Monday, November 17, 2008

Cartwright Gets Up-Close Look at Battlefield Care

By Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 - The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff got a first-hand look at battlefield care when he visited the 455th Expeditionary Group hospital here Nov. 14.
Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, on an eight-day trip, brought USO entertainers, congressional staff and a Nevada-based regional emergency medical authority, which employs Army National Guardsmen. The tour included learning tactics used by health-care workers.

One of the hospital's biggest accomplishments is a 96-percent survival rate for combat wounded servicemembers, said U.S.
Air Force Col. Douglas Howard, 455th deputy group commander.

The wounded typically don't stay long at the facility, which is equipped with a 13-bed intensive care unit, because of the robust air evacuation capability here, Howard said. Most patients are flown out by C-17, an aircraft Cartwright said was "phenomenal" because of its flexibility to meet different missions, including air evacuation.

One of the challenges the hospital staff faces is having enough critical-care specialists to meet mission demands. Howard said the specialists were a "low-density, high-demand asset," and the staff gains unparalleled expertise while deployed.

"There's nothing similar to this in the United States," Howard said. "I've worked in a variety of other hospitals, and you do not see the injuries that you see here anywhere else."

The hospital staff gains a breadth of experience here, Cartwright said, that "would take a significant amount of time at 'general hospital X' to get."

The hospital, staffed by both
Army and Air Force members, has its share of heartwarming experiences, Howard said. An Afghan woman recently delivered her baby at the hospital with the assistance of military obstetric nurses. Last week, a severely injured soldier came into the hospital and needed a blood transfusion. Within five minutes, the lobby was packed with donors, something Howard said was "absolutely tear jerking."

The hospital tour was helpful for employers, said Patrick Smith, who employs Guard members at the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority in Reno, Nev. Five of the authority's paramedics soon will deploy to Bagram and Kandahar.

Although it is a challenge to operate while servicemembers are deployed, Smith said his company will take care of the guardsmen. The authority will provide pay raises to make up any difference in military versus civilian pay, pay for the servicemembers' health insurance, and work with the families if there are any needs back in Reno, he said.

"I think it's incumbent upon us as employers that when our men and women are called to duty, we make sure the families only worry about them [the military members] coming back safely," Smith said. "We need to step up to the plate to help take care of these people to take care of our country. That's our job to do, and frankly, it's our duty."

Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

Cartwright, USO Performers Wrap Up Eight-Day Tour

By Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 - USO performers traveling with the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday wrapped up a six-country, eight-day tour to bring entertainment to troops.
The tour is the second of its type with U.S. Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright. It included stops in Greenland, Alaska, South Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Germany.

Cartwright brought comedians Gabriel Iglesias and Edwin San Juan, model Mayra Veronica, and rappers D-Roc and Kaine of the duo The Ying Yang Twins.

Veronica, on her second tour with Cartwright, said she feels obligated to come out to entertain the troops.

"I think that the least as entertainers we can do is bring a little bit of home to them," she said. "They're basically risking their lives every single day for the very freedoms we get to enjoy."

Veronica also said she noticed a difference in the morale of troops between last year and this year.

"Last year, everybody was a bit more unstable and there was a feeling of uncertainty, specifically in Iraq," she said. "This year, there was a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride. Even though they miss home, they were very happy to be there and happy to be doing what they're doing."

The final performance in Camp Victory was an amazing way to end the USO shows, she said.

"The last performance in Baghdad made me extremely emotional," Veronica said. "I welled up right on stage. It was really an amazing experience and it's something that's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

D-Roc said the best feeling for him was seeing the looks on the troops' faces.

"To see them with a smile on their face, I feel like we did a good job," the rapper said. "We kind of made them feel like they were at home. Just for a second, they were at home. In their mind, they were back at the club. I felt good to bring that here."

Because of what he saw, D-Roc said his outlook on the
military and the wars has changed.

"I do have a newfound respect for the
military," he said. "You don't know what they go through until you come over here and see it. I appreciate all the soldiers."

His rap partner said he wasn't sure what to expect going on the trip, but it caused him to learn some things about himself.

"It's kind of hurting me to go home," Kaine said. "I don't want to go home. I'd rather touch the masses of people that need the motivation."

He said the best part of the trip was watching the troops dance during their upbeat, end-of-the-show routine.

"We were able to pull some joy out of those people," Kaine said. "I know a lot of other people have been over here but I bet my life they haven't been as moved as we've been on this trip."

