Military News

Monday, September 13, 2010

Operation Homefront “Back-to-School Brigade” Provides Over 29,000

Backpacks Filled with School Supplies for Military Kids

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- Operation Homefront announced that its Back-to-School Brigade program raised over $2 million in school supplies nationwide through a partnership with Dollar Tree. Through the generosity of individual and corporate contributors including BMI Defense Systems, Inc., Operation Homefront provided 29,000 backpacks to fill with school supplies for children of military service members. Items donated by Dollar Tree customers and others included spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, notebook paper, rulers, colored pencils, calculators, and erasers.

This program saves military families a major education expense, especially for those experiencing financial hardships, and contributions to the program allowed Operation Homefront to shatter last year’s record of almost 19,000 backpacks distributed – making 2010’s distribution a 55 percent increase.

“Dollar Tree is pleased to be part of a program that helps military families save money and make back-to-school time a little easier,” said Chelle Davis, Spokesperson for Dollar Tree. “We are committed to making a positive contribution in the communities across the country where Dollar Tree stores operate, and assisting the families of the men and women in uniform is an important part of that outreach.”

“School supplies are important—and expensive for families, especially in these tough economic times,” says Jim Knotts, CEO of Operation Homefront. “We’re proud to help military families who sacrifice so much in service to our country, and we’re grateful to Dollar Tree customers and to the many other donors who made the Back-to-School Brigade a record-breaking success.

“With a 191 percent increase last year in requests for food assistance, we know our military families are struggling to meet the most basic of needs.” Knotts continued. “Each child’s backpack and supplies is valued at $35.00. If we can help families with school supplies, they can use that money for other basic needs like food.”

Swift Crew Members Begin Exchanges in Dominican Republic

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

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV) 2 began subject matter expert (SME) exchanges in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 13.

The exchanges support Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010's primary mission of 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.

"These professional exchanges between the United States and the Dominican Republic are what SPS 2010 is all about," said Capt. Kurt Hedberg, mission commander, SPS 2010. "Over the next week and a half we will re-enforce a valuable partnership with the defense forces in the Dominican Republic, in hopes of ensuring a future of long-lasting maritime security for both nations."

Scheduled SME exchanges for the upcoming weeks include small boat maintenance and basic operations, senior leadership principles, junior enlisted leadership principles, combat first aid and tactical land navigation and martial arts, both facilitated by the embarked Marine Corps detachment.

"With all the current events in today's world, our jobs require more coordination with other nations than ever before," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Tracie Ham, from the Maritime Civil Affairs Security Training team deployed aboard Swift. "These exchanges give us a better insight to the structure of each military, which makes integration much easier when needed."

While each exchange includes some lecture and group discussion, much of the time is spent in hands-on exhibitions of one another's knowledge and expertise on a particular topic.

"I just hope they get as much out of the exchanges as I do," said Ham, who's facilitating both the senior leadership and combat first aid exchanges. "I had such a great time with the folks in Guyana, and I'm really looking to learning from the people here in Dominican Republic."

The Swift deployed in support of SPS 2010 in May 2010 and has visited various countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America during its deployment. The ship is scheduled to continue its support of SPS 2010 in the region until early fall 2010.

Navy Christens Newest Lewis, Clark-Class Ship Washington Chambers

By Sarah Burford, Military Sealift Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), the Navy's newest ship in the Lewis and Clark-class of dry cargo/ammunition ships, was christened and launched Sept. 11, during a morning ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

The 689-foot Washington Chambers, designated T-AKE 11, slid into the water for the first time as the ship's sponsor broke the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow. Chambers' sponsor is Loretta Penn, wife of former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment and former Acting Secretary of the Navy, B.J. Penn.

"I think Washington Chambers would be pleased, not for the ship that bears his name, but for the achievements of the Navy he loved so much," said Rear Adm. Richard J. O'Hanlon, commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, as he addressed the nearly 1,000 people present at the event, including distinguished guests from the U.S. military and maritime industry. "Washington Chambers gave us a legacy of hard work and perseverance. Today, we honor him with a namesake that was not only built with his example at its forefront, but a ship that will serve the Navy with the same example by which he served."

Chambers is expected to be delivered to the Navy's Military Sealift Command next year following a series of tests and sea trials. The ship and its crew of 129 civil service mariners and 11 Navy Sailors will deliver ammunition, provisions, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to U.S. Navy and other navy ships at sea, allowing them to remain underway and combat ready for extended periods of time.

