Military News

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

U.S., Estonian Leaders Discuss Security Challenges

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 12, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip discussed Russian behavior and new cooperation on cyber security during meetings here today. Gates, who is here for Ukraine-related NATO consultations, reiterated the U.S. position that nations on Russia's periphery who want better relations with the West do not present threats to Russia.

The secretary spoke during a news conference with Ansip.

In a speech last week, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev said his country will place missiles in Kaliningrad, a section of Russia on the Baltic Sea bordering Poland, in direct response to a NATO plan to place a European missile defense system in place. The radar for the NATO system will be in the Czech Republic, and the 10 interceptor missiles will be based in Poland.

The system is aimed at combating missiles fired from rogue states such as Iran and could not possibly be imagined to be a threat to Russia, officials traveling with Gates said. The United States has offered many assurances to Russia on the missile defense system, they said, including a proposal that would allow Russian observers at the sites. News reports out of Moscow citing an unnamed Kremlin official today said Russian officials rejected U.S. proposals on the missile system.

"I hope this unnamed Kremlin official does not express his government's true wishes, because we still very much wish to partner with Russia to combat the growing ballistic missile threat emanating from Iran, as evidenced by Tehran conducting another missile test this week," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters traveling with Gates today.

"Though the Iranians failed yet again, they are clearly determined to develop a weapon capable of reaching Europe and, for that matter, Russia so it continues to be in our mutual interest to work together on this issue," Morrell said.

The State Department still is working with the Russians on setting a date in December for another round of missile defense talks, officials traveling with Gates said.

Russia has increasingly asserted itself in nations that once were part of the old Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact, officials said. Gates and other U.S. officials have countered that any nation's desire to improve relations with the West does not translate into animosity toward Russia.

"Russia has no need to impede a sovereign country's desire to more fully integrate with the West – it is not a threat to Russian security," Gates said

On the cyber security front, Gates announced today that the United States will co-sponsor the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence that is now up and running in Estonia.

The center grew out of the largest cyber attack launched on any nation to date. In April 2007, cyber criminals launched denial-of-service attacks on Estonian computer infrastructure. These attacks shut down the Estonian parliament, newspapers, banks and other national institutions.

"It is a tribute to the Estonian people that they turned that attack into a success story," Gates said during a news conference following his meeting. "Today, they are leaders in the field of cyber security and have shared their technological know-how with other allies."

The Russian invasion of Georgia has worried Estonia and the other Baltic republics of Latvia and Lithuania. The secretary will meet with the defense ministers of all the Baltic republics later today. The trip, in part, is designed to showcase U.S. support for the Baltic states, a senior defense official said.

Ansip said NATO will operate under the principle of Article 5 of the alliance's treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is treated as an attack on all.

"We are convinced that Estonia, as a member of NATO, will be very well defended," the prime minister said through an interpreter. "NATO has plans to defend all members of the alliance."

Gates said the alliance members engage in prudent planning. "We are always reviewing our assessment of the security situation," he said. He noted that planners with U.S. European Command visited Estonia in September, and that the consultations and defense talks will continue.

Estonia has been a reliable and trustworthy ally of the United States and is a NATO member, and Estonian soldiers operate in many peacekeeping missions around the world, Ansip said.

Gates called Estonia a role model for democratic reform and an active contributor to NATO. "In fact, Estonia has one of the highest deployment rates in the alliance," he said. Estonian forces operate in southern Afghanistan and are members of the coalition in Iraq.

"Its contributions and skills have been commended by many in the international community," Gates said. "The government of Iraq's interest in keeping an Estonian presence in their country is a credit to Estonia's forces.

"I would like personally to thank the men and women of the Estonian military for their brave service and sacrifice. They have earned the respect and admiration of their NATO colleagues, as well as that of the American people."

Women's Memorial Hosts Veterans Day Observance, Honors Navajo Vets

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 12, 2008 - A Veterans Day observance yesterday at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial here honored the contributions of women in uniform throughout the nation's history. Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, president of the Women's Memorial foundation, hosted the annual event, which followed a tribute to the accomplishments of Navajo women veterans.

"This memorial pays tribute, individually and collectively, to all the women who've served or now serve," Vaught told attendees.

Former military nurse and retired Air Force Maj. Linda S. Schwartz was one of the event's speakers. Women in the military, Schwartz said, know "what it is to love this country, because we have given everything we had to keep her free and safe."

Military women are intensely patriotic and take pride in accomplishing the mission wherever they're assigned, said Schwartz, who now serves as Connecticut's commissioner for veterans' affairs.

"We know what it is like to get a rush of pride when we hear the 'Star-Spangled Banner' and see the Stars and Stripes go by," Schwartz said. "It is the common experience and the building upon the legacies of those who have come before us and the shared history that truly sustains our purpose."

Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Patricia D. Ruth was one of several current military women who spoke at the observance. The 23-year Army veteran is a senior administrator at the Pentagon in the Office of the Chief of the Army Reserve.

The Veterans Day observance at the Women's Memorial "provides an opportunity for everyone to understand and realize the part that we've played in the armed forces," Ruth, a Washington, D.C., resident, said.

Several Navajo women who are military veterans attended the observance. President Bush proclaimed November as National American Indian Heritage Month.

Angela Barney Nez from Tohatchi, N.M., served in the Army from 1978 to 1986. She spoke about her military experiences, and her daughter, Dana, performed a Navajo hunter's song on the flute.

Navajo women "came to serve" when they volunteered to join the military, said Nez, who was among the first group of women who began training with men near the end of the Cold War. Previously, she said, female Army recruits were required to train in women-only units.

