Thursday, November 06, 2008

President Proclaims Nov. 11 Veterans Day

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - President Bush issued a proclamation to honor all who are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces. Bush issued his Veterans Day proclamation Oct. 31.

The proclamation reads:

"On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the men and women who in defense of our freedom have bravely worn the uniform of the United States.

"From the fields and forests of war-torn Europe to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, brave patriots have protected our nation's ideals, rescued millions from tyranny and helped spread freedom around the globe. America's veterans answered the call when asked to protect our nation from some of the most brutal and ruthless tyrants, terrorists and militaries the world has ever known. They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human history. Members of the
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have answered a high calling to serve and have helped secure America at every turn.

"Our country is forever indebted to our veterans for their quiet courage and exemplary service. We also remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom's defense. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. On Veterans Day, we remember these heroes for their valor, their loyalty and their dedication. Their selfless sacrifices continue to inspire us today as we work to advance peace and extend freedom around the world.

"With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans.

"Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2008, as Veterans Day and urge all Americans to observe November 9 through November 15, 2008, as National Veterans Awareness Week. I encourage all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans through ceremonies and prayers. I call upon federal, state, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to support and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions and the media to support this national observance with commemorative expressions and programs."

Warrior Care: Pentagon Examines New Treatments for Warriors' Psychological Care

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - The Defense Department is investigating new treatments as part of a focused, sustained campaign to assist wounded warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, a senior U.S.
military official told Pentagon journalists recently. The effort is being launched in conjunction with the department's Wounded Warrior Care Month observance this month.

"This is a team effort with all of the services, the DoD, the [Veterans Affairs Department and] the private sector, reaching out to really launch what will be a sustained campaign focusing on our warriors and loved ones, what we're doing for them and planning to do,"
Army Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, told American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel reporters Oct. 14.

For instance, force health protection officials recently introduced a DVD titled, "A Different Kind of Courage," which provides servicemembers' perspectives on seeking treatment for PTSD and TBI, Sutton said.

"It's a good tool that provides a number of vignettes of servicemembers who talk about their experiences," she said. "We'd love to be able to share with the services, share with the country, all of the knowledge that's going on about the brain."

There's no shame in seeking psychological help, Sutton said, noting it's important that servicemembers and families conduct periodic self-assessments of their mental well-being, and seek help when necessary.

Such a concept runs counter to the stereotypical image of the tough servicemember who fights through pain – or even psychological distress, she said.

"There's sort of a paradox there," Sutton said. "Just as within a vehicle, or aircraft or ship, for example, to sustain your performance, you have to take care of yourself. You have to do regular maintenance and checks."

Reaching out to servicemembers suffering from PTSD and TBI also involves changing how the
military health care community operates, she said.

"And so part of our effort really is aimed at transforming our culture -- to move from what has been a very illness- and medically focused culture and broadening it, absolutely broadening it, to where we're focused on resilience, on performance, on those things that individuals, families,
leaders and communities can do that will both maintain their wellness" and sustain performance over time, the general said.

military health care also is exploring the use of new therapies for PTSD and TBI, Sutton said. Some $300 million has been invested for research into psychological health and brain injuries, she said.

The funding is helping therapists better understand what happens to the brain after it undergoes traumatic injury, Sutton said.

"We've got significant gaps in our knowledge," Sutton said, noting the research points to the advantages of employing alternative techniques in treating servicemembers suffering psychological-related issues due to PTSD or brain trauma. For example, she said, evidence is emerging that alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation are effective in treating PTSD.

Another study, Sutton said, demonstrates the usefulness of animal therapy.

"Animal facilitative therapy can be very useful," Sutton said, citing a program at Fort Myer, Va., that treats injured warriors using interaction with horses.

Nutrition is another tool that can treat psychologically wounded servicemembers, Sutton said, citing the correlation between eating the right types of food for achieving peak mental and physical health. "You wouldn't put diesel into a sports car," she pointed out.

Vitamin supplements may also have their uses, Sutton said. However, she cautioned that people should consult their doctors before embarking on any nutritional regimen that includes the use of supplements.

The good news, Sutton said, is that 80 to 90 percent of troops with mild concussive injuries will heal with time. The
military, she said, employs before- and post-deployment screenings for potential brain injuries. The test measures reaction times, memory and cognitive abilities, Sutton said.

The critical issue involving PTSD, the general said, is having servicemembers and their family members recognize that the stress and din of battle can carry psychological ramifications.

"It's a very traumatic -- both physically and psychologically -- situation. The mind and body do what they have to do in that moment to survive," she said.

Tough and realistic training greatly assists servicemembers in contending with the physical and mental challenges of the battlefield, Sutton said.

After servicemembers emerge from life-threatening battlefield situations, Sutton said, it's important that they're made to understand that flashbacks and nightmares are the mind's way of re-integrating itself between graphic past memories and the present day.

Early intervention is critical in assisting servicemembers suffering from PTSD, Sutton said, noting there are two major therapies known to be useful in treating post-traumatic stress. Exposure therapy, she said, involves servicemembers recalling or imagining stressful moments they experienced on the battlefield. Cognitive processing therapy, she added, directs people to examine their thought processes and how they react to events.

Conducting counterinsurgency operations "is one of the most psychologically-corrosive environments known to warfare," Sutton said.

"You're not sick if you need a little [psychological] tune-up," Sutton said. "You're experiencing normal responses to clearly what is beyond the pale of human experience; it is beyond what most folks could ever even imagine. And, of course, our troops are doing this repeatedly."

Now is the time "for us to really bring every tool in that we can to bear," Sutton said, by working across DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private sector to assist servicemembers suffering with war-related psychological issues.

For example, initiatives are being worked with the video-gaming industry to develop devices with bio-feedback that injured servicemembers can use to exercise and strengthen their psychologically battered minds, Sutton said.