"This is a monumental day," said Capt. Michael Flannigan, the ship's civil service master. "We remember the 9/11 attacks and launch this great ship. I'm honored to be a part of it, and can't wait to get on board, get to work and get out to sea and do what we do best – supporting the warfighters."

The ship honors Navy Capt. Washington Irving Chambers, a pioneer in naval aviation, who arranged the world's first airplane flight from a warship, confirming the potential for carrier-based naval aviation. The flight, flown by aviator Eugene Ely, was from light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-2) Nov. 14, 1910.

Construction of Chambers began with the ship's keel laying Aug. 25, 2009. Washington Chambers is the eleventh of 14 ships in the class. The first 11 will serve as combat logistics force ships, and the last three are expected to be attached to maritime pre-positioning squadrons, which strategically place combat cargo at sea, enabling fast delivery to warfighters ashore.

MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically pre-position combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Destroyer, Submarine Commanders to Receive Stockdale Awards

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The former commanding officer (CO) of USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and the current CO of the USS Maryland (SSBN 738) (Gold Crew) were announced as winners of the 2010 Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award for the U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, respectively, Sept. 13.

Cmdr. Michael A. McCartney, of the Chung-Hoon, and Cmdr. Jeffrey M. Grimes, of the Maryland, were nominated by their peers for the award and were among nine candidates recommended by their fleet commanders for consideration by a panel of senior officers.

The Stockdale Award is presented annually to two active duty officers below the rank of captain who command operational units and whose personal initiatives and performance contribute to the overall excellence of the units.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, made the announcement.

"Cmdr. McCartney and Cmdr. Grimes, as well as all nominees, should be justifiably proud of their achievements," according to Roughead, in an official Navy message announcing the award winners.

McCartney took command of the Pearl Harbor-based Chung-Hoon in October 2008 and relinquished command in May. While he was in command, the ship completed a six-month, independent cruise in the 7th, 5th and 6th fleet Areas of Responsibility, including escort duty in the Suez Canal. Chung-Hoon also served as Destroyer Squadron 31's flagship during Exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with the Republic of Singapore and Royal Malaysian navies, as well as during Exercise Koa Kai off the coast of Hawaii.

The Chung-Hoon received outstanding ratings from the Board of Inspection and Survey and earned its first red "E," for engineering excellence, and its second blue "E," for logistical excellence.

Cmdr. Chase Patrick, CO of USS Chafee (DDG 90), nominated McCartney for the award.

"He is truly the most effective CO I have observed," said Patrick, in his nomination letter, adding that McCartney's effectiveness stemmed from a commitment to productive training.

McCartney personally led Joint Professional Military Education-caliber lessons and case studies in leadership in the Chung-Hoon wardroom each week and sharpened bridge-watch efficiency with nightly maneuvering board problems, said Patrick. McCartney also ensured every officer assigned to Chung-Hoon earned an engineering officer of the watch letter and other qualifications.

Patrick described the Chung-Hoon as "the cleanest ship on the waterfront" and its crew as "exceedingly positive in outlook and exceptionally polite and mature."

Grimes reported aboard the Kings Bay, Ga.-based Maryland in 2007. Maryland received the 2008 and 2009 Commander, Submarine Squadron 20 "E" for battle efficiency and the 2008 Omaha Trophy for top performance among Trident submarines.

Grimes was chosen to mentor prospective commanding and executive officers as part of the Strategic Programs Prospective Commanding Officer/Executive Officer Course, and was nominated for the Stockdale Award by three fellow commanding officers, including Cmdr. Michael Katahara of the USS West Virginia (SSBN 736)(Blue Crew).

"A true team player, Cmdr. Grimes fosters a strong atmosphere of camaraderie and esprit de corps throughout the Kings Bay area," said Katahara, in his nomination letter. "A true mentor for peers and juniors alike, he has clearly displayed leadership which will establish a professional legacy in the submarine force for generations to come."

McCartney and Grimes are scheduled to receive their awards Nov. 3 at the Pentagon.

Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale, for whom the Stockdale Award is named, articulated five roles for a leader - moralist, jurist, teacher, steward and philosopher.

A Naval Academy graduate and pilot, Stockdale ejected from his A-4E Skyhawk over North Vietnam in September 1965 and was held prisoner – and frequently tortured – until February 1973. He received the Medal of Honor in 1976 and served as president of the Naval War College from October 1977 until August 1979.

