Friday, August 22, 2008

Guard Continues Support as Fay Moves Across Florida

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - As Tropical Storm Fay moved slowly up
Florida's east coast and caused flooding in coastal communities, members of the Florida National Guard continued to support the storm relief efforts by first responders. By yesterday afternoon, nearly 500 soldiers and airmen were supporting relief missions for Tropical Storm Fay, primarily providing command for logistics operations and preparing to engage in recovery missions in flooded areas with soldiers and high-water vehicles.

Since the storm made landfall in southwestern
Florida early Aug. 19, the Florida National Guard has sent soldiers to 10 counties along Fay's path. Guard members linked up with emergency officials and assessed the damage. The Guard also deployed liaison officers to five northeast Florida counties and by yesterday had staged high-water military vehicles in anticipation of rescue missions throughout the state.

Aviation assets, including a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, were positioned for aerial support missions as the storm continued to move across the peninsula.

On Aug. 20, a team of 15 soldiers from the Guard's 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, assisted officials in Brevard County with voluntary evacuations in three communities, helping to move citizens threatened by rising flood waters.

"Right now we've sent reconnaissance teams to 10 different counties and have additional forces standing by in north Florida," said Army Brig. Gen. Michael Fleming, assistant adjutant general for the
Florida Army National Guard. "There are another 14 or so counties that may need assistance as this storm passes westward across the state. We are well prepared to assist in any high-water vehicle missions, especially search and rescue and area assistance survey work. We work well with our local county and municipal partners and are ready to help them in any way we can."

Because the potential path, strength and expected damage from Tropical Storm Fay were largely unknown, the Florida National Guard stationed logistics specialists at the State Logistics Resource Center in Orlando, where they could help with the distribution of needed supplies in the storm's wake. The supplies - including bottled water and packaged food - were being loaded by Guardsmen onto trucks at the SLRC on Aug. 20 in case of widespread power outages.

Soldiers working at the warehouse also helped to manage the flow and tracking of supplies at the 200,000-square-foot facility, which holds more than $14 million in essential water and emergency supplies for the state.

"We're maintaining the whole warehouse and just pretty much waiting for the storm," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Larry Flemming of the 631st Maintenance Company. "We have all the trucks stocked and are making sure everything is ready to go."

A team of
Florida National Guard airmen from the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron also was stationed at the SLRC in Orlando to provide emergency communications support if needed. Using a Regional Emergency Response Network system, the airmen were prepared to offer voice and digital communications to the center in the event of a major power failure.

"The RERN system gives the state the ability to rapidly deploy a communications network anywhere if the 'comms' have been lost," explained
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ray Simpson as his team extended RERN's satellite dish in a parking lot next to the SLRC. "And this gives the commanders on the ground the ability to run their operations and get assets out to the people who need them quickly."

Yesterday, the center of Tropical Storm Fay was located southeast of Daytona Beach, and it was projected to begin a slow move toward the west, bringing torrential rain and flooding for much of northern
Florida. Fay reportedly spawned tornadoes in Brevard County, and weather experts warned of the possibility of isolated tornadoes in northeastern Florida and southern Georgia as the storm moved west.

"This is a very odd storm, in the sense that it is moving so slowly and it has zigzagged across the state," Fleming said. "This is a storm that has the unique potential to make landfall five times. That's not happened before."

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa serves with the Florida National Guard. Jon Myatt of the Florida Department of Military Affairs contributed to this report.)

Guard Partnership With Ambulance Service Yields Mutual Benefits

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - The Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority, with headquarters in
Reno, Nev., has a close relationship with the local National Guard air ambulance unit, so it's no surprise that the company excels at supporting its employees who serve in the military. REMSA, a ground and air ambulance service with 300 employees, is one of 15 companies receiving the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for outstanding support of its employees in the National Guard or Reserve.

Because REMSA and the air ambulance unit have similar functions, they often collaborate on training and share personnel, said Mike Williams, vice president of REMSA. "They recruit our people; we recruit their people," he said.

REMSA has six employees who are deploying to Afghanistan in September with the National Guard, and several other employees in the
Air Force Reserve, Williams said. On a day-to-day basis, the company works with the National Guard unit on training schedules and trains with the Guardsmen. REMSA has put on classes for members of the National Guard unit, and the National Guard has loaned the company helicopters for training, he said.

