Monday, June 22, 2009

Gates Praises Volunteers' Efforts at Walter Reed

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

June 22, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today commended the work of the volunteers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, saying they set the example for the rest of the country. Gates met with wounded soldiers and volunteers using the occasion to help kick off President Barack Obama's "United We Serve" summer campaign aimed at boosting volunteerism and community service.

"You already have answered that call and answered it resolutely," Gates told the group of volunteers, hospital staff and soldiers gathered. "Your work plays a vital role in uplifting spirits and easing the burdens on the families of our wounded."

Fittingly, Gates made his remarks standing on bricks laid in place by volunteers who raised $300,000 for a new patio at the Mologne House, a place for soldiers and families to live during their recovery at the hospital.

Two years ago the spot was only dirt with a few older grills scattered about. Dirt paths led from the house to the hospital. Now a 10,000-square-foot, professionally designed brick and concrete patio with grills, handicap-accessible paths and a gazebo stands in its place.

About 1,500 volunteers are at the hospital, part of more than 560 organizations that pitch in to help with the needs of staff, soldiers and families there. Already they have logged nearly 27,000 hours volunteering this year.

Gates told the group that he could not fully express his appreciation for their efforts within the few words he was limited to in his speech.

"Your work here is invaluable ...," the secretary said. "For those whose lives you've touched, every gesture, no matter how small, has a tangible impact."

Army Col. (Dr.) Norvell V. Coots, commander of Walter Reed Health Care System, said that volunteers pick up the tasks that the staff simply does not have time for. Volunteer duties range from answering phones to spending time with the soldiers and families and taking them to appointments.

Soldiers are transported to Walter Reed often within a few days of being injured. They have few clothes and none of the comforts of home. These are all provided by volunteers at the hospital, Coots said.

If there were no volunteers, "that would leave us scrambling to make up the difference. Because they really do a tremendous amount of work," Coots said. "A lot of the things that they do would be impossible for us to do simply because of the manpower and time constraints that we have in the hospital."

Cynthia Rome, the director of Army Community Service, said the hospital has always had a strong volunteer base. Some have volunteered for more than 30 years. Several of those who man the information booth have logged in more than 20 years each.

But in the past three years the volunteer program there has flourished. Now she has two full-time staff whose job it is to organize the program and find jobs for the volunteers. Commanders there want anyone who volunteers to find meaningful work.

The average volunteer spends only about four hours a week on the grounds, but some spend as much as 40, Rome said.

Some volunteer only for specific functions or special events, others pick up trash or plant flowers, and some volunteer to host regular dinners for wounded soldiers and their families. It is all aimed at making them feel at home while some spend as long as a year there recovering.

Deno Reed, an 81-year-old retired medical scientist and World War II veteran, volunteers one day a week in the physical therapy department. Mostly he helps the therapists and just talks and listens to the soldiers, he said.

"The value is to me, not to the others. I'm doing a service to people who have placed their lives on the line, and they're providing a major service for all of us," Reed said.

Grace Park, a college student, is also a volunteer, although more than 60 years Reed's junior. Park spends a lot of her time checking out videos to the troops. But she also said a lot of what she does is just hanging out and talking with the troops. Being younger, Park said, she fits in with the younger population of troops.

They talk about anything, she said, including politics, movies and sports.

Park largely discounts her efforts, and plans to make volunteering a life-long venture.

"Why wouldn't we volunteer? These wounded warriors did so much for us and we just come in ... six hours a week to rent out videos. It's such a small service compared to what they do for us. It's just our way to ... give a helping hand," Park said.

Gates told the group that it takes a "special kind of person" to devote time to make troops' lives better.

In fact, Gates admitted that after taking the job as defense secretary, he was somewhat unsure how he would handle visiting wounded troops.

"I wasn't sure I could keep it together," Gates said.

But people kept telling him that the troops would inspire him -- "lift him up."

"They did, and they do," Gates said. "Their grit, and resilience, indomitable spirit amaze me and inspire me every time."

Gates reiterated his stand that, other than winning the two current wars, caring for the wounded is his greatest priority. And, he said, those who volunteer are stepping up.