Another Navajo military veteran, Marcella King, served in the Air Force as a communications technician and now is a lawyer living in Yahtahey, N.M. Her family lineage, she said, spans five generations of military service.

"The military gave me confidence; the military made me a leader," she said.

During her military days, King said, she fought against false impressions held by some people that most Native Americans were alcoholics and lived in poverty.

"Being able to leave the reservation and to serve and share information about native people and to overcome stereotypes was a very important thing," she said.

MILITARY CONTRACT November 12, 2008

NAVY

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory is being awarded Modification P00006 under contract (N00030-08-C-0010) in the amount of $117,385,862 for Trident II (D5) guidance system repair, guidance system parts and MK6LE. This modification increases the total contract value to $298,318,107. Work will be performed in the following locations: Cambridge, Mass., (43 precent), Pittsfield, Mass., (38 precent), El Segundo, Calif., (12 precent), Clearwater, Fla., (5 precent), and Andover, Mass., (2 precent) and is expected to be completed by 30 Sept. 2011. This contract was not competitively procured. The Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting agency.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $65,000,000 estimated value modification to a previously awarded indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contract (N00019-08-D-0013) to exercise an option for persistent unmanned aerial system intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance services in support of Global War on Terror, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom sea-based deployments and land-based detachments. Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash., (65 percent); and St. Louis, Mo., (35 percent), and is expected to be completed in Nov. 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $6,818,825 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Caddell Construction Co., Inc., Montgomery, Ala., is being awarded a $47,684,000 modification under a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N40085-08-C-1411) to exercise Option 0001 which provides for the design and construction of Bachelor Enlisted Quarters at the Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C. The work to be performed provides for all labor, materials, and equipment for the design and construction of barracks with associated laundry facilities, lounges, administrative offices, housekeeping areas and public restrooms. Related work includes outdoor recreation facilities/courts, roadway access, and vehicle parking. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $70,305,000. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, N.C., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $12,758,470 modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-06-C-0086) for logistics services in support of H-1 upgrade effort, to include preparation, validation and delivery of revisions to organizational, intermediate and depot level technical manuals in digital format. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $12,758,470 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Shumar Industries, Grindstone, Pa., is being awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity, firm fixed price contract with a maximum amount of $6,119,248 for assembly, manufacture, and delivery of turret gunner counter -sniper protection systems. Work will be performed in Grindstone, Pa., and is expected to be completed by Nov. 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $47,682 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with an unspecified number of proposals being solicited via FedBizOpps and the internet, and three offers were received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-08-D-JS07).

AIR FORCE

United Technologies Corp., Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded an indefinite delivery indefinite, cost reimbursement contract for a maximum $185 million. The objective of the VAATE Phase II and III program is to develop revolutionary and innovative technology by the 2017 timeframe that will provide a 10X increase in turbo-propulsion affordable capability when carped to a year 2000 state-of-the-art baseline engine. At this point, $1,000 has been obligated. AFRL/PKPB, Bldg 167, 2310 8th Street, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-09-D-2923).

ITT Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., is being awarded a fixed price incentive fee contract for $59.4 million. This action will provide for acquisition of base operating services for Maxwell AFB, AL. At this point, $14,335,304 has been obligated. AETC CONS/LGCK, Randolph AFB, Texas is the contracting activity (FA3002-09-O-0001).

ARMY

Lockheed Martin Corp., Missile and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded on Nov. 7, 2008, a $9,963,709 cost plus fixed fee contract. This contract provides for the design, fabrication, integration and test of the Extended Area Protection and Survivability Battle Element prototype hardware. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas, and St Paul, Minn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. Bids solicited were via the Web and four bids were received. U.S. Army & Aviation Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-08-D-0016).

Troop Support Group Launches New Web site

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 12, 2008 - A troop-support group that provides education on the brain's and body's natural responses to stress launched its redesigned Web site yesterday. "Our Web site is completely redesigned to power our mission of providing the best education, training and resources for supporting strength and resilience in all areas of military life," said Elizabeth Hawkins, executive director of "One Freedom."

"The new One Freedom Web site is a portal for our nation's warriors and for everyone who cares about them to connect with a wealth of knowledge and new possibilities for strength and healing," she said.

The Web site contains a listing of One Freedom programs for military servicemembers, veterans, families and care providers, with easy online registration.

A growing list of resources -- information, organizations and individuals -- is dedicated to supporting military communities using articles, newsletters, videos, links and listings covering a variety of information.

Visitors also can sign up for a quarterly newsletter and donate to support One Freedom's programs.

One Freedom will continue to offer workshops and training focused on how to self-regulate intense life experiences, trauma and everyday stressors.

One of its most popular workshops – the "Strength after Service" series – is a two-hour program that teaches veterans and family members about the brain and body and how they are changed under prolonged stress. A range of skills is taught, including simple, easy-to-use exercises aimed at improving well-being, inner strength and personal communication.

"This introductory workshop frames military stress in a normalizing framework that takes the emphasis off 'mental-behavioral' and puts it on our natural response to stress, especially under chronic and acute conditions," Hawkins said.

The "Strength after Service" series includes sub-topics that provide veterans and family members education on the cornerstones of health such as sleep, nutrition, exercise and structure. One Freedom also offers day-long training on communication for couples and families, addiction training and assistance with understanding the various therapeutic modalities available today.

Marine Corps veteran and One Freedom trainer Dan Taslitz said the workshops "are a powerful path to strength and healing for our military servicemembers, veterans and families."

"It goes way beyond a yellow ribbon in supporting our nation's warriors by providing the knowledge and skills to integrate their experiences and create bridges of strength back to their families and communities," he said.