REMSA also works closely with the
Air Force Reserve medical unit in Reno, as the commander of the unit is a REMSA employee, Williams said. REMSA lets the Air Force Reserve members use their facilities for all their weekend training, he said.

When an employee is deployed, REMSA steps up its support for the employee and his family, Williams said. The company pays a salary differential to make up the difference between active-duty pay and the employee's regular salary, and continues the entire benefits package, including life insurance, health coverage and use of a staff psychologist.

Williams noted that the continuation of health coverage for families is especially important, since there isn't a nearby
military installation for the families to go to for medical care.

Williams served 20 years in the
Air Force, both active duty and reserve, and was deployed to the Middle East for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, so he is drawing on his own experiences to help his employees. He has enlisted a number of REMSA employees to send daily e-mails to deployed employees, keeping them abreast of the happenings in the company. The company also includes the families of deployed employees in all functions, such as picnics and Christmas parties, and is working on getting life-sized posters of the deployed employees to display at the events, he said.

Efforts like these are important because they keep the employees involved in the organization and remind them of the "real world" back home, Williams said. "We want them to know that even though they're gone, they're still a member of the organization, and will be when they get back," he said.

"When you're deployed overseas, you want to know there is a real world back home, and you stay grounded in the insanity that you're doing by remembering that there's a reason behind it, and it's your family and your coworkers and your friends and everybody else," he continued. "So it's important we do the e-mail; it keeps them connected with that real world."

To help prepare the families of the six employees who are set to deploy, Williams is organizing a barbecue at his house so he and his wife can talk to them about their experiences, he said.

Having employees with
military experience is a great benefit to REMSA, Williams said. In addition to its National Guard and Reserve personnel, REMSA actively recruits medics coming off of active duty and pays for their civilian training and credentialing.

"They're good, experienced candidates that usually fit well into the training scheme," he said. "They come with a great set of work ethics that kind of sets an example for others to follow."

Williams said that he and the rest of the REMSA
leadership were surprised and excited to hear about the Freedom Award. They never really felt like they deserved recognition for their efforts, he said. "This is what we do anyway," he said of the company's support activities. "It's just kind of what we do, and we didn't realize that not everybody did that."

REMSA will receive the Freedom Award along with 14 other companies in a ceremony Sept. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.

Face of Defense: Couple Travels Parallel Army Career Paths

By Army Maj. Dave Olson
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - Two Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers are the logistics staff officers for their respective brigade combat teams. While they serve their country in different locations, they have worked together as a team during the last 10 years. Majs. Lesley and Dennis Ortiz, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division and deployed to Multinational Division Baghdad, developed and fostered a loving relationship while simultaneously serving parallel
military careers by working together and communicating effectively.

Lesley, assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team in February, deployed to Baghdad in March, and her husband, Dennis, joined the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in May at Forward Operating Base War Eagle, Iraq.

The Ortizes began a parallel career track from the beginning. They signed contracts to join the ROTC program on the same day during their junior year at
Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., where he majored in mathematics and she studied English and education, Lesley said.

"I met him at a football game, and we became inseparable," she said. The ROTC cadets alternated as ushers and color guards at the football games, she added.

After the pair graduated and received their commissions as second lieutenants in the
Army, they attended their Officers Basic Courses in 1997. Lesley entered the Transportation Corps and attended her course at Fort Eustis, Va., while Dennis traveled to Fort Lee, Va., to complete his quartermaster officer course. Their careers continued to parallel each other at their first duty assignments at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Army assigned them to the same brigade, but they served in different battalions, said Dennis, who hails from Augusta, Ga.

"We were platoon
leaders, executive officers, battalion staff officers and company commanders at the same time," Lesley said.

During this time, the couple continued to communicate and their relationship blossomed and grew stronger, explained Lesley, an
Atlanta native. They made it official by getting married May 29, 1999.

"Being with another person in the
military, we both had a common understanding how things went, and with not rushing into starting a family, we were able to adjust [to deployments] a lot easier in the early years," she said.

Lesley said the deployments made her realize that during their marriage, they were going to have to focus on balancing their time apart. They both realized there may come a time when they, as a
military couple, would be separated due to their careers and, as a result, would have to work through the challenges, she explained.

At that moment, Lesley and Dennis stopped everything to map out a 10-year plan, she explained.

In the time that followed, they attended the Combined Logistics Captains Career Course at Fort Lee, Va., and the Combined Armed Services Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., together in 2001.

