Military News

Monday, July 12, 2010

Seven Guatemalan Sailors Rescued by HSV Swift

By Lt. Michael P. Quisao, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2)Public Affairs

PUERTO QUETZAL, Guatemala (NNS) -- Seven Guatemalan special forces sailors were rescued from their capsized vessel by High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Sailors and marchant marines off the coast of Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, July 10.

The Guatemalan vessel was capsized during a Guatemalan drug interdiction operation as it became entangled with a sinking semi-submersible drug boat.

Upon arrival at the scene, Swift Sailors and marchant marines transferred the Guatemalan sailors aboard, who were suffering from exposure. The four personnel who were aboard the drug boat were transferred to a Guatemalan coast guard vessel.

Swift and the rescued sailors received a hero's welcome from Brig. Gen. Juan Jose Ruiz Morales, chief of staff of national defense in Guatemala, and a receiving line of Guatemalan service members upon their return to Puerto Quetzal. Morales personally thanked the Swift crew for their aid in the rescue mission.

Swift is currently deployed for Southern Partnership Station 2010, a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Central America. Its primary goal is information exchanging with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout these regions.

Guatemala is the fifth stop for Swift and SPS 2010, which has also visited El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama during the mission.

Swift is operated and navigated by 19 active duty Sailors and 17 civilian contract mariners working for a private company under charter to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.

Haiti Task Force Focuses on Engineering, Medical Missions

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

July 12, 2010 - Soldiers, sailors and airmen assigned to Joint Task Force New Horizons have made major progress on their engineering and medical missions in Haiti, the task force commander said today. Army Col. Michael Borrel told participants in a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable that the task force is scheduled to complete the construction of four schools and 10 medical readiness and training exercise sites by Sept. 18.

"We have four project sites currently under way," said Army Maj. Chuck Hudson, officer in charge of the engineering mission. "We anticipate completion of [two] of our project sites by the end of July, which include a roofing project and a school."

The two other school projects are scheduled to be complete by Aug. 15, he said.

"The system of construction that we're utilizing is the New Form system," said Hudson. "The system uses a reinforced concrete design with a steel framed and steel corrugated roof. It's a much stronger system and better technology than any of the other systems utilized in Haiti."

This new construction will be able to better withstand the elements during hurricane season.

On the medical side, Borrel, who is a member of the Louisiana National Guard, said four medical readiness and training exercise sites have been completed, and that those sites have treated more than 20,000 Haitian patients.

Another 10-day medical readiness and training exercise mission started today, said Air Force Col. Thomas Steinbrunner, officer in charge of the exercise. "Our team consists of medical providers in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women's health, dentists and optometrists."

He added that the patients receive public health education as well as medications.

"We're a primary care site, so for patients who require more serious care, we utilize the local Haitian system, such as the local hospital and the more advanced hospital in Gonaïves," Steinbrunner said. "So far we've seen a lot of skin diseases and parasitic-borne illnesses."

In addition to using stronger construction designs in the new buildings, the National Guard also is prepared to provide additional support should another major weather event, such as a hurricane, affect the people of Haiti.

"Hurricane season is upon us," said Borrel, "and in the event of any type of severe weather, we could be directed by [U.S.] Southern Command and have a change of mission, which would require us to provide search and rescue, assessments of roads and ... limited medical assistance."

"We do have aircraft available to us and could put them into action once the weather passed," he said.

About 500 soldiers, sailors and airmen have conducted humanitarian operations for the past month in the Gonaïves area of Haiti.

"The U.S. forces here in Haiti are doing a tremendous job," said Borrel, "and even though we are only a small [task force], we are doing some very tangible things and truly helping the people of Haiti."

