Military News

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Dwell Time Coming in 2011, Army Vice Chief Says

By C. Todd Lopez
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 17, 2010 - Soldiers should find themselves spending twice as much time at home station as they do deployed by 2011, the Army's vice chief of staff said on Capitol Hill yesterday. "2011 is definitely a transition year for the U.S. Army -- that is a year we see ourselves getting back into balance," Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli said. "We define balance as 12 months deployed, 24 months or greater at home. That's the interim goal for us in 2011."

The general told the House Armed Forces Committee readiness subcommittee that the larger part of the Army likely will reach that goal next year, but soldiers in some specialties, such as aviation, might reach it later.

Chiarelli was on Capitol Hill to discuss the Army's $107.3-billion fiscal 2011 base and overseas contingency operations budget request for operations and maintenance.

Lawmakers asked the four vice service chiefs in attendance at the hearing about the increasing cost of weapons purchases. Chiarelli said the Army now is looking at weapons systems in "portfolios" to get a clearer picture of where it may be paying for things it might not need.

"If you take any single system and look at it individually, you can make a pretty strong argument that it is required," he said. "But if you take and look at them in a portfolio of common systems -- example: precision munitions -- you will find that there are probably systems that we ... made precision that don't need to be precision, or don't need to be at the numbers that we've bought them at."

The general cited a 155 mm cannon round that might cost $650. Adding precision technology to that round could increase its cost, over its lifetime, to about $78,000.

The time has come to "look at these systems in a portfolio and see where we might not be able to find efficiency," he said.

The general also discussed the numbers of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles soldiers have for training purposes, efforts to ensure there are plenty of MRAPs going to Afghanistan, and plans to reset the MRAP after it no longer is needed in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

"We have over 500 MRAPs that are in the training base today," the general said. "And, at the same time, we are trying to do a balance [with] what is needed downrange. We don't have any yet that have come out of Iraq that have not been needed in Afghanistan -- even the larger models."

The general said the Army is "a little nervous" about the number of MRAPs in the United States for training versus being used operationally, but that the Army has been able so far to pull this off. He said MRAP training simulators, such as at Camp Shelby, Miss., are a partial solution. He also said the Army is working to get more MRAPs to meet its needs.

Also, he said, when MRAPs no longer are needed for Iraq and Afghanistan, they will become part of the Army inventory.

"MRAP vehicles will in fact be moved into our formations," he said. "We have over 3,000 MRAP vehicles that will be part of our [table of organization and equipment], particularly in combat service and combat service support brigades. And we will be establishing a number of sets of MRAPs that will be available for units that go into an environment that requires the MRAP vehicle. We do plan to reset them -- and that started the process that we are starting at Red River now."

The Army initiated a pilot program to make Red River Army Depot in Texas the source of repair for three of the Army's MRAP variants. This year there will be 53 MRAPs in the program.

"That is going to significantly improve the maintenance and reset of MRAPs coming back," Chiarelli said.

The general also told legislators he expects the Army to be in reset mode for up to three years after leaving Iraq and Afghanistan.

(C. Todd Lopez writes for Army News Service.)

Wisconsin shows support for wounded warriors

March 17, 2010 - Taking care of Soldiers and Airmen is the number one priority for Wisconsin National Guard leaders - evident by their recent trip to visit wounded warriors.

Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin and commander of the Wisconsin National Guard, and several members of his staff traveled to Fort Knox, Ky., Thursday [March 11] to visit approximately 30 Wisconsin Guard Soldiers at the Fort Knox Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) to demonstrate that priority.

"These Soldiers are constantly in our thoughts and prayers," said Dunbar. "These are my Soldiers and I care passionately about them, it's not a burden for me to [visit], it's a privilege."

While most Soldiers return home when they complete their active duty tours some - currently about 40 Wisconsin Guard members - need medical care and remain on duty at one of the nine WTUs located on Army installations throughout the U.S. Medical professionals and case managers dedicated to caring for wounded warriors are overseeing the care for these Soldiers, mostly from the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, with injuries ranging from broken bones and torn ligaments to back pain and mental health issues.

Wisconsin leaders make it a priority to visit all of them at least quarterly. Dunbar emphasized the importance of showing support and concern for Soldiers on a mission to get well, and ensuring they are receiving the care they need.