"At the heart of the volunteer force is a contract between the United States of America and the men and women who serve our military. A contract that is simultaneously legal, social and sacred. That when young Americans step forward of their own free will to serve they do so with the expectation that they and their families will be properly cared for should something happen on the battlefield," Gates said.

Forensic Investigator

Editor's Note: Good information on career opportunities after service.

On July 24, 2009, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a discussion with Esther McKay, a former Detective Senior Constable and Forensic Investigator with the New South Wales Police Force (Australia).

Program Date: July 24, 2009
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
Forensic Investigator
Listen Live:

About the Guest
Esther Mckay served seventeen years in the New South Wales Police Force, attaining the rank of Detective (technical) Senior Constable. She worked in the area of Forensic Services for fifteen years, attaining expert status in crime scene examination and vehicle identification. She also worked in Training and Research, as well as Document Examination. She has a Diploma of Applied Science in Forensic Investigation (NSW Police), and was awarded the National Medal for service in 2001 and the Ethical and Diligent Police Service medal with fifteen-year clasp in 2008.

Esther Mckay was discharged from the force in 2001 with post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of her forensic work. Her best-selling autobiography, Crime Scene: True Stories from the Life of a Forensic Investigator.

Esther Mckay works actively in supporting traumatized serving and former Police and is the President of the Police Post Trauma Support Group. She was awarded the Pride of Australia Medal in 2007 for Community Spirit for her work with traumatized Police, and regularly speaks to various groups and schools about her life experience, writing and former forensic work. Esther is patron of the Australian Missing Persons Register and has been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2007. She lives in the Southern Highlands with her husband and two children.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
Police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles
Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Public Safety Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Suicide Prevention Message Rolls Through Cities Nationwide

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

June 22, 2009 - The Department of Veterans Affairs took to the road, literally, when it decided to advertise about its "VA Suicide Prevention Lifeline" on public transportation buses in 124 communities across the country. "We continue to look for new, innovative ways to reach our veterans," said Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of veterans affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs. "VA wants to make sure to exhaust all avenues to reach those in need of our services."

Currently, that includes public service announcements by actor Gary Sinise and TV news personality Deborah Norville. Suicide prevention coordinators also have been passing out information for several months now, Jan Kemp, the VA's national suicide prevention coordinator, said.

"There's a lot of publicity going on. [The buses are] just one mechanism that we're using to get the word out," she said. "We're kind of saturating the population as best we can."

The current bus campaign began this month and will conclude Sept. 1. It started as a pilot program here and ran for about three months last summer.

"The calls in D.C. and the surrounding areas actually doubled toward the end of the campaign there," Kemp said. "Our theory was that we would test it there and then roll it out to various other places."

While none of the buses rolling through the nation's capital now bear the VA's suicide prevention ad, they may again as the campaign continues, Kemp indicated.

"I think we will cycle around again, but I think we recognize the fact that sometimes a consistent message doesn't get seen as being new any more," she said.

The cities currently seeing the ad on their public transportation were carefully selected based on the availability of that transportation and the suicide and attempted suicide rates in the area. VA officials also looked at the current call volume from those cities and whether the ads could make a difference.

Available resources also were taken into consideration, Kemp said.

The campaign is aimed at veterans, but because it is being advertised in a very public manner, there are bound to be civilians who see the number and call in. And that's OK, Kemp said.

"We have arrangements with the national network of crisis centers to be able to transfer callers to the appropriate crisis center, depending on where they're calling from," she said. "Of course, if it's an extreme emergency, we do what we need to do and help the person. Otherwise, it's up to the [resources] in their area."

What's important is that if people thinks they're in crisis, preferably before they hit the crisis point, they should reach out for help.

"Early intervention is really the key to suicide prevention," Kemp said. "We can hook people up with local suicide prevention coordinators at all of our sites across the country, and ... there truly is no shame in asking for help."