The next "Strength after Service" series will be held Nov. 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Face of Defense: Double Amputee Marine Wants to Stay in to Help Others

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 12, 2008 - Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Ryan Bradford was part of a patrol to clear an area near Haditha, Iraq, of roadside bombs with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, on Jan. 18, 2007. "We found it," he said with a chuckle, admitting that he'd gone about it the hard way. "Another guy got hurt, but he just had shrapnel go through his right calf. I pretty much took the full blast."

The bomb, hidden under a pipe, cost Bradford his left leg above the knee and his right one below the knee. He lost his left eye when a piece of shrapnel went through it and lodged in his brain, and retina damage cost him sight in his right eye. He also suffered intestinal damage.

The shrapnel is still there.

"It's in a good, safe spot, I guess," he said. "I don't have to have anything done with it."

The unit's corpsman did all he could medically on the scene, then sent Bradford to a military hospital at Balad. From there, he was sent through Germany's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on his way to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He arrived in Bethesda just three days after his injury and stayed for two months before being moved to the Veterans Affairs facility in Richmond, Va., that specializes in patients with multiple traumas.

From there, it was back to Bethesda to be fitted for a prosthetic eye, then to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for prosthetic legs at the Center for the Intrepid medical center.

"I walk perfect," Bradford said of his prosthesis. "I'm used to wearing them for like 12 hours a day now."

Bradford, who enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school, is taking computer training at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago. When he finishes there, it's back to San Antonio to start the medical boards that will determine whether he can stay in the Marines.

Bradford said he knows he won't be able to do every job in the Marine Corps, but he hopes to stay in uniform because he believes he has something to offer.

"I want to be a Marine. I don't want to get out yet," he said. "I'm trying to stay in so I can go back to Bethesda and work at the hospital in the liaison office so I can talk to the wounded."

The motivation behind this decision came from experiences during his early recovery when another Marine helped him get his mind off his injuries, he said.

"He came to my room a lot -- basically, every day," he said. "Instead of talking about my injuries, we just talked about sports [and] girls."

The conversation was a welcome outlet for the wounded Marine. "At that time, I was going through [thoughts like], 'I don't want to live right now. I don't have legs or eyes,'" he said.

Now Bradford, a former high school athlete, even shoots hoops every so often. He said he also goes to concerts and bars, and does things any 22-year-old does.

The reactions he occasionally gets when he's out in public bother him, though, he acknowledged. Some thank him, some buy meals for him, and some even apologize for what happened in the course of serving his country.

"I'm like, 'Don't be. It could've happened to anyone," Bradford said. "[I have] no regrets. I'd go back if I could, but I can't see."

Bradford's injuries earned him a Purple Heart, which Gen. James T. Conway, Marine Corps commandant, presented on Valentine's Day 2007.

"It means a lot," he said of the medal. "I feel grateful to have it, but I'd rather not have it."

Wounded Corpsman Trades Alcohol, Pills for Marathons

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 12, 2008 - Navy Corpsman Daniel "Doc" Jacobs didn't know he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. But he knew he had a problem. "I actually almost ended up killing myself because of it," Jacobs said.

He woke up one morning in late 2006 in a pool of his own urine and sweat after mixing his prescription medications with alcohol. He had blacked out and remembered nothing after the first couple of beers, Jacobs said.

Jacobs turned 21 that year and was recovering from the blast of a roadside bomb in Iraq and still was using a wheelchair. After his left leg was amputated, Jacobs said he started having a lot of pain. He had problems sleeping for several months, and when he did sleep, it was fitful and he had nightmares.

"I fell into a stage of depression. I turned to alcohol," he said. "I figured if the pain meds weren't going to (make the pain go away), then alcohol would. So I self-medicated and one morning I woke up and I had no idea how I woke up out of that."

While Jacobs hadn't intentionally tried to kill himself, it served as a wake-up call, and marked the end of the pill-popping and boozing for him. He flushed his medication down the toilet.

"I said, 'Enough is enough.' I just had to quit it," Jacobs said. "I was like, 'I'm lucky to be alive, again. There is some purpose for me on this earth still, and I'm not going to let PTSD bring me down.' I didn't want to be another statistic."

Now, Jacobs has joined the growing numbers of servicemembers who have chosen to continue to serve despite their injuries.

These wounded warriors are hard to discern from the ranks of others. Often their prostheses are covered by combat boots and their scars by their uniforms. Their post-injury jobs vary, from returning to combat to serving as trainers. But all are driven to overcome their physical limitations by a common motivation – they are simply not ready to take off the uniform.

Choosing the Navy

Jacobs is the son of a career Navy man and the grandson of a Marine. As the war stormed in Iraq, Jacobs' dying grandfather asked him to promise not to join the Corps. At his bedside, Jacobs agreed.

But, after high school graduation in 2004, Jacobs said he was finished with school and wanted to join the military.

"I spent 12 years in school and I didn't want to spend any more time there," he said.

Because of the historic Army-Navy rivalry, Jacobs' dad wouldn't let him sign up as a soldier. His uncle, a Navy hospital corpsman, told Jacobs of the camaraderie he experienced in his work, so Jacobs signed up as a corpsman. The next year, after finishing Navy schooling that qualified him to deploy with the Marines, Jacobs was bound for combat.

"I ended up in Iraq in a Marine Corps uniform as a Navy corpsman and kept my promise to both family members," Jacobs said. "I really, really wanted to go. I put my name on the volunteer list three times. I guess the third time is the charm. My family thought I was crazy, and they were pretty mad that I went. But I really didn't care."