"It's easy to say to a Soldier, 'I appreciate you,' when they leave for a combat zone and pat them on the back when they return," Dunbar explained. "It's equally important to realize that these Soldiers are on a mission to get well. It's a very serious mission and [they are] entitled to our full support. No matter what we say on a website or write in a letter to the Soldier it doesn't replace the adjutant general, deputy adjutant general and [state] command sergeant major walking into the room and taking a day to say, 'we're here, what's on your mind?'"

After a year-long deployment, Soldiers are sometimes apprehensive about staying on active duty longer to take care of medical issues especially when while their fellow Guard members transition and return home. During their visit Guard leaders emphasize the importance of tending to their medical needs and continuing their healing process.

Soldiers are also sometimes concerned with the old stigma of being a "broken Soldier" but leader's also address that falsehood and stress the importance of rehabilitation and the time they spend at the WTU is insignificant compared to the benefit they receive of returning home healed and ready for duty.

"It was a tough issue that I talked over with my wife," said Sgt. Kent Milam, a member of the 32nd Military Police Company, who deployed with the 32nd IBCT. "We decided [WTU] was the only way to do it because I had to get fixed."

Milam, who is a deputy sheriff for Racine County in his civilian job, suffered a shoulder injury which requires surgery. "By going back - not fixed - it would have been a burden to my family and I couldn't go back to work the way I was," Milam added.

"We were at Fort McCoy for the 32nd brigade demobilization and there were a lot of people who didn't want to go to Fort Knox to the WTU," said Staff Sgt. Tim Touchett, warrior transition liaison for the Wisconsin National Guard. "We talked a lot of Soldiers into doing it because once they realized how good the program is and the benefits of the program they thought, 'I'd be stupid not to take this.'

"You get six months of Tricare [insurance] after deployment but what happens if you're still broke? You're not getting paid anymore, and you can't go back to work," Touchett added. "Regardless of the injury, the Soldier is treated with dignity and respect. That's the way it should be, that's the intent of the program."

Nuclear Review Nears Completion

By Jordan Reimer
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 17, 2010 - Several conclusions drawn from a nearly complete review of the nation's nuclear posture already have been incorporated into the Defense Department's fiscal 2011 budget request, a senior Pentagon official told Congress yesterday.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review will be presented to Congress within a month, James N. Miller, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on strategic forces.

"The Nuclear Posture Review will be a foundational document for this administration," Miller said in a hearing on the status of U.S. strategic forces. It's intended to be a practical work plan for the agenda laid out by President Barack Obama, he added.

The congressionally mandated review establishes U.S. nuclear policy, strategy, capabilities and force posture for the next five to 10 years. It's conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, with representation from the military services and combatant commands. It is written in collaboration with the Energy and State departments and in coordination with the National Security Council.

The process was done concurrently with the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, both published last month. The Nuclear Posture Review originally was scheduled to be released this month, Miller said, but defense officials concluded that additional time was needed to address the range of issues under consideration in the report.

Obama has sought to minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy, with the ultimate goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. The report will provide concrete steps outlining how the United States will carry out this process while still maintaining a secure and effective nuclear arsenal as long as other nuclear states remain, Miller said.

The nuclear review also was valuable for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty negotiations with Russia, he said, helping to refine several U.S. negotiating positions, particularly on the treaty's limitations of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles. The talks are ongoing in Switzerland and could prove historic, Miller told the panel.

"U.S. and Russian negotiators are now meeting in Geneva to complete an agreement that will reduce operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons to their lowest levels in decades," he said in a prepared statement.

The fiscal 2011 defense budget submission already reflects several conclusions drawn from the review, Miller said. The United States will retain a "nuclear triad" under the new START, composed of land-based missiles, submarine-launched missiles and bomber aircraft.

Budget submissions for added infrastructure investment, such as in nuclear facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in California and Oak Ridge, Tenn., also were determined based on the review. The Defense Department also requested a 13-percent increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration, in part to support life-extension program research to maintain the usefulness of aging warheads.

Miller said it's essential that the United States continues to invest in its nuclear arsenal and infrastructure while pursuing a nuclear-free world.

"Guaranteeing the safety, security and effectiveness of our stockpile, coupled with broader research and development efforts, will allow us to pursue nuclear reductions without compromising our security," he said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS March 17, 2010

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Cardinal Health, Inc., Dublin, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $206,434,187 requirements-type, prime vendor contract for distribution of pharmaceutical items. Other locations of performance are North Carolina and California. Using service is the Department of Defense. The original proposal was solicited on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with four responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is a 20-month base with two 20-month option periods. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2012. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2DX-10-D-0027).