MILITARY CONTRACTS July 12, 2010

NAVY

CH2M Hill, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded a maximum amount $75,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity architect-engineering contract for multimedia environmental compliance engineering support for Navy and other Department of Defense (DoD) installations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic area of responsibility (AOR), primarily including the Midwest, Northwest and Southwest continental United States. The work to be performed provides for preparation of studies, plans, specifications, design, reports, cost estimates, and all associated engineering services in support of the Navy and other DoD installations' various environmental compliance programs, including Clean Air Act compliance; Safe Drinking Water Act compliance; Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans; Clean Water Act compliance studies; wastewater plans and compliance studies; laboratory services; petroleum storage tank; oil spill preparedness and planning; waste management; environmental condition of property programs; pesticide management; radon and related products; and sustainability services. No task orders are being issued at this time. Work will be performed within the NAVFAC Atlantic AOR including, but not limited to, southern California (25 percent); Texas (15 percent); Diego Garcia (13 percent); Mariana Islands (7 percent); Alaska (5 percent); Mississippi (5 percent); Arizona (2 percent); Hawaii (2 percent); Idaho (2 percent); Illinois (2 percent); Indiana (2 percent); Japan (2 percent); Louisiana (2 percent); Minnesota (2 percent); Montana (2 percent); New Mexico (2 percent); Nevada (2 percent); Ohio (2 percent); Oregon (2 percent); Tennessee (2 percent); and Utah (2 percent). Work is expected to be completed by July 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with three proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N62470-10-D-3009).

L-3 Communications, Nova Engineering, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum value $52,781,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for equipment systems, equipment upgrades and repairs, and program management for the Tactical Remote Sensor System (TRSS) System of Systems (SoS). The TRSS SoS provides the capability for all-weather remote monitoring of activity within and near a given objective area. This contract announcement includes the first delivery order, which is expected to be $10,854,132 and includes both 2009 and 2010 procurement Marine Corps funds. This is a dollar-based contract and not quantity-based. Work will be performed in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by July 2015. The contract was not competitively procured. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity (M67854-10-D-7018).

Rockwell Collins, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is being awarded a $43,647,533 modification to definitize a previously awarded undefinitized contract action (N00019-09-C-0056) to a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. In addition, this modification provides for the design, development, integration, installation, and test and support of prototype upgraded systems in the government's E-6 systems integration laboratory and on pre-production Block I modification aircraft. Work will be performed in Richardson, Texas (75 percent), and Patuxent River, Md. (25 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

SKANSKA USA Civil Southeast, Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., is being awarded a $43,472,470 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of the new base entry point and road at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. The work to be performed provides for the construction of approximately one-and-a-half miles of four-lane divided highway, and the construction and reworking of approximately one mile of a two-lane roadway. The project includes the widening of approximately two miles of road from a two-lane to a four-lane road, including relocation of utilities. The work includes the construction of a 2000-foot-long bridge crossing Northeast Creek, including adjacent wet lands. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, N.C., and is expected to be completed by December 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with seven proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va. is the contracting activity (N40085-10-C-5318).

BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $30,910,129 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00421-09-C-0102) to exercise an option for technical services and supplies for the rapid design; development; customization; manufacturing; fabrication; integration; test and evaluation; installation; certification; maintenance and upgrade; logistics and life cycle support of new and/or existing communication-electronic platform; and equipment, systems and subsystems in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Special Communications Requirements Division. The estimated level of effort for this option is 359,000 man-hours. Work will be performed in California, Md. (60 percent); Chesapeake, Va. (10 percent); San Diego, Calif. (10 percent); Spring Lake, N.C. (10 percent); and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (10 percent). Work is expected to be completed in July 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Saint Inigoes, Md., is the contracting activity.

Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Towson, Md., is being awarded a $16,000,000 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N40080-09-C-0018) to exercise Option 1 for delivery and installation of furniture, fixture and equipment described as Category G for the Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center, Support Facilities for the Warrior Transition Unit, at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $201,185,777. Work will be performed in Bethesda, Md., and is expected to be completed by August 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, Officer in Charge of Construction, Bethesda, Md., is the contracting activity.

