Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Navy Names Two Virginia Class Submarines

The Navy announced today that the next two Virginia-class attack submarines will be named the USS Minnesota and the USS North Dakota.

The selection of
Minnesota, designated SSN 783, honors the state's citizens and their continued support to our nation's military. Minnesota has a long tradition of honoring its veterans of wars past and present. The state is proud to be home to 46 Medal of Honor recipients that span from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.

This will be the third ship to bear the state name. The first USS Minnesota, a sailing steam frigate, was commissioned in 1857 and served during the
Civil War, remaining in service until her decommissioning in 1898. The second Minnesota was commissioned in 1907. On December 16, 1907 she departed Hampton Roads as one of the 16 battleships of the Great White Fleet sent by President Theodore Roosevelt on a voyage around the world. She continued her service through World War I, and was decommissioned in 1921.
The selection of the North Dakota, designated SSN 784, honors the state's citizens and veterans and their strong
military support and heritage from the Frontier Wars through the Cold War and currently the Global War on Terrorism. Seventeen North Dakotans have received the Medal of Honor for actions in combat,including Master Sgt. Woodrow W. Keeble who posthumously received the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on March 3, 2008. This is the second ship to bear the name North Dakota. The first ship, the Delaware-class battleship USS North Dakota , was in service from 1910 through 1923.

These next-generation attack submarines will provide the
Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They will have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

North Dakota and Minnesota will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; special forces delivery and support; and mine delivery and minefield mapping.

The Virginia-class is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

'Troops to Teachers' Translates Military Experience to Classroom

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

July 15, 2008 - About 60 servicemembers preparing to retire or separate from the
military got the word loud and clear during a recent Transition Assistance Program workshop here: If Uncle Sam can't have you any more, the public school system would love to have you. School districts around the country are desperate for the maturity and experience troops have gained through military service, said Robert Henry, who coordinates the Troops to Teachers Program for Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The Defense Department launched the Troops to Teachers program in 1994 to attract departing
military members into teaching positions in low-income and underprivileged school districts. Fourteen years later, the program has placed more than 11,000 former troops into public schools nationwide, Henry told the group. Almost half the TTT teachers work in high schools, 30 percent in middle schools and about 20 percent in elementary schools. More than 80 percent of them are men, compared to about 25 percent of traditional teachers.

To qualify for the program, candidates need a bachelor's degree and teacher certification that the Troops to Teachers program can help finance, Henry said.

A retired
Navy petty officer first class, Henry called the Troops to Teachers program a great opportunity for former servicemembers who enjoy working with young people and want to continue serving their communities.

He called former troops prime candidates for teaching jobs -- particularly in math, the sciences and special education -- who bring a unique quality to their classrooms.

"They have real-world experience, and they bring a level of maturity, along with good communications skills," he said. "Most have a sense of service and want to continue to give back to the community.

"But beyond that," he continued, "troops bring a sense of commitment to mission accomplishment. For them, failure is not an option. There's a kind of mentality they bring to the job that means they will do whatever they need to do to get something done and to do it right."

Participants in the program say
military service gave them the skills they needed for the job: discipline, patience and a readiness to face challenges. They also report a personal satisfaction that comes with working with young people, Henry said.

Seventy-five percent of TTT teachers were still teaching five years after going through the program, Henry said. After 10 years, 60 percent were still involved in education, as teachers or administrators.

Among them is Ernie Jackson, who returned to his hometown of Port Jervis, N.Y., in 2000 to teach fifth grade and special education. Jackson, who retired as an
Army infantry officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, said he found the Troops to Teachers program a good way to transition into the education field.

Jackson said he drew on his 20 years of
military experience as he moved into the classroom, tapping into the management skills the Army taught him, along with the ability to work under pressure and deal with people. He said he applied the Army's way of training troops, emphasizing group dynamics and team building -- "skills you need in life, but that you can't get on the Internet or on a cell phone."

Jackson said that as he rose through the education ranks, becoming a vice principal, then a principal, he got the satisfaction from his interactions with his students.

"You change kids' lives," he said. "It's a great opportunity to make a difference in a young person's life. And there's a tremendous amount of gratification that comes with that."

Now a principal who hires teachers, Jackson said he seeks out former servicemembers through the Troops to Teachers program. "Having time in the
military gives them a definite edge in my book," he said. "I find there are a lot of parallels between teaching and the military. We need servicemen and women to become teachers."

Jackson isn't alone in praising the Troops to Teachers program. School districts rave about the teachers they recruited through the program, Henry told the Fort Meade troops. Ninety percent of principals report that TTT teachers are more effective than traditional teachers, particularly in classroom management and student discipline. Eight-nine percent of principals said TTT teachers have a greater impact than other teachers with equal teaching experience on student achievement.

"The school districts that have us all want more of us," Henry told students at the Fort Meade transition workshop. "It's a great opportunity to build on the military skills and experience you have built, and to use them in a meaningful way as you begin a new career."