Military News

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

U.S. Air Force Delivers Five Plane Loads of Supplies to Burmese People

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - Five more
Air Force C-130 Hercules airlifters delivered supplies to Burma yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said here today. This brings the total flights into the cyclone-ravaged country up to 36, with more than 800,000 pounds of relief supplies delivered, Whitman said.

"We continue to plan more flights, but ... it's on a day-by-day basis," he said.

military junta leaders must approve each and every relief flight coming in to the country. The official death toll from Cyclone Nargis has been set at 78,000 with 56,000 still unaccounted for. Second order effects -- water-borne illnesses, starvation, exposure etc. -- may kill thousands more, United Nations officials said.

The American effort airlifted U.S. Agency for International Development relief supplies into Rangoon. The C-130s brought in water, blankets, hygiene kits, insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria, plastic sheeting for shelter, food, rice, and medical supplies.

Each hygiene kit is intended to last a family of five for two weeks and includes: detergent, toilet paper, toothpaste and tooth brushes, sanitary napkins, razors, soap bars, shampoo and combs.

Water jugs are 2.5-gallon collapsible plastic containers.

The U.S. effort is enough to help 131,000 people. However, United Nations officials estimate that about 2.4 million people in the Irrawaddy River delta need some form of aid. Overall, the U.S. effort has delivered $19.1 million in aid to the country.

U.S. ships remain off the coast of Burma ready to help if and when the Burmese junta allows them to do so, U.S. officials said.

American helicopters remain on alert in neighboring Thailand to aid in delivering relief supplies to those most affected by the storm.

America Supports You: Wounded Warriors Hit 'Road 2 Recovery'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - Neither rainy May skies nor unseasonably cool temperatures stopped cyclists from beginning the 480-mile "Road 2 Recovery" ride from Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., today. Through bicycling, the Road 2 Recovery organization assists veterans with mental and physical rehabilitation.

About 20 cyclists, including six wounded warriors from Walter Reed and three from Fort Bragg, N.C., gathered at the Mologne House on the Walter Reed campus for well-wishes before heading south.

The journey is more than just the physical challenge it represents for many of the recovering soldiers,
Army Col. Patricia D. Horoho, commander of Walter Reed Health Care System, said.

"This event really is symbolic of the road that our warriors in transition take from the point of injury on the battlefield through the entire journey of healing to the triumph of full recovery," she told those gathered to see the cyclists off. "This is truly a testament of their courage and commitment to take control of their lives as they continue the healing journey."

America is doing its best to bolster that courage, said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison.

"We hope you feel embraced by the
American people, who every day are trying to find ways to communicate one message to you," the deputy assistant secretary. "That message is: America does support you."

The riders are sure to feel that embrace as they make their way south. Bicyclists are expected to join them at different stages of the ride, including some stars in the cycling community.

"We're very excited about the ride," said John Wordin, founder of Road 2 Recovery. "It's going to be an interesting challenge [for the veterans]."

Wordin said the idea for the program originated in September, when he was invited to do a ride with veterans from the
Palo Alto, Calif., Veterans Affairs facility who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. The facility had started a cycling program as a regular part of the patients' mental rehabilitation, he said.

"By participating in cycling, it helps speed up their recovery process," Wordin said. "There have been a lot of studies done on physical activity, and there are two things it does.

"One is it decreases depression," he said. "The second thing is, by doing a physical activity it helps develop your muscles."

Army 1st Lt. Ferris Butler, soon to be promoted to captain, is walking proof of that.

"I sat in a wheelchair for 15 months, so getting strength back in my legs to the point where I was just able to stand under my own weight was important," he said. "Riding a bike is no impact, and it's just an amazing way ... to get in shape. It just really expedited my therapy."

Butler was injured in a bomb blast on Dec. 21, 2006, in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. He lost his left leg below the knee after an attempt to save it failed. He also lost half of his right foot to the explosion.

He said that, not only is biking a great way to shape up physically, but also just getting out of the hospital for awhile is a big lift.

"It's just so good to get out of the hospital, just leave this place for a week or even a day," Butler said. "I don't know if I have the expectations of making the 480 miles, but we'll see. I've got goals for each day, and I'm just going to take it one day at a time.

