Military News

Monday, August 16, 2010

by April Rowden
Air Force Personnel Center

8/16/2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force Civilian Service employees are now able to access their electronic Official Personnel Folder for up to 60 days following their date of separation.

This new capability allows employees to log into the AFPC Secure website from a personal computer using a user ID and password and download a copy of their final separation Standard Form 50, Notification of Personnel Action, or any other eOPF document.

The user ID and password must be created prior to the employee's separation date. For instructions on how to establish a user ID and password, visit the personnel services website and enter keyword "eOPF."

Allowing separated employees access to their eOPF for up to 60 days from their date of separation gives them immediate access to their final SF 50. Previously, employees had to wait for a hard copy to arrive in the mail.

This self-service capability for civilians compliments other initiatives that have been implemented as Air Force Personnel Center officials look for ways to return valuable time to employees. Other successes include the self-service education update launched in 2008, the training update released in 2009, and the certifications and licenses update, as well as the non-monetary awards update, both launched earlier this year.

For more information on any of the self-service initiatives, visit the AFPC personnel services website and enter keywords "self service updates," or call the Total Force Service Center at 800-525-0102.

Major property transfer for Sacramento business park

8/16/2010 - SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AFNS) -- Officials from the Air Force and Sacramento County, together with McClellan Business Park and environmental regulators celebrated the largest property transfer to date Aug. 12 at the former McClellan Air Force Base here.

The ceremony marked the transfer of 560 acres including a variety of industrial facilities, office buildings, a hotel and housing. An innovative, multiagency agreement referred to as an early transfer with privatized cleanup facilitated the transfer from the Air Force to Sacramento County and then to McClellan Business Park, the developer for the former base, bringing the total acreage transferred to approximately 1,300 acres.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics Terry Yonkers spoke at the event held at McClellan's Aerospace Museum of California.

"McClellan's early transfer with privatized cleanup is good for the Air Force because we can hand off our environmental role to the (Environmental Protection Agency) and reduce our environmental liability through a negotiated cost agreement," Mr. Yonkers said. "Encouraging efficiencies in the redevelopment process is good for the community because it translates into more jobs."

"This transfer represents a major milestone in McClellan's transformation into a vital economic engine for Sacramento County," said Roger Dickinson, chair of the Sacramento Board of Supervisors who also spoke at the event. "Bringing this land into our local control is a smart investment for the region and will stimulate the creation of new businesses and jobs."

"Here at McClellan we're at the forefront of combining cleanup and redevelopment while addressing complex environmental and community concerns," said Phil Mook, senior representative for the Air Force Real Property Agency. "The success of this unique transfer speaks to the dedication and teamwork of everyone involved."

In 1987, the 3,000-acre installation was added to the EPA's National Priorities List due to contaminants in the soil and groundwater. Since then, Air Force officials have worked with representatives of the U.S. EPA, the State of California's Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to clean the property before transferring it to the county for redevelopment.

Under the agreement, McClellan Business Park officials, with oversight from the EPA, will be responsible for addressing contamination in the first 15 feet of soil below the surface. This allows redevelopment and cleanup to proceed in tandem, resulting in much efficiency. The developer can hold title to the property, easing financing negotiations with lenders and investors. In addition, it puts them in the driver's seat for scheduling, permitting and coordination with regulators.

McClellan AFB closed in 2001 following the 1995 recommendation of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Today, it's one of the largest economic development and infill reuse projects in Northern California. Some 15,000 people live and work at McClellan Park. Sacramento County officials estimate that when fully developed, the business park will have 35,000 jobs and generate more than $6.6 million per year in local property tax and $1.1 million per year in local sales tax revenue.

The Air Force Real Property Agency is responsible for remediation and property transfer at 40 former Air Force installations throughout the U.S. under the BRAC program. At the height of the BRAC process, AFRPA officials managed 87,000 acres, or about 137 square miles of property. In the two decades since the first BRAC in 1988, the agency has transferred 88 percent -- more than 116 square miles of land, twice the area of Washington, D.C. -- to local communities for public use. Throughout the transfer process, Air Force leaders remain committed to protecting human health and the environment.

Air Force officials reviewing command, control training infrastructure

8/16/2010 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) -- Air Force officials awarded an independent-study contract to DP Technology Services Inc., Aug. 16, for studying the development of an advanced operational-level C2, or command and control, training campus.

"This study is the first step in developing a solution which will benefit Air Force C2 in the future," said Lt. Gen. William Rew, vice commander of Air Combat Command. "It will eliminate current stovepipe training and provide better, fully-integrated C2 support for combatant commanders."

General Rew directed officials at the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to formerly conduct a study addressing training gaps and standardization for air, space and cyberspace C2 warfighters and standup of a C2 campus. The integrated campus will consolidate formal training for component-numbered Air Forces, air and space operations centers and Air Force forces staffs.

"Lack of standardization and integrated training has led to an inconsistent knowledge base for C2 warfighters," said Maj. Gen. Stanley Kresge, USAFWC commander. "Consolidating training in one location will leverage cross-functional expertise and provide a dedicated training venue standardized across the Air Force."

The contractor will produce a comprehensive report and presentation for senior Air Force leaders addressing future integration of air, space and cyberspace training. It will provide recommendations for C-NAF, AOC and AFFOR staff training requirements at all levels -- initial and mission qualification, continuation, advanced and functional. The study also will address senior leader C2 training requirements.

"Ideally, co-locating Air Force air, space and cyber C2 training at Hurlburt Field, Fla., will enable critical cross-flow of expertise to fully integrate our USAF's capabilities," said General Kresge. "In addition, it will enable advanced integrated training and lessons learned."

Key to this study will be ACC's 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field. This USAFWC organization's mission directive, to "Improve warfighter capability through command and control testing, tactics development and training," was published in April.

