Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Legion Honors Troops for Volunteerism

American Legion News Release

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 31, 2010, Aug. 31, 2010 – Representatives from the five armed services were honored here today by the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ organization.

The American Legion presented Spirit of Service awards to Army Sgt. Chelsey D. Billing, Fort Belvoir, Va.; Navy Petty Officer Third Class Thomas M. Lothridge, USS Maryland, Kings Bay, Ga.; Marine Corps Sgt. Avery Washington II, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.; Air Force Staff Sgt. Edward L. Perez, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; and Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class David L. Downham, Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., during the organization’s 92nd National Convention, held here August 31 through September 2.

The servicemembers received the award for their volunteer service in their local communities. This is the eleventh annual presentation of the award, which features a shaped, etched glass form mounted on a marble base, as well as a one-year membership in the American Legion.

National Commander Clarence E. Hill, accompanied by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and actor and comedian Ben Stein, presented the awards to the servicemembers.

“As an organization of wartime veterans, we understand and embrace the concept of service to community, state and nation,” Hill said. “These outstanding military members represent the true spirit of service – a steadfast commitment to serve their country and their fellow Americans.”

To receive this recognition, Hill said, the individual must be an outstanding military professional – and be actively involved in volunteer projects in his or her community during off-duty hours.

“We know about service to others. We also know that those in uniform today – from all branches of military service – active duty, reserves and National Guard members – often go out of their way to make a difference in the lives of so many others in the communities in which they live,” Hill said. “Today, The American Legion honors these outstanding Americans who reflect the great spirit of service to others that the founders of our organization considered essential.”

The servicemembers being honored, Hill said, are representative of thousands of their peers who make up the finest fighting force in the world.

“Each of them has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving others, a spirit of service that deserves the highest recognition The American Legion can provide,” he said.

Each of the awardees was selected by their individual services. The American Legion provided for accommodations, meals and travel during the servicemembers’ stay in Milwaukee. They participated in the ceremonial opening of the convention hosted by Stein, and were featured in the Legion’s convention parade as the organization’s newest members.

U.S. Forces Participate In Annual Disaster Drill in Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Pineiro, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Public Affairs

TOKYO (NNS) -- U.S. Armed Forces in conjunction with Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF), state and local agencies and U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka assisted in delivering disaster relief supplies evacuating simulated casualties as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) disaster drill Aug. 29.

The TMG disaster drill is conducted with the goal of achieving a high level of proficiency in responding to disasters as part of a multinational force.

"These engagements are an excellent opportunity to work with our counter-parts and establish a rapport by engaging with the government," said Ted Shaw, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Emergency Management Office. "We get a chance to practice our trade and show the government we're here to support you and this is how we can support you."

"In the event of a disaster we'll already know who to call and we'd be able to move out on their requirements quickly."

As part of the scenario, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck northern Tokyo, in response the forward-deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9) provided an emergency treatment center to treat simulated injuries.

Denver also launched a landing craft utility (LCU) boat from its well deck to offload disaster relief material.

"LCU's are extremely important to this type of drill, because we do disaster relief all the time," said Chief Boatswain Mate Thomas Merryman, officer in charge of LCU 1634 embarked aboard Denver. "LCU's are capable of a wide range of disaster support. With a lift capability of 150 tons of supplies, people or equipment, to the ship or to shore, we get the job done."

In addition to Denver's participation, a U.S. Navy SH-60B Sea Hawk from Helicopter Squadron (HSL) 51, an Army MH-60L Black Hawk assigned to the 78th Aviation Battalion and an Air Force UH-1 Iroquois attached to the 459th Airlift Squadron delivered disaster relief supplies to various areas around Tokyo.

"The helicopters were able to provide immediate life saving disaster relief assistance cargo," said Shaw. "It's one of the fastest means of getting support in any kind of situation or any kind of weather. It's the best way to help people immediately affected by the disaster."

USNH Yokosuka's role in the exercise was to accept medically evacuated patients from other areas of Japan and strengthen interoperability with the Japan Self Defense Forces.

"Today's drill was a great opportunity for Naval Hospital Yokosuka to test our disaster response abilities in coordination with our Japanese counterparts," said Ens. Wayne Simonds, USNH Yokosuka Emergency Management Officer. "It has been a pleasure working with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on this drill. We are proud that if called upon we can support the local Japanese communities' emergency medical needs."

USS Constitution Sailors Help Feed Those in Need

By Seaman Shannon S. Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution prepared and served food at the Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in Baltimore Aug. 30.

Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW/AW) Melissa Santiago, Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Macgillivray, Airman Bryan Pickett, Airman Michael Moore and Airman Tracy Stephens participated in the event as part of Baltimore Navy Week Aug. 28 through Sept. 6.

"I am glad to have had this opportunity," said Macgillivray. "This shows that military branches are not just here to defend the country, big-picture-wise, but we are here to help in any way we can."

Sailors from USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) also participated in serving hot meals and assisted with cooking for approximately 300 guests, 15 to 20 percent of whom were homeless.