"This is just a stepping stone for me," he added.

Though he only recently received his three-wheeled bike and didn't get a lot of road training in,
Army Spc. Justin Clark said he's planning on finishing the whole ride.

"If I don't, I'll be kind of frustrated with myself," he said in halting speech. "But if I make it one mile, it's more than I would have done by not doing it at all."

Clark suffered a traumatic brain and spinal cord injury when he was electrocuted and fell south of Baghdad in 2004. He can't remember exactly where the accident happened. His fiancee, Audrey Proctor, has one reason for making the ride with Clark: "Because he wanted me to do it," she said. "That was pretty much it."

She said she's confident the challenge is manageable for both of them, she added.

If the 80-mile-a-day average turns out to be too strenuous for any of the riders, two "sag wagons" will be available for cyclists who need to ride for a bit. Cyclists can continue cycling when they're ready.

The Road 2 Recovery ride concludes in Charlotte on May 25 with a few special events, which include a celebratory lap around the Lowe's Motor Speedway. The riders will be welcomed by cheering fans gathered for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that will be run later that evening.

A tour of the garages will be followed by the opportunity to take in the race from catbird seats in the one of the corporate suites.

Road 2 Recovery is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Bushes Express Condolences to Chinese; Cargo Aircraft Delivers Aid Team

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - President and Mrs. Bush went to the Chinese embassy here today to express their condolences to the Chinese people following the devastating May 12 earthquake in China's Sichuan province. Even as the Bushes signed a book of condolence, an
Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft with a five-member Air National Guard crew was landing in Chengdu, China, delivering a nine-member U.S. Agency for International Development team to help with search-and-rescue efforts in the devastated region.

"We've come to express our country's condolences for those who mourn for the loved ones," Bush said at the embassy. "We stand ready to help in any way that the Chinese government would like. We know there's great courage being displayed ... as rescue workers search for those who may still be living."

The team will teach Chinese rescuers to use specialized search-and-rescue gear. Chinese officials said more than 34,000 people are known dead following to the 7.9 magnitude quake. The area has been hit by aftershocks that have reached magnitude 5.9, officials said.

Today's mission was the third C-17 flight into the region.

The Chinese requested U.S help in obtaining satellite imagery of dams, reservoirs, roads and bridges. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has established a dedicated effort to provide that support, officials said.

Earlier C-17 flights delivered loads of food, water containers, blankets, lanterns, generators, and various hand tools to Chengdu.



McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $139,000,000 ceiling-priced indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of F/A-18F aircrew and maintainer systems, computer-based training systems and support for the Royal Australian Air Force under the Foreign
Military Sales Program. Initial requirements include two each: Tactical Operation Flight Trainers, Low Cost Trainers, and Integrated Virtual Environment Maintenance Trainers, and related courseware. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and work is expected to be completed in May 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (N61339-08-D-0006).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, LP. Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., is being awarded a $35,211,759 firm-fixed-priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0005 under contract (M67854-07-D-5025) for integrated logistic support sustainment to support Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and work is expected to be completed by January 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The
Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, LP. Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., is being awarded a $23,960,073 firm-fixed-priced modification to previously awarded delivery order #0003 under contract (M67854-07-D-5025) for integrated logistic support sustainment to support Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Work will be performed in York, Pa., and work is expected to be completed by Jan. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The
Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded $11,214,202 for delivery order #0050 under previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (M67854-04-D-5016) for the purchase of 37 Medium
Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) variants and 28 weapons mount kits for MTVR vehicles. Work will be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., and work for this delivery order is expected to be completed by Dec. 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.


Avon Protection Systems, Inc., Cadillac, Mich., was awarded on May 16, 2008, a $22,431,374 cost-plus-fixed fee contract for up to 500,000 joint service general purpose masks. Work will be performed in Cadillac, Mich., and is expected to be completed by May 16, 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Bids were solicited on Oct. 4, 2007, and two bids were received. U.S.
Army Research and Development Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (DAAD13-00-C-0021).