Cardinal Health, Inc., Dublin, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $150,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity, prime vendor contract for pharmaceutical items for the U.S. Naval fleet, USNS Mercy, and USNS Comfort. Other locations of performance are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Washington, New Jersey and California. Using service is the Department of Defense. The original proposal was solicited on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2012. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2DX-10-D-0001).

Coastal Pacific Food Distributors*, Stockton, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $18,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, sole-source contract for full-line food distribution. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is Sept. 13, 2010. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DESP), Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-09-D-3280).

World Fuel Services, Inc., dba World Fuel Services of FL, Miami, Fla., is being awarded a maximum $9,606,443 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for fuel. Other locations of performance are in Hawaii. Using services are Army, Navy and Air Force. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2014. The Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0040).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., is being awarded a maximum $7,157,519 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for transfer transmission. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is March 12, 2015. The Defense Logistics Agency -Warren (DSCC-ZG), Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-10-D-0020).

DMS Pharmaceutical Group, Inc.*, Park Ridge, Ill., is being awarded a maximum $2,245,907 requirements-type, prime vendor contract for distribution of pharmaceutical items. Using service is Department of Defense. The original proposal was solicited on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site with one response. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is a 20-month base with two 20-month option periods. The date of performance completion is Feb. 28, 2012. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM2DX-10-D-0130).

NAVY

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc., Newport News, Va., is being awarded an $80,886,408 cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort contract for fiscal 2010 advance planning to prepare and make ready for the refueling complex overhaul of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and its reactor plants. This effort will provide for all advanced planning, ship checks, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, fabrication, and preliminary shipyard or support facility work. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $678,568,820. Work will be performed in Newport News, Va., and is expected to be complete by February 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-2110).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, LP, Santa Clara, Calif., is being awarded $74,090,258 for firm-fixed-priced delivery order #0006 under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5026) for the purchase of Marine Corps transparent armor gun system kits, battery powered motorized traversing unit - manual traversing unit kits, and turret assemblies. Work will be performed in Santa Clara, Calif., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $4,740,748 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems and Sensors, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $26,604,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-6207) to exercise a cost-plus-incentive fee/award-fee option for engineering and technical services for the acoustic system improvement and integration in support of the commercial-off-the-shelf Acoustic Rapid Insertion System (A-RCI) program. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by June 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1,759,160 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

DCS Corp.*, Alexandria, Va., is being awarded an $11,499,976 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N68936-05-D-0002) to provide weapons and systems integration support services to the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division's integrated product teams and weapons support facilities, and their associated weapons. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 176,017 man-hours. Work will be performed in China Lake, Calif. (90 percent), and Pt. Mugu, Calif. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Oasys Technology, LLC*, Manchester, N.H., is being awarded a $10,726,660 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for hand-held thermal binoculars. The thermal binoculars are used for detection, targeting, and surveillance in low visibility environments. Multiple lenses are available for use to modify the field of view for broader or more focused detection as required. The thermal binocular systems will allow the operators to fulfill their mission more quickly, efficiently, and safely. The thermal binoculars are thermal imaging devices that can be used as either a hand-held detector or a mounted detector. Work will be performed in Manchester, N.H., and is expected to be completed by March 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with one offer received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity (N00164-10-D-JQ65).

ARMY

Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., was awarded on March 12, 2010, a $45,576,936 firm-fixed-price contract for the delivery order to purchase Generation III extreme cold weather clothing system kits. Work is to be performed in Newark, N.J. (24 percent); Mayag├╝ez, Puerto Rico (24 percent); Lansing, Mich. (18 percent); Fall River, Mass. (10 percent); Tullahoma, Tenn. (10 percent); Virginia Beach, Va. (5 percent); Post Falls, Idaho (5 percent); North Conway, N.H. (2 percent); and Mukilteo, Wash. (2 percent), with an estimated completion date of Dec. 20, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. U.S. Army RDECOM Contracting Center, Natick Contracting Division, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity (W911QY-07-D-0003).

General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on March 12, 2010, a $37,380,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the modification P00142, exercising an option for systems technical support for the ABRAMS tank program. Work is to be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 19, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM-Warren, AMSCC-TAC-AHLC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-C-0046).