Jacobs deployed to the Sunni Triangle, a densely-populated region northwest of Baghdad, with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. He spent his days on patrol, kicking in doors with the Marines, and tending to those who needed his care.

In February 2006, Jacobs' unit was more than six months into its deployment and slated to fly home in weeks.

The small group had just finished the first patrol of the morning and was heading back to the base, the team members joking with the Humvee driver.

"We were laughing, and just making fun of each other as we were driving back to base," Jacobs said. "The next thing I knew, I felt my body being lifted upward and hearing a loud, horrible sound."

The homemade bomb exploded underneath the driver, killing him.

Jacobs was sitting behind the driver.

Bomb fragments embedded themselves into his glasses and sheared fingers off his left hand. His left leg was shredded and his right leg was not much better.

As the dust cleared, Jacobs patted himself down, checking for injuries. His left leg was bleeding badly, and his right leg was bleeding less so. He snapped a field tourniquet on both and dragged himself to a safety vehicle for medical evacuation.

High on a mixture of adrenaline and shock, Jacobs said his helicopter ride to the field hospital "was cool." He had a window seat. He stared at the Iraq countryside passing by underneath, and then became fascinated with the cartilage and bone sticking from his fingers, Jacobs said.

Doctors eventually amputated Jacobs' left leg below the knee, but only after he spent months trying to rehabilitate it. His right leg is considered limb salvage with only four toes and most of the rest blown off.

Jacobs' father met him at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland and stayed with him for three months, pushing his son toward recovery.

"He was always there to keep his foot in my butt. There was no giving up," Jacobs said. "If I said 'Dad, I really don't feel like moving on,' he'd find some funny way of getting around it. But in a stern way he'd say 'Jacobs don't quit. That's not what a sailor does,'"

That would lead to a good-natured argument over whether Jacobs was truly a sailor, or a Navy corpsman with the Marine Corps.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Denial and Recovery

Eventually, Jacobs was transferred to the Naval Medical Center San Diego to complete his recovery. While there, he began experiencing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a traumatic brain injury. Even though he is a trained hospital corpsman, Jacobs said he didn't see or recognize the signs of PTSD.

"I didn't even know that what I was going through was PTSD. I thought it was just the five stages of going through a traumatic event. I thought it was the anger phase," Jacobs said. "Really, I was in denial that I had PTSD."

Jacobs began staying in his room, and would turn off his phone. He said he attributed the alcohol use to being 21 – not realizing that he was self-medicating.

But Jacobs said he would black out after only a couple of beers and continue drinking even after he couldn't remember anything said.

After he stopped drinking and taking pills, Jacobs realized that his inactivity was actually making his depression worse.

"I said 'I've got to do something. I've got to get out of these barracks. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not doing anything.'"

Exercise – A Saving Grace

Jacobs eventually began talking to others who were experiencing similar PTSD symptoms. They encouraged him to start hitting the gym.

He started working out to make himself tired and stopped relying on drinking, he said. When the pain gets too bad, he slows down and gives his body a rest instead of turning to pills, he said.

Within a month of his decision to turn his life around, Jacobs was handcycling – riding a bike that is pedaled with hands instead of feet -- through Miami in his first marathon. That same week, he skied for the first time. It was a full week of getting out with fellow amputees and swapping stories -- and it did wonders for his spirits, Jacobs said.

"When you're around amputees and you're making friends with them, it's a bond that can't be broken," he said. "I feel like I can relate to them and they can relate to me more than anybody else."

Jacobs now belongs to the Achilles Track Club Freedom Team, a nonprofit group based out of New York City that trains and sponsors wounded warriors to participate in marathons. To date, Jacobs has competed in seven marathons using the handcycle. He placed fifth in his event in the Boston Marathon and ninth in the Los Angeles Marathon.

Being around others who compete in marathons with worse injuries than his own stifles Jacobs' complaints.

"It opens up my eyes that my injury is not the worst injury you can have," he said. "Why am I complaining when one guy doesn't even have a leg?"

'I Still Want to be That Ideal Corpsman'

Jacobs eventually decided to remain on active duty with the encouragement of the Navy, which has promised to keep sailors who can still contribute in the service.

After 42 surgeries, Jacobs has recovered to the point that he can pass a Navy fitness test with his prosthetic leg. He can run, swim and bicycle.

And, he is again serving with Marines at the Marine Combat Training Center here, in charge of 14 junior corpsmen and caring for five companies of young Marines attending the infantry school. In that role, he is a teacher who has "been there, done that" and knows what's going on, he said. Jacobs also ensures that all Navy staff at the school clinic is current on required training.

Before his injury, Jacobs said he never really pushed himself physically. Now he is more apt to stay fit, just to prove himself as an amputee among able-bodied peers, he said.

"If I let a week go by that I don't work out or try and stay in shape, I think it will take me longer to catch up than it will everybody else," Jacobs said.

And the fitness pays dividends as he mingles with his Marines, Jacobs said.

"I take pride in my uniform... and that's what the Marine Corps wants," Jacobs said. "They want a corpsman that looks sharp in the uniform and he's Johnny-on-the-spot. I still want to be that ideal corpsman."

His combat experience also comes in useful when training the junior corpsmen on combat trauma and teaching them to treat blast injuries and gunshot wounds, Jacobs said.

Jacobs said most of his junior corpsmen are surprised to find out he's an amputee. Because he wears a prosthetic leg with a boot, his injury is transparent to anyone who doesn't already know about it.

In most instances, Jacobs said, he waits a while before divulging the information to a new corpsman.