Oregon Steel Mills Inc., Portland, Ore., was awarded on May 16, 2008, a $16,170,000 firm-fixed price contract for high-hard armor. Work will be performed in Portland, Ore., and is expected to be completed by Jul. 28, 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Feb. 7, 2008, and four bids were received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-08-C-0397).


Air Liquide America,
Houston, Texas is being awarded a maximum $31,338,348.00 firm fixed price contract for gaseous nitrogen. Other locations of performance are California. Using service is Air Force. There was originally one sole source proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Date of performance completion is Oct. 31, 2013. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center, San Antonio, Texas, (SP0600-08-D-1531).


Battelle Memorial Institute of
Columbus, Ohio, is being awarded a cost plus fixed fee contract for $11,583,533 (estimated). This contract action will provide technical and analytical Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) research. At this time $733,870 has been obligated. Offutt AFB, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-00-D-3180, Delivery Order: 0545).

Interactive Web Site Helps Pilots 'See and Avoid' Midair Collisions

By William Murray
Special to American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - General aviation officers and
military safety officers are using an interactive Web site created and run by the Air National Guard to help eliminate midair collisions and close calls. Each year, on average, there are 30 midair collisions and thousands of near midair collisions internationally, and the number of unreported close calls in the United States alone may be much higher, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In 2005, a
military training aircraft collided with a civilian crop duster, resulting in destruction of both aircraft and the death of the civilian pilot. Following that tragedy, the Air National Guard created the Web site portal to help make the skies safer for pilots and passengers.

Adopted for use throughout the Defense Department in 2006, the portal offers a centralized, credible Web site for civilian pilots and
military safety officers. The site offers reciprocal information and education on airspace, visual identification, aircraft performance and mutual hazards to safe flight, with the ultimate goal of eliminating midair collisions and reducing close calls.

The portal features an easy-to-use graphical interface that permits aviators to locate reported midair collisions and near midair collisions on a Google-driven map, and then directly link to the FAA or National Transportation Safety Board official report on the incident.

"Open communication is paramount in aviation safety," said Lt. Col. Ed Vaughan, combat fighter pilot and the creator and program manager of the SeeAndAvoid portal. "We built this portal to communicate vital information that saves lives."

The Defense Safety Oversight Council funded the portal to help to reduce accidents in the

"One general aviation pilot in
Arkansas told us that the SeeAndAvoid site helped him avoid flying across military low-level training routes where he had been having near-misses for years," Vaughan said, "As that pilot told us, without this information, the question was when, not if, he was going to collide with a fighter jet."

General aviation pilots, by and large, use the Internet to get their most important flight planning information, such as weather, Notices to Airmen – known in the aviation world as NOTAMs -- and routing. The SeeAndAvoid portal provides key information for flight planning, as knowing where
military operational flying areas are and how to avoid that airspace is crucial to a safe flight.

military safety officers, provides the opportunity to create a Web-based midair-collision-avoidance educational and public-outreach program. The site integrates and links with related sites such as FAA Special Use Airspace, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Air Safety Foundation, and others to create a comprehensive online flight-safety community.

Air Force's Air Combat Command joined as a major contributor in 2007 and promotes the Web site internationally. Efforts to integrate a new FAA deconfliction program will provide further value to military pilots under a new low-level deconfliction project jointly sponsored by the FAA and DoD.

The goal is to eliminate midair collisions and reduce close calls through continuous flight safety and proper flight planning, officials said. allows users to find and link to all existing
military mid-air collision-avoidance programs on a single Web site, while also enjoying new access to information from government agencies and military bases that previously did not have Web-based content.

By promoting information exchange between civilian pilots and the military flight safety community, provides one-stop shopping to help all pilots safely share the skies.

(William Murray is a public affairs specialist with the New Media directorate of American Forces Information Service.)

Wounded U.S. Soldiers, Marines Participate in Ice Hockey Clinic

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 - A group of wounded U.S.
military veterans gathered at a Maryland ice rink for some fun, camaraderie and exercise May 17. Armed Forces Day is an ideal time to start a free ice hockey clinic for wounded warriors, John Coleman, president of the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association, said as he watched sled-mounted and upright disabled veterans skate across the slick, glistening surface at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Md.