Detyens Shipyards, Inc., North Charleston, S.C., is being awarded a $6,849,591 firm-fixed-price contract for a 55-calendar day regular drydock and overhaul of Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent. Work to be performed will include preservation of ballast and potable water tanks; propeller maintenance; and main engine overall. The ship's primary mission is to provide fuel to Navy ships at sea and jet fuel to aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $7,952,431. Work will be performed in North Charleston, S.C., and is expected to be completed by September 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via an unrestricted solicitation posted to the Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online, and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites, with three offers received. The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Fleet Support Command is the contracting authority (N40442-10-C-1006).

P&S Construction, Inc.*, Lowell, Mass., is being awarded $6,607,000 for firm-fixed-price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple-award construction contract (N40192-10-D-2804) for the design and construction of a Navy Exchange Minimart and gas station at Naval Base Guam. The facility is to consist of a large Minimart facility with retail sales; customer service; receiving and storage; public toilets; and employee facilities with a separate "white box" fast food franchise with public toilets. The gas station is to consist of at least six double sided fuel dispensing islands for three grades of gasoline and diesel, under a full canopy; sales point inside the minimart; tire refill and auto vacuum stations; and a propane tank refill station for small consumer propane tanks. The facility will replace the existing Minimart and Subway franchise in Dorm 20; existing Building 526, Bee Quick Minimart; and existing gas station/auto port Building 7012. The task order also contains four unexercised options which, if exercised, would increase the cumulative task order value to $7,057,000. Work will be performed in Santa Rita, Guam, and is expected to be completed by December 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Marianas, Guam, is the contracting activity.

Maron Construction Co., Inc.*, Providence, R.I., is being awarded a $5,569,500 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of an unmanned anti-submarine warfare system support facility by demolishing and rebuilding a center section of Building 119. A new structure will be built in its place with second and third floors, adjoining and accessible on each floor level to the two existing portions of Building 119. This contract also contains an unexercised option which, if exercised, would increase cumulative contract value to $5,689,950. Work will be performed in Newport, R.I., and is expected to be completed by February 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with seven proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity (N40085-10-C-9425).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Burlington Apparel Fabrics, Greensboro, N.C., is being awarded a maximum $9,804,630 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, total set-aside, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for poly/wool cloth. Other locations of performance are Raeford, N.C.; Cordova, N.C.; and Hurt, Va. Using service is Navy. The original proposal was solicited on Dibbs with one response. This contract is exercising the first option year period. The date of performance completion is July 10, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM1C1-09-D-0030).

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nomination:

Navy Vice Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III for appointment to the rank of admiral and assignment as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe/commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/commander, Allied Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy. Locklear is currently serving as director, Navy staff, N09B, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

VA Eases Claims Process for Veterans with PTSD

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

July 12, 2010 - The Veterans Affairs Department will publish a final regulation tomorrow intended to ease the claims process and improve access to health care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, VA officials announced today.

"This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served this country and suffer from the often-devastating emotional wounds of war," Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement issued today. "This final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need."

The new rule, to be published in the Federal Register, will relax the evidence requirement if the PTSD stressor claimed by a veteran is linked to "fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types and circumstances of the veteran's service," a VA news release said.

Currently, VA decision makers are required to confirm that a noncombat veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity, the release said.

Under the new rule, VA no longer will require substantiation of a stressor tied to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA psychiatrist or psychologist can confirm that the experience recalled by a veteran supports a PTSD diagnosis and the veteran's symptoms are related to the stressor, a VA release said.

"With this new PTSD regulation, we are acknowledging the inherently stressful nature ... of military service in which the reality and fear of hostile or terrorist activity is always present," Michael Walcoff, VA's acting undersecretary for benefits, said during a news conference today.

The regulation will eliminate the need to search for records to verify veterans' accounts, "often a very involved and protracted process," Walcoff said, and enable VA officials "to move more quickly to award more benefits to veterans suffering from PTSD."

Walcoff said he hopes the new regulation will encourage more veterans with PTSD to come forward, particularly those who have been deterred by a seemingly time-consuming and sometimes frustrating process.