"It has been great and unusual to have military personnel here," said Aaron Kennedy, volunteer coordinator. "Not many guests here have an idea about what the Navy is. This brought a new level of understanding to them in a supportive setting."

Since 2007, Our Daily Soup Kitchen has served an average of 700 meals, seven days a week and 365 days a year to men, women and children of all ages. Our Daily Soup Kitchen not only feeds those who are hungry but also provides shelter and recovery programs leading to employment.

This is the fourth Navy Week that Constitution Sailors have participated in throughout 2010. They performed similar outreach activities during Des Moines Navy Week, April 19-24; Spokane Navy Week, May 10-15; and Boston Navy Week, June 30 to July 5.

"Constitution Sailors are active in community service programs, not only when we are participating in Navy Weeks but year-round in Boston," said Cmdr. Timothy Cooper, the 71st commander of Constitution. "I think community outreach programs provide our Sailors with opportunities to make an immediate positive impact on the lives of people who have fallen into difficulties."

Baltimore Navy Week is one of 20 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2010. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and to increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. She is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

For more information on Constitution, visit www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution or www.facebook.com/ussconstitutionofficial.

US 2nd Fleet Increases Readiness in Preparation for Hurricane Earl

From U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet ordered all ships in the Hampton Roads, Va., area to set sortie condition Bravo Aug. 31 as a precaution due to the approach of Hurricane Earl.

"We are being prudent mariners and caretakers of the fleet, Sailors and families that we value. We set Sortie Condition Bravo in Hampton Roads today because the best time to get ready is before the storm," said Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. "Each ship's commanding officer has been directed to increase their readiness posture to support getting underway with short notice in the event we decide to sortie the fleet to avoid storm damage. Not only do we want our ships to be ready, but family readiness is critical if our Sailors are given the order to get underway, they need to know that their families are prepared and will have the resources and support available for whatever challenges the storm may bring."

Hurricane Earl is currently a Category IV hurricane located in the Caribbean Sea with sustained winds of 135 mph and gusts up to 160 mph. Depending on the storm track, forecasts show Earl's impact could be felt in the Hampton Roads area Sept. 2 night or early Sept. 3 morning. As the storm's track becomes clearer, 2nd Fleet will make recommendations to ensure the continued safety of the fleet.

Foul weather preparations start with sortie condition Charlie, with ships prepared to get underway in 48 hours. At sortie condition Bravo, ships must be prepared to get underway within 24 hours. Sortie condition Alpha indicates the execution of the sortie.

The setting of a sortie condition does not mean the actual sortie is inevitable. Should weather forecasts indicate, the sortie condition may be downgraded at any time.

A variety of information is available in support of family readiness including:

-Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System at https://navyfamily.navy.mil/cas/login?service=https%3A%2F%2Fnavyfamily.navy.mil%2FNFMAuthN%2Fforms%2Fpublic%2Fpublic.jsp provides a standardized method for the Navy to account, manage and monitor the recovery process for personnel and their families affected and/or scattered by a wide-spread catastrophic event.

-Virginia Department of Transportation Hurricane Evacuation Guide at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/hurricane_defauLT.asp provides more detailed information for preparing for a hurricane, hurricane evacuation and public shelters in Virginia.

-Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Guide at http://www.preparehr.org/documents/RedCrossReadyHurricaneGuide2pg.pdf provides general overview of tips and guidelines for hurricane preparedness.

-Prepare Hampton Roads website at http://www.preparehr.org/HurricaneSeason2009.htm provides valuable tips for preparing for high winds and evacuation.

Big 'E' Sailors Save Lives and Prevent Million-Dollar Mishaps

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jared M. King, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) is working to prevent foreign object damage to aircraft while underway, preparing for its 21st deployment.

Twice daily, all hands are invited to participate in a foreign object debris (FOD) walk-down, to clear the hangar bay and flight deck of any hazardous material.

FOD is most commonly introduced to the flight deck and hangar bay by loose or damaged equipment; Sailors who have things fall out of their pockets; and non-skid chunks produced from the natural erosion caused by flight deck operations.

"Carelessness plays only a small factor. FOD is mainly caused from equipment and normal wear and tear," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW/SW) Netrick B. Hayes, Air department's V-1 division leading petty officer.

Keeping the flight deck and hangar bay FOD-free is a top priority before flight operations.

"FOD can cause millions of dollars in damage throughout the life of an aircraft," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW/SW) Mark Torres, Air department's V-1 division assistant leading petty officer. "Whether it's a piece of metal flying into the intake of an engine or an aircraft slipping on liquid FOD, it causes more than just monetary damage, it also contributes to the loss of productivity and [can] cause serious injuries."

The aircraft's intake has the ability to turn FOD into a projectile on the flight deck, potentially injuring personnel.

"It is preached and enforced to remove loose articles, or 'de-FOD' yourself, prior to coming on the flight deck," said Torres.

The engine of an F/A-18C Hornet costs approximately $1.5 million to replace if damaged by FOD; the F/A-18F Super Hornet engine costs $3.5 million to replace. A Sailor's life is irreplaceable.