The VA Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is staffed by trained mental health professionals prepared to deal with immediate crises 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Gates Welcomes Four Senior Pentagon Officials

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

June 22, 2009 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today welcomed four high-ranking new arrivals to the Pentagon, hailing them as "welcome additions" to the Defense Department. The new officials -- nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate -- will work under Gates in the areas of defense acquisition, congressional affairs, global defense strategy and nuclear, chemical and biological programs.

They've been on the job for several weeks, but today's event provided an opportunity for Gates to welcome them formally to the department.

"With a wide range of experience in national security, diplomacy and nuclear deterrence and proliferation issues and congressional affairs, the four new officials we are honoring today are a welcome addition to the Department of Defense," Gates told an audience in the Pentagon auditorium here. "The Department of Defense is fortunate to have professionals of such talent and experience."

The new senior officials are:

-- Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Under the authority of the defense secretary, Carter serves as the principal staff assistant and advisor for all matters relating to the defense acquisition, research and development, technology developmental testing and evaluation; production; logistics; installation management; military construction; procurement; environment security; and nuclear, chemical and biological matters.

-- Michael Nacht, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs. Nacht heads a newly configured directorate in the Office of the Secretary of Defense that develops policy for the secretary on countering weapons of mass destruction, nuclear forces and missile defense, cyber security and space policy.

-- Elizabeth L. King, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs. King is responsible for providing support to the secretary of defense in his dealings with the White House, Cabinet members, members of Congress and the State Department. King also serves as liaison and maintains relationships with members of Congress and the executive branch.

-- Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological programs. In this role, Weber is the principal advisor to the defense secretary, deputy defense secretary and undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics for all matters concerning the formulation of policy and plans for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs.

"Our honorees have already begun to settle in and pack their respective portfolios, but I'm glad to have the opportunity today to formally greet them and highlight the experience and talents they bring to this department," Gates said, adding that he looks forward to working closely with them on critical decisions ahead of the department.

"Let me thank all four of you for accepting positions that will demand hard work and long hours. And again, thanks to your families for loaning you to us," Gates said. "I know that every decision we make, you will keep in mind our men and women in uniform and how best to help them accomplish their mission and return home safely."


The Air Force is awarding a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, Electromagnetic System Laboratory, of San Jose, Calif., for $71,047,776. This contract action will provide MQ-1 unmanned aerial system communications intelligence airborne signals intelligence Payload-1 C scaled sensors for the Predator UAS. At this time, $69,851,657 has been obligated. Reconnaissance Systems Wing (ASC), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8620-08-C-3004).

The Air Force is modifying a cost-plus-award-fee contract with Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions of Papillion, Neb., for $8,472,770. This action will provide for integrated strategic planning and analysis system (ISPAN) contract modification to develop software enhancement for ISPAN collaborative information environment and the Global Situational Awareness Tool. The requirement focuses on enhancing CIE to support a global customer base, which includes enhancements to software required to support the needs of a global user set and purchasing the necessary hardware to support the development. At this time, $8,472,770 has been obligated. 850 ELSG/PK, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (FA8722-04-C-0009, P00098).

PC Mechanical LLC, Santa Maria, Calif., is being awarded a $26,184,518 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the overhaul, preventative maintenance, and services of civil engineering support equipment for the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center located at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif. The work to be performed is for the repair, overhaul and preventative maintenance and services of civil engineering support equipment such as automotive vehicles, motorized and non-motorized construction equipment, material/weight handling equipment, international standard organization shipping containers, mineral products plant facilities, and mobile utilities support equipment. Repair services shall be performed at the contractor's facility, except when servicing need to be accomplished immediately where the equipment is located, or when the equipment cannot be moved. This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring the cumulative value of this contract to $139,495,275. Work will be performed at the Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif. (60 percent), and the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Gulfport, Miss. (40percent), and is expected to be completed by June 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $26,184,518 will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with two proposals received. The Naval Faci! lities E ngineering Command, Specialty Center Acquisition NAVFAC, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity (N62583-09-D-0003).

