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Sen. TammyDuckworth takes Trump to task over his trans military ban.

The Purple Heart recipient isn't messing around.

Sen. TammyDuckworth takes Trump to task over his trans military ban.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) knows a thing or two about the military.

In 2004, while enrolled with the Illinois Army National Guard's Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Duckworth was called up and deployed to Iraq. She participated in a number of combat missions as the pilot of a Blackhawk helicopter before being shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. As a result, she lost both legs and partial use of her right arm.

After recovering, she put her focus into Veterans Affairs activism, eventually landing the title of assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012, she ran for Congress and won. In 2016, she ran for Senate and won.


This photo from 2010 shows Duckworth when she was assistant secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images.

When Donald Trump, a man who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, attacked transgender service members, Duckworth responded as only she could: from experience.

With reports circulating that the trans military ban, first announced via tweet in July, is making its way through official channels and inching closer to becoming reality, Duckworth shared a blistering note on Facebook about unit cohesion, trust, and national security.

When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops...

Posted by Senator Tammy Duckworth on Thursday, August 24, 2017

"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter after I was shot down, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown," she wrote. "All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."

"If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation. Anything else is not just discriminatory, it is disruptive to our military and it is counterproductive to our national security."

Perhaps a war hero like Duckworth can get through to Trump.

So far it hasn't been enough for him that the Department of Defense commissioned a 112-page report on the effects of allowing trans people in the military, finding that there weren't any financial or medical reasons to ban them.

Maybe there's hope that the voices of actual trans people who have served in the military might sway the president's mind or that he can be convinced by his own words, which extolled the virtues of the military's "shared sense of purpose" that transcended our differences, adding, "All service members are brother and sisters."

Duckworth speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

If all that fails, however, Duckworth is prepared to push for legislation that takes this decision out of his hands.

"If the President enacts this ban, which would harm our military readiness, the Democratic and Republican Members of Congress who oppose this discrimination must enact legislation that prevents it from taking effect," she says at the close of her statement."

There's no telling whether such a bill would have a shot of making it through Congress and avoiding a veto, but there's hope. After all, a surprising collection of otherwise conservative lawmakers stepped forward to criticize Trump's ban the day he tweeted it out. They may soon have the opportunity to take it beyond simple words and show their support through action.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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