AC First, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded on March 12, 2010, a $25,688,609 firm-fixed-price contract for the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program telecommunications systems program management, information technology planning, logistics, and field support service, in support of Project Manager Network Service Center, Project Director Defense Communication Systems-Southwest Asia. This requirement was competed amongst the unrestricted suite of contractors covered under Task Area 12, within the Field & Installation Readiness Support Team multiple-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity. Work is to be performed throughout various locations worldwide with focus on Southwest Asia - primarily Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq - with an estimated completion date of March 14, 2011. Fifteen bids were solicited with one bid received. Rock Island Contracting Center, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W911SE-07-D-0004).

Elite CNC Machining, Largo, Fla., was awarded on March 12, 2010, a $20,038,550 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 1,628,827 M918 projectile assemblies in support of the M918 target practice cartridge. Work is to be performed in Largo, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2013. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with two bids received. Army Contracting Command, CCRC-AL, Laser Devices, Inc., Monterey, Calif., was awarded on Mar. 10, 2010 a $6,940,000 firm-fixed-price contract for a sustainment order 10,000 PEQ-15A multi-functional aiming lights for the U.S. project manager soldier sensors and lasers. Delivery of all units will be completed by January 2011. Work is to be performed in Monterey, Calif., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. Bids were solicited by limited sources justification with one bid received. U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W91CRB-05-D-0029).

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY

Raytheon Co., Integrated Defense Systems of Woburn, Mass., is being awarded a sole-source modification for $17,421,524 under contract HQ0006-03-C-0047. The modification includes both fixed-price and cost-plus-award-fee line items. Under this contract modification, Raytheon will continue concurrent test, training, and operations support unit integration (Phase II) for AN/TYP-2 X-Band radar. The work will be performed in Woburn, Mass. The performance period is through November 2010. Fiscal year 2010 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be utilized for this effort. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity (HQ0006).

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., of Canoga Park, Calif., is being awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee change order modification for $14,222,473 under its contract, HQ0006-08-C-0044. Under this contract modification, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will complete risk reduction efforts to demonstrate the technology and improve the technology and manufacturing readiness of the components needed in a high performance interceptor liquid fuel upper stage system. The work will be performed in Canoga Park, Calif. This performance period ends in March 2011. The amount obligated on this action is $12,300,000 using fiscal year 2009 research, development, test and evaluation funds. The Missile Defense Agency is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

United Launch Services, Littleton, Colo., was awarded a $15,065,010 contract which will provide for the acquisition of launch vehicle propellants and gaseous commodities for Air Force space missions. At this time, $15,065,101 has been obligated. SMC/LRSW, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8816-06-C-0002, P00194).

Aleut Facilities Support Services, LLC, Aurora, Colo., was awarded a $6,876,579 contract which will exercise the fourth option year, to provide non-personal services for customer support; infrastructure and facility maintenance; physical plant operation; and environmental and property management for Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 21 CONS/LGCAB, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., is the contracting activity (FA25174-06-C-5005, P00027).

National Guard (In Federal Status) And Reserve Activated as of March 16, 2010

This week the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force announced a decrease in activated reservists, while the Coast Guard announced an increase. The Army had no change. The net collective result is 51 fewer reservists activated than last week.

At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 108,647; Navy Reserve, 6,228; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 16,062; Marine Corps Reserve, 6,515; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 714. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 138,166, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at http://www.defense.gov/news/d20100316ngr.pdf.

From the Desk of the ASD/HA

By: Charles L. Rice, M.D.
Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs

March 17, 2010 - One of Secretary Gates’ top priorities is high quality health care. As President of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences since 2005, a retired Navy Reserve Captain and the father of a serving officer, I have a deep personal commitment to ensuring that quality health care and support is provided to our active duty force and their families, particularly our nation’s wounded, ill or injured warriors, as well as our retirees and their families.

I was asked by the senior DoD leadership to temporarily perform the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, effective March 1, while the process for appointing a permanent candidate is underway. As such, my number one priority is to ensure that this care and support meets expectations and, to do that, I have outlined the four goals on which I will focus the majority of my attention:

Care for Wounded Warriors, Their Families, and Those Who Care for Them

1. Shaping the way ahead for the DoD electronic health record. Our current electronic health records provide critical support for health care delivery and management, force health protection and readiness, medical surveillance and for sharing with health care partners. Our Electronic Health Record Way Ahead will modernize our current system, align it with national objectives, and empower patients through access to personal health record. It will be designed by and for those who provide the care for our patients and will facilitate the use by our patients and their families.