Enterprise continues its effort to reduce FOD to achieve mission readiness. By adhering to this key element of procedural compliance, hangar bay and flight deck personnel are helping to prevent aircraft damage and FOD-related injuries.

Naval Air Training Command Celebrates One Million Flight Hours

From Chief of Naval Air Training Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy and the Boeing Company celebrated Naval Air Training Command's one millionth flight hour of the T-45 Goshawk aircraft, the Navy's premier jet trainer, Aug. 26 at Cecil Field in Jacksonville.

"This milestone is another testament to the quality that this team has put into each and every T-45 that we have training our future aerial combat warriors," said Rear Adm. Bill Sizemore, chief of Naval Air Training.

"It's an exciting time in Naval Air Training as we forge into the future with the T-45 Goshawk, converting the remaining analog models into digital/glass cockpits to mirror the aircraft in the fleet."

For more than 18 years, the twin-seat, single-engine Goshawk has prepared student aviators to transition to front-line Navy and Marine Corps fleet aircraft, including the F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-6 Prowler, EA-18G Growler and AV-8B Harrier. It is also the only aircraft in the world designed to conduct carrier-based flight training.

Boeing presented a plaque to Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) and each of the three Naval Air Training Command wings that fly the T-45, Training Air Wing 1, Training Air Wing 2 and Training Air Wing 6, during a ceremony following a formation flight over USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

"Boeing is honored to commemorate the T-45's rich legacy with our U.S. Navy customer, and we share the Navy's pride in the aircraft's critical mission of training for naval aviation," said Greg Dunn, T-45 program manager at Boeing. "Boeing was proud to deliver the final T-45 aircraft last year. Our support of the T-45 fleet continues with affordable upgrades and supply-chain solutions. The Boeing team understands the importance of maximizing readiness and safety for the Navy so that aspiring aviators and flight officers are able to climb into a T-45 and take to the sky to earn those cherished wings of gold."

The Goshawk is a component of the fully integrated T-45 training system, which also includes high-fidelity instrument and flight simulators, computer-assisted classroom learning, an automated training-management asset, and contractor logistics support. More than 3,600 student aviators from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and several international militaries have received instruction on the system at naval air stations in Meridian, Miss.; Kingsville, Texas; and Pensacola, Fla., before earning their wings of gold.

"BAE Systems is proud of its role on the T-45 program, and of the training aircraft capability that we have brought to bear in support of our partnership with Boeing," said Martin Rushton, managing director for BAE Systems' Air Sector Training Business. "The T-45 Goshawk plays a key part in the overall training system for the U.S. Navy, and it is great to see that the aircraft continues to perform so well."

Boeing delivered the 221st and final T-45 training jet to the Navy in November 2009. The company continues to support the T-45 fleet by providing engineering, logistics, and support equipment in partnership with BAE Systems, which supplied the aircraft's rear and center fuselage sections, wing assembly and vertical tail. Boeing manages the T-45's spare and repair parts supply, and supports L-3 Vertex with aircraft maintenance. Rolls-Royce provided the T-45's Adour F405 turbofan power plant.

Navy Eases Reserve Affiliation Transition

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Sailors considering leaving active duty now have an easier path to explore Navy Reserve options prior to separation, and continue to serve and enjoy Navy benefits.

There are several continuum-of-service initiatives to help make the transition to the Reserves an easy one. Perform-to-Serve (PTS) with Selected Reserve (SELRES) option, Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID) with SELRES option, and the Career Transition Office (CTO) are in place to aid Sailors.

"There are many benefits to Reserve affiliation," said Cmdr. Dan Harris, Navy Personnel Command CTO. "There's mobilization deferment for up to 24 months, re-employment rights after a deployment, military Reserve retirement, available education benefits for members with potential transferability to family members, life insurance, inexpensive individual and family medical and dental care plans, commissary and Navy Exchange privileges, potential sign-on or affiliation bonus – and many others. It's really a great way to continue Navy service."

According to NAVADMIN 114/10, active-duty Sailors – including full-time support (FTS) – can simultaneously apply for and receive both active duty/FTS and SELRES quotas, through PTS with SELRES, giving Sailors more career options.

"This function benefits the Sailor by offering an avenue of continuation that was not available before," said Joe Kelly, PTS program manager. "Previously, Sailors had to find a reserve recruiter after separating from active duty."

Sailors, who have approval for an active-duty/FTS PTS re-enlistment quota and have more than three months remaining until their expiration of active obligated service (EAOS) or extended EAOS, may continue to apply for a SELRES quota. Approval for a SELRES quota does not cancel the active duty/FTS approval, but it does give the active-duty Sailor an additional option at EAOS.

When a Sailor is approved for a SELRES quota, he or she can view potential Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) drill locations near the place they plan to live using CMS/ID.

The Sailor, who chooses the PTS SELRES option, will begin the transition process at their command and personnel support detachment. A Reserve sponsor will be coordinated by the CTO.

According to NAVADMIN 229/09, CTO was established to provide Sailors with information on the benefits of Reserve affiliation, assist Sailors with transition from active-duty to Navy Reserve, and decrease processing time and potential pay interruption.