The wing, through a multi-disciplinary approach, provides training and development of tactics, techniques and procedures for C-NAF headquarters; testing and training of key C2 and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; and comprehensive, realistic, cutting-edge operational and tactical-level live, virtual and constructive exercises for joint and coalition forces. This makes the 505th CCW the foundation for Air Force operational C2 development and will play a vital role in developing future C2 professionals.

Officials expect the report and presentation to be ready for a senior-level decision briefing in January. The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Medical team trains for emergency response

by Linda Frost
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

8/16/2010 - LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force medical professionals participated in a massive joint forces field-training exercise recently simulating a terrorist attack in the U.S.

The 10-day exercise, held at Camp Atterbury, Ind., allowed servicemembers to participate in a war game scenario and know their specific duties in case a catastrophic event ever occurs in the U.S.

Nearly 125 Airmen from Lackland Air Force, Maxwell AFB, Ala., and Sheppard AFB, Texas, formed an Expeditionary Medical Support team to support the joint forces exercise of more than 3,500 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and civilians from around the nation.

An EMEDS team is composed of medical, logistics, administrative and other staff members to quickly deploy and set up a field hospital.

In the exercise, dubbed Vibrant Response, a 10-kiloton nuclear device had been detonated, devastating the immediate area and creating a scenario that simulated a nuclear, biological and chemical attack in the Indianapolis vicinity.

Military members provided assistance to federal, state and local emergency responders during the exercise to save lives, prevent further injury and provide temporary critical support.

Led by U.S. Army North, U.S. Northern Command's Joint Force Land Component Command, the exercise included urban and aerial search and rescue missions, simulated decontamination operations, airlift and medical training.

The Air Force EMEDS team, commanded by Col. Janet Robinson, the 59th Dental Group commander, provided full-scale medical support for ground evacuation, treating patients, hospitalization, preventive medicine, veterinary, medical logistical support and blood distribution.

"It was a tremendous training experience ... this gave us the opportunity to train together in an environment that simulated a real world situation and helped develop us as a cohesive team," Colonel Robinson said.

Colonel Robinson said the exercise enabled the Airmen to work closely with their Army counterparts to learn each other's capabilities, ways of doing things and language differences.

"Some of the challenges we encountered were issues we should expect to meet if we were to deploy to an event, and were invaluable in forcing us to develop workarounds to get the mission accomplished," Colonel Robinson added.

"As expected, our Air Force personnel deployed with the right attitude, motivation and desire for excellence, and did an outstanding job working with other federal, state and local emergency responders," she said.

U.S. Helicopters, Cargo Planes Continue Pakistan Aid

Compiled from U.S. Embassy Islamabad Reports

Aug. 16, 2010 - Four U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters arrived today and U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft began transporting international aid within Pakistan as part of the continued U.S. humanitarian assistance in support of flood relief from the monsoon floods.

The four helicopters are part of the contingent of 19 helicopters urgently ordered to Pakistan last week by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. They bring to 11 the total number of U.S. military aircraft in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, two Air Force C-130 aircraft from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan flew to the Pakistani air force base Chaklala in Rawalpindi this morning in response to a Pakistani government request to pick up and transport international relief supplies stored there for delivery to flood-stricken areas. These flights are scheduled to continue daily to assist with getting out urgently needed relief supplies. An estimated 52,000 pounds of relief supplies were delivered today to Sukkur for distribution by Pakistani government and military authorities.

To date, the United States has pledged to provide about $76 million in assistance to flood-affected populations in Pakistan. Support includes both financial assistance and the immediate provision of urgently needed supplies and services, drawing on unique U.S. capabilities and resources.

U.S. military helicopters have rescued 3,555 people and transported 436,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies in spite of bad weather. In addition, within 36 hours of the initial flooding on July 29, the United States began delivering thousands of packaged meals to Pakistan from U.S. stocks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. In all, 436,944 meals that conform with Islamic law were provided to civilian and military officials in Pakistan for distribution to Pakistanis in need.

Two shipments of heavy-duty, waterproof plastic sheeting to be used in construction of temporary dry shelter arrived in Karachi over the past two days. The 770 rolls bring the number of sheeting materials rolls brought to Pakistan to 1,870, an amount expected to help in providing shelter for 112,000 people. Some 14,000 blankets were brought along with the sheeting last week.

"Our experience has shown that plastic sheeting is urgently needed for temporary shelters, and we know it is urgently needed in Sindh as the flood waters continue to move south," said U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson. "It will be supplied along with locally purchased materials that can be easily moved when people are able to return home."

The sheeting material will provide dry shelter for 46,800 people in Sindh province. The cargo is immediately being sent to a logistics hub in Sindh and will be distributed by local and international organizations.

Other U.S. contributions to date include:

-- A month's emergency food rations to more than 307,000 people through a partnership with the World Food Program.

-- About $11.25 million for the United Nations Refugee Agency, $5 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross, $3 million to the World Health Organization and $4.1 million for Save the Children.

-- A total of 436,944 meals delivered to civilian and military officials in Pakistan within 36 hours of the initial flooding via U.S. Air Force airlift, a contribution of about $3.7 million.

-- Emergency relief items totaling about $4 million delivered to the National Disaster Management Authority. The items include: 18 Zodiac rescue boats, six water filtration units, 10 water storage bladders, 30 concrete-cutting saws and 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges. A 25-kilowatt generator was provided to the Frontier Scouts-KPk to support their flood relief efforts.

Surface Line Week 2010 Underway in San Diego

By Lt. j.g. Alison Derr, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- San Diego's 29th annual Surface Line Week (SLW) continued Aug. 16 with the commencement of volleyball, football, soccer, softball, racquetball and basketball tournaments, the inaugural swimming competition and the visual communications, lathe and welding contests.

Swimming, a new addition to the 2010 event lineup, attracted athletes from more than 20 commands.

"Swimming in Surface Line Week is definitely a morale booster," said participant Yeoman 3rd Class Jason Rynkiewicz of USS Boxer (LHD 4). "The whole event is a huge character building session. It's great for all the commands fleetwide to get together and engage in some friendly competition."