"We need to develop tools that they can use and have fun with, but also to learn and share and grow," she said.

Wounded Warrior Care Month also marks the launch of the Wounded Resource Directorate at VA, Sutton said, which backs up similar organizations and wounded warrior call centers managed by the armed services.

The VA program and private-sector initiatives are indicative of America's desire to assist its wounded warriors, Sutton said.

"By working together, we can take full advantage of the complete and comprehensive array of programs, of knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm that exists for our warriors around the country," Sutton said.

Chairman Cites History in Veterans Day Message

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 -
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has issued a Veterans Day message to those who now serve or have served in the armed forces. Here is the text of the chairman's message:

"When Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, effectively ending
World War One, over sixty-five million individuals had been mobilized for the "Great War" that resulted in almost nine million deaths and over twenty-one million wounded. In just a year and a half of operations, 126,000 Americans lost their lives on the muddy landscapes of Europe and in the icy depths of the North Atlantic. Such loss of life and limb is hard to fathom today.

"History has debunked the notion of a 'War to End All Wars.' And history has also proven that peace does not preserve itself. It requires millions of dedicated men and women – like you and your families – all working in unison toward what one memorial hails as 'high idealism, courageous sacrifice, and gallant achievement.'

"Today, a new generation of veterans carries this torch. Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have forged the most combat-hardened force in our nation's history. Yet, no war is without its casualties. Whether seen – or unseen – the wounds of war last a lifetime, and so should our care.

"Our wounded veterans and their families deserve only the best medical care our nation can provide – care on par with the service and sacrifice these patriots have rendered. From the battlefield to regional hospitals, and rehabilitation centers to reintegration programs, our wounded, ill, and injured Service members and their families merit a continuum of care that lasts a lifetime.

"To all our veterans – past and present – and your families, the Joint Chiefs and I salute you and thank you for your service and your sacrifice. As we remember those who have gone before us, may we honor their service through ours.

Sergeant Loses Leg in Iraq, Refuses to Accept Defeat

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - A bomb disguised as a cigarette stand on the side of an Iraqi highway ended up claiming
Army Sgt. Robert M. Price III's right leg below the knee Jan. 14, 2007, but it didn't take away his will to succeed. Price was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion out of Fort Hood, Texas, when he deployed to Iraq for the second time in October 2006 as part of Task Force Iron Claw, a team of engineers with the sole mission of keeping Iraq's streets clear of roadside bombs.

"It's kind of stressful, but it keeps you on your toes at all times," Price said of his mission in Iraq. "When you're sitting there, ... you're just trying to make sure that everybody else is going through and getting through safe."

He and his team were doing just that while on a mission near Baghdad's Sadr City. They'd started at 6 p.m. and hadn't seen anything to cause concern until 11:45, when they spotted a cigarette stand beside the road.

"Usually they always pull all that stuff off the side of the road," he said. "So that was like one of the automatic little signs right there."

The team was riding in a vehicle called a Buffalo, designed for use in this type of bomb-clearing mission and equipped with a claw on a 40-foot arm that can dig and move objects.

Price, the vehicle commander, had just maneuvered the vehicle in place and started to investigate the makeshift bomb with the claw when it detonated. The bomb had a passive infrared sensor on it, which detects heat, he said. The sensor had picked up the vehicle's engine heat signature, which triggered the explosion and left nine bowling-ball-sized holes in the vehicle.

"Thank God we all walked away from it," he said, and then he chuckled. "Well, somewhat walked away from it."

In fact, his driver suffered shrapnel wounds in his right buttock and another team member sitting behind Price caught some shrapnel in his right foot. The team's medic, who was sitting farther back in the vehicle, suffered a burn across her hand.

Price wasn't quite so lucky. The blast landed him in a combat support hospital, where doctors amputated his right foot below the ankle and stabilized him for evacuation to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

He was there for a couple of days before being transported to Walter Reed
Army Hospital here, where there were more surgeries and a revision to the initial amputation when he developed an infection in his leg.

When he was moved to Brooke
Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for physical therapy, he'd lost his leg up to about two inches below his knee.

A month later, he received a Purple Heart for his sacrifice in Iraq.

"I originally received my initial Purple Heart in theater from my brigade commander," Price said. "But I didn't have the actual orders for it until I go down here to BAMC."

The ceremony was held at Fort Hood, but Price said it was hard to explain how he felt about it because he was on a lot of medication at the time.

"Everybody's really bad off if you're receiving a Purple Heart," he said. "It's not really an award that you want to say 'Congratulations!' on, but you're just sitting there looking at some of these soldiers. Some of them, ... you're like, 'Man. I only lost below my knee and here's a guy that's missing one arm and two legs, or all of his limbs.'

"You sit there and you're like, 'Somebody must've been really looking over my shoulder,'" he said.

As much as it means to him and as much attention as his Purple Heart license plate garners, Price said, it wasn't the medal that motivated him to stay on active duty. It was his refusal to accept defeat.

Price, now the squad
leader of the Warrior Transition Unit's Charlie Company at Fort Sam Houston, has cleared many obstacles. He's learned to walk again, and he can run, jump and swim. He also passed a mock Army physical fitness test.

"I passed it, but could only do the bare minimum," he said. "Nevertheless, I made it."

He's also adapting to everyday life, including handling something as ordinary as litter on the street, which wouldn't cause much of a reaction in most people.

"There'll be certain things that ... trigger a response," he said. "I'd see something on the side of the road, and I'd literally detour and try to get away from it."

That's better now that he's off all medications, he said, adding that his wife, Teresa, took the whole situation in stride, as did their three children, Taylor Pineda, 17, Giavanna Price, 7, and Kloe Price, 4.

"My two daughters were pretty much too young to even realize what really happened," Price said. "The last they actually remember was seeing their father with two legs, and now he's missing a leg."