More than 400,000 veterans currently are receiving compensation benefits for PTSD, VA officials said. And of the nearly 400,000 veterans treated at VA facilities for PTSD in fiscal 2009, nearly 70,000, or 19 percent, were veterans of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

However, the new regulation has the potential to benefit all veterans regardless of their period of service, Walcoff noted.

Dr. Robert A. Petzel, VA's undersecretary for health, said the regulation will be particularly beneficial for veterans who have had their military records damaged or destroyed, female veterans whose records don't specify they have combat experience, and veterans who have experienced combat but have no record of it.

"This is good news for America's veterans; in fact, it's a historic day," Petzel said.

President Barack Obama called the changes a "long-overdue step" in his weekly address.

"I don't think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application," Obama said. "And I've met enough veterans to know that you don't have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war."

The new regulation not only will help veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, but "generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars," the president said.

"It's a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they've been there for us," he said. "We won't let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I'm commander in chief, that's what we're going to keep doing."

General Officer Assignments

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignment:

Brig. Gen. Alfred J. Stewart, commander, Air Force Recruiting Service, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, to commander, Air Force Personnel Center, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Col. Balan R. Ayyar, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, military assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to commander, Air Force Recruiting Service, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

Brig. Gen. Michael J. Carey, deputy commander, space support and integration, J3A, Headquarters U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., to deputy director, command and control and nuclear operations, J3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nomination:

Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael R. Moeller has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as U.S. security coordinator, Israel-Palestinian Authority. Moeller is currently serving as director, strategy, plans and policy, J-5, Headquarters, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Douglas H. Owens has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as vice commander, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Owens is currently serving as the vice commander, Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Mullens Reflect on 40 Years of Marriage, Service

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

July 12, 2010 - Forty years ago today, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and his wife, Deborah, said, "I do" -- not just to each other, but to four decades in the Navy. The couple, who frequently appear together to discuss issues important to military families, recently spoke about their own military life to the armed forces' youngest family members.

In a video taped earlier this month as part of an Armed Forces Foundation Veterans Day message for elementary-age children of servicemembers, the Mullens recounted their earlier days of long deployments and frequent moves with their two sons.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful life," the admiral said. "But Deborah sacrificed a lot for my career, and so did our two boys."

Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in his final year at the U.S. Naval Academy when the couple met – introduced by their mothers – at a wedding. Their first date was the 1967 Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Mullen acknowledged she faced a tough decision about marrying into the military. She knew the lifestyle was hard, she said, and with the Vietnam War in full force, her husband certainly would be sent.

Still, love endured and the couple married in 1970. "I only expected we would be in the Navy about five years," she said.

It didn't take long, though, before the Mullens realized they were in the military for the long haul. Over time, she said, she came to see that "Mike and the Navy were perfect for each other."

"I learned that this was more than just a job to Mike," she said. "It was his way of life, and it would be my way of life and that of our children."

The couple noted the challenges all military families face with frequent moves, new schools, and having to make new friends.

"As we moved around, ... we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was best for our two boys," the admiral said. "We tried to always focus on where we would live next, the transition, and where were the good schools. Too often, I had to move ahead, and Deborah and the boys had to figure it out on their own."

But overall, Mrs. Mullen said, the nomadic Navy lifestyle presented "enormous opportunities" for the family, and their children thrived by learning to be independent and open to change.

"As they look back," she said of their grown sons, "they see it as a very rewarding experience, and a part of life they cherish."

While the military lifestyle worked out well for their own children, the couple said they know some have a difficult time adjusting.

"I worry a great deal about the children and their ability to make these adjustments," Mrs. Mullen told an interviewer. The sacrifices military children make and their ability to adjust is something everyone should notice, she said.

"We're actually inspired by these children," she said. "They have extraordinary challenges, and I don't think our country realizes all the sacrifices they make."

The chairman and his wife expressed their appreciation for the sacrifices made by children of military families. "We really do believe you are the greatest," the admiral said. "You're part of a greater whole of a nation who care so much about what you're doing."

"We owe a great debt to you for what you help your mom and dad do for our country," Mrs. Mullen added.