San Juan, who served as the emcee for the shows, said he was honored to come for a personal reason.

"For me, it's like my way of contributing to my country," San Juan said, adding he can't serve because of severe arthritis in his hands. "I just never thought I'd never be able to serve my country in this way. Indirectly, here I am boosting the morale of the soldiers."

He said each show was memorable and he wants to come back.

"I'd do it in a heartbeat again," the comedian said. "I'm doing something for my country."

The other comedian—who describes himself as "fluffy" because of his girth—said he felt like another person known for his jolly nature and round belly.

"I felt like Santa," said Iglesias, who gets hundreds of requests to perform for troops. "Somebody asked me to do something and I was able to pull it off. "

Iglesias said performing in front of the troops was "surreal." He added that the show at Camp Victory in Baghdad was the most unique, partly because of the UH-60s flying overhead during the show.

"It was an incredible feeling," Iglesias said. "I've had a lot of hecklers in my time, but I've never been heckled by a Blackhawk helicopter."

Iglesias also said he has a greater respect for the troops in Afghanistan, who have to go through their tours using austere bathrooms.

"I'm not a porta-potty friendly kind of guy, so I'm going to go home and hug my toilet," he joked. "I have a whole new respect for my throne."

Air Force Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

Music Industry Sings Military's Praises for Second Year

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 - Just in time for Thanksgiving, 14 musical acts are showing just how thankful they are for what the
military does for everyone back home. Led by John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting, the musicians lent their hit talents to "For the Troops II," a CD featuring 14 hit singles covering the spectrum of musical genres.

The songs are some of the biggest hits yet for the participating artists, but the music is secondary to the CD's message, the performers said.

"At the end of the day, it's really not even about the songs," Ondrasik said. "It's about the gesture of thanks and support and appreciation. I salute all these artists who did that."

Ondrasik started the project last year with the help of the
Army and Air Force Exchange Service, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and the Recording Industry Association of America. That original CD, "For the Troops," was downloaded more than 350,000 times and another 200,000 servicemembers and retirees worldwide received hard copies of the disc.

The sequel was somewhat easier to pull off because they already had channels open to the recording companies, Ondrasik said. On the other hand, he said, he exhausted "some friendship cards" and had to look for different talent.

"This time I wanted a whole new line up of artists, and with the exception of Josh Groban, who's on here again just because the
military wives love Josh, everybody's new," Ondrasik added. "So, I didn't have those relationships. We just started reaching out to anybody and everybody."

That method netted the participation of groups like 3 Doors Down, Good Charlotte, Daughtry, and Maroon 5. Individual musicians who lent their crooning to the project include Gretchen Wilson, Jude, Joe Perry, Keith Urban, Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins. The late Isaac Hayes also gave a song to the project before he passed away.

"We have a Roy Orbison [song], which is really cool," Ondrasik said. "Roy's wife, Barbara, gave us a song.

"Roy Orbison adds a certain stature to this CD," he added. "We've got a legend of legends on here."

As long as he receives positive feedback from the troops, Ondrasik said, he's more than willing to keep the project going in the future, though there may be a twist to "For the Troops III," he hinted. Regardless of what's on this CD or the next, it all boils down to one thing for Ondrasik.

"We can't lose sight of what's going on," he said. "We can't lose sight of who protects us, and I think, now more than ever, we need to keep the troops in our hearts and our minds."

A complete list of song titles is available on The tunes will be available for those with valid
military identification, including veterans, to download beginning Thanksgiving Day and will remain available through mid-March, Ondrasik said. The entire CD, as well as individual songs, can be downloaded at no charge.

If problems are encountered in the downloading process, Ondrasik suggested contacting Operation Homefront or contact CD For the Troops through the Web site.

TroopTube Gives Morale Boost to Deployed Servicemembers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 - Overseas-deployed servicemembers can receive video "shout-outs" from home, as well as senior-leader messages, thanks to the new TroopTube online information service, according to
military officials. TroopTube is a new Web site managed by the Defense Department's Military OneSource online information network. It is patterned after YouTube, the popular commercial video site, said Gail Lobisone, who works with military OneSource at U.S. Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command in Alexandria, Va. It can be accessed at

Each armed service manages a site that connects servicemembers and families to assistance programs that deal with moving, finances, deployment, childcare and other
military-life issues.