When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that same year, the
military couple's relationship changed forever.

Dennis and Lesley were roommates during the CAS3 course. They were on lockdown due to the attacks, and even after completing their schooling could not leave the post for several days. Lesley, who is a third-generation soldier, explained that the way the U.S.
military does business has changed because the nation is at war.

Busier than ever with the new challenges of deploying to war, the couple focused on how they were going to manage their lives and work together as a team.

Lesley and Dennis said they love to plan, so they both adjusted their original 10-year plans, she explained. Those plans brought them to Fort Hood, Texas.

Dennis deployed as the company commander of a forward support company with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 near Tikrit. Lesley commanded the 297th Cargo Transfer Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command. Her company deployed simultaneously to Cuba, Iraq and Kuwait, and her teams covered operations at 12 different logistical bases in Kuwait and Iraq during the initial Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation. During the next deployment, she pushed two platoons to Iraq in December 2004 and one platoon to Afghanistan in 2005.

After three years at Fort Hood, both received orders for 3rd
Army at Fort McPherson, Ga., where they worked in the logistics section of the same headquarters.

"We worked together as a team, and it worked out very, very well," she remarked.

Then one day, Lesley and Dennis' lives would again be forever changed – this time when their son, Dennis Jr., was born in May 2007. The baby, who has started walking since Lesley and Dennis deployed, caused the
military couple to review their plans yet again and make changes.

Lesley's mother, Wilma Sims, takes good care of Dennis Jr. while his parents serve their country in Iraq. It is the first time, Lesley said, that she has ever had to rely solely on her parents, but she said her mother is doing a great job providing for her only grandson.

"I understand love in a different way than the way I did before," she explained. "I understand loving my parents, loving my spouse; but the love for a child – it's unconditional; it's awesome! It inspires you to go above and beyond anything you ever expected."

Dennis said that he also looks forward to redeploying, returning to family, his son and his home at Fort Hood, especially since he deployed nearly five months before Lesley.

"We have a 14-month-old boy, and I have been deployed for nine months, so I miss my son and haven't had a lot of time to be with him," Dennis explained.

Dennis returned to the 4th Infantry Division in March 2007, and Lesley reported to the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, in July 2007.

Dennis deployed to Iraq with the division logistics section in October as the liaison officer to 1st Cavalry Division. Lesley transferred to the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team and deployed to Iraq as the brigade's logistics officer in March.

Dennis acknowledged that as both officers develop in their careers, it will be harder to continue to be stationed together.

"So far, the
Army has been good at keeping us together," he explained. "Even with this deployment, we were both in [Iraq] within a few months of each other and will redeploy back to the States within a few months of each other."

"This has been a tough deployment," Lesley said. "Leaving my baby was the hardest thing I did for this deployment. This has been one of our toughest years in the
military – one of the toughest years, period."

Both love to travel, Dennis said, and the couple has traveled to several renowned spots, from Paris to New York, where they took the opportunity to be tourists, eat out, catch a show, go to sporting events and attend the theater. They also love to cook together, added Lesley, who calls her husband her best friend.

"The only time we fight is over the kitchen," she joked. He makes the best lasagna, she said, and while she cooks the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, he cooks a Latin-style Christmas dinner with roasted pork and pastilles smeared with yucca paste wrapped in banana leaves.

"We are planning our next 10 years," she added. "We're looking at retirement homes. We're looking where we want to retire."

Lesley said she encourages
military couples to work at their relationship as a team, and that she constantly looks for the little thing she can do today to make her marriage stronger.

Lesley said that she believes that if today's
military couples don't have friendship established first, there are going to be difficulties in both their relationship and their military careers.

"Everyone knows that marriage is a big commitment," she said. "No matter how big you think it is, it's bigger than that."

Army Maj. Dave Olson serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office. Army Sgt. Zachary Mott contributed to this story.)



Nakaya Construction, L.L.C., Bountiful,
Utah, was awarded on Aug. 20, 2008, a $10,779,567 firm fixed price contract for renovation of the Baker Laboratory facility at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground installation where the work will be performed. The estimated completion date is May 1, 2010. 16 bids were solicited with four bids received. Mission & Installation Contracting Command, Dugway Proving Ground Directorate of Contracting, Dugway, Utah is the contracting activity (W911S6-08-C-0006).