What they're also seeing is that persistence pays off. Price has achieved every goal he's set for himself since being injured, with the exception of two. He hasn't put his new hobby of competitive archery into practice in the Olympics yet, but he fully intends to do so in 2012. And it'll take a few years beyond that before he can realistically achieve his biggest goal. Price has set his sights on becoming the first amputee to achieve the title of command sergeant major of the

He knows what he needs to do to best position himself for that opportunity, too. "Basically just getting all my ... noncommissioned officers academies, and just not getting in trouble," he said with a laugh that showed he knows it'll take a lot more than that.

Until then, he'll keep busy at work helping the wounded warriors in his company find their way back to active duty or civilian life. He'll also offer his wife encouragement as she earns her degree in business management, and he'll impart his hard-earned military wisdom to his son, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps.

Face of Defense: Uzbekistan Native Returns to Central Asia

By Air Force Maj. Damien Pickart
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 -
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kelman Khersonsky recalls spending summers in his youth as a Pioneer "scout" of the Soviet Union at Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul Lake. It never crossed his mind then that he might one day return to the former Soviet republic as a KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

"When I first deployed here, I was reminded of my childhood memories from Pioneer summer camp and the mountains," Khersonsky said. "It was a little surreal the first time we flew over the mountains and I realized how close we were to where I grew up."

Khersonsky spent his first 13 years growing up in Uzbekistan's capital city, Tashkent, about 200 miles southwest of here. In search of better opportunities following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, the Khersonsky family moved to the United States in 1993 and settled in Pittsburgh.

"Growing up in the Soviet Union was much different than in America," he said. "The education system there was far ahead of the U.S. I learned German in 3rd grade and physics and advanced mathematics in junior high.

"When I came here, I expected to advance to 10th grade, but instead was placed in the 8th grade because I spoke no English," he said. "Between fights, suspension and trying to fit in as an American teenager, it was a tough transition."

But one thing Khersonsky said he learned from his family was how to adapt and succeed. The son of a highly educated metallurgist father and chemist mother, Kelman spent a year integrating into America at Pittsburgh's Frick International Academy before graduating from Allderdice High School in 1998.

While a student at the University of Pittsburgh, he visited the 171st Air Refueling Wing's base just west of the city and found a new calling.

"It's kind of ironic, because my mom didn't want me to join the
military while growing up, and after moving to America, I think she was sure it wouldn't happen," Khersonsky said. "First time I saw the KC-135, I fell in love and knew that's what I wanted."

He was soon turning wrenches on the 50-year-old aircraft as a crew chief. After seven years, Khersonsky cross-trained and became a boom operator, a decision that would lead him back to Central Asia.

"When I heard we were going to Kyrgyzstan – so close to home – I knew I needed to be on this deployment," he said.

Khersonsky, along with more than 100 Guardsmen and four KC-135s from the 171st ARW, supported daily refueling operations over Afghanistan throughout September and October. The daily missions to the embattled country provided the Uzbek native panoramic views of his childhood stomping grounds and evoked memories.

"Flying over the snow-covered mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, I often thought about summers spent at the Pioneer camp and growing up in Tashkent," the sergeant said. "Sometimes I thought about a cousin who fought with the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and came home with silver hair after narrowly escaping an ambush that killed his entire platoon."

Khersonsky's fellow KC-135 crew members have nicknamed him "Cosmonaut." His journey closely parallels that of his aircraft commander,
Air Force Lt. Col. Jorg Kaltenegger, who left Germany when he was 10, joined the 171st ARW as a jet mechanic and then became a pilot.

The commander of the tightly knit crew often notices the sergeant admiring the view.

"Our route takes us within 50 miles of Uzbekistan," Kaltenegger said. "Sometimes we have fun and let him make the radio calls at our route points. When he rattles off our information in fluent Russian, we always get a pregnant pause from the Russian-speaking controller on the ground before they respond. We're usually laughing, because we know they weren't expecting that from an American KC-135 passing overhead."

Following Kaltenegger's lead, Khersonsky is working to move from his seat in the back of the Stratotanker to a seat in the cockpit in hopes of piloting the plane he has maintained and crewed for the past nine years.

"When I get home, I plan to graduate from Duquesne University in May and compete for the pilot board in fall 2009," said the sergeant. "If the timing works out, there's a small chance I could complete pilot training before the 171st ARW returns to Kyrgyzstan in about 20 months."

Khersonsky said he's learned a thing or two living on opposite sides of the world.

"Having grown up in Tashkent and Pittsburgh, and now deploying to Kyrgyzstan, people sometimes think they're different or have it better than those living in certain faraway places," he said. "Trying to look at which is better is like comparing apples and oranges; one isn't necessarily better -- just different.

"It's hard to say you have it worse off if you're not aware you're missing out on something. Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Americans -- we have a lot more in common than we think."

Air Force Maj. Damien Pickart serves in the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office.)

Air Guard Conducts Medical Evacuation in Antarctica

By Air Force Maj. Sam Highley
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - A combined U.S. and Australian team evacuated an Australian civilian in Antarctica to a hospital in Hobart, Australia, yesterday. The seriously injured patient was part of an Australian Antarctic Division contingent conducting scientific research at Davis Station, Antarctica. He was reported to be in stable condition while receiving medical care in Hobart for multiple fractures caused by an all-terrain vehicle accident.

A medical team flew 1,500 miles from McMurdo Station in Antarctica to Davis Station Nov. 3 aboard an LC-130 Hercules from the
New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, based out of Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. The ski-equipped aircraft landed on an improvised runway prepared by Davis Station personnel earlier in the week.

The medical team, along with aircrew members and an aircraft maintenance team, spent the night at Davis Station to rest, refuel the aircraft and prepare the patient before beginning the 10-hour flight to Hobart on Nov. 4.

The mission was flown as part of Operation Deep Freeze, which is commanded by U.S. Pacific Command's Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica. With headquarters here and led by 13th
Air Force, JTF SFA's mission is to provide airlift and sealift support to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctic Program.

