• June 12, 2017

    Home Depot announces their Orange Honors: Scholarship Contest

    The Home Depot is proud to announce their 2017 Orange Honors Scholarship Contest! One grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship to assist with tuition/fees for an Associate’s degree or higher. To enter, write a 750 - 1,250 word essay on how an educational scholarship would change your life and submit your application before 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 12, 2017.

    Scholarship details including eligibility, deadlines, essay questions, verification documents, and application process can be found in the attached document. For additional military spouse scholarship opportunities, please reach out to an education consultant at Military OneSource by calling 800-342-9647.

  • June 1, 2017

    Top Gun Instructor Discusses Elite Organizations

    Top Gun, the United States Navy's Fighter Weapons School, is synonymous with excellence.

    It exposes Navy and Marine Corps pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation, led by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Top Gun instructors are the very best in naval aviation, hand-picked to teach at a legendary school and charged with preparing pilots for air combat.

    They must master a rigorous training syllabus taught by the most experienced instructors on the staff, and are expected to execute their mission flawlessly.

    Only they don't. Flawless execution is a myth.

    I knew about Top Gun long before I instructed there. Like most aviators of my era, the movie inspired me to become a fighter pilot. I joined the Marine Corps, and my dreams started becoming reality when I began Naval Aviation Flight Training. I selected to fly the F/A-18 Hornet in Miramar, California, and Top Gun stood then, as now, at the pinnacle of my craft. I didn't know a single pilot that didn't want to earn that patch.

    Attending Top Gun as a student is highly competitive and the most sought after qualification in a fighter squadron. Selection to return as a Top Gun instructor is even more exclusive, especially for Marines. As a student, I convinced myself that I had to be flawless if I was going to become one of the three Marine Corps pilots on the staff. I thought what made the instructors exceptional was that they never made any mistakes.

    Top Gun brought out the best in all of us. I reached my peak as a fighter pilot during my last six months there when I was the training officer responsible for the conduct of the course. At that point, I'd been completely devoted to flying fighters for nearly three years straight. I was dual qualified in the F-18 and F-16, and routinely spent 15 hours a day either in simulated combat or studying it. Every day I instructed, flew with, and learned from the best fighter pilots in the world. If anyone could achieve flawless execution, it was them.

    But in three years at Top Gun I never once witnessed flawless execution, and I never once heard anyone mention it as an objective. In fact, we didn't even focus on the things we did right.

    At the debrief that followed every hour-long flight, pilots and instructors alike would spend up to eight hours together, acknowledging and openly dissecting their every mistake. We did this because we knew that although good pilots make mistakes, the best pilots are the ones who recognize and fix them. This is the skill that matters most, that saves lives in combat, and ensures we win.

    muster dave berke
    Dave Berke speaks at Echelon Front's Muster conference in New York City in May 2017. Echelon Front
    I left Top Gun in 2006 to become a forward air controller in Ramadi, then the most dangerous city in Iraq, where I conducted urban combat operations alongside SEAL Team Three's Task Unit Bruiser led by Jocko Willink. Although we were engaged in what many believed to be an unwinnable fight, I was once again surrounded by the best.

    And while Top Gun's training was replaced by combat, and pilots were replaced by SEALs, the takeaway was exactly the same: There is no such thing as perfection.

    It's a lesson all elite organizations understand. Perfect execution cannot be achieved. Instead of searching for it, they define perfection as finding and fixing every mistake. Perfection is setting your ego aside and explaining to your team what you did wrong. Perfection is building a culture where your team is willing to expose every error, even those that could be hidden or ignored. Perfection is a creating a team that competes over whose fault it is when a project fails or when goals aren't reached.

    It's time to redefine perfection. Perfection is about mistakes. You must teach your mistakes to others so they learn them in the classroom, the boardroom, and the debrief. You must teach your mistakes to others so they don't make them in combat, on a sales call, during a negotiation, or when fighting a fire, running a business, or leading a team.

    That's what happens at Top Gun, that's what happened at TU Bruiser, and that's what your objective as a leader must be.

    Full story: vetsuccess.unl.edu
  • May 26, 2017

    Make Memorial Day Every Day

    US Code, Title 36, Subtitle 1, Part A, Chapter 1, section 116 designates Memorial Day a Federal Holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. The law requests the President to issue a proclamation:
    1.calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
    2.designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace
    3.calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
    4.calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.

