later found, tried, and executed.    

Once the official Iraqi military was defeated, insurgents began fighting U.S. troops who they felt were wrongfully occupying their country. Old religious tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims were ignited and violence continued. Iraq is still unstable and The United States remains in the country for purposes of security and nation building. U.S. officials want to make sure that the new Iraqi government will be capable of retaining stability and that the insurgents will not come into power when troops leave.  Recently there has been improvement in the situation; the Iraqi government is taking increasingly more responsibility for security measures and daily governance.  In 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama laid out a withdrawal plan, which would tentatively have U.S. forces out of the country by the end of 2011.  

Learn more about Unique Health Risks for OEF/OIF.

OEF/OIF Related Resources

U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (link is external) - Information about OEF/OIF.  

Hazardous Exposure (link is external) - Information on chemical, radiation, physical and environmental hazards during military service, possible health-related problems and VA benefits.  

Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF) (link is external)Benefits information for returning services members from OEF/OIF.  

Iraq War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and related VA benefits. 

Afghanistan War Veterans' Illnesses (link is external)-  Information about health problems associated with military service during Operation Enduring Freedom and related VA benefits. 

Hepatitis C Virus Research and Education (link is external) – Information about Hepatitis C Virus.  

Veterans Health Initiative (link is external)Independent study courses to help health providers care for their Veteran patients. 

National Center for PTSD (link is external) - The Center aims to help U.S. Veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD.  

Women Veterans Health Care (link is external) – Information about and answers to some of the most freq (link is external)


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In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


Veterans day

Veterans Day honors those who served the United States in all wars, especially veterans.

© Wiberg


Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11am. Some schools are closed on Veterans Day, while others do not close, but choose to mark the occasion with special assemblies or other activities.

Veterans Day is officially observed on November 11. However, if it falls on a week day, many communities hold their celebrations on the weekend closest to this date. This is to enable more people to attend and participate in the events. Federal Government offices are closed on November 11. If Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, they are closed on Friday November 10. If Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, they are closed on Monday November 12. State and local governments, schools and non-governmental businesses are not required to close and may decide to remain open or closed. Public transit systems may follow a regular or holiday schedule.


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory". There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should "issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples."

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, which made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

In 1968 the Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) made an attempt to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday of October. The bill took effect in 1971. However, this caused a lot of confusion as many states disagreed with this decision and continued to hold Veterans Day activities on November 11. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which stated that Veterans Day would again be observed on November 11 from 1978 onwards. Veterans Day is still observed on November 11.

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