ALLIANT AMMUNITION AND POWDER COMPANY LLC, Radford, Va., was awarded on Aug. 14, 2008, a $63,000,000 cost plus fixed fee contract for nitric acid concentrator / sulfuric acid concentrator balance of design, construction, and prove out. Work with be performed at the Radford
Army Ammunication Plant, Radford, Va., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received. Headquarters, Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DAAA09-03-E-0001).

Phil Howry Co.,
Austin, Texas, was awarded on Aug. 21, 2008, a $8,118,209 firm fixed price contract for the construction of a one-story facility with reinforced concrete foundation and floor slabs, masonry walls and standing seam metal roof. The facility consists of a 60 ft. x 60 ft. x 60 ft. simulator bay, briefing rooms, conference room, mass briefing area and computer room. The project also includes site preparation, seismic requirements, fire protection, communications support, generator and all supporting utilities. Work will be performed at the Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, with an estimated completion date of Mar. 1, 2010. 10 bids were solicited and seven bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the contracting activity (W912PP-08-C-0019).

BAE SYSTEMS ORDNANCE SYSTEMS INC. (OSI), Kingsport, Tenn., was awarded on Aug. 21, 2008, a $5, 691,704.74 firm-fixed price – requirements contract for production and supply of 354,182 pounds of composition C-4, class 3 (tagged) to support the M112 demo charge production at Milan
Army Ammunition Plant. Work will be performed at Holston Army Ammunition Plant, Kingsport, Tenn., with an estimated completion date of May 30, 2009. One bid solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Sustainment Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (DAAA09-03-D-0007).


Alliant Techsystems, Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif., is being awarded a $96,820,977 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the design, development, integration, and test of the Multi-Stage Supersonic Target (MSST). The MSST will represent a two-stage anti-ship cruise missile, consisting of a two-stage unmanned aerial target, a launcher, and associated support equipment. A total of two engineering evaluation units and seven engineering development models will be built as part of the effort. The MSST will provide threat representation for the developmental and operational testing of a major weapon system. Work will be performed in
Sacramento, Calif., (38.9 percent); Woodland Hills, Calif., (32 percent); Plymouth, Minn., (19.2 percent); Elkton, Md., (5.1 percent); and Wichita, Kan., (4.8 percent), and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $10,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposal and three offers were received. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-08-C-0058).

Nammo Talley, Inc.,
Mesa Ariz., is being awarded a maximum $51,764,684 (base and options) cost-plus-fixed-fee with fixed-price incentive (firm target) line items contract for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) and Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of the Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW II) launchers and Fire From Enclosure (FFE) assault rounds and associated data rights. The SDD phase will consist of 18 Launchers and 165 FFE assault rounds; the LRIP phase will consist of 130 launchers and 750 FFE assault rounds; the data rights consists of associated Government Purpose Rights. Work will be performed in Mesa, Ariz., and the expected date of completion is Feb. 2011 (Feb. 2012 with options exercised). Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-08-C-1123).

Raytheon Co., Goleta, Calif., is being awarded a $13,704,876 firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0008). This delivery order is for the procurement of 174 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Enhanced Integrated Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receivers and 173 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Enhanced Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receiver Systems in support of the Canadian Forces for the F/A-18 aircraft; and 6 Integrated Microwave Integrated Circuits in support of the Swiss
Army Armasuisse for the F/A-18 aircraft. This contract combines purchases for the Government of Canada ($13,590,350; 99 percent) and the Government of Switzerland, ($114,526; 1 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Lansdale, Pa., (75 percent) and El Segundo, Calif., (25 percent), and is expected to be completed in Mar. 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

EG&G Technical Services Inc., Gaithersburg, Md.; General Dynamics Information
Technology, Fairfax, Va.; Lockheed Martin Services Inc., Cherry Hill, N.J.; Technical Software Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla.; Raytheon Technical Services Co., Reston, Va.; Carley Corp., Orlando, Fla.; are each being awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts for education/training products and support services managed by the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center (NETPDTC) Pensacola, Fla., for the Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (MPT&E) Enterprise. EG&G Technical Services is being awarded $7,804,540 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $41,548,586. General Dynamics Information Technology is being awarded $8,779,415 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $46,382,282. Lockheed Martin Services, Inc. is being awarded $7,055,205 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $36,740,443. Technical Software Services Inc. is being awarded $8,103,248 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $43,160,222. Raytheon Technical Services Co. is being awarded $8,464,798 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $42,688,034. Carley Corp. is being awarded $8,659,388 and the contracts estimated value if all options are exercised is $45,982,559. Work is to be performed in Gaithersburg, Md.; Fairfax, Va.; Cherry Hill, N.J.; Pensacola, Fla.; Reston, Va.; and Orlando, Fla., and work is expected to be complete Sept. 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This requirement was competitively procured and solicited through NAVY Electronic Commerce Online, with 18 offers received. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Contracting Department Philadelphia Division, is the contracting activity. (EG&G Technical Services Inc., N00189-08-D-Z033; General Dynamics Information Technology, N00189-08-D-Z034; Lockheed Martin Services Inc., N00189-08-D-Z035; Technical Software Services Inc., N00189-08-D-Z036; Raytheon Technical Services Co., N00189-08-D-Z038; Carley Corp., N00189-08-D-Z040)