He died in 2005 and is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Continuing Promise 2010, Project Handclasp Deliver Goods to Guatemala

By Lt. Jacqui L. Barker, Continuing Promise 2010 Public Affairs

PUERTO SANTOS, Guatemala (NNS) -- Continuing Promise 2010 (CP10) and Operation Project Handclasp personnel delivered 59 pallets of goods to organizations in Guatemala Sept. 7.

Embarked in USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), anchored off the coast of Puerto Santos, Guatemala, Sept. 2, they delivered Project Handclasp pallets. Lt. j.g. Josh Hauth, a Project Handclasp representative, orchestrated the delivery of 34 pallets of refurbished wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and canes, in total worth $189,758.

Twelve pallets of other goods, such as feminine hygiene items, clothing and school supplies were donated by the Church of Latter Day Saints and were worth approximately $44,209.

Hope Haven Guatemala Director of Operations Mark Richard and Pastor Antonio Sehuero, of Guatemala City, both picked up the pallets of donated goods at the Guatemalan navy base in Puerto Santos.

"Receiving these wheelchairs is amazing," Richard said. "We have so many people in this area that will be able to use these."

Hope Haven Guatemala gives wheelchairs to children without access to pediatric wheelchairs. Some of those wheelchairs were distributed throughout the Puerto Santos community the day after receipt.

The organization manufactures wheelchairs in Antigua and Guatemala and most of the factory workers grew up with polio or spina bifida. The factory also partners with a correctional facility in South Dakota to provide refurbished wheelchairs to children in Guatemala.

Sehuero, who drove several hours from his mountainous home near Guatemala City, said the products donated by the Church of Latter Day Saints are truly a gift.

"Working with the Navy has been wonderful," said Sehuero. "They've all been so professional and nice, and we really are thankful for these items. I am taking these pallets back to our town tonight for distribution in the next few days."

Some articles of clothing, including children's winter coats, were given to Sehuero for donation.

"Who would've thought that here in the hot summer days of September in Guatemala we would be donating winter coats, but the children in those higher elevations can really use these clothes," said Hauth.

Hauth, a resident of Seattle, Wash., is the CP10 and Project Handclasp liaison, and his sole purpose with the HCA mission is to ensure Project Handclasp goods reach their intended recipients.

"I didn't know that I'd be doing this job on this mission, but I'm so happy this is how I can contribute," Hauth said. "This mission is definitely making a difference in my life when I see that I can help the lives of others."

To date, Project Handclasp and CP10 have delivered $337,178 in goods to Guatemalan citizens.

CP10 is a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission in Central and Latin American countries staged aboard the large-deck amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7).

CP10 includes 1,600 personnel from Iwo Jima, CP10 mission support, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Together, these personnel provide medical, dental, construction and subject matter exchange partnerships in host nations to include Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama and Suriname.

Naval Base San Diego Hosts Boxing Camp

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Oberholtzer, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Dozens of Sailors from the local area participated in the All-Navy Boxing Mini-camp Sept. 11 and 12 at the Admiral Prout Field House aboard Naval Base San Diego.

The camp was open to all active duty male and female boxers, with the top boxers getting invited to the All-Navy Boxing Training Camp at Point Hueneme, Calif.

Thirty-two Sailors attended the first day to demonstrate their skills in the ring, with the qualifying 20 to return for tryouts Sept. 12.

The boxers went through an arduous two-day camp, where they constantly trained and sparred with other boxing hopefuls to see if they had what it takes to earn a spot on the coveted All-Navy Boxing Team.

"It takes more than being able to take a hit to be a good boxer," said Kevin Ludwig, Morale, Welfare and Recreation athletic manager and boxing coordinator. "Being a boxer means being able to roll with the punches both physically and mentally and being able to get back up when you're knocked down."

The camp emphasizes team camaraderie, encouraging participants to give their all, while teaching them good sportsmanship.

Coach Steve Carbajal, a 30-year boxing veteran, admits that not everyone is cut out to be a boxer.

"Being a boxer teaches discipline, commitment and dedication. It takes a different breed of person to step into that ring and take a beating; you have to be tough," said Carbajal.

Coaches are looking for Sailors to be able to pace themselves and follow directions.

"Not everyone knows what it takes to become a long-term boxer," said Ludwig. "Having the discipline to maintain your weight class and to continuously train is hard, and it takes a lot of direction and self motivation."

The camp gave the boxers an opportunity to see how they matched with other fighters, as well as the chance to gain valuable training with positive feedback from the coaches. For some, it was their first step toward being part of the All-Navy Boxing Team.