"Members who transfer directly from active duty to the Reserve are now entitled to receive six months of the same medical benefits that they received while on active duty, said Harris."

Reserve service requires a minimum commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks every year. However, flexible drilling options may be made available depending upon Reserve unit requirements and procedures.

Senior Officers Experience LCS Training

By Kimberly M. Lansdale, Center for Surface Combat Systems Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF) and Naval Surface Force (NSF) Pacific Fleet, more than 40 flag officers and senior executives attending the Surface Warfare Officer Flag Training Symposium visited the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Shore-Based Training Facility (SBTF) Aug. 25 in San Diego.

Leadership, including CNSF and NSF Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, toured the SBTF, which is operated and managed by Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) Detachment San Diego and is a final step in the LCS train to qualify process.

The LCS SBTF is the first surface warfare training facility to provide integrated bridge and combat systems tactical scenario training for Sailors serving on board an LCS.

Flag officers were shown the facilities and watched as the Blue Crew from USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Independence (LCS 2) manned stations in the simulators.

"The SBTF provides a perfect backdrop for introducing Navy leadership to the future of surface warfare training," said Joe Shifflett, director of the LCS SBTF. "It was especially helpful having actual crews who have benefited from using trainers answer the admirals' questions about the train to qualify process."

The train to qualify process connects the initial LCS training model to personnel qualification standards. Train to qualify is a new concept for the surface force that shifts qualification training from the ship to shore training, meaning that LCS Sailors report aboard ready to stand their watch and execute assigned duties.

"The mission of the SBTF is two-fold," explained Brian Deters, CSCS's technical support director. "It provides integrated training for Sailors and serves as the primary training venue for LCS off-crew preparing for deployment certification."

After the demonstration, Curtis and the flag officers spoke with Freedom and Independence Sailors about the blended training they received and their experience working on an LCS ship.

Navy Kicks Off Cleveland Navy Week 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Terry Matlock, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CLEVELAND (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Band "Four-Star Edition" kicked off Cleveland Navy Week 2010 with a performance at John Marshall High School Aug. 30.

The performance was the first of 47 events Aug. 29 - Sept. 6.

The Navy Band are scheduled to perform at 10 different venues during the week and are a just a portion of the representatives lined up to showcase the Navy and all its capabilities to the Cleveland audience.

Among the representatives on hand to talk to the public about the Navy are Vice Director, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation U.S. Joint Forces Command, Rear Adm. Julius S. Caesar, and Commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, Rear Adm. Wendi B. Carpenter.

The representatives are participating in a variety of events including a visit to the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, a Mayoral Proclamation at USS Cod Submarine Museum and speaking engagements with the West Shore Rotary Club; CEO Great Lakes Science Museum, Dr. Linda Abraham-Silver; the Douglas MacArthur Girls Leadership Academy and the Sherwin-Williams CEO and staff.

Sailors from USS Ohio (SSGN 726), USS Cleveland (LPD 7), Navy Recruiting District Ohio and the Navy Operational Support Center in Akron, Ohio will help educate a community that does not have a significant Navy presence.

Cleveland Navy Week 2010 is one of 19 Navy Weeks that are scheduled throughout the United States in 2010.

NMITC Supports Armed Forces Blood Program

By Lt. j.g. Sergio Wooden, Center for Naval Intelligence Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Military and civilian staff members at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center (NMITC) donated blood Aug. 18 and 19 in partnership with the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP).

During the blood drive, more than 130 students and staff members signed up to give blood and nearly 100 units of blood were collected.

"The success we had during this blood drive is a real testament to the support that our Navy and Marine [Corps] team are willing to give to the fleet," said NMITC's executive officer, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Kyle Tarrant. "I've worked closely with the blood program over the last two years and this is one of many programs we will continue to support with all we have. We look forward to even greater participation and donation numbers in the future."

The ASBP is the official U.S. military blood program for the Department of Defense and plays a key role in providing blood products for service members and their families in both peace and war. The ASBP provides more than 150,000 units of blood products yearly to contingency operations including Iraq and Afghanistan, and supplies transfusion centers at military hospitals in the U.S. and overseas. As a joint operation among the military services (Army, Navy and Air Force), the ASBP has many components working together to collect, process, store, distribute, and transfuse blood worldwide.

"It is always a joy to see the small commands get involved and to see such enthusiasm," said Ralph Peters, the regional recruiter for ASBP. "NMITC has been a model command with its blood drives and we look forward to working with them several times each year."

Many of the donors volunteering for the NMITC blood drive participated with their deployed comrades in mind.

"I'm just doing what Sailors do, looking out for our shipmates," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd class (SW) Patrick O'Brien, an "A" school instructor at NMITC. "With service members deployed to the Middle East and around the world, with lots on their minds, it's nothing for me to take a little time to support a program that might help one of them."

Echoing a similar sentiment was Marine Corps Pfc. Richard B. Gower II, a student at NMITC. "I was more than happy to take part in the blood drive," said Grower. "I do so as often as I can back home and it's always a great feeling inside to know that your help is going directly to those who need it."