2. Ensuring that Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiatives update and enhance our health care facilities. The BRAC recommendations are bringing about comprehensive changes, will improve use and distribution of our facilities nationwide, and will enhance health care delivery and state-of-the-art medical education and training, and cutting-edge basic science and clinical research across the MHS. By September 11, 2011, two of the largest regions (National Capital Area and San Antonio) will integrate the existing military treatment facilities into new facilities that will seamlessly function, incorporating assets from all of the military services. These medical centers will incorporate patient-focused, family-centered health care delivery with evidence-based structural design to provide beneficiaries with the absolute best healing environment.

3. Focusing the TRICARE contracting process for civilian-provided care to ensure our beneficiaries receive superior care. The MHS is responsible to promote health and provide care for 9.6 million individuals, so it is imperative that we contract efficiently with the civilian health care sector to provide those services which are beyond the capacity of our military treatment facilities’ capabilities to ensure that care.

4. Sharpening our communications to provide everyone the information they need to navigate our MHS. Our beneficiaries have questions and they deserve answers. It is vital that our service members and their families are able to understand their health care benefits and easily access the care they so rightfully deserve. We will sharpen our strategic communications so that all of our beneficiaries know where to turn, or who to ask, for the information they need about health care.

As I transition into my new duties, I am particularly grateful to Mr. Allen Middleton, who stepped up from Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Budgets and Financial Policy into the Health Affairs “front office” in April 2009 and provided invaluable leadership when and where it was needed. His expertise will be critical to me as he continues to perform the duties of Acting Principal Deputy, and I hope to live up to the standards both he and Ms. Ellen Embrey set before me.

Dr. Clifford Stanley, our newly appointed Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness, said in a memorandum to Health Affairs and TRICARE Management Activity staff recently that "compassion, excellence and a heightened sense of urgency will help us fulfill our duty." I assure you that we will increase our efforts to fulfill our duty to our most important assets – our service members and their families.

More than 200 Attend the U.S. Army Women Foundation’s 2nd Annual Army Women in Transition Symposium

Hon. Duckworth and Brig. Gen. Vaught, USAF (Ret.) Inducted into Foundation’s Hall of Fame

March 17, 2010 – The U.S. Army Women’s Foundation today hosted its 2nd Annual Army Women in Transition Symposium and Hall of Fame Luncheon on Capitol Hill from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with more than 200 people attending the two events.

The Symposium included three panels, which analyzed current programs helping servicewomen transition from the frontlines to a civilian career, the corporate world, or the classroom:

• Combat to Classroom addressed the relevant needs to ensuring a successful transition from the battlefield to the academic sector.
• Combat to Career analyzed issues and needs of service women considering transitioning into a new career path within the civilian workforce.
• Combat to Corporate focused on soldiers transitioning to the business world.

The panels were moderated by Brig. Gen. Foote, USA (Ret.) and cultivated dialogue among federal legislators, government agencies, academic institutions, corporate leaders, and non-profit organizations. U.S. Representatives J. Randy Forbes (R – Va.), Jan Schakowsky (D – Ill.), and Ike Skelton (D – Mont.) all made remarks. Last year’s inaugural Symposium focused on the often unique roles, abilities, and needs of Army women as they leave the service.

“Army women, past and presently serving, have sacrificed a lot to safeguard our country. The Foundation’s Army Women in Transition in Symposium helps to focus on our Army women as they move from the Army to civilian life,” said retired Maj. Gen. Dee Ann McWilliams, president of the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation. “Army women have much to offer as they enter civilian life, and we need to better recognize their capabilities and leadership skills.”

Following the Symposium, the Foundation inducted two esteemed servicewomen pioneers into its Hall of Fame for 2010: The Honorable L. Tammy Duckworth, Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs; and, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, USAF (Ret), President of Board of Directors of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc. The Hall of Fame awards are presented to women who have contributed extraordinary service to the Army and to women in the Army.

“Through their extraordinary dedication, valor, patriotism, and service, Assistant Secretary Duckworth and Brigadier General Vaught have paved the way as leaders and role models for the following generations of Army women,” said retired Maj. Gen. McWilliams.

Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran; former U.S. Army helicopter pilot; and, recipient of many distinguished service awards, including a Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and an Army Commendation Medal.

Vaught, one of the most highly decorated women to serve in the U.S. military, achieved many "firsts" that helped pave the way for thousands of Army women to be judged based on their abilities—not gender.

Kimberly Dozier, CBS News correspondent, emceed the ceremony. Lieut. Gen. James Lovelace, USA (Ret.), former Commanding General, Third United States Army Central, keynoted. Representatives John Carter (R – Texas), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D – Mich.), and Gene Taylor (D – Miss.) were all present for the ceremony. Last year, the Foundation launched its Hall of Fame on March 24, 2009, with the first two inductees: Brig. Gen. Evelyn “Pat” Foote (Ret.) and Command Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchett.

Following the inductions, the Foundation presented five Legacy Scholarships, including three Fort Hood Scholarships. The Fort Hood Scholarships will commemorate fallen soldiers Sgt. Amy Krueger of Kiel, Wis.; Pfc. Francheska Velez of Chicago, Ill.; and, Lieut. Col. Juanita Warman of Havre De Grace, Md.

The Foundation Legacy Scholarship program recognizes the importance of education and helps recipients to achieve their educational goals. The program offers financial support toward undergraduate degrees to Army women and their lineal descendents. Scholarships are based on merit, academic potential, community service, and need.

ABOUT THE U.S ARMY WOMEN’S FOUNDATION
The U.S. Army Women's Foundation is the premier center for educational excellence, the national network for today's Army women, and a dynamic advocate for telling the history of Army women.

Through its programs, research and scholarships, the Foundation honors the service of Army women and supports the U.S. Army Women's Museum. Originally established in 1969, the Foundation is headquartered in Fort Lee, Va. For more information, visit www.awfdn.org.

Wounded Warrior Hopes to Inspire Others

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

March 17, 2010 - Army Lt. Col. Marc Hoffmeister has endured some of the most grueling conditions on the planet.

In the past 15 years, Hoffmeister has tackled extreme challenges with adventure and expedition races through the Rocky Mountains, treks through the Alaskan wilderness and an Eco Challenge in Fiji, not to mention combat tours in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Adventuring is very much a part of who he is.

But in the blink of an eye, a roadside bomb in Iraq all but crushed Hoffmeister's spirit. He nearly lost his life, and was left with little feeling in his left arm.

After months of surgeries and rehabilitation, he found himself falling into a depression, he said.

"Being wounded was a significant experience," Hoffmeister said. "It's a major setback, and it's pretty easy to succumb to your wounds and say, 'I can't do this anymore.'"

Hoffmeister found himself in an unfamiliar situation: stuck at home with nothing to train for and nothing to do. He battled with post-traumatic stress and severe pain, and wasn't sure if he'd ever be competitive again.

That was April 2007. Flash forward to this month: Hoffmeister was voted National Geographic magazine's first Reader's Choice Adventurer of the Year. As part of a six-member team that included three others who are disabled from combat injuries, he conquered Mount McKinley, North America's highest peak -- in June.

"It's pretty humbling to say the least and it's a team recognition," Hoffmeister said of the award. "You look at a lot of the people who've been recognized as adventurer of the year for National Geographic [and] they're incredible people and challenges. To be ranked among these people is amazing to me, but it's also a credit to the way our nation looks at our wounded and recognizes the efforts that we're going through to recover."

Hoffmeister credited his wife, Gayle, for getting him off the couch after months of feeling sorry for himself. A former Army medic and fellow adventure enthusiast, Gayle wouldn't let her Army Ranger husband stay down for long, he added.

"My wife didn't give me a whole lot of time," he said. Gayle began "dragging" her husband to the gym to build up his fitness again. By August 2007, the couple ventured into the Alaskan wilderness for a 26-mile climb and hike on Quail Creek Path.

At the time, Hoffmeister still had a tube inserted into his arm that ran to his chest, providing him with antibiotics four times a day. He found his drive again, and soon thereafter, his wife offered another challenge: climbing Mount McKinley, which also is known as Denali.

"She pretty much told me she was going to climb Denali with or without me," he said. "It's probably one of the best things she's ever done for me. I definitely wasn't going to let her climb without me."