"I've been boxing on and off for a few years now, this is my second time coming out for the camp," said Master-at-arms Seaman Rhonda McGee, from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. "I've always wanted to box even when I was a kid so I saw this as a great opportunity to follow an interest."

After watching two days of three-minute sparring matches, coaches choose 12 boxers to attend the seven and a half week-long camp to eventually compete in the Armed Forces Boxing Championships from April 18-24 in Port Hueneme.

Donley Calls for Fiscally Improved Air Force

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

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2010 – The Air Force’s top civilian today urged the service’s leaders to make tough decisions now, as economic recovery continues to put defense spending under increasing pressure.

In his State of the Air Force address at the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Md., Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley stressed good fiscal stewardship despite new requirements on the service.

“Last year, we noted that our Air Force has reached an inflection point at which critical changes in the strategic environment, resources and technology are combining to re-shape our future,” Donley said in his prepared remarks at the convention.

New requirements for missile defense, cyber and space defense and modernizing the Air Force’s aging fleet are challenging the budget, he said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has charged Donley and all the services and agencies within the Defense Department to do more with less.

But fiscal reform is nothing new to the Air Force, Donley added.

“For several years, we have pushed ourselves to reduce and consolidate personnel, financial management and other functional communities to introduce new technology and ways of doing business,” he said, noting the growth in Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities.

“We all know these changes have sometimes been painful,” he added. “But we all know that the introduction of new technology to substitute for manpower will need to continue.”

Donley also called on Air Force leaders to improve their acquisition practices.

“As we continue to strengthen our acquisition work force, our ongoing tasks are to be better negotiators, to know our internal business imperatives, to understand our contracts, to know our industrial base and to respect that every dollar is an Air Force dollar [and] every dollar is a taxpayer dollar,” the secretary said.

Other changes are on the horizon. Donley noted that the Air Force is looking to streamline its organization and command structure to be more efficient.

“The technology, resource and strategic dynamics in this environment make it imperative that we keep the pressure on ourselves, for we have yet more work to do in the immediate years ahead,” Donley said.

The years ahead include weapons and material readiness, Donley said. A review, he noted, is under way to find trade space within the requirements generation, depot maintenance and supply-chain processes impacting availability and cost.

Donley also noted the need to advance long-range strike capabilities, calling ISR, electronic warfare, communications and other weapons a “critical” national capability.

Although the Air Force bomber program was designed as a nuclear deterrent, leaders recognize the program is under way from a conventional war perspective, he said.

“We are confident that a modern long-range strike platform not only has been, but should remain, a critical tool in the nation’s arsenal,” he said, citing the success of bomber jets in past conventional missions. “Their ability to range the planet with operational flexibility have proven their value time and again.”

However, no successes could be had without a competent force, he said.

“Our underlying strength is in the integrity, excellence and selfless service that our airmen bring to the fight every day,” Donley said. “It’s our airmen who will translate their organizations, doctrine, training and equipment into combat power.”

Leadership changes for Wisconsin Guard's most diverse brigade

By Spc. Alyson Berzinski
112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

"It is a privilege to wear this uniform, an honor to wear the patch, and it is a gift to command the 64th Troop Command," Col. Darrell Feucht, the outgoing commander of the 64th Troop Command, said in an emotional speech during a change of command ceremony Sept. 12 in Madison.

Feucht, a Columbus resident, formally transferred control of the 64th Troop Command to Col. Paul Russell of Sun Prairie.

Feucht assumed command of the 64th in August 2007 and immediately began instilling his philosophy to "provide fully capable Soldiers and units ready to deploy for any mission, anywhere, at any time, to support community, state and federal missions."

"The Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers of the 64th Troop Command are some of the most professional people I've had the privilege of working with," Feucht added.

Under his three years of leadership, the 64th TC has deployed the majority of its Soldiers and units in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and two state activations for flood relief. The 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment is presently deployed to Iraq.

The 64th Troop Command consists of nearly 1,700 Soldiers belonging to three battalions and 18 units, to include aviation, sustainment and support, personnel, Army band, transportation, maintenance, public affairs, rear area operations command and medical units. Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, described the 64th Troop Command as "the most diverse brigade" in the state.

Feucht has completed more than 26 years of military service and will continue his career as Wisconsin's Joint Staff logistics commander. In July Feucht was identified as the team leader for the Wisconsin National Guard's 2012 Agribusiness Development Team mission to Afghanistan. He also plans to continue his civilian career as the manager of facilities and contingency planning at Great Lakes Education Loan Services, and spend more time with his high school-aged twin sons, Andrew and Mitchell.