Coordinating the blood drives is a collateral duty and includes working closely with the ASBP, while informing and educating the staff and students on the program.

"It is inspiring to see young Marines and Sailors giving blood that may be key to saving the life of a service member overseas," said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Davila, NMITC Marine Detachment blood drive representative. "Having been in theater, hearing the call come over the public address system for blood at Camp Fallujah was always a sobering reminder of our mission. Hopefully, my pint will help a corpsman not have to make that desperate call."

"Working with the ASBP for the last two years has been rewarding," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Kenneth Jackson, NMITC blood drive representative and "C" school instructor. "It's great to see the donation numbers come out and see the results that will make a difference in saving someone's life."

VA Officials Publish Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange

 Veteran's Affairs News Service

Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam and other areas will have easier access to quality health care and will qualify for disability compensation under a final regulation that will be published Aug. 31 in the Federal Register by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new rule expands the list of health problems VA officials will presume to be related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures to add two new conditions and expand one existing category of conditions.

"Last October, based on the requirements of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and the Institute of Medicine's 2008 Update on Agent Orange, I determined that the evidence provided was sufficient to award presumptions of service connection for these three additional diseases," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It was the right decision, and the president and I are proud to finally provide this group of veterans the care and benefits they have long deserved."

The final regulation follows Mr. Shinseki's determination to expand the list of conditions for which service connection for Vietnam veterans is presumed.

VA officials are adding Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease and expanding chronic lymphocytic leukemia to include all chronic B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia.

In practical terms, veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a "presumed" illness don't have to prove an association between their medical problems and their military service. By helping veterans overcome evidentiary requirements that might otherwise present significant challenges, this "presumption" simplifies and speeds up the application process and ensures that veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Secretary Shinseki's decision to add these presumptives is based on the latest evidence provided in a 2008 independent study by the Institute of Medicine concerning health problems caused by herbicides like Agent Orange.

Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime during the period beginning January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.

More than 150,000 veterans are expected to submit Agent Orange claims in the next 12 to 18 months, many of whom are potentially eligible for retroactive disability payments based on past claims.

Additionally, VA officials will review approximately 90,000 previously denied claims by Vietnam veterans for service connection for these conditions. All those awarded service connection who are not currently eligible for enrollment into the VA health care system will become eligible.

This historic regulation is subject to provisions of the Congressional Review Act that require a 60-day Congressional review period before implementation. After the review period, VA officials can begin paying benefits for new claims and may award benefits retroactively for earlier periods.

For new claims, VA officials may pay benefits retroactive to the effective date of the regulation or up to one year before the date they receive the application, whichever is later. For pending claims and claims that were previously denied, VA officials may pay benefits retroactive to the date they received the claim.

VA officials encourage Vietnam veterans with these three diseases to submit their applications for access to VA health care and compensation now so the agency can begin development of their claims.

Individuals can go to a website at www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm to learn how to file a claim and what evidence is needed to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services for veterans exposed to the chemical is available at www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.

The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register website at http://www.ofr.gov/.

CNIC Provides Fitness Equipment for Deployed Units

By Ed Wright, Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- With stricter requirements for Sailors to stay in shape, Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) has found ways to make exercising a little easier for Sailors stationed in foreign operating bases, on aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships.

CNIC provides fitness equipment to these bases and ships with the intent of keeping their Sailors in shape.

"CNIC fleet readiness is a crucial supporting element in the development and maintenance of total force readiness," said Doug Butts, head, CNIC Deployed Forces Support (DFS). "Sailor health and fitness is essential to readiness and requires programming that is agile and responsive. Collectively, CNIC provides seamless delivery from the shore, to the sea and in theater ensuring Navy personnel are provided the tools and expertise to attain and sustain physical and mental health anywhere in the world. DFS is key in this pursuit."

CNIC DFS works closely with a network of 20 DFS offices located around the world. The goal of this support group is to provide personnel, equipment and administrative guidance to support mission readiness goals.

Some examples of fitness equipment provided include treadmills, bikes, cross trainers and universal machines. They also provide recreational equipment such as board games, an 8-millimeter movie system and audio library books. Some of the units have even received lounge furniture.

More than 200,000 pieces of fitness, sports and recreation gear are distributed annually to 255 ships, 50 USNS ships and two hospital ships.

There are 33 civilian afloat recreation and fitness specialists assigned to deploy with these ships. Their mission is to provide fitness activities and professionally delivered leisure activities. Annually, they provide 5,231 athletic and recreation programs, 12,480 one-on-one personal training sessions, 1,240 large group exercise classes, and 72 instructional seminars. They run a program collectively for 94,000 shipboard Sailors.

Support for forward deployed Navy ground forces has been concentrated in Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa since 2002 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ongoing research and development of fitness equipment is continuously being developed. Fifteen treadmills were tested for fast attack submarines in fiscal year 2009-2010 in order to promote physical fitness in confined shipboard spaces.