NSPS positions assigned GS pay grades

by April Rowden
Air Force Manpower Agency Public Affairs Office

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – With only weeks remaining to classify Air Force civilian jobs into the legacy General Schedule personnel system, Air Force classifiers are ensuring NSPS positions have a current GS title, series and grade before the NSPS conversion out date.

The Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act repealed the National Security Personnel System, resulting in the mandatory transition of more than 44,000 Air Force federal employees to other personnel and pay systems.

Core documents are currently undergoing review and classification for those Air Force employees whose positions were created under NSPS. Core documents describe the major duties, responsibilities and supervisory relationship of a position.

“Classifiers are unbiased agents of the government and are held to very strict standards established by the Office of Personnel Management when assigning GS ratings to a position,” said Col. Brian Norman, the Air Force Manpower Agency commander. “Our team renders a classification based solely upon the actual work performed and required in the position under review, not upon any person’s qualifications or their previous military grade.”

Classifying a position at the accurate grade for the assigned duties and responsibilities ensures balance of the organization and is vital toward maintaining classification accuracy across the Air Force.

“All of us are charged with being good stewards of government resources and taxpayers’ dollars,” Colonel Norman said. “If a position is classified a GS-15 when it’s really a GS-14 or GS-13, we are doing an injustice to the other positions that are classified in accordance with OPM standards.”

AFMA classification specialists have a proven track record of making the right decisions and appropriately applying the OPM Classification Standards and Guidelines. Since centralized classification began in 1996, all appealed classification decisions have been upheld by OPM and the Department of Defense in favor of AFMA’s classifications.

“We properly classify positions based on standards given to us within the bounds legally established by the Office of Personnel Management,” Colonel Norman said. “To do otherwise would put our agency at risk of losing its classification authority.”

Employees whose positions were originally under GS will have the position classified based on the position description on file, also referred to as the “reach back PD.” Other positions may have an applicable Standard Core Personnel Document that may be used. any of these standard core documents are available for viewing on the Air Force Portal, keyword “SCPD library.”

“We understand that a few positions have dramatically evolved in workload and responsibility since the initial conversion to NSPS. For those individuals, we will review the updated core documents as soon as possible,” Colonel Norman said.

An employee who feels the classification does not accurately reflect his position’s assigned duties and responsibilities may appeal the classification decision to the Department of Defense or OPM after the individual has transitioned into the GS personnel system.

By law, employees will not lose pay upon conversion. These general guidelines will be followed when determining an employee’s pay. If the employee’s current pay:

- Fits within the rate range of the appropriate grade to which the employee is assigned, the employee will be placed at a step that equals or exceeds his existing pay.

- Is below the rate range for the appropriate GS grade to which the employee is assigned, the employee will be placed on the first step of the GS grade upon conversion out.

- Is above the rate range for the appropriate GS grade to which the employee is assigned, the employee will be placed on pay retention to ensure he does not suffer any decrease in or loss of pay upon conversion.

In the meantime, Air Force classification teams are working efficiently and effectively to provide fair and accurate classification service.

“The Air Force demand for classification and staffing expertise is at an unprecedented level with NSPS-out, insourcing, rated-to-civilian conversions, Global Strike stand-up and other key initiatives ongoing simultaneously. I am very proud to say the Air Force team has performed with the utmost professionalism and care,” said Colonel Norman. “We’ll continue to work closely with all stakeholders through these challenges.”

The first phase of the transition for Air Force employees began July 4. Phase II is scheduled to begin July 18. For more information on the transition schedule, click http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123210690.

For more information on the NSPS transition, visit www.cpms.osd.mil/nsps/transition. For more on the classification process, visit http://www.opm.gov or AFPC’s personnel services website, keyword “Classification Standards.” Air Force employees may call the 24-hour Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102 or DSN 665-5000.

Upgrade allows civilians to update awards online

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Civilian employees can now update their non-monetary awards through the self-service module in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System using the “Awards and Bonuses” tab in “My Biz.”