"It's exciting that the Navy has taken a round-turn on physical fitness and promoting activities like SLW," said Navy Counselor 1st Class David Day of USS Thach (FFG 43), who competed as part of his command's volleyball team. "It's exciting to see the enthusiastic support from all the commands present. SLW is all about bringing us together not only as a ship but also as a Navy."

With more than 3,000 Sailors from more than 35 commands participating in 38 professional and athletic events throughout the week, this year's SLW is the biggest yet.

"The spirit of teamwork and camaraderie that is the hallmark of Surface Line Week shows even among the event coordinators," said Surface Force Pacific Fleet Lt. Linda Hoffman, overall Surface Line Week coordinator. "Today's events would not have been such a success without the time and energy of the support staff."

Surface Line Week, a 10-day contest sponsored by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), will run through Aug. 20. This marquee event features a series of activities dedicated to friendly competition in a variety of seamanship and sporting events. SLW will conclude with an awards ceremony on Aug. 20, followed by the annual Surface Warrior Ball Aug. 21.

For more information on SLW events, please contact the CNSP Public Affairs Office at 619-437-2735.

NECC CPOs Support Local Veterans

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (AW/SW) Essex D. Moore III, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Chief petty officers from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) volunteered their time and talent at Vetshouse Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va., Aug. 10 to help homeless veterans in the Hampton Roads area.

Vetshouse Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating a veteran's return to an independent and productive lifestyle.

Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Darryl Everett, community relations committee chair of NECC's Chief Petty Officers' Association (CPOA), coordinated the community relations project to rehabilitate Vetshouse Inc.'s Honor House.

Members spent the afternoon painting three bedrooms. Everett, who is a strong supporter of Navy involvement in the community, said he felt this involvement was just as important to the community as it was to the Sailors participating.

"They see that we are trying to help others," said Everett. "We are not just about ourselves."

Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Timothy W. Schwab, president of NECC's CPOA, said he was eager to participate in this project. He wanted to help those who had served their country and given so much to others.

"This is to let them know that we haven't forgotten about them," said Schwab. "We still appreciate their service."

Willard C. Smith, executive director for Vetshouse Inc., welcomed NECC's participation and said the impact of their work was immediately evident and appreciated.

"By NECC coming out doing these things and beautifying our property, it means a lot," said Smith. "It means a lot to the guys; it means a lot to me."

Smith has been involved with Vetshouse Inc. for 17 years – nine as executive director. Vetshouse Inc. maintains three homes in Virginia Beach, which can accommodate up to 22 veterans. More than 600 homeless veterans have resided at Vetshouse Inc. since 1992.

"It makes me feel good to be able to help someone who has served their country," said Everett. "You never know, someday something may go wrong for me or a family member, and we may be homeless. Hopefully, someone will lend a hand to help."

Swift Crew Paints School Auditorium in Barbados

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (NNS) -- Crew members deployed aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV) 2 helped refurbish an auditorium at the Garrison Secondary School in Bridgetown, Barbados, Aug. 13.

The group included 11 Sailors, one Marine, one Air Force captain and one civilian contract mariner, all deployed aboard the Swift in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

"This is my first interaction with U.S. military personnel, and I truly hope it won't be the last," said Matthew Farley, principal of Garrison Secondary School. "Today is the start of a partnership and what better way than in something that will impact the children. They are our future."

Established by the British Garrison in the 1620s, the Garrison-area school is located in a part of Bridgetown rich with historic significance for the island nation.

"The school was built in 1974, and we're currently waiting on an application submitted to the United Nations which will qualify the area for official historical status," said Farley. "Right now we rely mostly on volunteers and staff for the annual maintenance and upkeep prior to each school year."

The group painted the inside of a large auditorium, as well as wooden archways and the doors leading into the four entrances to the building. They worked from about 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., followed by a home-cooked Bajan dinner with school staff and parent teacher association members when the work was done.

"It made me feel really good to know me and my co-workers were doing something that would benefit the local youth," said Lt. j.g. Joan Mulligan, a Swift crew member who helped with the project. "The staff was so welcoming and hospitable, and I was really surprised when they made that great dinner for us. There's such a sense of community here. I hope that when I have kids some day, they will also be surrounded by people like this who know and care so much about their needs."

While SPS 2010's primary mission is information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services in the U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility throughout the Caribbean and Central America, a large part of the mission is also to develop partnerships with the communities around the military installations as well. Swift will remain deployed in support of SPS 2010 until fall 2010.

San Diego Sailor to Compete in Olympic Boxing Qualifying Tournament

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Josh Cassatt, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A San Diego-based Sailor assigned to USS Pinckney (DDG 91) will compete in the 36th annual National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues (PAL) Boxing Tournament Oct. 2-9 in San Antonio, which could mean a shot at the 2012 Olympics.

Seaman Justin Diaz, a Miami native, is leading the All-Navy Boxing Team to San Antonio, where he will face off against military and civilian amateur boxers in the first Olympic trials qualifying tournament.

"This is my second time trying to make the Olympic team," Diaz said. "I have the entire command behind me, and I'm extremely motivated to show what I can do."

The 21-year-old Diaz will fight as a light welterweight in the 141-pound weight class. He holds a record of 20-3 in Navy competition and has won back-to-back gold medals in inter-service competition in the 2009 and 2010 Armed Forces Sports Championships.

"I think it is a great opportunity for him to compete," said Senior Chief Operations Specialist (SW/AW) Erik Findall, Pinckney's Operations Department leading chief petty officer. "He knows what he wants, and he knows how to get there."

Diaz recently earned his place on, and became captain of, the All-Navy Boxing Team by becoming one of six finalists during boxing tryouts held earlier in 2010 in Port Hueneme, Calif.

Although he is currently unranked, Diaz has beaten the third, fourth, fifth and seventh nationally ranked fighters this year, a record that should instill confidence heading into the Olympic qualifier.