The TroopTube concept is right for the times, Lobisone said during a Nov. 14 interview with the Pentagon Channel. Today's soldiers, she said, "like the ability to connect through technology."

TroopTube is expected to raise troop morale by providing near-real-time communication to loved ones back home, said
Army Col. Brick T. Miller, U.S. Army Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command's deputy commander and chief of staff. The in-house communications system, he added, also helps the military to conserve Internet bandwidth.

Deployed servicemembers can access TroopTube to view their children's stateside high school graduations, birthdays and other notable family events, Miller said. Single soldiers, he added, can keep current with parents, siblings and friends back home.

Sites like TroopTube exemplify and provide "what the younger soldiers want today to be able to communicate with their families," Miller said. TroopTube helps to ease the minds of overseas-deployed servicemembers, he said, while helping family members stay in touch.

"We see it as a way of lowering the stress level," Miller said. "This is a way of getting closer to real-time gratification, which is what the Millennium Generation is used to."

Chairman: Americans Need Serious Debate About Security Investment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 - Americans need to have a serious debate about what it takes to defend the United States, said
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen during a Pentagon news conference today. Mullen has long proposed a floor for funding for national security of 4 percent of gross domestic product. With the supplemental budgets this year the United States spent about 4.3 percent of GDP.

"I actually originated that discussion or tried to start that discussion and focus on it, because I think it's very important for the American people and its representatives to look very seriously at the investment that we make as a country in defense," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Looking at the trends historically, Mullen said that 4 percent is about right now, given that the United States is involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and faces challenges around the world.

Any debate or discussion would have to take under consideration the breadth of U.S. commitments around the world and the "appetite" for security, Mullen said. The budget must mirror these
military and security commitments and would have to include the resources to underpin the security strategy of the United States, he said.

Other aspects fit into the equation – the state of the economy, the priorities of the next administration, what happens globally.

"I think it really is important that we have the debate," Mullen said. "It's less the number, to me, than it is to ... engender the discussion and the debate about this, with respect to what we need."

Mullen said that, while 4 percent of GDP spend on defense seems right to him, he's not absolutely committed to that number.

"I'm not hung up on 4 percent," he said. "But I think having our national security investment correct, in the times in which we're living, is absolutely critical."

Soldier Trades Football Aspirations for Army Career

By Army Spc. Justin Snyder
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 17, 2008 -
Army Sgt. 1st Class Twillie Curry had long since traded his aspirations of becoming a professional football player to follow another dream – becoming a soldier.
But when a special visitor stopped by the 619th Contingency Contracting office here Nov. 7, Curry, a contracting officer, couldn't help but recall his high school glory days.

While some soldiers knew of Keith Elias as a former professional football player who once played for the New York Giants and
Indianapolis Colts, Curry had a closer association.

Curry and Elias both played high school football in New Jersey at the same time.

"Keith played for Lacey Township, another team in our area, and he was an all-state running back," said Curry, a Cliffwood, N.J., native. "His team went undefeated also, along with four other teams. We were state champions, but I wished we could've had a playoff amongst the teams from the other conferences."

The players never met on the playing field, but Curry kept up with Elias' career.

"To see a guy like Sgt. 1st Class Curry, who grew up playing football in the same area as me, it shows that it really is a small world out there," said Elias, who was visiting the soldiers as part of a tour sponsored by a faith-based organization.

Curry went on to college football and played in his freshman year, but said he was more interested in seeing the world. That quest led him to join the
Army in 1990.

Even after enlisting in the Army, Curry still held on to some of his professional football aspirations.

"While at my first duty station in Germany, I wrote a letter to the Frankfurt Galaxy asking for a tryout," Curry said, referring to the semi-pro football team. "I wanted one last shot at playing football."

The team wrote back to him, but he was conducting field training and never made it to the tryout. His dream of being a professional football player was over.

But Curry had already embarked on a new dream, one that he is still living 18 years later -- the
Army. He said he has no regrets, noting that football gave him important attributes like mental toughness, teamwork and discipline, that helped him along his Army career.

"One of my assignments was as an instructor at Fort Lee (Va.), and I served as a teacher for a lot of young soldiers," Curry said. Above anything I have ever done in football, I got to share my knowledge and help guide young soldiers.

"I had soldiers come back to me down the road and tell me that I helped them in their career path, and they remembered the things I taught them," he said. "It made me proud to know I made a difference, and I'm proud to be serving my country."

Army Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office)