The idea came to the couple in January 2008 to form a team of wounded veterans for the climb. The Hoffmeisters got their team together and began training and finding sponsorships for their expedition. They spent 12 days training on a mountaineering course at Denali National Park, he said.

Hoffmeister said he felt anxious and a bit nervous. After months of surgeries and recovery time to save his arm, he said, possibly losing his arm to frostbite on a mountain wasn't at the top of the list of things he wanted to do.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a sense of doubt and fear about my own ability," he said. "After having gone through a load of surgeries and rehab, doing this was a big risk. I was scared and intimidated, and didn't know what I could do."

The team reached North America's highest point in 16 days. Three members of the team finished the 20,320-foot climb: Hoffmeister, wounded soldier Army Spc. David Shebib and retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Bob Haines.

Gayle succumbed to severe frostbite on her toes at 18,200 feet. Retired Marine Corps Capt. Jonathan Kuniholm, who lost his right arm to combat in Iraq, and retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Matt Nyman fell to altitude sickness at 16,200 feet and 17,200 feet, respectively.

Hoffmeister and crew accomplished a great deal despite the entire team not finishing the climb, he said, as the disabled teammates learned that they weren't as hindered by their disabilities as they may have thought. Most importantly, he added, they overcame any psychological issues they may have had, and they set an example for other disabled veterans and civilians to follow.

"The message goes far beyond what we did on the mountain," Hoffmeister said. "We're trying to set the example for the other guys who are coming behind us and at the same stage we were in, doubting ourselves in the hospital bed, trying to figure it out and [wondering] what [we] can achieve. Anyone who has disabilities, who wants to throw in the towel, hopefully they hear our message and think otherwise. They can pursue things they thought were not possible."

Hoffmeister said he hopes his team's story inspires others. Their journey to 20,000 feet shows that any hardship or disability can be overcome through teamwork and determination, he said.

"We all deal with shared hardships, whether it's long deployments or the fear of combat, and no one gets through it on their own," he said. "They get through it by the strength of a team, knowing when people are weak and when they're strong, and stepping up when you're strong and accepting help when you're weak. If you understand that psychology, you understand success."

Hoffmeister is assigned to U.S. Alaska Command and Joint Task Force Alaska as the chief engineer. He is set to assume command of the 6th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade this summer and is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in the fall.

He and his wife scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last month. While her husband is deployed, Gayle hopes to scale Denali, and after he returns from Iraq, they hope to form another team of veterans to climb 22,000 feet up Cerro Aconcaqua in Argentina, the highest point in the Americas.

TRICARE and VA Work Together

March 17, 2010 - FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Service members who became ill or injured while serving on active duty and are then medically retired have health benefits available to them through both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Like all retirees, medically-retired veterans can choose TRICARE Prime where it’s available, or TRICARE Standard and Extra if they are not eligible for Medicare. Their family members have the same TRICARE choices. Veterans who are eligible for Medicare because of disability must maintain Medicare Parts A and B to keep their TRICARE coverage.

Retirees with a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or higher; are unemployable due to the service-connected disability; or are seeking care for the service-connected disability are automatically eligible but must request care from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Retirees eligible for VA health benefits along with their TRICARE retiree health care benefits can receive care from the VA or TRICARE. These retirees must apply for health benefits from the VA. Though there is an initial choice each time they seek care for a non-service related condition—VA or TRICARE—once treatment has begun, it must be completed using the same benefit. However, when seeking care for a service-related condition, they must use VA benefits.

Almost all VA health care facilities are part of the TRICARE network, however treatment of TRICARE beneficiaries is provided on a space and resource available basis only. When choosing to use their TRICARE benefit, retirees may be authorized to receive non-service related care at participating VA medical centers, a military treatment facility (MTF) or a TRICARE network provider. Representatives are available at VA facilities to assist veterans who are eligible for TRICARE and VA health care, and VA liaisons and benefit counselors are available at many MTFs to assist veterans transferring from Defense Department to VA care.

Veterans can learn about the different financial responsibilities for TRICARE-covered services and VA benefits by contacting their TRICARE regional contractor, or VA Health Benefits Service Center at 877-222-VETS. Regional contractor contact information can be found at www.tricare.mil/contactus.

There are many programs available through TRICARE, VA, the armed services and TRICARE’s regional contractors supporting veterans who became ill or were injured serving on active duty. Visit www.warriorcare.mil for more information about these resources.