"It is appropriate that today is Armed Forces Day," Coleman said. "There is not enough that we can do for these guys."

Most of the injured soldiers and Marines on the ice were undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here, Coleman noted.

"The Gardens Ice House has been very helpful," Coleman said, noting the rink provided free ice time for the veterans' hockey clinic. Claiborn Carr III, one of the rink's owners, and manager Thomas Hendrix are
military veterans themselves, he observed.

The clinic dovetails with other USA Hockey-sponsored events for disabled players, Coleman said. USA Hockey promotes and governs amateur ice hockey events across the United States. It provided jerseys and equipment for the clinic, as well as the specially constructed sleds that were used by veterans who lost legs or suffered other severe injuries during their overseas service.

USA Hockey sponsors four categories for disabled players: sled, amputee, hearing impaired, and special hockey for developmentally disabled children and adults, said Bob Banach, USA Disabled Hockey's southeastern district representative. The clinic, he said, featured sled players and standing amputees.

Some veterans at the clinic employed prosthetic legs to skate upright, while others who'd lost one or both lower limbs opted for the sleds. The sled-borne players employed two shortened hockey sticks with metal picks at the ends that are used to dig into the ice for propulsion, Banach, a
Coast Guard veteran, explained.

Offering a cost-free ice hockey clinic for wounded veterans is a way to show appreciation for their military service, he said.

"These guys have really sacrificed themselves for our country," he said. "We need to show them that we're here for them. We'll help them transition back to anything they want to do; we will help them do that -- such as playing hockey."

Marine Cpl. Ray Hennagir, 21, a combat engineer who hails from Deptford, N.J., took to his sled with apparent ease as he zipped across the slick ice and used his truncated hockey stick to shoot hard rubber pucks into the goal netting. Hennagir lost both of his legs and four fingers of his left hand when an improvised explosive device detonated during a mission near Fallujah, Iraq, on June 16, 2007.

Hennagir thinks he is lucky to have survived the blast, which he said hurled him into the air.

"Someone upstairs likes me," Hennagir said with a grin during a pause in the action at the rink.
Military surgeons were able to save his left arm, which also was damaged in the explosion. Hennagir spent about four months at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.

Hennagir has been undergoing rehabilitation treatment at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here since early August. He said he has prosthetic legs that attach to his residual limbs so he can walk upright, but he's still mastering the process.

"They're doing a great job," Hennagir said of the medical care he is receiving at Walter Reed.

"I'm a big hockey fan," he said, noting he plans to continue attending the weekly ice hockey clinics and perhaps compete in sled hockey or mono-skiing in the Paralympics

"Of all the things I've lost, I miss my fingers the most," he said.

Hennagir said he always wanted to be in the
military and that he appreciates how people routinely thank him for his service to the country. "It's good that there are people out there that are supportive" of America's veterans, Hennagir said.

Another sled-borne veteran,
Army Spc. Mike Williams, 22, severely injured his right knee during a battle with insurgents in Taji, Iraq, on Dec. 28, 2007.

"We started to get into a firefight, and I jumped out of a truck with all my gear on. I went down. My knee collapsed; I tore all of the ligaments," recalled Williams, a
Baltimore native who arrived at Walter Reed in January and expects to undergo another eight months of rehabilitation there.

The care provided at Walter Reed is "outstanding," Williams, a field artilleryman, said. "I'm taken care of with every need that I have; I've never had a problem with anybody there," he said.

Williams, who has played ice hockey before, immediately took to playing the game in a sled. "I'm learning how to play a different sport, but it's a lot of fun, though, once you get the hang of it," he said.

Williams and his brother, Josh, both joined the
Army on Nov. 19, 2003. Williams said his brother is a light-wheeled-vehicle mechanic now stationed in South Korea. "We wanted to join the service to do our fair share," he said.

Williams observed that "tons of people just show their appreciation" for recovering servicemembers at Walter Reed. "They take us out to dinners, ball games, football games," he noted. "I couldn't thank everybody enough. It's great what they do for us."