"Initially, I try to keep it from them just to shock them one by one," he said. "'Oh you think you have it bad,'" Jacobs said he tells them when new corpsmen whine. "Well I'm out here with one leg. This is nothing. This is a cakewalk. I always try to emphasize the fact that there are always people in worse off situations than they are in."

For the most part, though, Jacobs said he wants to be seen as any other corpsman out in the field taking care of his junior corpsmen and Marines.

"In my eyes, I don't think of myself as being different. I come out here and I do the tasks that everybody else does," Jacobs said. "It shows a lot to them that I can hike with one leg and I can finish a 15 (kilometer) hike with all my gear and only one leg."

Jacobs plans to make the Navy a career and hopes to put in an application to Navy medical school to become an anesthesiologist. He wants to see the other side of the operating room, he said. The Navy's Seaman-to-Admiral program, which allows enlisted to become officers, recently expanded its eligibility to include corpsmen.

In addition to his physical breakthroughs in recovery and exercise, Jacobs has made personal breakthroughs as well. In June 2007, he met his fiancé, Jenean Compton, and the two live near base with their puppy, Romeo.

Jacobs said he is no longer depressed, but hopeful. And while he can't say he is cured, he knows now the signs to look for to keep his PTSD at bay. It's not the big things, he said, it's the little things that can make a good day go bad. But instead of turning to alcohol and pills to numb the pain, he turns to family – and man's best friend.

Jacobs said he found that having a dog around helps him deal with his PTSD.

"You can wrestle around with them. Go for a jog with them. Talk to them or whatever, and they're not going to judge you. They're not going to talk back to you or think of you differently," Jacobs said.

Gates to Participate in NATO-Ukraine Meeting

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 11, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will show U.S. support for Ukraine's NATO aspirations and for allies in Eastern Europe by participating in the NATO-Ukraine Consultations in Tallinn, Estonia tomorrow. "This trip is about showing our support for Ukraine and other former Soviet states and satellites who wish to integrate further with the West," said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary.

Senior defense officials speaking on background said the secretary probably would not have attended the meeting had the Russians not invaded Georgia. "But in the aftermath of that, the secretary wanted to send a very strong signal of his support for Ukraine and the Baltic States and our other NATO allies in Eastern Europe that the United States stands firmly behind them," officials said.

The consultations will undoubtedly cover Russia's invasion of Georgia and Russia's opposition to Ukrainian membership in NATO, officials said. There will also be an opportunity for the allies to discuss Ukraine's continuing defense transformation.

Gates met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov on Oct. 8, 2008 during the South East Europe Defense Ministerial in Macedonia.

In addition to participating in the NATO-Ukraine Consultations, Gates will also meet with Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and hold a meeting with the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Between a visit by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen to Latvia and Lithuania last month and the secretary's visit to Estonia now, high-level U.S. defense officials have visited all the Baltic Republics since the Russian invasion of Georgia in August.

The NATO heads of state agreed at the Bucharest summit that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members. But they did not approve membership action plans – the path for NATO acceptance – at that time. The leaders agreed that the alliance foreign ministers – to meet in December in Brussels – would discuss the action plans. Both Ukraine and Georgia have intensified the dialogue between their nations and the alliance on the reform steps needed to get them on the path to membership. The foreign ministers can approve the membership action plan.

"There was a unanimous commitment made at Bucharest that both Georgia and Ukraine should become members of the alliance," senior officials said. "What fell short was providing them with a MAP then and there because of opposition from Germany and France."

The main change since the Bucharest summit in April, of course, was the Russian invasion of Georgia. For some alliance allies, the invasion complicated the picture. For others, it clarified it.

"There are those who would argue, would Russia have made such a move had MAP been extended to Georgia?" a senior defense official said. "Perhaps it would have prevented such an incursion. Certainly full membership would have given (the Russians) great pause."

But this meeting is to make sure Ukraine is working toward the position that they are ready should the political climate be such that they are extended a membership action plan. The nation has a lot of political and military goals to accomplish before the plan is put in place. Alliance members will work with Ukraine as it continues to institute military reform, a senior defense official said.

"This is not an alliance that pushes or prods or pulls," said a senior defense official. "They have expressed an interest in joining NATO and we are working with them to fulfill that wish of theirs."

Part of it is helping the Ukrainians ensure the defense budget has enough money for defense restructuring and modernization of the armed forces. The Ukraine military must transition to be more mobile and expeditionary and interoperable with NATO. It also must transition to a professional contract army, defense officials said.

Complicating the whole situation is the fact that Ukraine has scheduled elections now proposed for Dec. 14. According to the most recent poll, about 35 percent of Ukrainians are for NATO membership with about 40 percent undecided.

Though Russia has voiced opposition to Ukrainian membership in NATO, U.S. officials have said such membership does not constitute a menace.

"Efforts by (Russia's) neighbors to further integrate with the West should ... not be viewed as a threat," a senior defense official said. "This is not a zero-sum game. You can have closer ties and better relations with the West and still get along with Russia. They are not mutually exclusive."

Cheney Thanks Veterans During Arlington Event

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 11, 2008 - Vice President Richard B. Cheney thanked U.S. veterans of all wars during an annual Veterans Day ceremony here today, and said the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan carry on their legacy of service, bravery and sacrifice. During his speech, Cheney also remembered a generation of servicemembers who fought "the War to End all Wars."

"This holiday for the nation used to be called Armistice Day, after the document signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918, which brought to end the First World War," he said.

"Well, over 4 million Americans served in that conflict, and all of them are now gone, except for one. He's Frank Buckles, of Charles Town, West Virginia, who 90 years ago today was on active duty in the United States Army," Cheney said. "Our last doughboy is nearly 108 years old. And on this Veterans Day, we're thinking of him with the greatest respect and pride."