The medical team consisted of an Australian doctor and nurse, a joint medical attendant transport team composed of three Army medical personnel from Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, and three
Air Force medical personnel forward-deployed to McMurdo.

Air Force Capt. (Dr.) Greg Richert, the onboard flight surgeon, said the successful medical movement symbolized two things for him.

"One is the very effective medical movement capability we have here in the Pacific region, and the other is the strong partnership between the National Science Foundation, the Australian Antarctic Division and Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica," Richert said.

The captain, who is forward-deployed from 13th
Air Force to McMurdo Station as the JTF SFA flight surgeon, said it was especially gratifying to use the team's medical movement capability to help the Australians in Antarctica.

"The United States and Australia have long enjoyed a strong bond, and it was really evident in how our combined team was able to help this patient in his time of need," Richert said.

Tony Press, director of the Australian Antarctic Division, said he was grateful for the support the United States provided.

"It's a tribute to our excellent relationship with the U.S. Antarctic Program and a fantastic example of the collaboration that typifies Antarctic operations," Press said.

The movement was the first major mission for the LC-130 in the current Operation Deep Freeze season. The
New York unit is the only unit in the Air Force that operates the LC-130 Hercules, which can land on snow or ice surfaces throughout Antarctica thanks to its ski-equipped landing gear. The plane also has wheels for landing on prepared hard surfaces.

Air Force Maj. Sam Highley serves in the Joint Task Force Support Forces Antarctica Public Affairs Office.)

Kentucky Community Honors 'Adopted' Paratroopers

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - More than 1,000 students, teachers and parents crowded into a Fort Mitchell, Ky., school auditorium Oct. 24 to thank
Army paratroopers and their families from Fort Bragg, N.C., for their service. The Fort Mitchell community "adopted" the 82nd Airborne Division's Company B, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, several years ago after learning about America Supporting Americans, a group that connects communities with military units.

In 2006, several Fort Mitchell residents and Beechwood School teachers formed "Beechwood Support Our Troops," a local branch of the group, to hold events such as "Support our Troops Night."

"Today is giving back to them, because they've given so much to us," said Nancy Taylor, founder of Beechwood Support Our Troops and former third-grade teacher, who helped to organize the Oct. 24 event. "You feel much closer to them. It's just like adopting a child. They are yours, and you want to take care of them."

The event also recognized families of fallen Company B soldiers Staff Sgt. Travis Nixon and Sgt. Kyle Dayton. Nixon was killed in Afghanistan in 2005 and Dayton in Iraq in 2007.

"This visit was unique due to the number of troopers who visited -- 15, including troopers who have now moved on from our unit, but were formerly part of the 'family,' -- and the attendance of the families of the two fallen soldiers," Taylor said. "A local jeweler made a beautiful, simple sterling necklace for each member of the Dayton and Nixon families."

Unit soldiers thanked Fort Mitchell with a flag that flew over their battalion headquarters in Iraq.

"It's exceptionally humbling," said
Army Capt. John Miller, company commander. "It makes you feel about two inches tall to know all these people are standing beside you and propping you up. It's phenomenal. It really is."

Taylor said members of the community have stayed in communication with the unit through e-mails, letters, cards, care packages and, most recently, on the Facebook social networking site. "When they have expressed needs, we start working on providing them," she said. "Beechwood School is a great resource in gathering items that our unit needs, especially when deployed."

Beechwood Support Our Troops has sent hand warmers, thermal underwear, socks, baby wipes, lip balm, candy, notebooks and pens to the deployed soldiers.

"One year, when our unit was home at Fort Bragg, we discovered that they could use a 'take-down' mat when learning new defensive maneuvers," Taylor said. "I talked to [Fort Mitchell city officials], and after some searching, we found a mat. The city cut a check, and the mat was on its way to Fort Bragg."

Normally, Beechwood Support Our Troops events include a parade with fire trucks and
police car, but weather forced the parade's cancellation this time. But before a pep rally that was followed by a high school football game, a local family hosted the soldiers, along with U.S. Reps. Geoff Davis and Jack Westwood and Fort Mitchell Mayor Tom Hollacher. The football game was dedicated to the visiting troopers and the fallen soldiers.

On Oct. 25, Beechwood Support Our Troops took the soldiers and their families on a riverboat cruise on the Ohio River, where they were able to view the Northern
Kentucky and Cincinnati river fronts. The evening included a jaunt to the local German pub for dinner.

"Plans are in the works to hopefully get together at the state football championship in December, followed by a possible visit to Fort Bragg by us in April," Taylor said. "We hope to host the unit back 'home' for 4th of July."

The soldiers are scheduled to deploy again in August.

Nominations Sought for 2009 SemperComm Award

November 6, 2008 – The SemperComm Foundation made two important announcements today. Nominations for its 2009 SemperComm Award are now being accepted; and the date for the 5th annual SemperComm Gala has been set for Thursday, May 7, 2009.

The SemperComm award recognizes U.S.
military men and women who have made considerable efforts over the past year to boost the quality of life and morale of other deployed service members defending freedom around the world. Award winners will be invited to receive their award in person at the SemperComm Gala Thursday, May 7, in Arlington, Va., at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. Complimentary travel and hotel accommodations will be provided by the SemperComm Foundation for each winner and one guest.

All branches of the U.S.
military, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are eligible to be nominated. Nominees are judged based on the following criteria:

Efforts to boost the morale of fellow service members
Remoteness and size of the bases
Desire to go above and beyond the call of duty

“It’s so inspiring to learn about the resourceful and creative ways our troops are improving quality of life for each other while they are deployed,” said Lara Coffee, SemperComm Foundation executive director. “Our judges always have a tough job selecting the winners each year. This year will be no exception.”