Swift Wraps Up Personnel Exchanges in Barbados

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

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (NNS) -- Sailors, Marines and Airmen deployed aboard High Speed Vessel Swift 2 brought three weeks of subject matter expert (SME) exchanges to an end with a closing ceremony at Pelican Coast Guard Base in Bridgetown, Barbados Aug. 26.

The exchanges are in direct support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010's primary mission of information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services in U.S. Southern Command's Area of Responsibility throughout the Caribbean and Central America.

"This marks three weeks of cooperation, sharing and learning," said Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Reese, of the Barbados coast guard, during a speech at the ceremony. "The exchange was a wonderful opportunity to show we can work together, even though we're from different nations, different ranks and different militaries. It allowed us to interact and exchange knowledge in a wide variety of subjects."

Exchanges included maintenance management, land navigation, martial arts, port and physical security, fiberglass repair, small boat operations fundamentals and leadership.

"A lot of effort has been spent in developing our military members and that work has been done so we can ensure the safety of our nation," said Brandon Watson, regional security coordinator for Barbados. "These subject areas are crucial to the professional development of the participants, now and in the future."

This was Swift's third visit to Barbados and according to James Goggin, of the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, the exchanges go a long way toward strengthening maritime security in the region.

"One of the many goals of this mission is to increase regional security," said Goggin. "This was a tangible demonstration of the cooperation between the U.S. and the seven nations of the Caribbean to ensure safety in the region. All of the Swift exchange teams have done an outstanding job."

The teams included facilitators from the ship's Navy crew, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Maritime Civil Affairs Security Training Security Force Assistance detachment, and the Marine Corps Training Advisory Group.

During Swift's stay in Barbados, the crew also re-painted an auditorium at a local elementary school, provided tours of the ship to many local community groups and played various sports with members of the Barbados Defense Force in their off time.

Swift is scheduled to continue its support of SPS 2010 through early fall and plans to return to Barbados for further SME exchanges during its next SPS deployment.

TRICARE Retired Reserve Launches

No. 10-74

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – For the first time, members of the Retired Reserve who are not yet age 60, the so-called “gray area” retirees, can purchase TRICARE health coverage for themselves and their eligible family members with the Sept. 1, 2010 launch of TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR).

“This new program offers a health coverage opportunity for “gray area” Guardsmen and Reservists who served America honorably, setting a proud example for today’s forces,” said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity. “TRICARE Retired Reserve will provide an outstanding health benefit.”

Retired Reservists may qualify to purchase TRR coverage if they are under the age of 60 and are not eligible for, or enrolled in, the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. They must also be members of the Retired Reserve of a Reserve component and qualified for non-regular retirement. For instructions on how to qualify for and purchase TRR go to www.tricare.mil/trr.

For calendar year 2010, the TRR member-only monthly premium is $388.31 ($4,659.72 yearly), and the member and family monthly premium is $976.41 ($11,716.92 yearly). Premiums will be adjusted annually.

The comprehensive health care coverage provided by the premium-based TRR is similar to TRICARE Standard. After purchasing TRR, members will receive the TRICARE Retired Reserve Handbook, which includes details about covered services, how to get care and who to contact for assistance. For more information, visit www.tricare.mil/trr.

Gates Talks Pentagon Reform with American Legion

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 31, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates solicited support for his initiative to reform the Pentagon at the American Legion’s national convention here today, telling a very friendly crowd that the United States cannot afford a peace dividend.

“As a country, historically, we have a troubling, predictable pattern of coming to the end of a conflict, concluding that the nature of man and the world has changed for the better, and turning inward – unilaterally disarming and dismantling institutions important to our national security,” Gates said.

The United States thought World War I was “the war to end all wars.” An Army approaching 3 million soldiers vanished and on the eve of World War II, the United States could have matched up against Yugoslavia or Romania, but not a major power.

Rather than learning a lesson, the United States went from an Army of more than 10 million at the end of World War II, to roughly 5 million – with most in garrison duty. The result was a scramble to build the forces for the Korean War.

The same occurred at the end of Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War. “When war comes again, we have had to rebuild and rearm, at huge cost of blood and treasure, most recently after September 11th,” Gates said.

The U.S. military received all it asked for in the months and years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The military transformed itself from a cumbersome, but deadly, machine, to a lithe, precise and dangerous entity capable of defending against a range of threats.

But there is already talk of reaping another peace dividend when the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan end. “It is critically important moving forward that we not repeat that mistake again,” Gates said.

President Barack Obama has pledged a small real growth in the Defense Department budget of between 1 percent and 2 percent a year. But that will not be enough to reset the forces and to continue to grow and nurture the capabilities that the military needs to defend the country, Gates said. Essentially, he said, the department needs another 1 percent of 2 percent real growth for the nation to be safe.

“To make the case for this growth at a time of economic and fiscal duress requires the Defense Department to make every dollar count – to fundamentally change the way we do business,” Gates said. “It means shifting resources from bureaucracies and overhead to the combat capabilities needed today and in the future.”

Gates tasked the services to find $100 billion in savings over five years. That money could be reprogrammed to meet more pressing needs. Essentially, the secretary declared war on excessive spending, duplication and overhead costs. He has agreed to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command among other cost savings.