Buckles is the living connection to a war fought long ago, but Cheney noted there are still thousands of veterans from World War II.

"When that struggle was over, we had turned back dictatorship and militarism across the globe, and former adversaries became friends of the United States," he said.

The vice president also thanked the veterans of the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam and the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Veterans Day finds us once again as a nation at war," Cheney said. "The conflict began with a direct attack on the United States. After seven years, the war goes on, but never again has the battle returned to American soil. We are safer than we were on September 11th. And we remain today, as we have been for 232 years, a free people worthy of our freedom and determined to protect this great nation founded under God."

He said there is no secret behind why America remains a beacon of freedom to the world. Every generation has stepped forward when needed to defend America and its ideals. "Every one of them deserves the thanks and the admiration of our entire country," he said.

By its very nature, military service demands a special kind of sacrifice of those who answer the call. "The places where you live and serve, the risk you face, the people you deal with every day, all of these are usually decided by someone else," he said.

Military service demands that the nation's needs are always paramount in servicemembers' lives, the vice president said. Families share those burdens and sacrifices as well.

"Military service brings rewards as well," he said. "There is the pride of developing one's character and becoming a leader, serving a cause far greater than any self-interest and knowing that our nation's cause is the hope of the world. Every man and woman who wears America's uniform is part of a long unbroken line of achievement and honor."

Cheney said the United States military has been a force for good since the nation's founding.

"No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people or upheld higher standards of decency and valor than the armed forces of the United States of America," he said. "That is a legacy to be proud of and those who contributed to it must never be taken for granted."

The country must keep the promises made to America's veterans.

"We must care for those who have been injured in the service of our country," he said. "We must honor and remember those who have died. And we must remember those whose fate is still undetermined."

And veterans still serve. He told a story of a National Guard outfit returning from Iraq. When they landed at 3 a.m. at the airport in Bangor, Maine, the local Veterans' of Foreign Wars were on hand to honor them and get them food, and drinks and cell phones to call home.

"In scenes like this, which have been repeated so many times in recent years, we see the best in the character of America's veterans," Cheney said. "There's a unique fellowship among them, and they never forget the Americans who have followed their example and now serve on active duty. They love their country, they believe in its cause, and they know firsthand that our world is a much better place because of the power, the influence and the values of the United States."

The United States has not changed from the country that liberated Europe more than 60 years ago. America is still an active, hopeful presence in the affairs of mankind, the vice president said.

"In a world of so many perils – from hunger and disease, to political oppression, to the spread of deadly technology – America remains the best hope of those who suffer and live in fear," Cheney said. "Our cause is liberty, justice and peace. And millions breathe free today because of American soldiers who fought and sacrificed for that cause."

Many Americans died for that cause, Cheney said, but many more are still serving. They are "friends, as neighbors and colleagues," he said. "They are America's veterans, and they are still the pride of our nation. They have fought our wars and defended our shores and kept us free. May God keep us ever grateful for their service."

Ceremony Honors Women Who Served in Vietnam

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 11, 2008 - Each of the 58,000 names of fallen troops etched into the granite Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall here tells a story. Many of these tales end in the arms of a female nurse. These Vietnam Veteran military women, roughly 90 percent of whom as nurses, received special recognition today at a ceremony honoring the 15th anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

The memorial sculpture features three women, one of whom is tending to a wounded warrior sprawled across a pile of sandbags in agony. Though only eight of the 58,260 names inscribed on the glossy black granite slabs belong to women, this sculpture located in a wooded area near the much-visited wall, is an apt metaphor for the females whose scarifies often occurred behind the scenes.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia A. Pritchett, the Army's most senior-ranking female non-commissioned officer, said the women who served during Vietnam were courageous patriots and role models for women in uniform today.

"The women who served during Vietnam have given the women who serve today a great legacy to uphold and continue," Pritchett told the audience of thousands gathered on the lawn facing the Memorial Wall.

"I personally owe so much to the women who have gone before me, for their outstanding service and sacrifice. For they have opened so many opportunities for me and my fellow service women," said Pritchett, who is currently the Army's command sergeant major at U.S. Central Command on McDill Air Force Base, Florida.

About 238,500 women in Vietnam were Army, Navy or Air Force nurses -- those who "provided comfort, care and a human touch for those who are suffering and dying," Pritchett said. She added that others served as physicians, physical therapists, air traffic controllers, clerks, intelligence officers and other fields, and that female civilians also worked in Vietnam as members of non-governmental or humanitarian organizations.

"I wish to express to them what I believe are the sentiments of the women who serve today that you have our deepest respect and admiration for your service for your example and professionalism, and for your continued strength and dignity," she said. "Know that we are determined to carry on that inheritance and to make you and America proud. "

Noting the enlarged role women have played in the military since Vietnam, Retired Army Brig. Gen. Evelyn "Pat" Foote pointed out that, for the first time in the history of the U.S. military, a woman is slated to receive her fourth star. Army Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody is expected to become a full general Nov. 14, when she takes the lead at Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"These are amazing times for everybody in the armed forces and for women the 21st century is evolving into a time of electrifying change," Foote said.

Diane Carlson Evans, a former Army nurse in Vietnam who served in the surgical and burn wards at Vung Tau, and later as head nurse in a surgical unit at Pleiku, developed the vision for the memorial that was dedicated in 1993.

Evans, the founder and president of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, described to the crowd the creative intention of Glenna Goodacre, the memorial's sculptor. The artist sought to create a lasting tribute to the American women of Vietnam, a striving that was founded upon her deep respect for each of them, Evans said.