The ability to update non-monetary awards, such as length of service recognition, exemplary civilian service award and Air Force Civilian Achievement Award, eliminates the need to fax, e-mail or deliver an approved award certificate or other award documentation to the local civilian personnel section or training office.

Monetary awards, such as notable achievement, special act or service, and time-off awards, must still be updated by the local CPS.

Although supervisors can view and print the awards entered by the employee, they cannot update their employees’ information.

This timely and customer-focused initiative is similar to the self-service education update initiative launched in August 2008 and the training update initiative launched in September 2009.

While this additional self-service capability allows employees direct access to update awards, officials strongly encourage users to review their inputs for accuracy before submitting them. Knowingly entering false or misleading information is punishable by disciplinary action, monetary fines or both.

For more information on the automation of civilian records, call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102.

Hiring authority key in meeting goals, faster hiring

by April Rowden
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs Office

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – As the Air Force continues to seek highly qualified talent to compliment its growing civilian work force, officials are promoting active use of the Schedule A hiring authority to fill these positions with qualified personnel.

Schedule A hiring is a special streamlined hiring authority available to hire individuals with targeted disabilities. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, targeted disabilities are deafness, blindness, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, convulsive disorders, mental retardation, mental illness, and distortion of limbs and/or spine.

Last fall, President Barack Obama announced new initiatives aimed at increasing the employment of people with disabilities in the federal work force, including increased use of Schedule A. To support the initiative, the Air Force has adopted the Department of Defense’s “2 percent goal” in which at least 2 percent of the civilian work force is made up of individuals with targeted disabilities, said Michelle Siples, the Air Force Disability Program manager.

In an effort to increase manager awareness and understanding of how to hire qualified people with disabilities, the Air Force Equal Opportunity Office posted the Air Force Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities and Reasonable Accommodation Procedures, and the Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program Plan at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/afcivilianjobs/resources.asp.

Air Force officials hope the increased awareness will help raise the number of employees with disabilities, presently at less than 1 percent.

“Managers must be aware of the benefits of using the Schedule A hiring authority. Bottom line, it saves time,” Ms. Siples said.

Qualified individuals with targeted disabilities can be hired non-competitively without recruitment, without posting and publicizing the position, without clearance of priority placement, and without going through the certificate process. Schedule A eliminates many of the competitive hiring steps, reducing the time it takes to fill a needed position.

Managers interested in considering Schedule A applicants through non-competitive procedures should contact their civilian personnel section or installation Disability Program manager. The process is noncompetitive, which means human resources specialists and/or disability program managers send resumes of qualified applicants directly to managers. Managers have the option to hire the individual immediately.

Ms. Siples said, “This is an excellent opportunity for managers to make a difference by hiring people with disabilities into the work force. People with disabilities bring to the job an unsurpassed loyalty, dedication and commitment, and we must do more to seek out this untapped source of individuals.”

To be eligible for noncompetitive appointment using the Schedule A hiring authority, candidates must obtain written proof of disability and a certification of job readiness from a licensed medical professional, a state or private vocational rehabilitation specialist, or any government agency that issues or provides disability benefits. Candidates must also meet the Office of Personnel Management’s position qualification standards for which they are applying.

The requirements for each position, such as education and experience, are listed on the OPM website. The site also contains information about the hiring process for people with disabilities and has a list of selective placement coordinators for each federal agency.

Individuals with disabilities may apply for noncompetitive appointment through the Schedule A hiring authority by submitting an application and any necessary supporting documentation directly to the selective placement coordinator or equivalent.

For more information about the Schedule A hiring authority and options for people with disabilities, visit the OPM website, http://www.opm.gov/, or AFPC’s personnel services website and search for“disability employment.” Air Force employees may call the 24-hour Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102 or DSN 665-5000.
Veteran Celebrates 100th Birthday Today
By Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer

CWO Sam Domino and his grandson Jason mark the time on his watch that begins his 100th birthday. Marine Chief Warrant Officer Sam Domino is 100 years old, July 12, 2010. This Veteran’s life and career are notable in his dedication to the Marines, his country and his family.

