What happened when the Army finally let women into its elite Ranger School? They kicked butt.

At the entrance to Camp Darby at Ft. Benning, Georgia, there's a black and gold sign that reads "Not for the weak or fainthearted."

Inside, volunteers for Ranger School face a harrowing nine-week boot camp before they can earn the coveted Army Ranger tab and join one of America's elite special operations teams. Early training includes long runs, swims in full combat uniform, and battles with the towering, infamous Darby Queen obstacle course.

And if that doesn't seem so bad to you, it gets tougher. From there, it's weeks and weeks of sleep deprivation, high-octane simulated missions, memory drills, and even more tests of strength and endurance.


Looks like fun. Photo by DVIDSHUB/Flickr.

Oh, and if you screw something up, you "get smoked," which means you stop what you're doing and start cranking out push-ups, flutter kicks, and other calisthenics until the drill sergeant says to stop, which could be a really, really long time.

Only the toughest men on the planet can make it through all this.

Oh sorry, did we say men? About that...

The first women ever — two of them, in fact — are set to graduate from Ranger School this week.

Earlier this summer, a class of 400 recruits entered Ranger School at Ft. Benning, including, for the first time ever (ever!), 20 women. It's all part of an assessment to determine how and if certain types of combat jobs should be open to women starting in 2016.

96 of the 400 recruits made it through the ordeal, and of the 20 women who set out to conquer Camp Darby, two made it through: Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver. And, no, they didn't get some kind of watered down, "Ranger School-Lite" experience designed just for the delicate sensibilities of ladies or whatever.

They came right into the boot camp and kicked some butt. As ladies do.

A female volunteer tackles the Darby Queen obstacle course. GIF from LedgerEnquirer/YouTube.

"The key is maintaining standards," retired Ranger Roger Carstens told NBC News. "To lower those standards to fit a quota is a disservice to comrades and country and could result in mission failure."

To pass, the volunteers not only need to demonstrate great leadership, an ability to follow orders, and exceptional mental toughness, they have to complete a grueling series of physical feats: including 49 push-ups, 59 sit-ups, and a five-mile run ... all in under 40 minutes, while starving, sleep-deprived, and being screamed at by instructors.

And having endured all of that alongside their male counterparts, these women are certified battle-ready, according to the U.S. Army.

Still, the female Ranger School grads won't be able to officially join the 75th Ranger Regiment — at least, not yet.

Women in the U.S. are just starting to get their foot in the door when it comes to combat positions. Photo by The National Guard/Flickr.

Time and time again, we've seen that when given a fair chance, women can do anything men can do (and vice versa). And it's looking like the military is finally ready to get with the times and give women a bigger role in high-stakes missions.

In January 2015, the Defense Department said that all military occupations, even combat positions, had to be open to women starting in 2016, though there may be some exceptions. The military is still trying to figure out whether women should be able to join teams like the Rangers or the Navy SEALs, for example.

But according to a U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command study, there aren't any major barriers to integrating women into an all-male SEAL team (meaning, the men they polled on said teams were like, "Yeah, bring it on!") — as long as the women can handle the physical rigors, of course. Which, you know, sort of goes without saying ... because (surprise!) men who can't handle the physical rigors aren't allowed on those teams, either.

If the success of this latest Ranger School class is any indication, we could be seeing women on these elite operations teams some day real soon.

It's about time they were given the chance to prove they belong there.

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.

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

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