"People will forget what you said and what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel," Feucht stated in his remarks to the incoming commander.

Russell, the incoming commander, enlisted into the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1982 and was a M60 tank driver and mechanic with Company A, 1st Battalion, 632nd Armor. Russell received his commission in 1985 through the Reserve Officer Training Course at Ripon College and transferred to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry where he served as weapons platoon leader, executive officer and company commander.

"I cannot think of a more sacred privilege than leading American Soldiers," Russell said durin the ceremony." I am nothing short of impressed by the quality of leadership and professionalism I have seen with the Soldiers in this command. I will work harder than anyone to ensure we accomplish our mission, communicate effectively, and provide the leadership you and your families deserve."

Russell deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 where he served with the Combined Joint 7 Division as chief of training for the Afghanistan National Police. Upon his return he resumed his position as the Counterdrug Program Manager and also served on the Joint Staff before assuming command of the 64th Troop Command.

Russell expressed his goals of expanding the 64th Troop Command's relationship with other services, such as the Navy and Marine Corps, when they make the move to the new armed forces reserve center next summer. He also included other goals, such as the readiness of the Soldiers, their families, and their employers.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of standing up the 64th into the primary domestic operations task force to provide even better support to the citizens of Wisconsin and our nation," Russell said.

"Col. Russell, the guidon is yours to lead, and you're a great choice for the job," Feucht said to Russell in his closing remarks.

Russell is a graduate of Merrill High School, Merrill, and holds a bachelor of science in Education from UW-Oshkosh, an MBA from Tourou University International and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy and Policy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Sheridan VA develops mental health counseling program for women veterans

SHERIDAN -- Audrey Bocock was a pre-med major at the University of Hawaii but the need to serve her country after 9/11 put those plans on hold.

She joined the Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2004. Nothing in her past prepared her for what was to come in the war zone.

"I went through a lot in Iraq," Bocock said recently.

While Bocock was on duty, a mortar shell exploded nearby, knocking her around in the Guard shack and ultimately causing a long-term traumatic brain injury that would go undiagnosed for a number of years. Meanwhile, Bocock remained committed to completing her tour in Iraq.

"I didn't want to leave my soldiers, I didn't want to leave my unit," Bocock said. "I had a very strong sense of loyalty and duty. I knew if I left I'd be treated like crap by my unit."

Bocock had been home on a two-week leave before the explosion and already was shocked by how much the deployment had changed her.

"It was like being on another planet," Bocock said. "I was afraid to go home. It was easier being in a combat zone."

A short time after the explosion, Bocock's convoy was hit by enemy fire and her hip was shattered. Still, Bocock remained in Iraq after surgery, treating the pain with ibuprofen. But upon re-evaluation by another doctor, Bocock was quickly flown to Hawaii where she was given an 80 percent chance of walking again.

After additional surgeries, Bocock spent an extended amount of time recovering from her hip injury before returning to her studies and continuing to serve in the Army National Guard with a non-deployable unit. Bocock balanced college courses and a job while adjusting to civilian life, but it wasn't long before she felt herself spiraling out of control.

"I did a lot of pretending I was OK, but everything came crashing down on me," Bocock said. "It was crazy unbearable."

At that time Bocock went through a series of Veterans Affairs counseling programs depending on where she was living. From Reno, Nev., to Palo Alto, Calif., Bocock reached out for help, but even some of the VA's most extensive mental health therapy programs weren't effective.

"They said my traumas were too extensive," Bocock said.

Finally, Bocock moved to Colorado to be closer to family so they could help her. It was there on the way to a Wal-Mart one night to buy antifreeze to try to commit suicide that one simple promise to her former counselor in Reno saved her life. Bocock used her cell phone to call the VA's 1-800 emergency crisis number and shared that she was planning to commit suicide.

"I had hit my ultimate rock bottom," Bocock said. "I had absolutely no hope at all."

Authorities traced Bocock's call, found her and quickly took her to the Denver VA where she was placed on suicide watch.

New hope

Just a few hundred miles away a new program at the Sheridan VA was taking shape. With more than 4,000 women veterans in Wyoming, and an increasing need to meet that demographic nationwide, the Sheridan VA was crafting a curriculum for a program that would become a life-changing experience for women with some of the most serious military-related traumas.