In the Marine Corps, he served in two major conflicts, World War II and Korea, as well as stations throughout East Asia.

The son of Italian immigrants, Warrant Officer Domino was an exceptional athlete in his youth, lettering in baseball, football and track. His studies in agricultural engineering at university were interrupted when his father, a store keeper, lost everything in the great depression.

That’s when he joined the Marine Corps for his first tour of duty, earning less than $20 a month. He was to later re-enlist and make the Corps a career.

Domino was married for nearly 50 years to the love of his life, Anne. They had four children who gave them six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Proud to say he “loved the Corps,” he served as a valet to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, in the early days of World War II. His tour of duty included service on the USS Augusta, a heavy artillery cruiser.

Domino served in Okinawa for five years during the occupation and sadly remembers the many marines who died there.

Sam Domino receives a promotion from commanding officers during World War II.

Warrant Officer Domino was a star baseball player for the Marine Corps — his team was Asiatic champs in 1932 — and was so talented, the Navy tried to recruit him away from the Marine Corps team.

He spent a total of 27 years in the Marine Corps, retiring in the late 1950s. After leaving the Corps, he worked for the State of Florida Department of Transportation.

Domino loved to garden and tended his orange trees, vegetables and flowers until he reached 95 years of age.

His daughter, Madeline, enjoys looking through photos of his days training at Paris Island, his tours of duty to China, the Philippines, the Panama Canal, Australia and Japan.

About her dad, she says, “Dad is truly an amazing person and a great father and husband. He is always complimentary of my mother who followed him around the country on his U.S. assignments and reared the children, many times alone.

“As a father, dad always offered guidance to his children and instilled in us the virtues of faith in God, hard work, honesty and the value of an education. We are so blessed to have dad with us on this momentous occasion. We love you dad!”

A lifetime member of the Masons, Warrant Officer Domino was saluted on the NBC Today Show on July 12. The local Veterans Affairs Medical Center will celebrate his 100th birthday with a special party in his honor.

Luge Athlete Braves Heat at Fort Jackson

By Chris Rasmussen
Fort Jackson Leader

July 12, 2010 - Before coming here to train in the sweltering heat, Army Pfc. Joseph Mortensen spent his days sliding down frozen luge tracks around the world. Mortensen, 21, Company E, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, competed internationally in luge, a sport in which the athletes race on sleds down a track about a mile long at speeds up to 90 mph.

"It is the biggest adrenaline rush of your life," said Mortensen, who is in his seventh week of basic combat training.

The luge athlete, who took up the sport at age 9, missed the 2010 Winter Olympics by one slot on Team USA.

"I loved the fact that when I woke up I was competing against the world's best," said Mortensen, whose Army specialty is interior electrician, adding that he plans to make a run for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"It is a very mentally and physically challenging sport," he said. "The training is very much like [basic combat training]. We do a lot of push-ups, V-ups and pretty much anything you can think of that works the upper body." V-ups are an abdominal exercise.

In addition to upper-body strength, luge requires the ability to completely relax the body with controlled breathing – similar to some of the skills required for marksmanship.

Mortensen, of Huntington Station, N.Y., begins each season by training at Lake Placid, N.Y., before venturing to tracks across Europe and Canada.

"Each track has its own unique personality and requires a different approach," he said. "I loved traveling to the different tracks and experiencing different cultures. Some of the things I have seen I had only read about. It was kind of an overwhelming experience."

Mortensen got into the sport as a youth because his father worked for a major luge sponsor.

"I was a pretty active youngster," he said. "I first started sliding when I was 9 years old, and my father was able to introduce my brother and [me] to the sport."

The most important aspect of a luge run is the start, Mortensen said. The athletes push off and gain momentum by paddling their hands, which are clad in spiked gloves.

"You pick up speed when you go into corners, but your body has to be completely relaxed," Mortensen said. "The tighter the curve, the more pressure that is released, and the faster you go. How smooth you steer also determines your speed going around corners." Luge athletes steer their sleds with the calf of each leg or by exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat, he explained.

The sport is not without its dangers. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a training-run accident.