"That my hands could shape the clay which might touch the hearts and heal the wounds of those who served, fills with me humility and deep satisfaction," said Evans, quoting Goodacre.

Evans said the depiction of the wounded male soldier receiving medical attention from the nurse represents the service that servicemembers of both genders rendered together. Further, the statue is symbolic of the way that women helped shape the way the nation sees the contributions of service women.

"We transformed the images of the Vietnam War to include women. And we transformed the conversation that's taking place across America, certainly right here in the nation's capital," she said, speaking from a podium with the Capitol Rotunda in the background.

After the ceremony concluded with a wreath-laying at the wall, spectators gathered at the adjacent Vietnam Women's Memorial, which is shaded by the eight trees that stand as a natural homage to the service women killed in Vietnam.

At a small podium near the statue was Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, who has hosted story-telling sessions here for the past 13 years. She shared an anecdote with the small crowd before opening the microphone.

The concept of the speaker's platform, she said, is to make the figures of the sculpture come to life. But the story-sharing opportunity has grown to encompass more than that, Guenzler-Stevens said.

Three years ago on Memorial Day, a man arrived to a story-telling session wearing a button that featured the face of his son who died while serving in Iraq.

"There was a woman coming to tell her story who had been a trauma nurse in Iraq, and she looked at that button recognized the face," Guenzler-Stevens said. "She had been the nurse that was with him when he died."

VA Secretary: America Keeps Lincoln's Promise to Veterans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 10, 2008 - As he prepares to observe his first Veterans Day as Veterans Affairs secretary, Dr. James B. Peake said he believes the United States is living up to Abraham Lincoln's pledge to care for "him who has borne the battle, and his widow and his orphan." Those words from Lincoln's second inaugural address are inscribed at the entrance to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters here. They serve as a mantra for a VA workforce that provides healthcare to more than 7.5 million veterans and benefits to more than 3.5 million veterans.

Peake said the VA is taking advantage of technology and medical breakthroughs in ways Lincoln would never have dreamed possible . "I think he would be pretty proud," Peake told American Forces Press Service. "He'd say, 'You're fulfilling the promise."

A retired Army lieutenant general, Peake understands the significance of that promise in a way most Americans couldn't. He was wounded twice in battle as an infantry officer during the Vietnam War. His acceptance letter to Cornell University Medical College arrived as he was in the hospital recovering from his wounds.

Following the footsteps laid by his parents -- his father, a medical services officer and his mother -- an Army nurse, Peake attended medical school on an Army scholarship, returned to the Army for his medical internships and residencies and built his career in Army medicine. Ultimately, Peake became the 40th Army surgeon general.

Now Veterans Affairs secretary, Peake said he's gratified by continued support that ensures the VA can continue providing first-class care and benefits for veterans, including those returning from combat.

"Since 2001, the president and Congress have provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with a 98 percent increase in funding, and with the guidance and support to enable VA to honor America's debt to the men and women whose patriotic service and sacrifice have kept our nation free and prosperous," Peake said in his Veterans Day message. Health-care funding alone doubled during the past seven years, he said.

This funding has enabled the VA to reach out to more veterans and provide better, more effective services, he said, listing just a few of many new initiatives. VA hired more new mental-health professionals and expanded its community-based outreach. It opened more Vet Centers and laid plans for more to come. It began putting a fleet of motor coaches into service to take counseling services closer to the veterans who need it.

"We are trying to appropriately leverage technology and the tools to provide access to veterans, no matter where they are," Peake said. "That way, it is not your address that decides whether or not you get your benefits."

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move authorized by the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 signed into law last month, the VA began offering VA-guaranteed home loans to veterans with more expensive and risky subprime mortgages.

Much of the VA's focus has been on care for the 850,000 newest veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA hired transition patient advocates to help severely wounded troops and their families work their way through the transition process and federal recovery coordinators to ensure life-long medical and rehabilitative care services and other benefits for families. More claims processors are on boar d to reduce the backlog in processing disability claims.

Peake called these examples an indication that the VA is on the right track in providing care for what we called "the best educated, best trained, best selected military we have ever had coming back, reentering society...to become the next greatest generation."

He praised the commitment of his staff – 31 percent of them veterans themselves – and called them the spirit that makes every day Veterans Day at the VA. "You see that celebrated when you go to our VA," he said. There's a special level of dedication and commitment here."

Tomorrow, as he attends observances at Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Memorial, then sits down to dinner with patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Peake said he'll feel gratified to see the United States observe the commemoration President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed as Armistice Day in 1919.

He urged all Americans to recognize Veterans Day, either at the 33 major national observances taking place across the country, or in simpler, more private ways that honor veterans and their service. "Participation in Veterans Day can be as simple as putting out the porch flag or reminding youngsters of the story of a relative who served in the military," he said.

Veterans Day is as important today as ever, perhaps even more so, Peake said. With just 1 percent of the U.S. population serving in uniform to protect liberties for the other 99 percent, Veterans Day offers a time to reflect and remember, he said.

"It's important for everybody to realize the debt that we owe those who serve this nation," Peake said. "Without the service of our veterans, we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy today...Their bravery, their resourcefulness and their patriotism mark them as our nation's finest citizens."

Call Center Provides Assistance to Wounded Marines

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 11, 2008 - The Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment's Call Center is dedicated to helping wounded Marines and their families with various issues and referral assistance. Navy Cmdr. William Tanner, the Wounded Warrior Regiment's regimental surgeon, said the call center is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Any Marines [or] sailors that have served with Marines, and their families, [and] have questions and need help can call into the center," Tanner said Nov. 6 on the "DotMilDocs" radio program on BlogTalkRadio.com.