Nomination forms for the SemperComm Award are available on the SemperComm website, at The deadline for nominations is March 6, 2009. For more information about the SemperComm Award, please contact Sharon Finley at 703-923-7610, or by email at

The SemperComm Gala is a black-tie event featuring dinner, awards presentations, auctions and celebrity entertainment. The focus of the evening is to raise awareness of U.S. service members stationed at small, remote overseas
military bases and to raise funds to help provide needed communications equipment for them. Now in its fifth year, the gala typically draws more than 500 guests, including senior military personnel, executives from sponsoring companies, and members of Congress.

For more information about the SemperComm Gala, please visit or contact Jaime Samar-Gramatikos at 703-923-7611, or by email at

About The SemperComm Foundation

The SemperComm Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to supplying morale-boosting communications and entertainment equipment, software and services to small, overseas remote U.S.
military bases. SemperComm receives major support from Computer Systems Center Incorporated (CSCI), a unique defense-oriented software development company; and Stars For Stripes, a nonprofit that brings celebrity entertainment to U.S. military personnel. For information about SemperComm, visit

Staying Power: Army Program Reinvents Wounded Care

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - When the first news stories broke in February 2007 detailing a breakdown in soldier and family care at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., senior Army leaders scrambled into action. Headlines screamed of neglect as the nation's highest leaders, from the Pentagon, Congress and the White House demanded an answer as to how this could have happened.

In fact, there was no single answer. And Army officials soon discovered that the problem was systemic and not isolated at Walter Reed.

Five-and-a-half years of combat on two fronts, coupled with historically high combat survival rates, had thrust hundreds of soldiers, battered and broken, and their families, into a bureaucratic health and rehabilitation system that had all but lay dormant for nearly 30 years.

"Once we became engaged in the two wars, when we started to look for those rehabilitative capabilities, they really didn't exist," said
Army Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, the Army's assistant surgeon general for warrior care and transition. "We didn't take good care of the families. We weren't watching out for the soldiers. ... We also really didn't know what was going on."

Soon, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would proclaim that, next to fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, taking care of wounded warriors was to become the Defense Department's highest priority.

What followed was an all-out Army assault on the broken systems, substandard living conditions, scattered family support programs, and even passive
leadership that had contributed to the breakdown in wounded warrior care.

Over the past 20 months, the
Army has reinvented its wounded warrior care program, creating a system that puts soldiers and family members at the center of care, surrounded by protective layers of leadership, case managers, doctors, support specialists and senior leader oversight.

Transformation Goes Full Circle

The model for the transformation began at the same place the problems were first discovered. The first newly-designed wounded warrior brigade stood up at Walter Reed only three months after its hand-picked top leaders put boots on the ground there.

"We have made tremendous progress here at Walter Reed, and even more importantly, across the Army in establishing systems that provide much more comprehensive care for our warriors," said Army Col. Terrance McKenrick, the brigade's first commander.

McKenrick arrived at Walter Reed on March 2, 2007. Three months later, he had a fully operational brigade – a warrior transition unit – with three companies and more than 200 cadre in place to take care of 700 warriors.

Outpatient soldiers who had been scattered in apartments off post with little or no supervision were consolidated in one massive, renovated barracks on the hospital complex where they would be within walking distance of medical care.

Before the brigade was in place, platoon sergeants, who often also were patients, would care for about 50 soldiers each, McKenrick said.

"Most of his day was spent just trying to get accountability," McKenrick said. "He did not have the time ... to be able to help individual soldiers and families with all of their issues."

Each platoon sergeant there now has three squad leaders who care for about 12 soldiers each. The squad leader is the point man in what the
Army has coined the "triad of care." Central to the newly formed layers of support, every soldier has a squad leader, a nurse case manager and a primary care physician.

Before, there were 24 case managers handling an average of 55 soldiers each. Now, there are 39 case managers watching over about 18 soldiers each, McKenrick said.

"It's a much more proactive involvement ... in helping individual warriors," he said. "They now have the time to do that well and manage those care plans a lot closer than they did in the past."

Delivering Quality Care

There were no primary care physicians in the past, either, McKenrick said. If a wounded soldier needed to see a doctor for something other than his main injury, specialists at the hospitals had to fit those appointments into their already packed schedules. Now each company has an assigned primary care physician who takes on no other patients. Each cares for about 230 soldiers.

The nurse case managers and the physicians are supported by about 20 other staff in a newly renovated warrior clinic housed on the first floor of the main hospital. The area is only for wounded warriors and gives them a central location for all of their primary medical needs. Appointments with specialists throughout the hospital are scheduled by the nurse case managers and squad leaders to ensure the soldiers know when and where to make their appointments.

Also new is the development of a comprehensive transition plan. Launched across the Army's medical command in March, the plan is a collaboration of doctors, case managers, occupational therapists, specialty care providers and the soldiers. The idea is to map out goals that are needed for each wounded soldier to successfully transition either back into the
Army or into civilian life.

The plan is in place within a month of the soldier's arrival at the transition unit in outpatient care, said Army Lt. Col. Suzanne Shaw, the senior case manager for the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed.

"Every warrior ... is here because they are going to have a major life change. We like to start from the very beginning ... with developing a plan for the future," Shaw said. "This will really help focus our warriors away from illness and injury and on to productive civilian life or returning to duty."

The warrior in transition units now serve as the
Army-wide model. In the past, there were 300 cadre taking care of wounded warriors in companies spread out across the Army. Now there are 2,500 cadre caring for 12,000 wounded warriors in 35 transition units and nine community-based health care groups across the United States. The Army plans to build 21 transition complexes that will place the staff, barracks, hospitals and support services in one central location. The first will be built on Fort Riley, Kan., where construction is slated to begin next year.

The 12,000 soldiers in the transition units now represent a cross section of illnesses and injuries, and all are not necessarily combat related. Of those 12,000, only 1,500 are Purple Heart recipients. The move to include all wounded, ill and injured was made, said officials, so they can offer the same level of health care to all soldiers.

