Triumphs and Tragedies Only Military Families Will Understand

Receiving life-changing support

Brittany ZurnCourtesy Brittany Zurn

Childhood sweethearts Aaron and Brittany Zurn met when he was 13 and she was 11—they began dating three years later. Eventually, they married and had three children as Aaron joined the Marines, working up to become part of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations, an elite position that requited a seven-month trial period with strenuous physical and mental testing.

Two weeks after the couple’s third child was born, Aaron was deployed to Afghanistan, where he communicated with Brittany daily. So when he went four days without calling or texting in 2014, she knew something was wrong. Then, when Aaron finally reached Brittany, his call left more questions than answers. “He told me he fell from a helicopter and hurt his shoulder and head,” she recalls. “He was heavily medicated and he couldn’t give me much more detail than that.” It turned out that not only did Aaron have a TBI from his fall, but his mental capacity was diminished to that of a 13-year-old and he was suffering from severe PTSD.

An added insult to injury was the financial burden the couple faced as a result of Aaron’s inability to continue serving in the special forces. Aaron’s paycheck was cut in half suddenly, while their expenses remained the same. “When Aaron was injured, Hope for the Warriors was the first assistance check I received,” Brittany recalls.

While it has been a long road for Aaron, Brittany’s life has been turned upside down as well. “I went from a stay-at-home mom taking my kids to the park to becoming a caregiver for my husband,” she says. She now spends three or four days a week taking Aaron to doctors appointments at the VA and hours on the phone with doctors and insurance companies. “I feel like his assistant now,” she says.

For Brittany, the hardest part of Aaron’s injury is the loss of their life-long relationship. “I’ve loved him over half my life,” she says. “Not having the relationship that we had before the injury is like a death, only when someone passes you can heal. With a brain injury, it’s a shadow of what was.”

In an effort to become the healthiest version of herself possible during this trying time, Brittany began going to therapy. “My therapist told me, ‘You’re surviving the loss of your husband, and now you have to get to know this new man.’ It put it in perspective for me,” she says. With the aid of a scholarship from of Hope for the Warriors, Brittany returned to college, earned her bachelor’s degree, and began working full time.

Brittany’s commitment to using her family’s tragedy to help others has proven helpful to her own healing. She offers words of wisdom for those who now stand in her shoes searching for hope. “You’ll go through a time of thinking you can do it all on your own—but take the help,” she says. “Join the support group. Keep doing things for yourself, still shower and get ready every day. Make sure your family fully understands and gets involved as well.”

In the future, Brittany hopes to continue advocating for veterans and invisible injuries like the one her husband suffered. “There’s never enough we can say to thank service members. Traumatic brain injury and PTSD need to have more recognition,” she says. “My hope is that in the future we can find a new normal with a new label that isn’t ‘wounded’ or ‘injured.’” Find out the 60 things every caregiver needs you to know.

This Is How Scientists Name the New Species They Discover

Heteropoda DavidbowieCourtesy Ingi Agnarsson. Ilpo Musto/Shutterstock
Heteropoda davidbowie (left) is a yellow arachnid that just might be mistaken for a spider from Mars.

For years, people have been naming their pets—and their kids, 
in some cases—after pop icons they love. In 2016, 370 people in the United States named their baby girls Khaleesi in honor of a Game of Thrones character.

Scientists, too, are constantly naming newly discovered species 
after celebs. But these names might carry a little bit more weight: While a baby named Khaleesi can get older and decide to legally change her name, scientific names go down in the history books. There’s the Agra schwarzeneggeri beetle, named after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps; the Aleiodes shakirae wasp, named after Shakira’s hip and belly dance movements; and the list goes on.

Turns out, there is a method to this seemingly mad nomenclature. Sometimes having a recognizable name attached to what might otherwise be an unremarkable little creature is the only way for the species to get widespread attention. The latest case in point: In September 2017, researchers announced the discovery of 15 new species of spiders in the Caribbean. They named three of them after Leonardo DiCaprio, David Bowie, and Michelle Obama. Here are the 10 most dangerous bugs to watch out for this summer.

Agra SchwarzeneggeriCourtesy Karolyn Darrow/© National Museum of National History
Agra schwarzeneggeri is a beetle with bulging legs that look like buff biceps.

Spider expert Ingi Agnarsson is an associate professor of biology at the University of Vermont and was the lead researcher of the Caribbean study, published in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. He says scientists who discover a new species can basically call it whatever they want, 
as long as they use the correct genus name. For example, some scientists name a new species after a loved one or another scientist; it’s frowned upon to name it 
after themselves. Agnarsson’s team called one spider Spintharus skelly, after a researcher’s cat, Skelly. The only real problem, he said, would be if a scientist was going to receive any sort of potential benefit, such as if a megastore paid a lab to christen a species walmarti. (Even when the names don’t have traditional Latin translations, Latin-ifying names for species is a common practice in science. Generally, just add an i if it’s a masculine name and an ae if it’s feminine.)

Agnarsson, along with four students who participated in the research, named spiders after prominent advocates for animal conservation and action on climate change.

Among the spiders Agnarsson named are Spintharus davidbowiei (not the first creature named after Bowie), S. david­attenboroughi 
(not even close to the first creature 
to be named after David Attenborough), and S. leonardo­dicaprioi (Spintharus being the spiders’ genus).

InfographicBryan Lessard/Courtesy CSIROAgnarsson says some species are named this way because scientists have trouble getting the public interested in their studies. Identifying them with a recognizable person is 
a way to raise awareness and provide an opportunity to learn about the issues surrounding nature and conservation. It also allows scientists 
to highlight some humanlike traits in these animals and ultimately make them a bit more relatable.