Exide Technologies Inc., Alpharetta, Ga., is being awarded a maximum $26,704,667 fixed price with economic price adjustment, indefinite quantity contract for storage batteries. Other location of performance is Manchester, Iowa. Using services are
Army, NAVY, and Marine Corps. There were four proposals originally solicited with two responses. This contract has a base period of one year and four one-year option periods. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Aug. 21, 2009. The contracting activity is Defense Supply Center Richmond (DESR), Richmond, Va., (SPM4L1-08-D-0023).

Air BP, Warrenville, Ill. is being awarded a maximum $12,446,821 fixed price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel. Other location of performance is Grand Junction, Colorado. Using services are
Army, NAVY, Air Force, Marine Corps, federal civilian agencies and National Guard. There was 1 proposal originally solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2012. The contracting activity is Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-08-D-0053).

America Supports You: Group Helps Political Parties Build Common Ground

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - It took a
Massachusetts troop-support group to get the country's two major political parties to find a sliver of common ground, literally, during this election year. During each party's convention, Homes for Our Troops will present a wounded veteran from each of the communities where the Democratic and Republican conventions are being held with keys to a specially adapted home.

The timing and locations are no coincidence. Everything was very carefully planned between Homes for Our Troops and representative of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

"The RNC and the DNC, that's one of their things that they do," said Dawn Teixeira, Homes for Our Troops vice president and chief communication officer. "They converge hundreds of people into these cities, [and] they like to leave something nice behind. That's why the conventions are involved."

The Credit Union National Association is at the center of it all, she said. Involved in the conventions because of lobbying interests, the association helps the parties fulfill their desire to give back to the communities in which they hold their conventions.

With the mission of "People helping people," the association saw what Homes for Our Troops was doing and decided it fit the parties' mission perfectly. "They saw us and they said, 'What a perfect way to give back," Teixeira said.

To get the two houses built took a fair amount of effort on the part of Homes for Our Troops, despite the backing of the two powerhouse parties, because each project was started from scratch. "We had to seek out some vets to say, 'We have this wonderful opportunity. We're going to build you a house,'" Teixeira said.

It was months ago that Homes for Our Troops shocked Travis Strong and Marcus Kuboy with the news that each would receive a home built to accommodate their unique needs. During each of the conventions, the wait to move into their new homes will be over.

Ceremonies are scheduled to turn over the keys to Strong on Aug. 27 in conjunction with the Democratic convention in Denver and to Kuboy on Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minn. The Republican convention takes place that week in Minneapolis.

Strong was on a patrol during his second tour in Iraq when the Stryker armored combat vehicle he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. He lost both of his legs because of the incident.

When he, his wife, Misty, and their children, Sean and Brianna, get the keys to their new home in Denver, they will be moving into the 30th home that Homes for Our Troops has completed since October 2005.

Kuboy was injured in a Humvee explosion while serving in Iraq last year. Both of his legs were severely damaged. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken arm, back and jaw.

After months of recovery at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here, he continues rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Center in St. Paul.

While the benefits of the projects are the primary focus for all parties involved, the irony isn't lost on both political parties' operatives. That was evident when they released a joint advertisement for their home-building endeavors.

"There's not much Democrats and Republicans agree on, but we all agree on supporting our troops," reads a joint Democratic and Republican advertisement. "That's why the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are proud to join ... Homes for Our Troops in building specially adapted new homes in
Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul for a seriously wounded servicemember and their family from each of these communities."

Homes for Our Troops 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.

