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Movember is a Great Way to Start

by Bill Alley, Broadcast Host, Wordsmith and Beard Advocate

Beard-speak has developed a set of new words and definitions in this century. In all of beard-related lingo, the description of Movember has been a spark that sets normally shaven men to give their razor habit a rest. Thirty days set aside to grow whiskers in order to support a bevy of causes, with most typically related to mens health.

The project got off the ground in 1999 as a fundraiser to help animal welfare in Adelaide, South Australia. By 2004 Movember was prominent in Australia and New Zealand, focusing on prostate cancer and depression. According to Wikipedia, the awareness project spread greatly in 2007 as many European countries, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan and North America raised funds and expanded the type of charity affiliated with growing moustaches, including ways to combat suicide. In 2012 Movember joined the ranks of the 100 top non-government organizations.

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In Military Life, Clean Shave look Not So Uniform

by Bill Alley, Broadcast Host, Wordsmith and Beard Advocate

You’re going to hear our three honored guests in the Podcast say it, repeatedly: US Special Forces, an outgrowth of the youthful Green Beret look, is the desire a majority of servicemen have. Shaving constantly, especially for the 5 o’clock shadows that appear heavy just after 9am—a few hours after the daily lopping—is a top annoyance of military rigor. They have a constant reminder of those lucky SpecOps1 (Special Forces) teams that train to mingle in with societies in Asia and the Middle East, untouched by cold steel against their whiskers. They dress in fatigues and combat gear, get seen with the sharp sunglasses and head gear and carry much the same rifles to get their job done. The lack of beard for those outside this elite force never goes away...until they detach from military service. One of our interviewees said 90% of men at that moment are either starting to grow or growing their ‘Freedom’ or ‘Operator’ beards.

The Military notes found at Wikipedia have a great synopsis of facial hair rules and standards in many of the leading militia worldwide. Generally speaking, Asian nations (Russia, the Middle East and Central Asia) are more at ease with whiskers on their forces. It mirrors the East/West culture divide of religion and lineage. Europe has had a rich history of facial hair on soldiers and commanders, but conventional warfare rules in the 20th Century brought about changes that began banning some or all forms of it. Within Scandinavia, for instance, there’s more leniency in Norway while Sweden practically bans whiskers.

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Veterans  Claiming the Freedom They Fought For
by Bill Alley, Broadcast Host, Wordsmith and Beard Advocate

There’s a trend I’ve been following for years. Servicemen, across all military branches, have shared with me a very common desire.

The Job—at almost every position—has little room for beards. There are exceptions, and attitudes are changing depending on deployment or commanders allowing whiskers, but if it weren’t for Special Forces units integrating within cultures having the mandate to keep facial hair, the topic and the desire to have the freedom of bearded life would only be a dream. Many who wear the uniform would, if they could, grow and keep facial hair.

This edition of the Gazette is where we honor those who serve and sacrifice, and odd as it sounds, a heart’s desire bears discussion here. It’s something called Freedom Beard... a yearning to put the razor down, reclaiming the essence of one’s manhood borne by each whisker.

Big deal? Yes, it is. Men and women who willingly serve or have been conscripted give up much more than home, family, friends. They give up themselves. Four years, ten years, twenty years, a lifelong career… whatever their aspirations, they’ve put their life on hold, lived it in segments when given a sense of base life normalcy or leave time, all in sworn allegiance to duty for the sake of nation.

In this edition men who served get the chance to speak about their road to finding themselves. If you follow the issues surrounding our vets, many have a tough adjustment leaving military life to return to what we call ‘normal’. The heavy burdens and the deep bond they can’t dismiss creates a tailspin of isolation, frustration, and more.

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Audio Podcast: Thee Vignettes from Vets who Achieved Freedom Beards—Donovan USMC, Michigan; Rob USMC, Wisconsin; Orlando, US Army, Texas