"If you know what you want, you have to go out and get it, and Seaman Diaz knows what he wants," said Findall.

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 16, 2010

ARMY

Northrop Grumman Corp., Rolling Meadows, Ill., was awarded on Aug. 12 a $457,125,797 five-year, firm-fixed-price contract. This requirement is for the procurement of the APR-39A/B/C Radar Signal Detection Set (RSDS) including upgrade kits; and repair, integration, interim software support and field support. The RSDS identifies different types of threats on a display, prioritize those threats on a display, identifies the threat posing the most immediate danger to an aircraft and provide audible information to the pilot. Work is to be performed in Rolling Meadows, Ill., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2014. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CECOM, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-10-D-R802).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on Aug. 12 a $201,545,286 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for the production of 1,288 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2012. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with three bids received. TACOM LCMC, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0159).

Centerre Government Contracting Group, Glendale, Colo., was awarded on Aug. 12 a $7,380,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This project is required to provide adequate permanent facilities to support the healing process of Warriors in Transition soldiers. The scope of this project is for the construction of Warrior in Transition standard design dining facility. Sustainable design and development and Energy Policy Act of 2005 features will be included. Supporting facilities include special foundations, facility specific parcel site work, all necessary utilities, lighting, information systems, parking, sidewalks, roads, curbs, and gutters, storm drainage and storm water retention measures, site accessories, and other site improvements. Force protection measures include all current criteria minimums, building access control, surveillance and mass notification systems, site restricting features and landscaping and area lighting. Access for individuals with disabilities will be provided. Comprehensive building and furnishings related interior design services are required. The heating and cooling system should be provided by self-contained systems. Work is to be performed in Fort Bragg, N.C., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 5, 2011. Three bids were solicited with three bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer District, Savannah, Ga., is the contracting activity (W91236-10-D-0012).

NAVY

DCK North America, LLC, Clairton, Pa. (N40085-10-D-5329); The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Baltimore, Md. (N40085-10-D-5330); Walbridge Aldinger Co., Detroit, Mich. (N40085-10-D-5331); Sundt Construction, Inc., Tempe, Ariz. (N40085-10-D-5332); and Hardin Construction Co., LLC/Whitsell-Green, Inc., JV, Atlanta, Ga. (N40085-10-D-5333) are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award design-build/design-bid-build construction contract for a wide range of general construction service type projects at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point, N.C. The work may also include demolition, repair, total/partial interior/exterior alteration/renovation of buildings, systems and infrastructure. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years, for all five contracts combined is $750,000,000. DCK is being awarded Task Order 0001 at $22,176,000 for the design and construction of a School of Infantry East Facilities, Camp Geiger, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by December 2012. All work on this contract will be performed in Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point, N.C. The term of the contract is not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of August 2015. Contract funds for Task Order 0001 will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 14 proposals received. These five contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded a $23,178,898 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-07-C-0060) for the procurement of 12 AE1107C CV-22 spare engines. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in December 2011. 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.

Marine Hydraulics International, Inc., Norfolk, Va., is being awarded a $13,540,957 firm-fixed-price contract for a 135-calendar day mid-term shipyard availability for Military Sealift Command's fast combat support ship USNS Supply. The ship's primary mission is to provide fuel, cargo and ammunition to Navy ships at sea and fuel to aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. This shipyard availability is primarily for ship maintenance and voyage repairs, including major work on the replacement of high-speed gear and other key equipment. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $16,250,115. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by January 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via an unrestricted solicitation posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website, with two offers received. The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, a field activity of Military Sealift Command, is the contracting activity (N40442-10-C-2003).

BAE Systems Technologies, Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded an $11,656,003 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00421-07-C-0019) to exercise an option for engineering and technical products and services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems. The estimated level of effort for this option is 136,000 man-hours. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, St. Inigoes, Md. (80 percent), San Diego, Calif. (10 percent), and various shipboard locations (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, St. Inigoes, Md., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Corp., Cape Canaveral, Fla., is being awarded a $7,448,721 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to repair items used in support of the H-1 helicopter. Work will be performed in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and work is expected to be completed by August 2015. Contract funds will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively awarded. The Naval Inventory Control Point, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (N00383-10-D-005N).

AIR FORCE

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $90,544,706 contract modification which will provide continued sustainment of the contractor logistics support and legacy effort. At this time, no money has been obligated. ISSW/PKS, El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity (F04701-95-C, Modification P00645).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $15,996,804 contract which will enable continued study on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite enhancement options. At this time, $15,996,804 has been obligated. SMC/MCSW, El Segundo, Calif. is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-0002, P00443).

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., Needham Heights, Mass., was awarded an $11,117,885 contract for 47 Low Rate Initial Production. At this time, $1,384,850 has been obligated. ESC/HNCK, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA8307-10-C-0016).

Ametek Aerospace, Sellersville, Pa., was awarded a $7,334,709 contract which will provide fuel quantity indication systems. At this time $2,284,852 has been obligated. OC-ALC/GKAKB, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8102-10-D-0002-0001).

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $6,810,188 contract modification which will provide for interim contractor support for the common organizational level tester unit and common accessory kit. At this time, $4,127,559 has been obligated. ASC/WNQK, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8626-04-C-2060 P00064).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Aviall Services, Inc., Dallas, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $23,760,150 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for fuel control. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Department of Defense. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is July 31, 2016. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (SPRRA1-10-D-0048).

L3 Communications Corp., Sarasota, Fla. is being awarded a maximum $17,530,000 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for flight data recorders and interconnection boxes. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. The original proposal was Web-solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is Aug. 15, 2015. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Land (formerly DLA, Warren, Mich.), Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRBL1-10-D-0012).