"That accident had a big impact on the sport, and speeds were reduced to prevent future fatalities," Mortensen said.

Besides sliding down a frozen track on his back, Mortensen was a three-sport athlete in high school, where he participated in wrestling, baseball and soccer. He said he joined the Army National Guard to help aid in the fight in Afghanistan.

All in all, Mortensen said, he is enjoying his time at hot and humid Fort Jackson.

"Where I am from, I am not used to this kind of heat," he said. "If it was a dry heat, it would be OK. But this is brutal. Overall though, I am having a good time."

USO, Nationals Celebrate Wounded Warriors, Families

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

July 11, 2010 - Like many combat-injured servicemembers, Army Pfc. Matthew Castillo del Muro has found comfort in family and support. Organizations such as the USO, Microsoft Corp. and the Washington Nationals have helped the airborne infantryman's recovery in ways he never expected, he said.

"The USO is great," Castillo del Muro said today at Nationals Park here. "All of the groups really go out of their way to make [wounded warriors] feel appreciated."

Castillo del Muro was one of 200 wounded warriors, active duty military and military family members honored at the Nationals game today against the San Francisco Giants. The celebration was part of USO of Metropolitan Washington and Microsoft's 4th Annual Salute to the Troops.

Castillo del Muro is recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. He lost his lower right leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on June 6. Although he endured almost a year of patrolling Afghanistan's rigid terrain with the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, the 22-year-old is learning that recovering from his injuries may be his biggest challenge.

"It's tough, but events like this and support from my family really makes a positive difference," he said.

The troops and their families started the day with a VIP welcome from the Nationals. The Nationals rolled out the red carpet, literally, as their guests enjoyed food and drinks at the ballpark's rooftop party deck before the game.

Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, lauded the organizations for their support. He acknowledged each of the groups for their steadfast and continued commitment to troops and their families.

"This is an event that happens only once a year," Chiarelli said. "Their support of our soldiers, all of our soldiers -- our wounded warriors, our soldiers who are deployed -- it's absolutely fantastic."

Nationals' games, in particular, have become known for paying tribute to the military community, he noted. Such recognition goes a long way for military families and children who are dealing with deployed loved ones, he added.

"It means so much to the kids, that they know their parents are doing something special, and their country supports them," he said.

"We've become Nationals fans, even though those of us in the military have teams back home that we support," the general continued. "You can't turn on a Nationals game or come out to the ballpark without seeing someone from the military being recognized."

Today, several wounded warriors were out on the field to meet players. One lucky troop even got to hand off the team line up card to the head umpire. The troops also were recognized in the third inning with a special salute on the big-screen monitor in centerfield. Troops waved their hats, smiling proudly, as the stadium roared with cheering fans.

"This is pretty amazing," Army Sgt. Matt Lavoir said. "Events like this go a long way in the healing process."

Lavoir, 23, also is recovering at Walter Reed. He was injured by a roadside bomb in September 2008 in Iraq, and has only partial use of his right arm, he said. He's participated in more than 20 USO-sponsored events while in rehabilitation here, he said proudly.

"I can't say enough good things about USO and what they do for us," the infantryman said. "USO and events like this are a huge help to all of us in uniform. Their events are a big pick-me-up, getting us out of our rooms and trying to live life again."

Curt Kolcun, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. Public Sector, and Elaine Rogers, USO-Metro president, said it's an honor for their organizations to reach out in support of the military.

"We're honored by the sacrifice the troops and families make every day for us," Kolcun said. "This is just a way for us to recognize and give back to those who've given so much."

"This is all of us, our way of really saying to our active duty military and their families, we really appreciate what you're doing for our country," Rogers added. "It doesn't get much better than a special day like today."

Although the Nationals fell behind early, and were down 5-0 in the top of the seventh, they sparked a late-game comeback. The Nats scored two runs, but left the bases loaded going into the eighth. The Giants closed the game 6-2.

However, it wasn't a total loss, Lavoir attested.

"It's a great day for baseball, and it was a great tribute to our military," he said