“We’re always trying to find ways of calling attention to major issues in conservation,” Agnarsson says. “This way, the general public will hear about it.” Some real (but obscure) Latin words won’t get many headlines, but the Neopalpa donald­trumpi moth and the Spintharus berniesandersi spider managed to get people talking. Next, find out about these animals with seriously funny names you never knew about.

10 Things the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About Area 51

A family owns private land six miles from Area 51

Unpaved road leading to Area 51, NevadaTristan Brynildsen/Shutterstock

In 1889, the Sheahan family founded Groom Mine and settled on what’s now the Nevada Test and Training Range. In the 1950s, the Sheahans dealt with stray bullets, radioactive fallout, bomb blasts, and other dangers from military tests, but the family refused to leave and took their rights to the land to court. They don’t live there anymore, but they do still own and occasionally visit the property, which sits just six miles from the end of Area 51’s runway. If the Sheahans want to take guests, the newbies need to provide information such as Social Security number and birthdate before gaining access. Check out more secrets the CIA doesn’t want you to know.

This Is What Those Airport Taxiway Signs Mean

Kaohsiung , Taiwan - OCT 03 , 2017 : Evaair aircraft landed and drive in taxiway at Kaohsiung international airport , view from terminalSirada Wichitaphornkun/Shutterstock

The worst part of every flight is indubitably the time before you even get off the ground. The plane is packed, everyone is anxious to get off the ground, and the pilot is taking upward of 15 minutes to taxi around the airport. Is the airport even this big? Where could this plane possibly be going? For something that’s about to take us thousands of feet into the air at over 300 miles per hour, we certainly don’t know much about planes—check out these 32 things your pilot won’t tell you to fill some of those knowledge gaps.

There’s actually a pretty complex system of taxiways and runways that pilots have to navigate before each flight, but luckily, they are well-marked—so even passengers can follow along if they know what they’re looking at! The signs that appear most frequently on taxiways are black and yellow and have numbers or letters on them. Letters denote taxiways, while numbers indicate runways, according to The Points Guy.

A black sign with yellow letters means that you’re on the taxiway it identifies. So, if you see a yellow letter “B” on a black sign, you’re on taxiway B. Often, these are accompanied by directions to other taxiways, the signs of which are yellow with black lettering and a black arrow that points to where that taxiway is located. They will always be on the left side of the taxiway before the intersection, according to the FAA, and are arranged from left to right based on their location, clockwise, in the intersection. The same color rules hold true for numbered signs; the numbers just mean that it’s a runway instead of a taxiway. Back on the plane, here are some hidden airplane features you didn’t know existed.

If you think those red signs look a little more urgent, it’s because they are! Pilots need special clearance to pass these because they indicate that the plane is headed for the intersection of a runway, where another plane could be gearing up to take off. So if you’re feeling impatient while taxiing before your next flight, remember that it’s because your pilot is following certain rules to keep you safe. Nervous fliers, check out these facts about flying that will help you stay calm on your next flight.

This Is How Much Trader Joe’s Employees Really Make

Happy Trader Joe's employee returning shopping carts to the store outside entrance with woman customerKristi Blokhin/ShutterstockTrader Joe’s has quite a reputation to uphold. Its devoted following of shoppers can’t get enough of its tasty original products and affordable prices. And its employees seem happy too… but is it really as great a place to work as the store atmosphere would have you think?

Well, first of all, you technically won’t find any “employees” stocking shelves at Trader Joe’s. If you’re hired by Trader Joe’s, you become a “Crew Member.” The TJ’s team is ubiquitously referred to as the “Crew,” in hopes of fostering a sense of teamwork and community. As for how much they make, Glassdoor reports that Crew Members make an average of $14 an hour, even ones who work part-time. With the national earnings average for grocery store clerks falling at around $9.99 per hour, Trader Joe’s is definitely ahead in that regard. TJ’s employees are also eligible for a 7-10 percent raise every year, and for a 401k plan if they work for more than 30 hours a week for three months. Learn the other secrets Trader Joe’s employees wish they could tell you.

But the positive atmosphere of working there extends beyond the monetary. Since 2010, Trader Joe’s has made Glassdoor’s list of Top 100 Best Places to Work five separate times, landing at #70 in 2018. Employee reviews on Glassdoor claim that the bosses and managers truly care about them, that their coworkers have a positive outlook and seem happy to be there, and that the benefits are great. One former employee even claims that, while retail jobs are notorious for being unpleasant, “Trader Joe’s makes it actually fun and bearable.” It probably doesn’t hurt that employees get to taste test new products, either! Next, learn the foods nutritionists always buy at Trader Joe’s.

12 Italian Phrases Everyone Should Know How to Use

Scusi/scusa (excuse me)

Italian-Phrases-Every-Global-Citizen-Should-KnowTatiana Ayazo/, istock

(SKOO-zi/SKOO-sa) Senior Instructor Chiara Torriani, from the University of Colorado, Boulder Department of French and Italian, likes to teach politeness, and being properly cultured certainly means knowing the art of politesse in Italian phrases. To say “excuse me” in a variety of contexts, the word scusi (or when addressing someone informally, scusa) is extremely helpful. It can be used to apologize for an error, to excuse yourself for having to leave early, to get someone’s attention, or to get through a crowd. Use scusi to address an older person or someone who you do not know; scusa for a peer, friend, or younger person. And if you’re going to be entering the home of an Italian, says Torriani, you should say permesso. “There is no equivalent in English,” she says, “but it is a very polite thing to say when entering someone’s home.” Examples: Scusa, I need to go now. Scusi, permesso (when navigating a crowd). Scusi, I didn’t do it on purpose. You can also check out these popular British phrases here.