    Full story: military.com
  • May 24, 2017

    Former Navy Seal Joins Husker Football Team

    He was out to dinner with his mother and older brother, this not long after he'd arrived home from being deployed in Yemen, when Damian Jackson said something no one at the table saw coming.

    He was going to play college football. He was going to play college football despite the fact he'd never worn a football helmet before. Never played a game in high school. Never played a game in Pop Warner. Never even attended a football game.

    Really? That can't be. …

    A walk-on Husker few yet know is a Husker, fresh to Lincoln after spending four years as a member of the Navy SEALs, Jackson smiles at the person giving him a surprised expression across the table. "There's a lot of weird things about me, like, 'Why am I playing football?' But it's definitely the sport I want to play."

    "Never" is a weighty word, but not always associated with a wall that can't be knocked down. At least not as Damian Jackson approaches matters. You should know this about him right out of the starting blocks: He's taken out some walls already in his life.

    He is the kid who told his mother and brother he wanted to be a foreign-exchange student in France as a high school sophomore. "Why not Australia?" his brother, Adam, asked. Then he wouldn't have to deal with such a language barrier.

    No, no, no. He'd already decided on France. His mother, Bridgette Saenz, understood. That's how Damian ticks. "He wants the challenge."

    A few years later, he joined the Navy at age 18. He wanted to find a way to pay for school. There were no immediate plans of being part of the venerable SEALs.

    Then one day everyone in his boot camp was pulled aside and shown a SEAL SWCC video (a special boat team of the SEALs) of guys running and gunning and skydiving. "Who wants to do this? Raise your hand."

    You bet he did. The first test was to do six pull-ups. He knocked them out. So did about 20 other interested guys. If they wanted more, a lot more, they were to come back at 4 the next morning.

    Jackson was one of three who showed. He wasn't a swimmer, but he'd swim the 1,000 meters in the required time, run a mile-and-a-half in the required time, do the 60 to 70 push-ups and sit-ups required in a minute, and meet the necessary amount of pull-ups.

    This was just a first test. He'd go to a camp to train for another. Score excellent marks there and he'd sign a contract to train to be with the SEALs. He'd end up scoring in the top 10 percentile when his training was complete.

    So several years later, as Jackson shared with his family his next big plan, his mother did not react as most would to someone suggesting he wanted to play college football with no previous experience.

    She knew her boy.

    "When he was accepted into training, people would ask, 'Well, did he grow up shooting? Did he grow up hunting? Was he on the swim team?' And all of these answers were no," she said.

    He didn't shoot a gun until he was in SEALs training. He didn't swim until a couple of months before he left for the Navy, teaching himself with some instructions from an older gentleman at a gym in his mom's residing town of Las Vegas.

    Yet he picked it all up quick enough to receive his SEAL Trident pin at the age of 19, the youngest in his class. At that ceremony, one of Jackson's training instructors approached his mom.

    "Is that your son?"


    He began to talk about a hand-to-hand combat drill Jackson had gone through in training.

    "I have never seen someone during that training pick up another man and thrown him as your son did," he told her.

    "Is that a good thing?"

    "That's an awesome thing."

    So when Damian told them football was next, his mother and brother did not doubt.

    "This is kind of the same thing," Saenz said. "No, he didn't grow up playing football, but he's an extreme athlete and has extreme mental clarity, too. When he wants to do something, he's going to find a way and how to do it. And do it well."

    But where might he go? The dentist had an idea.


    His last year as a Husker was the first year of Devaney.

    Gary Toogood played both ways as a Nebraska letterwinner from 1960-62. He was a right guard on offense, a linebacker on defense. In years after, he was also a common handball opponent of Tom Osborne.

    He'd keep the Huskers close to his heart even after he moved to Reno, Nevada, and set up a dental practice there. It was because of this that he would one day meet Damian Jackson.

    One of the dental hygienists at the place was Jackson's mom. Naturally, her son came up on occasion. Toogood even met him several years back when he worked on his teeth.

    He saw a young man who was in incredible physical shape, standing 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, with the kind of presence that makes men and women pay notice when he walks into a room. The more he heard about Jackson, the more he thought about how he'd make a great prospect for Nebraska football.

    He'd heard how Jackson had never had a drop of alcohol and how well he'd eat to build his body right. Soda pop? Hasn't even had that since his first year of high school.

    When Jackson left for his first deployment in Yemen, he told his mom matter-of-factly, "When I come back, I'm going to be huge."

    Six months later, he returned. Huge.