Navy's Largest DEFY Chapter Holds Annual Summer Camp

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles White, Navy Region Southeast Reserve Component Command Public Affairs

MICANOPY, Fla. (NNS) -- Seventy-four children from Navy and DoD families attended the Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) summer camp at Camp McConnell outside of Gainesville, Fla., Aug. 8-13.

The children represent the Jacksonville, Fla.-area military complex and the largest U.S. Navy DEFY program in the world, said DEFY Operations Officer David Vanneste, who was conducting a site visit.

Started in 1993, the DEFY program is in its 17th year of providing mentorship, character development, drug education and essential life skills to military kids. The Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville program, which began in 1996, offers a learning and activity intensive five-day overnight camping experience, which was held this year at Camp McConnell, a YMCA campground.

In addition to classroom learning and arts and crafts, attendees were able to participate in swimming, archery, horseback riding, rock climbing, field and court sports and a high ropes course.

"Every activity that we did had a life lesson to impart upon the kids," said DEFY Mentor Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Derek Saylor, of Navy Region Southeast Reserve Component Command. "The horses were a real self confidence boost, the archery built patience...and the rock wall and the high ropes taught them goal setting and persistence."

NAS Jacksonville's DEFY Program Coordinator, Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate Shawn Diggs thought his first year heading the program went very well.

"I think this [DEFY] is a beautiful program, it's a really educational program for the youths here," said Diggs.

Diggs noted how impressed he was with the knowledge and tools learned by the children as it pertained to resisting peer pressure and avoiding destructive behaviors, but he most enjoyed watching the kids "come as strangers and leave as friends."

Making the largest DEFY summer camp run smoothly requires an organized, high energy and equally large volunteer effort. Twenty-four mentors, who are usually military or DoD civilian volunteers, and 11 junior mentors were placed with groups of kids whom they remained with throughout the camp.

Alan Lefan, NAS Jacksonville DEFY mentor coordinator, now in his fifth year of participation, is proud of the volunteer's ability to "change kids' lives," including that of his daughter who attended camp for the first time this year.

"She can't wait to come back," said Lefan. "And I will be here as long as they'll have me."

Kuria Spindler, NAS Jacksonville DEFY junior mentor coordinator, feels her upbringing has left her ideally suited for the program.

"I was a military child, so I do know what they have to deal with. The fact that they move around, and have to make new friends and deal with the peer pressure," said Spindler.

Each DEFY chapter is managed by a host command. Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 hosts the NAS Jacksonville chapter, which is also their home base and they will continue to host DEFY events throughout the year and leading up to the annual summer camp in August 2011.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Conducts COMSERV

By Mass Communication Specialist (SW) 3rd Class Matthew Jackson, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) crew members participated in a community service event (COMSERV) in Dili, Timor-Leste, Aug. 14 in support of Pacific Partnership 2010.

Approximately 25 crew members from Mercy conducted the COMSERV at the Don Bosco Oratorio Balide orphanage with nearly 100 children, playing soccer, coloring pictures, singing, dancing and socializing with each other.

COMSERVs offer participants experiences that add value to the primary focus of Pacific Partnership 2010, namely providing medical and construction assistance while helping all involved develop skills and relationships that will make them better prepared to respond in the event of a natural disaster in the future.

"I believe COMSERVs truly bring the whole mission together," said Religious Programs Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Snow, COMSERV assistant coordinator. "We are all working hand-in-hand to make a difference in people's lives not only in the countries we are visiting, but also from within ourselves."

Snow works with Mercy's chaplain staff to welcome all shipboard volunteers to the events, organizes the distribution of charitable donations and supports all COMSERV planning, giving her a unique perspective of the event's impact on participants.

"It is amazing to see both the children and crewmembers," said Snow. "I have had the privilege of participating in every COMSERV during Pacific Partnership 2010. What I notice most is that every event is different, but despite the language barriers, crewmembers and children are still able to communicate. Laughter and a smile seem to be a universal language."

Several local Timorese musicians were on hand to perform popular songs for all in attendance. Children and adults of all ages spent several hours interacting, creating positive impressions and cultivating camaraderie.

"My experience today has been awesome," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Robert Ramirez. "I played a few games of checkers, met several interesting people and colored in coloring books with some of the kids. I'm going to take away the joy, happiness and smiles we shared during this experience."

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, partner nations and international humanitarian and relief organizations.

Behind the scenes – Coast Guard Motion Picture & Television Office

Monday, August 16, 2010
LT Connie Braesch

Have you ever seen the Coast Guard represented in a T.V. show or movie? What about the “Deadliest Catch” or “The Guardian”?

How does the old cliché go? A picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, what is a hit cable T.V. show or big screen movie worth? A lot I’d bet, and it’s a great way to tell the Coast Guard story.

The Coast Guard’s Motion Picture & Television Office (MOPIC) is a small but dedicated staff of public affairs professionals located in Los Angeles, Cali. The three-person team receives ideas and requests from some of the hottest producers wanting to portray the Coast Guard in an upcoming entertainment production.

“It is a true privilege to serve in this role and help tell our service’s story to the American public,” said CDR Sean Carroll. “Through productive and collaborative relationships with the entertainment industry, the U.S. Coast Guard is on television once every 10 days to an average audience of three million viewers. We are also represented or featured in a major motion picture every 13 months.”

Although bound by the law (14 USC 659), the Coast Guard may provide assistance as long as it does not “interfere with Coast Guard missions.” The MOPIC team offers technical advice and storyline development on Coast Guard related projects, stock footage of Coast Guard operations and resources, and arrangements for filming on Coast Guard facilities, boats and aircraft. MOPIC also reviews scripts, treatments, and rough-cuts to ensure accuracy, authenticity, and conformity.

In these productions, the Coast Guard can be a central character in the storyline or provide more of a support or consultation role. Whatever the role is, the MOPIC team strives to enhance public awareness and understanding of the U.S. Coast Guard, its people, and its missions through a cooperative effort with the entertainment industry.

Sports Physicals Offered at NNMC

by Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Staff at National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) are preparing for the influx of students needing sports physicals prior to the start of the school year.