Wounded warriors at Walter Reed enjoy a tight camaraderie, Williams said. "I've made a lot of friends," he said. "We make a lot of jokes and have a lot of good fun."

Williams said he's proud of his and other veterans'
military service. "The more people we can get to volunteer (for military service), the safer we can keep our country," he said.

Joe Bowser, a 48-year-old retired
Army Reserve noncommissioned officer who lost his lower right leg during an enemy rocket attack in Balad, Iraq, on April 12, 2004, was stickhandling and passing the puck along with other military veterans at the hockey clinic. Bowser, who lives near Baltimore, now wears a prosthetic leg and plays with a local USA Hockey-affiliated hockey team.

Other veterans participating in the clinic had suffered gunshot wounds, nerve damage and other injuries, explained Bowser, who was medically retired from the
Army as a sergeant first class.

The ice hockey clinic gets the wounded veterans "out of the hospital," Bowser said, noting the veterans can get some exercise while having fun.

Army Spc. Jeff Lynch, 23, from Fayetteville, N.C., is at Walter Reed receiving care for complications that developed from injuries he suffered two years ago when an improvised explosive device detonated in Mosul, Iraq. Lynch was on his second Iraq tour when he was medically evacuated back to the United States in March 2007. He'd experienced an adverse reaction to his medication, developed blood clots in his lungs, and had problems with his stomach, pancreas and gall bladder.

"It's like three steps up, four steps back, but you can only take one day at a time, I guess," Lynch said of his recovery process.

"I think the best thing Walter Reed and the
Army can do is to get the soldiers out of Walter Reed as much as they can," he said as he watched his fellow veterans enjoy themselves on the ice.

Lynch said he plans "to stay busy, get my stuff done and get back to my unit so that I can serve my country."

Army Staff Sgt. Michael Cain, 28, a Berlin, Wis., native, said he was driving a truck in Iraq on Aug. 7, 2003, when a pair of buried landmines detonated underneath his vehicle. He lost his right leg in the explosion and suffered other severe injuries to his left leg, hip, jaw and thumb. He also was shot in the back of the head and in the back, he said.

Cain was medically retired from the
Army on Dec. 7, 2004. He's now in the process of moving to Laurel from Wisconsin. He heard about the wounded warrior ice hockey clinic from a friend. "I'm glad I'm here; this is fun," he said as he prepared to chase the puck in his sled.

Cain said he played ice hockey in
Wisconsin during his younger days. "I'm going to try to get into the sled-hockey league," he said.

Military Medical University Dispenses Medical Education, Much More

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

May 20, 2008 -
Navy Ens. Sandra McLaughlin could have gone to medical school anywhere, all expenses paid. But after a year at Yale University's School of Medicine, she felt she wasn't in the best place to prepare for a career treating combat casualties. "It didn't really feel like a good fit," said McLaughlin, reflecting on a climate that, after the initial post-9/11 surge of patriotism, "isn't always favorable to the military."

With fellow U.S. Naval Academy graduates serving in harm's way, McLaughlin said, she felt committed to becoming the
best military doctor possible. So she transferred to an institution dedicated to training military doctors, graduate nurses and other specialized health care professionals for the unique challenges of military medicine: the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The university also trains medical professionals for the Public Health Service, many who go on to serve with the Indian Health Service.

McLaughlin was among 157 doctors, 25 nurses and more than 60 Ph.D.-trained medical professionals to graduate over the weekend at USUHS, on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center here. After receiving her medical degree and a promotion to lieutenant, McLaughlin is off to an internship at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., before joining the fleet.

"This is a full-package program," she said of the USUHS curriculum, which blends a traditional medical education with operational
military training.

Students at the school get all the academics and hands-on training offered at any other accredited medical school, but also something more, explained Dr. Charles Rice, university president. They're trained to be military officers and
leaders, able to provide top-notch medical care in difficult or austere conditions.

"The school of medicine trains its students to become the finest physicians in the largest, most sophisticated hospitals in the
military health care system," said Dr. Larry Laughlin, dean of the university's F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. "But what makes us unique is that we also train our students to be able to practice good medicine in bad places. And that's what sets us apart."