The secretary said the resilient and courageous men and women in uniform deserve the best support their country can provide. “Our troops have more than done their part, now it’s time for us in Washington to do ours,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that we live up to our solemn obligations – for the safety of our country, for the well-being of our troops.”

Flag Officer Assignments

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the following assignment:

Capt. John C. Aquilino, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, strategy and analysis, J5, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va. Aquilino is currently serving as the executive assistant to the commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk, Va.

Capt. Thomas H. Bond Jr., who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, CJ6, U.S. Forces – Iraq. Bond is currently serving on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, Newport, R.I.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Terry B. Kraft will be assigned as commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve, Norfolk, Va. Kraft was previously announced as commander, Carrier Strike Group Ten, Norfolk, Va. Kraft is currently serving as director, ISR Capabilities, N2/N6F2, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C.

Capt. Brian L. Laroche, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as deputy commander, Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. Laroche is currently serving as commanding officer, Navy Reserve U.S. European Command Detachment 0193, Fort Dix, N.J.

Mullen Meets With Eucom, Africom Leaders

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, Aug. 31, 2010 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met today with leaders of U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, both of which have their headquarters here.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen visited with Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward, commander of Africom, and Army Lt. Gen. John D. Gardner, Eucom’s deputy commander, and members of their respective staffs.

“One of my goals as chairman is to engage the [combatant commanders] not only when they’re in Washington on my turf, but out on their turf,” Mullen told reporters traveling with him en route to Germany.

Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, Eucom’s commander, also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe and was unavailable for today’s meeting, though Mullen said he’d spoken with him by phone before leaving Washington.

Eucom’s area of focus includes not only all of Europe, but also large portions of Asia, parts of the Middle East and the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The command is responsible for U.S. military relations with NATO and 51 countries.

In recent years, Eucom has expanded its partnerships with U.S. agencies outside of the Defense Department to bring subject-matter experts together and facilitate the exchange of information for “whole of government” international efforts in which military and nonmilitary agencies have what Eucom officials call “a coincidence of purpose.”

Mullen noted he was a strong proponent for the creation of Africom, which stood up as a full-fledged unified command in October 2008. Previously, he said, Eucom had responsibility for U.S. military relations in Africa, but with Eucom’s vast area and its commander also serving in a NATO role, it wasn’t physically possible for Africa to receive an appropriate level of attention and engagement.

“[Africom] gives us a 24/7 engagement in that continent that we had very little of prior to that stand-up,” the chairman said, “so I’m very pleased with the leadership and the progress in what we’ve been able to do in Africa over a relatively short period of time.”

Africom was created as an “engagement command” to help African nations build their capabilities, Mullen said, but it has had to work to overcome suspicions that the United States created the command with designs on militarizing the continent.

“A great deal of that has been dissipated,” Mullen said, noting that many countries that at first were suspicious and concerned have come to recognize the command’s value.

Face of Defense: Guardsman Beats Odds to Serve

By Army Sgt. Matthew Nedved
Task Force Rushmore Public Affairs

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2010 – Army Spc. John Hanson, who has a form of cerebral palsy, spent 11 years fighting to join the military. He never gave up and now he is a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

Hanson still faces the everyday challenges of cerebral palsy – a condition that can affect brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking. As a member of the Sioux Falls, S.D.,-based 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard, Hanson’s condition doesn’t restrict his ability to perform and support the mission of his unit in Afghanistan.

“When people saw me, they saw something that was not normal and they figured that I was exactly that,” said Hanson, of Sioux Falls. “Instead of finding out what I could do, they assumed I couldn’t do anything – until I proved them wrong.”

As a member of the 196th, Hanson serves as the office manager for the directorate of resource management on Camp Phoenix, which provides construction, commodity and service contract management and funding oversight for 11 military bases in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.

“I am so impressed by John's determination and dedication to serve,” said Brig. Gen. Theodore Johnson, the 196th’s commander. “He plays an important role in the resource management directorate and it’s an honor having him on the 196th’s team.”

However, Hanson’s journey to being able to serve in Afghanistan was no easy task. During his first attempt to join the National Guard in 1995, he was denied eligibility by a physician at the Military Entrance Processing Station.

Hanson is affected by a specific type of cerebral palsy known as spastic diplegia, a form that impacts the lower extremities with little to no effect to the upper body. Hanson knew it would be difficult to join the military with the physical limitations his condition caused to his legs and feet. However, he was determined to join, and continue the long line of military service within his family.

“I wanted to feel a part of something that is not only a great organization, but also part of my family,” Hanson said. “My father was in the National Guard, my uncle was in the Air Force, one grandfather was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, and another served as a Marine. Call it not only a sense of duty and honor, but a way to live up to the example set by the people who surrounded me.”

After being denied by the military doctor, Hanson persisted, and worked with several civilian physicians to improve his mobility and become medically eligible – enduring surgeries and physical therapy – never giving up on his dream.