"It's a good idea to get them done early," said Dr. William Adelman, chief of NNMC's Pediatric Primary Care Services.

Adelman suggests scheduling sports physicals at least six weeks prior to the start of a particular sport season, said Adelman.

"We're looking for past injuries that need to be rehabilitated, for example, someone who twisted their ankle or had a broken bone," said Dr. Jeffrey Hutchinson, chief of Adolescent Medicine at NNMC. "We want to make sure that's working properly before they go back and play."

"The main reason for doing sports physicals is to get as many kids playing as possible, and we work hard to get kids cleared [to play]," said Hutchinson.

Sports physicals take about 30 minutes and are good for an entire calendar year.

It's also best to have physicals done early because the clinic tends to be busier right before the school year begins — when most school physical forms are due — and there might not be as many appointments available, said Hutchinson. At the time of the visit, parents should bring their child's school physical forms and have them filled out, said Adelman.

It's also helpful for parents to bring a record of their child's current immunizations.

Teenagers do not need an order form for immunizations, said Hutchinson, except for tuberculosis (TB) testing.

Warfighting Exercise Focuses on South Korean Defense

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 16, 2010 - A 10-day warfighting exercise kicked off today to improve allied capabilities to deter and, if necessary, counter aggression against South Korea.

About 27,000 U.S. forces in South Korea, as well as about 3,000 U.S. servicemembers from the United States and its bases in the Pacific region, are participating in this year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command officials reported.

They join more than 500,000 South Korean military and government participants, as well as multinational representatives in the CFC-led exercise to test their readiness to defend South Korea and promote stability across northwest Asia.

The exercise will "ensure that our alliance is prepared to respond to threats across the spectrum of conflicts, to include North Korean provocations," officials said.

This year's exercise is taking place amid heightened tensions since North Korea sunk the South Korean navy frigate Cheonan in March. It also occurs during commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the North Korean attack that launched the Korean War.

The South Korean-U.S. alliance has successfully deterred aggression on the Korean peninsula for 57 years, Army Gen. Walter L. "Skip" Sharp, who commands U.S. and United Nations forces in Korea, said in a message to his command before the exercise kicked off. He called Ulchi Freedom Guardian 10 "another opportunity for us to work together and demonstrate our resolve to ensuring regional stability."

The exercise is the first since President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced the decision to delay the transition of wartime operational control of allied forces on the Korean peninsula to the South Korean military, Sharp noted. That transfer, originally scheduled for April 2012, has been moved to late 2015.

In the lead-up to that transition, Sharp called the exercise an opportunity to continue improving combat readiness and joint and combined interoperability between South Korean and U.S. forces.

"Like our combined exercises in the past, Ulchi Freedom Guardian affords the combined team an opportunity to continue to develop organizational structures and collaborate on command and control relationships between our militaries and our governments," he said.

The scope of the exercise extends beyond the Korean peninsula, with many of the participants connected from outside Korea by communications and computer simulation networks.

"With units participating in Korea, throughout [U.S.] Pacific Command and at multiple locations across the United States, UFG 10 is one of the largest Joint Staff-directed exercises in the world," Sharp said. "Like our combined exercises in the past, Ulchi Freedom Guardian affords the combined team an opportunity to develop organizational structures and collaborate on command and control relationships between our militaries and our governments."

Although focusing on deterring aggression, the participants also are fine-tuning their coordinated warfighting capabilities, recognizing, officials said, that if deterrence fails, they must be ready to "fight tonight and prevail."

Sharp called on his command to demonstrate discipline, dedication and teamwork during the exercise, which continues through Aug. 26.

"As we demonstrate our ability to successfully defend the Republic of Korea," he said, "we ensure regional ability across northwest Asia and show the world that we remain an agile, adaptive force capable of taking on any challenge."

Report Says Chinese Military Transparency Still Lacking

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

Aug. 16, 2010 - China has made some progress, but not enough, in military transparency, and the Chinese decision to suspend military-to-military contacts with the United States is acting against the interests of both countries, according to the latest annual report in a congressionally mandated series.

Defense Department officials released "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" today.

China is developing into an economic superpower, and that growth is allowing the Chinese government to invest more in its military. China has embarked on a massive effort to modernize its military and transform its structure, doctrine and strategy, according to the report.

The pace of the transformation effort has increased in the last 10 years, and China's military capabilities have developed to influence events well beyond its borders. The Chinese army now can contribute to international peacekeeping efforts, humanitarian assistance and counterpiracy operations. The United States welcomes these capabilities, and wants to work with China to develop them further, the report says.

However, the report says, other capabilities are more disturbing. China is investing in anti-access technologies that would force U.S. naval and air forces farther from Chinese shores, and has fielded large numbers of short- and intermediate-range missiles and cruise missiles.

The Chinese navy has a potent mix of surface ships and submarines and is working to develop naval air wings to operate off an aircraft carrier China bought from the Ukraine in 1998. The Chinese could begin work on an indigenous carrier this year, the report says.

The Chinese army has 1.25 million in the ground forces and is upgrading its formations with new tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers. The army also is stressing command and control capabilities, joint air and ground coordination, and assault operations.

China also is building space and cyber assets, the report says, and the Chinese are still building and launching intelligence satellites.

China's cyber attack capabilities are a mystery, the report acknowledges.

"In 2009, numerous computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be the target of intrusions that appear to have originated within the [People's Republic of China]," the report says, noting that the intrusions seek military and commercial information.

"The accesses and skills required for these intrusions are similar to those necessary to conduct computer network attack," the report says.

Because no one outside China really knows where the Chinese military buildup will end, transparency in the goals of the transformation would go far in reassuring regional countries and global partners, the report says.

In addition, the report says, "The limited transparency in China's military and security affairs enhances uncertainty and increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation."

Obama has said he understands that China and the United States may sometimes have difficult relations, "but the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined."