The curriculum emphasizes subjects just touched on at many medical schools: prevention, combat resuscitation, global infectious disease, humanitarian assistance and medical response to weapons of mass destruction. "We amplify this, because it's something we believe our graduates will have to deal with," Laughlin said.

Two major field training exercises at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., expose students to realistic combat scenarios and "give them a sense of the complexities of war and practicing medicine under those circumstances," he said.

Lectures by uniformed medical professionals who have served in combat or supported humanitarian assistance missions offer students unique insights. "We get the experience of our senior medical officers and nonmedical officers about what they went through, the challenges they faced, and how they dealt with them," said
Army Capt. Massimo Federico, valedictorian of the school's 2008 graduating class.

"It adds another dimension to our training, because we all know that we will be participating in something like that at some point in the future," said Federico, who spent nine years as an
Army medical evacuation pilot before coming to USUHS. "That's why we're here training to be physicians."

Carol Scheman, USUHS vice president, said she found something distinctive here that's simply not found at other medical institutions. "There's a real sense of mission here that sets the students apart," she said. "What's evident here that these students are committed to something larger than themselves."

Also unique to USUHS is a sense of
teamwork not necessarily found at other medical schools. Air Force Capt. Brent Feldt, a member of the Class of 2008, said he picked up on the difference quickly when he began interviewing at medical schools.

"At other schools, you got more of a sense that people were looking out for themselves," said Feldt, a former Air Force communications officer. "But here, students are really motivated to help each other out and help each other succeed. That's because we know we will be working together for a long time."

"Our students know and understand from day one that they will be practicing and working together for probably the next 25 years," Laughlin said. "That changes the attitude of interaction. They become more of a team. Early on, they begin to depend on one other rather than competing in traditional ways. They are bonded."

The training emphasizes that doctors are part of a full
military medical team. Medical and graduate nursing students work side by side during medical exercises. Medical students realize the skills and experience nurses bring to the table "and come to value that very quickly," Rice said.

"It's a team concept, and that's what's important about this university," said
Army Col. Bruce Schoneboom, acting dean of USUHS' Graduate School of Nursing. "We have doctors and nurses training together, and it is that team that will be out there in the operational setting."

Clinical rotations at major
Army, Navy and Air Force medical centers during students' third and fourth years of study provide prime training in how the medical team treats servicemembers, particularly those wounded in combat.

"Their experience here prepares them well so there are few surprises for them when they get out to their operational assignments," Rice said.

"We've been working with those patients, so we'll be able to bring more compassion and understanding to the wounded warriors," McLaughlin said. "The training we received here will help us to be more competent."

Meanwhile, the regular exposure to wounded troops provides a regular reminder of the important calling graduates will face. "One walk through Walter Reed [
Army Medical Center] will send the message home pretty quickly," Federico said.

"It's impossible to walk through Walter Reed without seeing what guys are dealing with coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "To see that on a daily basis while you're learning your trade of medicine, it certainly gives you motivation to get up early and work hard and do a good job and serve them the best you can."

It's not a job just anyone can do. Only one of every 12 applicants gets admitted to USUHS, and only after a rigorous interview process by
military physicians, Laughlin said.

"You have to be bright and have the potential to be successful in your studies," he said. "But we also look for resilience, the capacity to survive and thrive in the type of medicine that we practice. We also look for elements of
leadership, because that's valuable to our type of medicine."

Rice said he hears it time and again: Line commanders say they find
leadership skills in USUHS graduates that they don't find elsewhere.

"They can spot one of our graduates in very short order for the ability to quickly figure out what assets they have available, how to organize them and then how to deploy them," he said. "That's a skill set that's enormously valuable in an operational setting, and our graduates are used to doing that."

Navy Lt. Sarah Harnett, a new USUHS graduate headed to the Indian Health Service, called leadership the most important thing she learned at the university. "It's not just about being doctors and not just about learning medical information," she said. "It's about being a leader. ... And as important as being a leader is, it's also when to be a follower and how to follow appropriately and how to know where you are and what you need to be doing at any particular time to get the team where it needs to be.

"If more civilian doctors had that lesson," she said, "it would be better for all patients."