Fraser Fogle Architects, Bellevue, Wash., is being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity architect/engineering contract with a maximum amount of $20,000,000 to provide architect/engineer services in support of architectural projects for the NAVFAC Northwest area of responsibility. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities within the NAVFAC Northwest AOR including, but not limited to Wash., (94 percent), Ore., (2 percent), Idaho, (2 percent), Mont. (1 percent), and Alaska, (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by June 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the NAVFAC e-solicitation website with twenty proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest, Silverdale, Wash., is the contracting activity (N44255-09-D-4004).

Chugach World Services, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, is being awarded $12,858,355 [$5,129,675 firm-fixed price (FFP) and $7,728,680 indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity(IDIQ)] for the base period under a combination FFP/IDIQ contract to perform housing operations and maintenance services and change of occupancy maintenance services in the U.S. Territory of Guam for Commander, Naval Forces Marianas. Work will be performed at various Naval housing areas on Guam and the base period is from June 2009 to December 2010. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured utilizing the Small Business Administration's 8(a) Program and was advertised via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website with eight proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas, Guam, is the contracting activity (N40192-09-D-9000).

General Electric Aircraft Engines, Lynn, Mass. is being awarded a maximum $11,815,213 firm-fixed-price, sole-source, requirements type contract for parts. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The original proposal was DIBBS-solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a ten-year contract with a 2-year base and four 2-year option periods. The date of performance completion is July 30, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Richmond, Richmond, Va., (SPM400-00-D-9403).

Government Sewing & Apparel, Hope, Ark.*, is being awarded a maximum $8,630,204 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for Marine Corps combat utility uniform. Other locations of performance are in Arkansas and Puerto Rico. Using service is Marine Corps. The original proposal was Web solicited with 10 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising option year three. The date of performance completion is Jun. 25, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., (SP0100-06-D-0362).

Agland, Inc., Eaton, Colo.*, is being awarded a minimum $5,829,630 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are at various DoD locations in Texas and Colo. Using services are Army and Air Force. The original proposal was Web solicited with 48 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Jun. 30, 2012. The contracting activity is the Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., (SP0600-09-D-4526).

Booz Allen Hamilton, Atlanta, Ga., was awarded on Jun. 18, 2009 a $ 11,677,787 indefinite-delivery / indefinite quantity time and material Task Order contract for information technology support services for headquarters forces command G-6 on Fort McPherson, Ga., with a base period of 12 month and four 1-year options. Work is to be performed in Fort McPherson, Ga., with an estimated completion date of Jun. 30, 2014. Sixteen (16) bids solicited with two bids received. Mission and Installation Contracting Command, McPherson, Ga., is the contracting activity (W91QUZ-06-D-0019).

I saluted someone today.

I saluted someone today.
I have not done that in 40 years.
When I was in the Army, it was required for the person being saluted to acknowledge and return the salute. This was not done. I did not take it personally, nor did the 143 other people who were with me. We were veterans of one war or another and had come to pay our respects to a fallen soldier. I did not know him but in a way I knew the kind of person he was.
I had served with guys just like him in Vietnam. I was 20 years old at the time. Jake Velloza was 22 when a sniper ended his life outside the town of Mosul, Iraq.
There was no “welcome home” committee for me when I stepped off the plane at Travis Air Force base on a cold November day in 1967. No fanfare or American flags held high with their stars and stripes supported by a light afternoon breeze. It did not bother me any.
It was important for me to be there when Jake arrived at San Francisco International Airport by charter aircraft.
His flag draped coffin was slowly unloaded and met by a well-disciplined Honor Guard.
To say it was a sad vision to mentally capture would be a gross understatement. I watched his parents drape the flagged receptacle with their bodies, the father not wanting to leave, or believe, until he was ushered away by family members. Like my other comrades, I held back my tears, feeling unworthy to be part of something so personal. In a way I was paying respect to my own fallen friends who were owed such a return but never received one.
We mounted our flag bearing motorcycles and formed a procession to follow Jake from the San Francisco airport to his transitory resting spot in Petaluma. The road would lead us under multitudes of overpasses with hundreds of other Americans taking time out to forget about their own problems and honor one person who paid the ultimate price for service to his country.
The reality of war will always cost more then the money it takes to fight one.
As I rode, I thought about how one day Jake I and would meet and my salute would be returned.