    Think of all the training and the high stakes Jackson has already dealt with as a SEAL, Toogood said. "If you can get a kid that big and that fast, I mean, I think I could make him a hell of a football player."

    Toogood is also a Husker football season-tickets holder and tries to make it back for two or three games a year. So he asked Jackson and his mom if they would like to come to Lincoln for the Nebraska game against Michigan State in 2015.

    Yeah, that game. The game where Nebraska knocked off the undefeated Spartans 39-38 with two touchdowns in the final two minutes. That was the first and only football game Jackson had ever seen in person.

    Toogood got him more than just seats in the stadium. He helped him meet Mike Riley. Nebraska's coach noted that he had coached a young man at Oregon State who left the program with hopes of being a SEAL. Jackson told Riley he had hopes of playing football. Riley seemed interested.

    Jackson also understood how it might sound to a coach. "That's kind of the big thing that scares everyone away: I had no football experience," he said. "The only thing that had weight was being a SEAL. It still didn't hold too much weight."

    Still, Riley told him he could try out in an attempt to make the team if he were a student. Jackson liked the people, the football environment and the coach. Nebraska had moved to the top of his list as a potential school where he might prove himself.

    "I'm the kind of person that gets a wild idea and then I kind of go for it," Jackson said. "I put 100 percent of my energy into it."

    So did his mom. She called around to different schools where a football opportunity might be attached. "She was more fired up to do this than I was," Jackson joked.

    He applied to a collection of schools, gaining acceptance to most. But no one offered guarantees regarding football. He'd played baseball and soccer growing up in Corona, California, and then Las Vegas. He didn't have football film to show them.

    Of another concern, his acceptance letter from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln did not come as quickly as some others.

    Funny the timing on some things. On Nov. 16, 2016, Jackson's very last day of service in the Navy, he also had to have his tonsils taken out.

    When he and his mother returned home from the hospital, one more acceptance letter had come. It was from his No. 1. It was from Nebraska.

    "He wanted to scream and yell, he was so excited, but he just had his tonsils removed," Saenz said.

    That's OK, Mom told him. "I'll scream and yell for you."


    He moved. He tried out. He waited.

    Having started his college life this semester, the 24-year-old freshman is majoring in computer science. Turns out Jackson is a gamer. He likes coding. "I know a lot about computers. I'm on it all day," he said. He'd like to do something in Silicon Valley after football is over.

    But first, his football life needed a starting point. That was no lock.

    "It's not like he just went there and they said, 'Oh, you're on the team,'" Saenz said.

    Jackson was one of about 35 students to attend a Husker football tryout this spring. There are some dreamers in that group, no question. But it is a chance. Matt O'Hanlon once made the team after a tryout like this and later became a Blackshirt.

    Jackson was tested on his 40 and other agility drills. It was just one morning of tests. Not like back when he was in SEAL training and went through Hell Week on about four hours of sleep.

    His mom remembers him calling with a raspy voice she could barely understand after that week, saying he'd made it. When she drove to see him, his hands were double the size of what they were normally from all the pressure put on them through push-ups and other exercises.

    Of the more than 200 men in his SEAL qualification training session, only 40-some received that trident pin for graduating. Of those 40-some, he was one of only four who made it through without having any training hiccups that required him to "roll back" and do a test again.

    Jackson doesn't share this info. Proud people close to him do.

    "I don't really tell too many people," Jackson said of his time as a SEAL. "I just let it be, and if they know, they know."

    And for as well as he tested as a SEAL, and as much as he hoped to make the Nebraska team, he didn't know for sure what would happen.

    Guys on his SEALs team had said they thought he'd make a pretty good football player. That's no small thing given how competitive it is in that environment.

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    While the stakes were higher when he was with the SEALs, he sees similarities in how those in the Husker football program attack things.

    "Both places, there's kind of that thing where everyone wants to be the alpha male in a sense," Jackson said. "They want to be the strongest in the gym. So everyone's working their butt off. … There's no slacking."

    Jackson had to wait through some anxious days to find out if he could be part of that Husker environment.

    "I thought I had a better chance than most people because of my size, speed and athleticism, but there's definitely some uncertainty because I've never done this," he said.

    He didn't hear anything for a week or so. He even received an initial email that said, sorry, the roster is full.

    His mother suggested he reach out. "Be that gnat that won't go away. Ask them for that one chance to show them," Saenz told him.