"We're trying to lay the groundwork for the women coming home from Afganistan today," said Judy Myers, the Sheridan VA's women's veterans program manager.

With more than 1.8 million women veterans across the country, the VA is ramping up efforts to reach a rapidly expanding population. Nationwide, only about 16 percent of veterans access VA services, but as these women come home some of their challenges and needs are difficult and unique.

"Females are the fastest-growing population going into the military," Myer said. "They're being used in every venue in the military."

As these women return from combat zones, some have experienced military sexual abuse, some have lingering effects of war injuries and some suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

To address some of the most severely impacted women, VA officials created a program called Cognitive Process Therapy, or CPT Cohort. The first CPT Cohort began June 7 with 13 women from around the country. Bocock participated in the Sheridan VA's first CPT Cohort program.

"We just built them up and showed them they could do it," Myer said. "They found a lot of healing here."

For seven weeks, counselors, therapists and doctors worked one-on-one with the women to help them address all of their physical and mental health needs. From horse therapy to group sessions, the women spent time bonding and healing together.

"I saw a lot of positive growth," Myers said. "I saw a transformation take place before my eyes. They wanted life to be normal and they found some of that just by being together."

After weeks of therapy, self-discovery and bonding, the women left the Sheridan VA transformed.

"They left here with smiles on their face and felt they had finally, finally been heard and validated," Myer said. "It was amazing to see these women blossom and come into their own."

Ten women have already signed up for the next session, which begins in the spring.

Home for healing

When Bocock arrived in Sheridan she figured it was too late for help. But with extended time at the VA from January to late July, her walls and barriers came down.

"I hated everybody, but I loved them at the same time," Bocock said. "It was a very odd place to be."

In a wheelchair because of her hip injury, Bocock worked with doctors, counselors and therapists to rebuild her body, mind and spirit. For several months she focused on herself and her needs in order to bring herself back from the brink of self-destruction.

"Sheridan was the best thing that happened to me," Bocock said. "They came up and surrounded me and saw I needed help."

Living with women experiencing the same level of trauma helped Bocock realize she wasn't alone. Talking about struggles and problems with them became a form of therapy.

"I had never met anybody who had been through what I had," Bocock said. "My psychological trauma is pretty severe."

Now just more than a month out of the program, Bocock carries hope for her future. Determined to one day leave her wheelchair behind and return to her college course work, Bocock is eager to meet her challenges.

"I may have to take it one class at a time, but I'm going to give it my damnedest," said Bocock, who has returned to Colorado.

In the meantime, she works with her horses on a daily basis and takes time each day to heal her body, mind and heart -- something she says is now possible because of the CPT Cohort program.

"They came up beside me and walked with me so I wasn't alone," Bocock said. "They stood by me through all of my s---. Overall, it's been hell but its been well worth it and I'm so glad I wasn't alone."

Sheridan VA hopes to build women's inpatient facility

GILLETTE -- The Sheridan Veterans Administration is hoping to build a 15-bed inpatient facility to better meet the needs of women facing military-related mental health issues.

"It's really just a vision for us," said Jackie Van Mark, media relations specialist for the Sheridan VA. "It's just a dream of ours right now. We've already proven there's a need."

The Sheridan VA completed its first Cognitive Process Therapy program, or CPT Cohort, in July. Thirteen women participated in Sheridan's initial program.

"We feel we could provide a real healing environment through a women's facility," Van Mark said.

The proposed facility, already being called Harmony House, would focus on the needs of women facing serious mental health issues -- from post-traumatic stress disorder to military sexual abuse trauma. Sheridan VA officials say such intense therapeutic help and healing is currently only available in a few VA hospitals nationwide.

Van Mark said the work on behalf of women veterans will continue regardless of whether funding can be pulled together for a new facility.

"We're still here to provide services to men and women," Van Mark said. "We're still going to build our women veterans programs."

For more information, contact the Women Veterans Clinic at (307) 673-3694.

-- Kim Phagan-Hansel

Preventing Aviation Mishaps through Improved Spatial Awareness

Dr. Frederick Patterson, Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL) researcher and spatial disorientation expert, has been at the leading edge of a paradigm shift in the understanding of aviation spatial awareness and spatial disorientation. Leveraging new discoveries on the mechanisms of spatial awareness, NAMRL has developed novel, cutting-edge multimedia training techniques for prevention of spatial disorientation-related aviation mishaps.