"I suppose we could consider a special program for only our [combat] wounded soldiers. But then when I have a soldier who has three combat tours and he's injured in a motorcycle accident, he's not eligible," Cheek said. "Do we not have an obligation to take care of him?"

Wounded Warrior Program Adds Oversight

For some seriously injured soldiers, the Army also has added another layer of advocacy and oversight.

Army's Wounded Warrior program, or AW2, includes in its fold soldiers who have a single disability rating of 30 percent or a combined disability rating of 50 percent. If a soldier is injured and is anticipated to receive either of those disability ratings, he is entered into the program even before the rating is awarded.

More than 3,000 soldiers and veterans are now in the AW2 program and of those, about 900 have a 30 percent disability rating. Army officials expect the program to grow as they work to incorporate those with the combined 50 percent rating.

The AW2 program began in 2004 as The Disabled Soldier Support System, but later changed its name because soldiers didn't view themselves as disabled, officials said. All soldiers in the program have been injured since Sept. 11, 2001. The program encompasses soldiers injured in combat, as well as in training and off-duty accidents.

The soldiers and families are assigned an AW2 advocate that oversees their care, even as they are still being cared for at the transition units by the "triad of care."

"I'll be frank. A number of leaders have asked 'Isn't that redundant?'" said Col. Jim Rice, the AW2 program director. "I'll admit to some redundancy. What makes us unique is that advocate will be with that soldier and family when the [transition]
leadership is no longer responsible for them."

An Advocate for Life

Over time, the role of the AW2 advocate increases as the nurse case manager's role decreases, so that by the time the medical board makes a determination, "the person working with them most is the one that is going to be with them for the rest of their life," Rice said.

In fact, the advocate will continue to work with the soldier and family as long as needed, even if the soldier transitions back to active duty, Rice said. So far, 70 soldiers have returned to duty, he said. Most have been medically retired and have returned to their communities where they receive care at Veterans Affairs facilities.

There are about 80 advocates stationed around the United States, Rice said. Some advocates are stationed at major
military treatment facilities, others at VA rehabilitation centers, and still others are in remote locations, working out of their homes. All advocates are civilians, either contractors or civil servants, and many are retired military. Some have medical backgrounds, but not all, Rice said. They manage about 40 cases each, but the Army's goal is to get that down to about 30 each, he said.

The advocates typically are generalists and their powers lie in knowing whom to call when there is a problem. They become community-based experts and they have access to senior
military leaders in the beltway that soldiers and families don't have.

Even as the soldier begins his treatment in the
military hospital, it is the advocates who give him a picture of the options for the future. Using an elaborate software program, the advocates input factors like rank, age, number of family members, finances and education and create financial predictions for their future based on the data.

The advocates are required to contact their soldiers and families monthly. While they are in the transition unit, contact could be more often, Rice said. There is no requirement for increased interactions, but the advocates make the judgment based on need, he said.

Many soldiers and families have successfully transitioned to active duty and back to their communities and case management is no longer needed, Rice said. For those who do still need it, contact is made every month, at least for now, he said.

"There is no real graduation from the AW2," Rice said. "The last thing we want to do is leave someone out there who needs some support."

Army officials agree that there is more work to be done in the programs, mostly in the way of fine-tuning the massive overhaul. When surveyed this year, nearly 80 percent of the 12,000 soldiers in the warrior transition units said they were satisfied with the Army's efforts, Cheek said.

"I think the difference for families from February 2007 to now is night and day," Cheek said. "We have simplified things. We have given them single points of contact. We take care of them from day one and work with them through the entire process."

While soldiers recognize the
Army's investment, they also will give honest assessments of the program, Cheek said. "It's not all milk and honey from them," he said. "Soldiers are going to tell the things they like and don't like."

For Rice and his AW2 program, success is measured as all or nothing.

"I can't be satisfied until we go out with a survey to all 3,000 and every one of them says ... 'I'm getting everything I need,'" Rice said.

(Editor's note: This is the 2nd article in an AFPS special report about seriously wounded servicemembers who return to active duty).

Maryland Guard Plans Medical Assistance Visit to Africa

American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - The
Maryland Army National Guard will send soldiers to Africa as part of a scheduled two-week annual training period to provide medical, dental and ophthalmology services to people in the St. Louis region of northwestern Senegal as part of Operation Flintlock, officials announced yesterday. The deployment, which will take place later this month, will involve about 25 soldiers from the Maryland Army National Guard's Medical Detachment, based at Camp Fretterd in Reisterstown, Md.

It's the
Maryland Guard's first deployment to Africa, officials said.

"This is a terrific opportunity for our soldiers to take their military and civilian skills and apply them in a real-world training environment, while at the same time helping the people of the Republic of Senegal," said Brig. Gen. Alberto Jimenez, commander of the
Maryland Army National Guard.

"This exercise is a continuation of the ongoing efforts by the
Maryland National Guard in support of emerging democracies in countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia and now Senegal," Jimenez said.

Maryland Guardsmen involved in the medical training exercise will directly support Special Operations Command Europe, and expect to treat 500 to 700 patients per day.

Nearly 350 citizen-soldiers and -airmen from the
Maryland National Guard are currently serving in support of the global war on terror. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 8,100 soldiers and airmen have been called for various mobilizations, including operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and Jump Start, and in the relief efforts for multiple hurricanes.

(From a
Maryland National Guard news release.)

Gates Welcomes DoD Teachers of Year to Pentagon

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates welcomed 15 Department of Defense Education Activity district teachers of the year to the Pentagon today. "What you do is especially important," Gates told them after posing for photos with the group. "In addition to being good teachers, you are a source of stability for our
military [children].

"The environment that you create for children whose lives are disrupted by their parents' deployment is really terribly important," he added.