Russians Remain in Georgia, U.S. Continues Humanitarian Aid

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - Although some movement of Russian troops in Georgia has occurred, it's difficult to determine whether it's an indication of withdrawal or just a repositioning of forces, a Defense Department official said today. "There have been some movements around [the town of] Gory, but it's unclear whether that is the beginning of a significant withdrawal," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. "The only movements we've seen are relatively minor."

The Defense Department remains steadfast in its support to Georgia as officials work to determine whether Russia is commencing with the drawdown terms it agreed to or is moving its troops for other purposes, Whitman said.

U.S. humanitarian assistance and distribution continues in Georgia. C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster III transport jets continue to provide supplies daily. The first U.S. naval ships with supplies are scheduled to deliver aid as early as next week, he said.

Navy's USS McFaul left for the Black Sea yesterday, while the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas and Navy command ship USS Mount Whitney are scheduled to leave later this week. The ships are set to arrive in Georgia within a week.

Ships can carry much more cargo per mission than aircraft. The McFaul is carrying around 80 pallets of supplies, while C-130s have been carrying three to six pallets. A C-17 can carry up to 12 per sortie, Whitman said.

So far, more than 30 U.S. sorties carrying more than 430 tons of humanitarian aid have been supplied to Georgia since Russian troops invaded the country three weeks ago. The U.S. government has spent nearly $11 million in humanitarian assistance to date, nearly $5 million of which has consisted of Defense Department-led airlifts and emergency supplies, he said.

The Defense Department expects no interference with its ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, Whitman said.

Labor Department Launches 'America's Heroes at Work' Web Site

By Kristen Noel
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - The U.S. Labor Department launched a Web site called "America's Heroes at Work" this week to help veterans afflicted with traumatic-brain injury and post-traumatic
stress disorder succeed in the workplace. "America's Heroes at Work really focuses on the employment challenges of our returning veterans from the war on terror, if they are living with a brain injury or living with a stress disorder," Charles S. Ciccolella, the Labor Department's assistant secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Service, told bloggers in a Aug. 22 teleconference to discuss the new Web site.

Ciccolella said the Labor Department collaborated with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to build the site. The three agencies are working together to make veterans' transition back into the civilian workplace and their communities as smooth as possible, he added.

"We know that a number of our servicemembers are coming back with some level of brain injury, as a result of blast injuries or successive-blast injuries, or may be coming back with
stress," he said.

While not visibly debilitating, Ciccolella explained, these "silent injuries" can cause minor health problems such as headaches, vertigo, anxiety or sleep disturbances. They also can trigger cognitive issues such as memory loss or concentration problems, he said.

"We know it's a significant enough issue that we want to pay some serious attention to it," he said.

America's Heroes at Work provides numerous resources to help employers integrate veterans who have suffered traumatic-brain injury or post-traumatic
stress disorder into the workplace. There are many "very simple accommodations" employers can make for servicemembers with these minor ailments, Ciccolella said.

The resources offered on the Web site include fact sheets, reference guides, training tools, and real-life success stories.

"Employment plays absolutely a major role in the rehabilitation of our servicemembers, regardless of the kind of injuries that they may have," Ciccolella said.

(Kristen Noel works for the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

Grammy-Winning Oak Ridge Boys to Perform After Freedom Walk

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 22, 2008 - Award-winning music will greet participants in the 4th Annual National America Supports You Freedom Walk when they reach the Pentagon on Sept. 7. Country music group the Oak Ridge Boys will perform a musical tribute at the conclusion of the walk. The musical tribute has become an important part of the walks, each tribute demonstrating the nation's patriotism through music, officials said.

"We're very pleased to have the Grammy-winning Oak Ridge Boys performing at the end of the America Supports You Freedom Walk," said Roxie T. Merritt, director of community relations and new media in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. "Their patriotic music lends itself well to the spirit of the day."

The spirit of the day will be set when thousands of walkers, including Defense Department officials, gather at Arlington National Cemetery for the 9 a.m. start of the Freedom Walk. After opening remarks, a color guard will lead the group about a mile from the cemetery to the Pentagon.

The America Supports You Freedom Walk began in 2005 as a way to honor the victims of Sept. 11 and to pay tribute to veterans past and present. Since 15,000 patriots took that initial walk, more than 390 Freedom Walks have taken place in all 50 states and at
military installations around the globe.

Those interested in participating in the 4th Annual National America Supports You Freedom Walk must register at Registration closes Sept. 5.