Several of these new techniques have been incorporated into training and curriculum models requested by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the Naval Survival Training Institute (NSTI) for use in aircrew physiology and survival training. The request followed the release of a recent Office of the Secretary of Defense study which stated that “80 percent of the U.S. military’s 320 rotorcraft crashes during the last decade have been caused by degraded visual conditions.”

NSTI is a component of the Naval Operational Medicine Institute based in Pensacola, Fla. NSTA consists of a headquarters element and eight Aviation Survival Training Centers located at Patuxent River, Md.; Norfolk, Va.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Jacksonville and Pensacola, Fla.; Miramar and Lemoore, Cal.; and Whidbey Island, Wash.

Dr. Patterson proposed a brownout training model to the NSTI team of directors tasked with reviewing the concepts that define NAMRL’s innovative approach to training. NSTI representatives unanimously accepted the new approach, launching a new direction for spatial disorientation/spatial awareness training.

According to NAMRL Scientific Director Dr. Richard Arnold, when asked about the significance of this decision, “The decision marks a fundamental change and improvement with regard to how spatial and situational awareness teaching methods will be incorporated and presented to the fleet through the Navy and Marine Corps’ aeromedical safety programs. Acceptance of this new direction toward recognizing and preventing cognitive threats such as spatial disorientation validates the research concepts NAMRL has been working on, in earnest, for the past three years.”

According to NAMRL researchers, the end result of this effort should be significant improvements in cockpit design that will lead to greater human/machine compatibility, decrease pilot workload, and improved margins of flight safety. The new training techniques will be incorporated into the NSTI training curricula in 2011.

The Naval Medical Research Center is a premier research organization with a vision: World-class, operationally relevant health and medical research solutions – anytime, anywhere! Research focuses on finding solutions to both traditional battlefield medical problems, such as bleeding, traumatic brain injury, combat stress, and naturally occurring infectious diseases, as well as to health problems associated with non-conventional weapons, including thermobaric blast, biological agents, and radiation.

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general and assignment as commanding general, I Corps and Fort Lewis, Fort Lewis, Wash. Scaparrotti most recently served as commanding general, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Pakistan Flood Aid Tops 5 Million Pounds

From a U.S. Central Command News Release

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 13, 2010 – U.S. military aircraft supporting Pakistan's flood relief efforts achieved a significant milestone Sept. 11, exceeding 5 million pounds of relief supplies delivered since U.S. military relief flight operations in Pakistan began Aug. 5.

To date, U.S. military helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, working in close partnership with the Pakistan military, have transported more than 5.4 million pounds of relief supplies and rescued more than 13,000 people, delivering much-needed aid and providing transport to people who urgently need emergency assistance.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 16th Combat Aviation Brigade are providing 30 helicopters to support relief operations. Eighteen U.S. helicopters are operating out of Ghazi Air Base in northern Pakistan, eight are operating out of Pano Aqil Air Base in southern Pakistan, and four helicopters are at Chaklala Air Base being prepared for follow-on missions.

Meanwhile, U.S. military C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft also have been providing airlift support to Pakistan. The C-17, the second-largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory, has the capacity to carry 90,000 pounds of supplies. Together with Marine Corps and Air Force C-130s, these aircraft have delivered more than 2 million pounds of relief supplies to multiple locations throughout the country, including Skardu, Quetta, Jacobabad, Sharea Faisal and Gilgit.

U.S. flood relief support to Pakistan is being provided through a whole-of-government, interagency response. Relief efforts are being coordinated through the U.S. Embassy here, in full consultation with the Pakistan government, including Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority and other agencies.

Continuing Promise 2010 Brings Veterinary Aid to Guatemala

By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zane Ecklund,
USS IWO JIMA Public Affairs

PUERTO SANTO TOMAS, Guatemala (NNS) -- U.S. Army Soldiers and civilian volunteers from 'World Vets,' currently embarked on board the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), brought veterinary assistance to the people of Guatemala Sept 4-13.

Continuing Promise 2010 (CP10) veterinary mission's goal is to improve the Guatemalan people's quality of life while serving as ambassadors for the United States.

Capt. Rebecca Carden, a veterinarian from South Plains Veterinary Services, Fort Sam Houston, emphasizes the importance of eliminating diseases capable of being transmitted between humans and animals.

"The Continuing Promise 2010 mission is to improve people's outlook and way of life, and improving their food animals is another way of doing that," said Carden. "The Continuing Promise 2010 mission shows a compassionate side of the military, a mission like this helps develop relationships internationally."

Elsa and Kirsten Swenson, sisters participating in the mission, view their participation as a chance to see the world and help those who live in it.