Sustained and reliable U.S.-China military-to-military relations reduce mistrust, enhance mutual understanding and broaden cooperation, the report says.

Exchange Service Works to Correct Inadvertent Charges

From an Army and Air Force Exchange Service News Release

Aug. 16, 2010 - Numerous transactions at Army and Air Force Exchange operations are experiencing a double whammy no one saw coming: a processing error resulting in duplicate charges on credit and debit card transactions.

"Shoppers who swiped their cards any time between Aug. 7 and Aug. 9 at an AAFES facility are strongly encouraged to review their statements to see if they are impacted by this issue," said Army Col. Virgil William, AAFES chief of staff. "If a customer finds a billing anomaly, no action will be required on their part, as we're working to correct inaccuracies on their behalf."

Scores of associates from AAFES' information technology and finance and accounting teams are working around the clock to remedy all erroneous charges created as a result of the processing error.

"We're putting all the resources we have towards doing the right thing for customers affected by this unfortunate turn of events," Williams said. "If there is an overdraft fee as result of a duplicate charge, we're going to fix it. Our priority is to take corrective action as quickly as possible and return customers' accounts to the exact state they were prior to this glitch."

The processing error that produced duplicate charges affected AAFES locations worldwide. Depending on the type of card used, officials said, corrective action could be visible to the customer anywhere from 24 hours to a couple of weeks.

"The timeline is subject to a number of variables," Williams said. "Regardless, we want exchange shoppers to know that every possible measure is being taken to eliminate any additional charges and rectify any concerns created as a result of this processing miscue."

Soldiers’ Angels and Operation Homefront Work to Support Service Members

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, – Soldiers’ Angels and Operation Homefront, two national nonprofits, are entering into a partnership to better serve military service members and their families. As a result of reviewing their various programs, the two organizations found overlap, and will each eliminate a program as part of the partnership.

Soldiers’ Angels will refer military families to Operation Homefront for emergency financial and other assistance needs. In turn, Operation Homefront will refer wounded service members to Soldiers’ Angels for communication devices like GPS units and laptop computers configured for voice recognition.

“This is a great example of how nonprofits can work together to better aid our military service members and wounded warriors , while eliminating duplication and overlap,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront. “We look forward to working with the Soldiers’ Angels staff and network of volunteers and supporters on other programs, including our Back-to-School Brigade, which we expect will provide backpacks to almost 25,000 military kids this Fall, and our holiday toy drive.”

Additionally, Soldiers’ Angels and Operation Homefront will work together to collect and provide bedding like sheets and blankets to single soldiers in barracks or transient housing facilities.

“Soldiers’ Angels has an amazing network of volunteers committed to helping our service members and their families, said Patti Patton, executive director and founder of Soldiers’ Angels. “Combined with Operation Homefront’s programs and other partnerships, we’ll both be able to serve our military community more effectively and more efficiently.”

About Operation Homefront

Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 267,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs. More information is available at www.OperationHomefront.net.

About Soldiers’ Angels
Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families. Founded by the mother of two American soldiers, its hundreds of thousands of Angel volunteers assist veterans, wounded and deployed personnel and their families in a variety of unique and effective ways.

CPO Selectees Help Kitsap County Fairgrounds Make Preparations

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Dagendesh, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 100 chief petty officers (CPOs) and CPO selectees from the Pacific Northwest Region worked side by side making various preparations at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale, Wash., Aug. 12.

The preparations were part of an effort to make the fairgrounds ready for the upcoming fair in late August 2010 and also to build good relations between the military and civilian community.

"We work here every year to do some community work within the realms of the Northwest when the chief results come out for our new chief selectees," said Chief Master-at-Arms Charles Person, from Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific Security Battalion Bangor.

"When we get involved, it really makes a difference and it builds a positive relationship. The Navy is always here for the community because that's who we defend...We defend our country, the United States, obviously and Washington state is a fantastic place to live and bring up a family," said Person. "And that is what the military is...a big family."

It's important for the CPO community be get involved in the local community, said Chief Navy Counselor Gary Toles from Naval Base Kitsap.

"We have a great organization to date and that is the CPO mess, and it goes far beyond a local area, it goes all around the world," said Toles.

The selectees also had the opportunity to meet CPOs from installations in the area.

"This is a fantastic time; we enjoy this time of the year when those results come out, and you can see the juices flowing," said Person. "Everyone knows what is going on. The chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs see a change in them (the selectees)...they see a little spark in them (the selectees)."

U.S. Pacific Fleet Band Performs for Timor-Leste

By Ens. Desiree Woodman, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- U.S. Pacific Fleet Band members performed for a crowd of roughly 400 people Aug. 14 at the Governor's Palace as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.

The Pacific Fleet band opened the performance as a New Orleans-style Brass Band, and then transformed into an American Rock Band. Much to the delight of the crowd, they played Rock n' Roll favorites and songs by artist like Michael Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, and Bob Marley.

"This is the best concert in Timor-Leste," said Timorese native Januario Suares. "The Timorese love the music, they are just shy people."

The Governor's Palace provided a great venue for the Band, with a spectacular sunset behind them about half-way through the concert. Police blocked off the road, and people filled the street to hear the Band's performance, an uncommon event in Timor-Leste. Children and adults were moving to the music and singing along to American favorites, most notably "I'm Yours," by Jason Mraz, which brought the crowd to its feet. Members of the band took turns dancing with the crowd during the hour and a half long concert.

"In the last few countries, the audience has been people that have heard about the concert through word of mouth," said Musician 1st Class Eric Snitzer. "It's really interesting how the word can spread in such a short amount of time."

Prior to Timor-Leste, the band has performed in Pacific Partnership 2010's previous mission ports of Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. They have also performed in every liberty port during Pacific Partnership to include Honolulu, Guam, Singapore and Darwin. This was the last public rock band performance for Pacific Partnership 2010, although the Brass band will continue to Papua New Guinea aboard the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Tobruk.