    Jackson sent an email to Husker staffers. He explained why he chose to come to Nebraska and how he'd do anything to show them how much he wants to be part of the team.

    He received a call asking him to come to the football offices. Good? Bad?


    "You have this time to prove that we need you," Jackson was told.

    A chance is all he wanted. He'd start from the bottom but he is a Husker linebacker.

    "Most people are surprised, especially players on the team, when I tell them practice this spring was the first time I put a helmet on."


    His new teammates are curious about his time as a SEAL. They ask questions. He asks them questions, too.

    "Learning the game, especially the playbook, is something I've never seen before," he said. "It's going to take a little bit."

    He joined the team halfway through spring practices. Some teammates pointed out in the locker room a picture of Jackson in uniform and beard had appeared on social media.

    Welcome to Nebraska football.

    He got another taste of it in the Red-White Spring Game. Jackson played about eight snaps. He helped assist on one tackle.

    "I thought I was going to freak out, but it was just nice," he said. "Cool and collected."

    He doesn't get nervous about much anymore. Not after his time with the SEALs.

    Those memories are the sticking kind. Good ones. Really tough ones, too. As he tackles this Husker experience, he'll especially think of Charles Keating IV.

    Charles was one of his close friends within the SEALs. He was killed in Iraq a year ago when his base was attacked. Most days, Jackson wears a T-shirt with the initials and Roman numerals of "CKIV." There is also a bone frog emblem on it that represents the SEALs.

    He'd never had a tattoo, but last year had the bone frog emblem inked on his left rib cage as further remembrance of his friend.

    When he first told his mother he was going to get a tattoo without the full explanation, she said, "You're so beautiful. Why would you want a tattoo?" He didn't wish to talk about it then.

    When he showed it to her a week later, it was understood. It wasn't about him.

    "He's the kind of person that carries me through a lot of this. I always think of him," Jackson said. "Things that happen to me, pain or anything, doesn't really compare to losing a friend."

    It is further motivation for someone who has clearly never had it in short supply.

    As a member of the SEALs, Jackson explains that his responsibility was as a breacher. He handled explosives. If there was a barricade, he had to figure a way through it or around it.

    There is no bragging about it. It's simply said as an explanation of what he did. His description of that job, though, stuck out as he comes to his next challenge.

    "I'm the person blowing the door up."

    Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

    Full story: journalstar.com
  • May 22, 2017

    Student Veterans Exemplify Military Values and make Franco's List

    Student Veterans make Franco’s List.

    Two student veterans were recently recognized for their character and integrity and name to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs List. Both Angelica Carline, Sr – College of Business, Marketing and Shea Thompson, Fr – Fine and Performing Arts, Art were awarded the honor based on the six building blocks of character: caring, citizenship, commitment, dependability, open-mindedness and respect.

    Full story: news.unl.edu
  • May 12, 2017

    Mattis Discusses Security Issues With Turkish, British Officials in London

    WASHINGTON, May 11, 2017 — Since his arrival in London yesterday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has met with senior officials of U.S. allies to discuss security issues of mutual concern.

    Today in London, Mattis met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to discuss a range of bilateral security issues, according to chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White.

    U.S. Commitment to Turkey

    The secretary reiterated to the Turkish minister America’s defense commitment to Turkey, a NATO ally, White said. Both leaders, she added, affirmed their support for peace and stability in Iraq and Syria.

    Yesterday in London, Mattis met with his counterpart from the United Kingdom, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, White said.

    The leaders discussed defense trade, defense posture issues, Afghanistan, NATO, and North Korea, she said.

    Mattis also thanked Fallon for his country’s sustained leadership in NATO, acknowledged the U.K.’s increased defense spending and discussed opportunities to adapt the NATO alliance in response to increased threats, White said.

    U.S.-British Partnership

    The two leaders pledged to continue their dialogue on shared security interests and the U.S.-U.K. bilateral defense agenda, she added.

    Mattis arrived in London after previous stops in Lithuania and Denmark, where he also met with U.S. partners and reaffirmed key military alliances.

    In Vilnius, Lithuania, yesterday, Mattis reassured U.S. allies in the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia of American solidarity with them and of U.S. determination to defend Baltic and other NATO territory against any aggression.

    Also in Lithuania, Mattis met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Estonian Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna, Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundus Karobolis.

    In Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, which was the first stop of his trip, Mattis and the Danish defense minister co-hosted a meeting of senior leaders from 15 countries that are key contributors to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

    Full story: defense.gov