The group included Dorothy Goff Goulet, DoDEA's 2009 Teacher of Year, and a 13-year teaching veteran from Louisiana. She said she agrees that DoDEA teachers face a unique situation.

military children have special issues, [and] we have to be very sensitive to that," she said. "I can't imagine what it would be like to be a student with a parent, or two parents, that are deployed for several months. So, we approach every day with a great amount of sensitivity and a great amount of respect for what they have to go through."

While being chosen as the Teacher of the Year was thrilling, she said, it's also humbling.

"It's an honor, and I'm humbled, really, to represent my colleagues and my students and my school and all the people through the years that have affected me and my decisions and my teachings," Goulet said. "We're the sum of our mentors."

An Air Force spouse, Goulet teaches U.S. history and French at Kaiserslautern Middle School in Kaiserslautern, Germany. She's taught in DoDEA schools for eight years, including teaching the same two subjects at DoDEA's Guam High School in Asan, Guam.

Her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Goulet, is stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Charles Toth, DoDEA's assistant associate director, said he's proud of the activity's teachers.

"I can't think of a more noble profession for a person to pursue than that of being a teacher of America's children," he said. "Being affiliated with the Department of Defense as an educator magnifies that purpose twofold."

DoDEA educators not only must be committed to providing
military children with a world-class education, but also must pledge to meet all their needs -- social, behavioral or emotional.

"DoD's teachers do an exceptional job of educating America's youth," he said. "I hold what these folks do in very high esteem."

DoDEA's "Teacher of the Year" program recognizes and promotes excellence in education. Teachers may be nominated by a peer, administrator, parent, student of community member. The nominees must complete an application packet and submit it to a selection panel at a DoDEA district office, where one applicant is chosen as "District Teacher of the Year." Those selectees are then considered by a second panel at DoDEA headquarters, which selects the DoDEA Teacher of the Year.

As 2009 DoDEA Teacher of the Year, Goulet will compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year.


Air Force

Air Force is modifying an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract with General Electric Aircraft Engines of Cincinnati, Ohio, for a maximum of $185,000,000. The Versatile, Affordable, Advanced Turbine Engine Program is a joint DoD/NASA/DOE industry effort to develop revolutionary and innovative technologies by the 2017 timeframe that will permit an order of magnitude increase in turbo-propulsion affordability over the year 2000 state-of the-art technology. This effort focuses mainly on Phase II of the VAATE program with some smaller efforts for Phase III. Phase II and III efforts will focus on technologies that address strike/ persistent engagement, multi-mission mobility, persistent agile combat support, enterprise and platform enablers, responsive space access, agile combat support /enterprise and platform enablers, air superiority/protection. At this time $801,000 has been obligated. Det 1 AFRL/PKPB, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-D-2922).

Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems of Warner Robbins, Ga., is being awarded a firm fixed price, time and materials contract for an estimated $8,556,400. This action is for exercise option for Lot 4 of the UH-1H upgrade modification to include engine overhaul and installation, both group A & B kits as well as installation, pre-modification aircraft repair and data. At this time all funds have been obligated. 580 ACSG/GFKAB, Robins AFB, Ga., is the contracting activity (F09603-01-D-0207-009839).

Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price contract with Lockheed Martin Co., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., of Marietta, Ga., for $6,123,675. This action is exercise of option for installation of five C-5 avionics modernization program kits onto the C-5 aircraft. At this time all funds have been obligated. 716th AESG/PK, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (F33657-98-C-0006, Modification P00215).

Air Force is modifying a cost plus award fee contract with Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., of San Diego, Calif., for $5,962,924. This contract action will provide extension of engineering, manufacturing and development activities in support of the Global Hawk program for one month. At this time all funds have been obligated. 303 AESG/SYK, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (F33657-01-C-4600, P00282).


Tetra Tech NUS, Inc., Norfolk, Va., is being awarded a not to exceed $14,256,722 cost-plus-award-fee task order modification under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity architect-engineer contract (N62470-08-D-1001) for comprehensive long-term environmental action. The work to be performed provides for continuing environmental site assessment which includes sampling residences' tap water and soil, and analysis; conduct air sampling activities and laboratory analysis; obtain GPS coordinates for residential properties in Italy, and perform point of entry tap water mitigation study. Work will be performed in Naples, Italy and is expected to be completed by September 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $14,000,000 ceiling-priced delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N68335-06-G-0024) for the procurement of 72 F/A-18F peculiar support equipment items for the F/A-18 Royal Australian
Air Force fleet under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo. and is expected to be completed in December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J. is the contracting activity.

Swiftships Shipbuilders, LLC, Morgan City, La., is being awarded a $13,414,450 firm-fixed price contract for the design and construction of two 28 meter coastal patrol craft for the government of Egypt. The coastal patrol craft is used for coastal surveillance, search and rescue, response to emergency situations, and security assistance. Work will be performed in Morgan City, La., and is expected to completed by May 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington
NAVY Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-2210).

Solpac Construction, Inc., dba Soltek Pacific Construction Co., San Diego, Calif, , is being awarded $12,269,057 for firm-fixed price task order #0006 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-08-D-8615) for design and construction for repairs to a hangar at Naval Air Station, Lemoore, Calif. The work to be performed provides for repairs and alterations to restore the hangar's functionality and provides fire protection related upgrades in compliance with current Department of Defense standards. The task order also contains one unexercised option, which if exercised would increase cumulative task order value to $12,394,057. Work will be performed in Lemoore, Calif., and is expected to be completed by August 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Three proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $6,480,176 order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for tasks associated with conducting a structural life assessment program for the T-45 airframe and landing gear. Work will be performed in Hazelwood, Mo., and is expected to be completed in September 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $2,750,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding – Newport News, Newport News, Va., is being awarded a $6,457,805 cost-plus-fixed fee, level of effort contract modification to previously awarded contract (N62793-07-C-0001) for continuation of FY09 advance planning efforts to prepare and make ready for the defueling and inactivation of the USS Enterprise and its reactor plants. This effort will provide for all advanced planning, shipchecks, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, fabrication and preliminary shipyard or support facility work. This contract modification also includes options for additional advance planning efforts through FY10-13 of Enterprise, and an option for FY13 advance planning efforts for inactivation of the Surface Ship Support Barge. The total estimated amount if all options are exercised is $282,021,379. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to completed by Sept. 30, 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $6,457,805 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, Newport News, Va., is the contracting activity.