"Both American and Timorese love the music, and we are happy you are here," said Timorese native Antonio Rodrigues. "We like watching the Americans dance."

As the concert ended, the crowd cheered and requested an encore. The band played one last song before ending the night.

"Our part of the mission is truly unique and rewarding," said Chief Musician Dereck Werner.

The Brass Band will be playing at several orphanages in Timor-Leste during USNS Mercy's (T-AH 19) visit. Band members will also be giving lessons to school children on how to care for their instruments along with showing them different ways to play melodies.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships.

Advocates see trouble for misdiagnosed soldiers

WASHINGTON – At the height of the Iraq war, the Army routinely dismissed hundreds of soldiers for having a personality disorder when they were more likely suffering from the traumatic stresses of war, discharge data suggests.
Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Army later acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers given the designation. But advocates for veterans say an unknown number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other benefits.
"We really have an obligation to go back and make sure troops weren't misdiagnosed," said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist whose nonprofit "Give an Hour" connects troops with volunteer mental health professionals.
The Army denies that any soldier was misdiagnosed before 2008, when it drastically cut the number of discharges due to personality disorders and diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorders skyrocketed.
Unlike PTSD, which the Army regards as a treatable mental disability caused by the acute stresses of war, the military designation of a personality disorder can have devastating consequences for soldiers.
Defined as a "deeply ingrained maladaptive pattern of behavior," a personality disorder is considered a "pre-existing condition" that relieves the military of its duty to pay for the person's health care or combat-related disability pay.
According to figures provided by the Army, the service discharged about a 1,000 soldiers a year between 2005 and 2007 for having a personality disorder.
But after an article in The Nation magazine exposed the practice, the Defense Department changed its policy and began requiring a top-level review of each case to ensure post-traumatic stress or a brain injury wasn't the underlying cause.
After that, the annual number of personality disorder cases dropped by 75 percent. Only 260 soldiers were discharged on those grounds in 2009.
At the same time, the number of post-traumatic stress disorder cases has soared. By 2008, more than 14,000 soldiers had been diagnosed with PTSD — twice as many as two years before.
The Army attributes the sudden and sharp reduction in personality disorders to its policy change. Yet Army officials deny that soldiers were discharged unfairly, saying they reviewed the paperwork of all deployed soldiers dismissed with a personality disorder between 2001 and 2006.
"We did not find evidence that soldiers with PTSD had been inappropriately discharged with personality disorder," wrote Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Army Medical Command, which oversees the health care of soldiers, in an e-mail.
Command officials declined to be interviewed.
Advocates for veterans are skeptical of the Army's claim that it didn't make any mistakes. They say symptoms of PTSD — anger, irritability, anxiety and depression — can easily be confused for the Army's description of a personality disorder.
They also point out that during its review of past cases, the Army never interviewed soldiers or their families, who can often provide evidence of a shift in behavior that occurred after someone was sent into a war zone.
"There's no reason to believe personality discharges would go down so quickly" unless the Army had misdiagnosed hundreds of soldiers each year in the first place, said Bart Stichman, co-director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program.
Stichman's organization is working through a backlog of 130 individual cases of wounded service members who feel they were wrongly denied benefits.
Among those cases is Chuck Luther, who decided to rejoin the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. He had previously served eight years before being honorably discharged.
"I knew what combat was going to take," he said.
Luther, who lives near Fort Hood, Texas, said throughout his time in the Army, he received eight mental health evaluations from the Army, each clearing him as "fit for duty."
Luther was seven months into his deployment as a reconnaissance scout in Iraq's violent Sunni Triangle in 2007 when he says a mortar shell slammed him to the ground. He later complained of stabbing eye pain and crippling migraines, but was told by a military doctor that he was faking his symptoms to avoid combat duty.
Luther says that he was confined for a month in a 6-by-8 foot room without treatment. At one point, Luther acknowledges, he snapped — biting a guard and spitting in the face of a military chaplain.
After that episode, Luther says, the Army told him he could return home and keep his benefits if he signed papers admitting he had a personality disorder. If he didn't sign, he said, he was told he would be kicked out eventually anyway.
Luther, whose account was first detailed by The Nation, signed the papers.
His case highlights the irony in many personality discharges. A person is screened mentally and physically before joining the military. But upon returning from combat, that same person is told he or she had a serious mental disorder that predated military service.
As in the civilian world, where many insurance companies deny coverage for illnesses that develop before a policy is issued, the government can deny a service member veteran health care benefits and combat-related disability pay for pre-existing ailments.
Despite the Defense Department's reforms, groups such as the National Veterans Legal Services Program say they don't have enough manpower to help all the veterans who believe they were wrongly denied benefits.
Stichman says his organization has more than 60 law firms across the country willing to take on the legal cases of wounded veterans for free. But even with that help, the group doesn't know when it would be able to take on even one new case.
A congressional inquiry is under way to determine whether the Army is relying on a different designation — referred to as an "adjustment disorder" — to dismiss soldiers.
Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican, wants the Pentagon to explain why the number of these discharges doubled between 2006 and 2009 and how many of those qualified to retain their benefits.
As for Luther, he got lucky. After about a year, he says the Veterans Administration agreed to reevaluate him and decided that he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome coupled by traumatic brain injury. The ruling gives him access to a psychologist and psychiatrist every two weeks, despite his discharge status, he said.
But Luther acknowledges that he still struggles. In June, he received word that the Army had turned down his appeal to correct his record, which means he could never return to the service or retire with full benefits.
A week later, he says, he lost his job delivering potato chips because a superior felt threatened by him. Luther says he misses the Army.
"When I was in uniform, that defined me," he said. "It's what made me, me."
___
Online:
U.S. Army Medical Command: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil
Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov/
"Give an Hour": http://www.giveanhour.org
National Veterans Legal Services Program: http://www.nvlsp.org/
Enhanced by Zemanta