The call center's mission is to provide support through distribution of information, resources, advocacy and all aspects of caring for wounded warriors and their family members.

An estimated 9,000 Marines have been wounded in combat since 2001, and the call center is attempting to touch base with all of them.

"One of the first projects [of the center], was to go back and call every Marine who was injured since 2001. We are trying to reach out to all of those Marines to make sure they are getting the care that they need," Tanner said.

The Wounded Warrior Regiment stood up in April of 2007 and is headquarted in Quantico, Va., and has battalions on the both coasts – one in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the other in Camp Pendleton, Calif. In addition to these locations, the Regiment has Patient Affairs Teams at the Medical Treatment Facilities and District Injured Support Cell who work on behalf of the regiment to assist Marines and families.

"We also have Wounded Warrior Regiment representatives that are spread out across the globe, from Landstuhl to Hawaii, and they are ready to assist in all phases of the recovery process from acute injury all the way to reintegration and back into civilian life," Tanner said.

"We also have across the country, reservists whose drill time is ready to be spent on behalf of the regiment, who may have separated, and maybe located out in hometown USA," he added.

In addition, the regiment has a job transition cell that assists Marines who are transitioning into the civilian life, and it has also set up a charitable organizations cell that is connecting donations from the American public to Marines who have served their country.

"Since this conflict has begun there has been an outpouring of charity from the American people, and we have a cell that is organizing these donations and connecting Marines who need help with charitable organizations that have help to give," said Tanner.

Wounded Marines, their families and eligible sailors can access the call center by calling (877) 487-6299.

(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg is assigned to the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity)

President Honors Veterans, Families at USS Intrepid Ceremony

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 11, 2008 - On his last Veterans Day as commander in chief, President Bush paid tribute to all those who have worn the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard during a speech at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. "Today we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform: Thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most," he told the crowd of about 5,000, which included 2,500 veterans and about 500 members of the active military.

Like the many veterans who have served in the military, Bush noted that the Intrepid has also served the nation well. Launched on April 26, 1943, and commissioned on Aug. 16, 1943, the Intrepid took part in the World War II invasion of the Marshall Islands and played a key role in the amphibious assault on Okinawa and the Battles of Leyte Gulf.

Following the war's end, the Intrepid continued to serve, Bush said.

"As the United States raced into the new frontier of space, the Intrepid stood by to retrieve astronauts returning to Earth," Bush said. "During the Cold War, she patrolled the Mediterranean and helped force the surrender of pro-Castro terrorists who had hijacked a freighter in the Caribbean, and did three tours off the waters of Vietnam."

After more than 30 years at sea, the Intrepid was decommissioned in 1974, destined to be scrapped. But thanks to the work of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, Bush said, the Intrepid moved to New York City, and "since 1982, she has been a museum that educates new generations of Americans about the high price that those who came before them paid for their freedom."

"Even as a museum, the Intrepid still answered the call to service," the president said. On Sept. 11, 2001, following the terrorist attack on New York, the Intrepid was used as an emergency command center, with first responders launching helicopters from the decks. Bush said the ship, "which helped defeat the great totalitarian threats of the 20th century – was front and center in the opening moments of a new struggle against the forces of hatred and fear.

"The war on terror has required courage; it has required resolve equal to what previous generations of Americans brought to the fields of Europe and the deep waters of the Pacific," he said. "And I'm proud to report to my fellow citizens, our armed forces -- the armed forces of this generation -- have showed up for the fight, and America is more secure for it.

"They are representative of the finest our nation offers. And they have the support of strong and caring and loving families," he continued. "And so on this Veterans Day, not only do we honor those who have worn the uniform, those who are wearing the uniform -- we honor their families."

Bush said the nation has a moral obligation to support military families and veterans. He noted that he has worked with Congress to nearly double the funding for servicemembers and to implement recommendations to ensure "we have a mental health care system and physical health care system worthy of the sacrifice of those who have worn the uniform."

"It has been my privilege to work with the United States Congress to expand education benefits for both members of our military as well as our veterans," he said. "It has been my privilege to say loud and clear to our veterans, 'We love you, we respect you, and we thank you for serving the United States of America.'"

Five servicemembers accompanied the president to New York aboard Air Force One: Montana Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Michael Noyce-Merino, Marine Sgt. John Badon, Navy Chief Petty Officer Shenequa Cox, Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Hutto and Air Force Senior Airman Alicia Goetschel.

Noyce-Merino is assigned to B Company, 1-163rd Cavalry Regiment, Montana Army National Guard; Badon is assigned to the Basic School for Martial Arts Center of Excellence, Quantico, Va.; Cox is assigned to Navy Information Operations Command, Kunia, Hawaii; Hutto is assigned to the Aids to Navigation Team, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Goetschel is assigned to the 100th Security Forces Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

Upon arrival in New York, Bush said he was honored to travel with these men and women who volunteered to serve the nation in a time of war.

"Veterans have inspired troops such as these. Veterans have inspired me," the president said. "I was raised by a veteran. I appreciate the commitment to our country that the veterans have made. I am committed to making sure that today's veterans get all the health care and support they need from the federal government for agreeing to serve in a time of danger.

"Our nation is blessed because our liberties have been defended by brave men and women in the past," he said. "And we are blessed to have brave men and women defend our liberties today."

During his speech, Bush noted that he is often asked what he's going to miss about the presidency once he leaves office.

"The truth of the matter is, I will miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group of men and women -- those who wear the uniform of the United States military," he said.