Defense Media Activity Breaks Down Barriers

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - The Defense Media Activity is all about breaking down barriers between reporting disciplines, the new organization's chief of staff said in an interview yesterday. The activity, which stood up Oct. 1, combines the internal information portions of the services' and Defense Department's public affairs functions in one headquarters.

The Soldiers Media Center, the
Air Force News Service, the Navy Media Center, Marine Corps News, the Stars & Stripes newspaper and the Defense Information School, as well as the former American Forces Information Service, all are part of the new activity.

Changing the cultures of these organizations is part of the challenge for the
leaders of the new activity.

"All these folks ... have historically worked for different bosses," said
Army Col. Michael S. Galloucis, DMA's chief of staff. "Now, they work for one boss, and there is always going to be an adjustment period."

The amalgamation of the command information activities is part of the base realignment and closure commission process. The 2005 commission saw monetary savings in putting these organizations under one roof and a chance for synergy among the services.

The activity is forcing people to cross-talk among communities, Galloucis said. In the past, broadcast specialists spoke only with other broadcasters, print reporters with other "ink-stained wretches," and Web experts with other Web personnel, he said.

"We are saying those traditional thresholds that existed between those people and organizations have to go; we want to eliminate them," the colonel said. "We want this to be a solidified, integrated organization, so that folks in all those organizations are working toward a common aim."

There was resistance to the idea early on in the planning process, "but it's not like there is any choice," Galloucis said.

The base realignment process was ratified by Congress and has the force of law. "It's not going away," the colonel said. "Whether they agree with the program or not is a moot point. Any opportunity to shape that was in 2005, before the commission came out with its conclusions."

One key project is standing up a headquarters to meet the organization's needs in human resources, finance, contracting, administration, logistics and, most importantly, operations.

"We had a two-day Tiger Team effort ... from our components and looked at how we should design our operations directorate," Galloucis said.

The activity does not yet have a director. The job is a career senior executive service position, and the director will report to the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. Resumes have been winnowed down, the interview process is under way and a decision should come shortly, Galloucis said.

Galloucis and Bob Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, have not let decisions go wanting. "There have been no decisions that needed to be made that have not been made," Galloucis said. "I've either made them myself, or ... I've asked Mr. Hastings. There have been no decisions that have been waiting on the side for a new director."

Plans continue to move forward and will be ready for decisions by whomever is chosen as the director, the colonel said.

Even as the new organization sets up, DMA is producing information products and still has to meet the information needs of the services and DoD, Galloucis said. He pointed out that press services still must produce stories, the Armed Forces Network still has to broadcast entertainment and news, and the service flagship magazines still must publish. "We're not going to accept any degradation of service to our customers," the colonel said.

"If I was painting a room in my house, I would close the room and cover everything in plastic and then paint the room. I wouldn't be able to use it for the duration," he said. "[Standing up DMA] is like painting a room while activities in the room continue unabated."

Warrior Care: Progress Includes Recovery Coordinators, Joint Care Plan

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 6, 2008 - The Defense Department is hiring about 30 specialists who will map out a path to recovery for seriously injured servicemembers and their families. The plan will be consistent across the services, officials said. In the past, each service put into place its own recovery plan for wounded servicemembers, but the plans varied. This step will deliver servicemembers and families an individualized recovery plan based on uniform standards, Lynda Davis, deputy undersecretary of defense for
military community and family policy, said.

The congressionally mandated DoD recovery coordinators will not provide direct care, but rather will oversee the plan as each service delivers individual care in its respective warrior care program.

Recovery coordinators also will give the families a single point of contact for support, Davis said. The services' warrior care programs have many experts, she explained, but they sometimes change as the person moves through the system.

"We'll provide connectivity and those links so that an individual family is not left to try and find it out on their own," Davis said.

"You need somebody that you can trust that has the right information that will be there and support you" so that families can concentrate on taking care of the injured servicemembers, she said.

The recovery coordinators will be trained and in place at major
military treatment facilities across the United States next month, Davis said. The recovery plans are based on a 10-step process that guides both the family and servicemember from recovery to rehabilitation and reintegration back to their community or back to the service.

This change is based on feedback from families, such as from those who gathered here recently for the Wounded Warriors Family Summit, Davis said.

"They wanted to make sure they understood what the path ahead was for them," she said. "They wanted to know what came next, what to expect. It reduces their anxiety and helps them to be better engaged as decision-makers."

Servicemembers and families work with their recovery coordinator to develop individual plans that include personal and professional goals as they work through their educational, transportation, housing and financial needs.

Each plan details who will provide which service and when, Davis said.

The recovery coordinators are part of a four-cornerstone approach to warrior care within the Defense Department, Davis said. Each seriously injured servicemember and family will have a recovery coordinator, a recovery plan, a recovery team made up by the services, and a national resource directory available on the Internet that will be launched later this month.

Davis described the site as a "yellow book" directory for information on benefits, health care, education and training, and transportation and housing. The site can be searched by state and type of service and will be accessible from any Internet connection. More than 10,000 federal, state and local government and nonprofit services and resources will be available on the site, she said.

Davis is a former soldier who said she understands that taking care of the families is critical to the retention of quality servicemembers.

"It's absolutely essential. We know that we recruit individual servicemembers, but we retain the families," she said.

When she served in the
Army, Davis said, her husband and children helped to determine her future in the service.

"We all had to be part of that commitment to serve our country," Davis said.