“After every time I went to MEPS, and I was stopped, I worked at that one roadblock until I found a way to push over it and pass it,” said Hanson. “It took lots of support from family, friends and co-workers. They all knew it was a dream of mine to wear the uniform of the U.S. Army and I was going to do whatever it takes.”

Hanson said his determination to serve also was influenced by veterans in his home community.

“The [American] Legion hall in my small hometown of Badger, S.D., is named after my great-uncle that was lost at sea after the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks,” he said. “Along with that, I grew up surrounded by the World War II veterans in town; the stories and the camaraderie was another big driving force to be a part of the military.”

Finally, in 2006, Hanson was able to join the ranks of the South Dakota Army National Guard by working with his two civilian physicians and the MEPS doctor. Hanson’s doctors were able to prove he was medically fit for duty, and eventually, the initial medical disqualification was overturned.

“I can not speculate how [my doctors] came to their reasoning. I think the fact that they have known me and have been a witness of the progress and achievements I have made my entire life might have had something to do with it,” Hanson said.

“Let's just say the feeling I had when I graduated from South Dakota State University after four years was nothing compared to the feeling the day I went to MEPS and took my oath of enlistment,” he added.

Along with serving in the National Guard, Hanson also works back home in Sioux Falls as a firefighter, paramedic and a rescue scuba diver.

“Specialist Hanson is always upbeat and ready to do whatever needs to be done,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Carroll, a member of the 196th. “When working with others he knows how to keep things fun and yet still get our job done to the highest standard.”

“I think the only issues I really had [with people,] was them ‘judging a book by its cover,’” Hanson said. “I’m just glad to show them that no matter what, if you put your mind to it and work at it, any dream can come true.”

Plan, Prepare - The Recipe for Hurricane Season Survival

By Mary Anne Tubman, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Sailors, civilians and families are closely watching the development of Hurricane Earl Aug. 31 as the storm may become a threat to the East Coast.

Earl, which began to move away from the Virgin Islands Aug. 30 as a Category 4 hurricane, is the third hurricane in 2010 in the Atlantic Ocean.

Every year, hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Hurricane Bonnie was the second named storm of the 2010 hurricane season to threaten the Gulf Coast region. Hurricane Alex was the first tropical cyclone, dumping heavy rains and causing flooding in the Corpus Christi area.

The 2010 hurricane season has been projected to be an active storm season. In this decade alone, virtually every installation in the Southeast has been impacted by tropical cyclones. The 2008 season produced Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike, and called for the evacuations of Naval Air Station Key West and Joint Reserve Base New Orleans. Communities in Louisiana and Mississippi are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The time to plan is now. There are many keys to survival before, during and after a storm. The following provides information and resources to guide you and your families on how to weather the storm:

- Operation Prepare: http://cnic.navy.mil/CNIC_HQ_Site/WhatWeDo/EmergencyManagement/OperationPreparedness/index.htm

This comprehensive Web site developed by Commander, Naval Installations Command (CNIC), covers every aspect of hurricane preparation, including creation of a personal emergency plan, assembling a supply kit, caring for family members with special needs, mustering and recovery. Operation Prepare also offers simple, ready-to-use fact sheets, checklists and forms for other natural and man-made disasters and how to prepare for them.

There are chief of naval operations mandated items for all Department of the Navy (DoN) personnel:

- Enrollment in the Defense Travel System (DTS) Web site: See your command/department DTS representative to enroll today at www.defensetravel.osd.mil.

- Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS): The NFAAS is used to account for all DoN personnel and their family members during and after a natural disaster. Developed following the 2005 hurricane season, NFAAS was used for Hurricane Ike in September 2008 following the evacuation of NAS Key West personnel and families to the Orlando safe haven. Be sure your NFAAS data is current before an emergency arrives. All family members should be familiar with NFAAS in the event you are separated.

To review and update NFAAS, visit https://navyfamily.navy.mil.

- Total Workforce Management System (TWMS): All DoN and civilian personnel must regularly update their TWMS information. This is where family information is pulled from to draft evacuation orders for Navy and civilian personnel and their family members. Login to https://twms.nmci.navy.mil/selfservice/. In the left-hand column, click on "Personal/Recall Information."

- Emergency Phone Numbers: Develop a list of emergency phone numbers that include command, quarterdeck and hurricane hotline information.

- Emergency Checklist: Utilize local hurricane preparedness information. Learn community evacuation routes. Become familiar with workplace, school and daycare center emergency plans.

- Hurricane Kits: Gather the supplies you'll need if your family is confined at home. There are specific items you should stock: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools, emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container such as a large covered trash can, a camping backpack or a duffle bag.

For more information on hurricane kits, go to https://www.cnic.navy.mil/cnrse/AboutCNIC/HurricaneSeason2010/HurricaneKit/index.htm.

Visit your installation for important hurricane information. Obtain a copy of the hurricane editions or inserts from your installation newspapers. Stay tuned to local news and weather stations for the latest information. Maintain close contact with your chain of command and be prepared to execute evacuation orders if called to do so.

The best advice is to stay alert, be prepared and have a plan.

Early preparation will ensure you and your family make it through the storm.