"We wanted to travel internationally together, and the Continuing Promise mission provided the opportunity at the right time," said Elsa Swenson.

"I think it's nice we can provide services for people," said Kirsten Swenson.

"We're improving animals' lives and health, educating farmers and improving public health by reducing the risk of transmissible diseases such as rabies and parasites in food animals," said Elsa Swenson.

Dr. Jenny McDougle, a veterinarian, sees the Continuing Promise mission as a unique opportunity to learn and teach.

"It gives us [veterinary professionals] a chance to see other country's level of veterinary care, vaccines, and parasite and infectious disease prevention," said McDougle.

CP10 is a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission. The assigned medical and engineering staff embarked on board Iwo Jima will work with partner nation's teams to provide medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering assistance to eight different nations to improve mutual understanding of current medical issues.

Nimitz Remembers 9/11, Dedicates World Trade Center Donation


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Scott A. McCall, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) held a remembrance ceremony to honor the men and women who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"Nine years ago this morning violence was visited upon our nation. It took us by surprise and it shook us to our core," said Rear Adm. Robert Girrier, Commander Nimitz Carrier Strike Group 11. "We all remember, each in our own way, what we were doing, where we were and what our reaction was."

The memorial featured a bell ceremony were Nimitz' Chief Petty Officer selects read the events of that day followed by a bell toll.

"Surprise, shock, despair, our lives changed…but not for long. From that moment we pulled together as a nation, as a country, swiftly responding on scene locally at first then globally forward," said Girrier. "A call to act so quick essentially part of our American heritage not defeated, not downcast, not terrorized and that fight continues today."

Since 2001, Nimitz has deployed five times, totaling 32 months, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Nimitz completed an eight month Western Pacific deployment March 26 in support of OEF.

While Nimitz supported OEF during that 2009-2010 Western Pacific deployment, the residents of Breezy Point, N.Y., who lost 29 people during the terrorist attacks, donated three I-beams from the World Trade Center to the military through an organization called the Sons and Daughters of America.

One beam was donated to an infantry museum at Fort Benning, Ga., another is at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and the third was donated to the crew aboard Nimitz. Mr. Brian Quinn, the father of former Nimitz crew member Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Brian Quinn Jr., and a leader of the Sons and Daughters of America, was instrumental in donating the beam to Nimitz. All the remaining beams form a monument in Breezy Point that faces toward Manhattan in the city of New York.

Nimitz Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Monger presented the beam to the crew during the ceremony.

"Today, we gather around a symbol of sacrifice given with gratitude in appreciation for your steadfast devotion to duty," said Monger. "I'm especially proud of all I have seen in the lives of you, our Nimitz-barbwire team. With unswerving devotion, you have met every challenge and prevailed.

"I dedicate this symbol of sacrifice with appreciation to the steadfast devotion to duty of all United States service members, active and reserve, in the battle against terrorism," said Monger. "On behalf of the men and women of the USS Nimitz, I accept this gift with the utmost pride and honor.

"And [I] thank the town of Breezy Point for your unwavering support of our mission. Your gift has found a home aboard USS Nimitz," said Monger. "It will be displayed with pride, a symbol of sacrifice and perseverance in the fight for freedom from tyranny. May we never forget the dangers of the world we live in and always remember the sacrifice of our comrades."

After the ceremony, Culinary Specialist Seaman Garrett Davis appreciated the donation of the I-beam by the residents of Breezy Point.

"I think them donating [the I-beam] to the military, to the ship is unbelievable," said Davis.

Girrier believes that leaning forward and continuing the fight brings hope and faith to the world by defending democracy and basic human rights.

"We don't blink. We stand the line," said Girrier. "We take the fight forward and we exercise it continuously, while deployed, at our homeport exercising and training at this very moment perfecting our blue water operations while we maintain our systems and equipment keeping our ships and aircraft battle ready."

Pacific Partnership 2010 Ends With Many Firsts

By Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

RABAUL, Papua New Guinea (NNS) -- The fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet-sponsored deployments to the Western Pacific region, Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10) built upon previous missions with numerous innovations designed to enhance the partnership and provide assistance to remote areas.

This year's effort saw an increase in the number of ships from other countries participating, brought aboard large numbers of non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers, and creatively used helicopters and landing craft to insert medical and dental teams to set up health care clinics in remote locations, a key priority for several of the U.S. Ambassadors involved with the mission. Additionally, PP10 greatly expanded the scope of Pacific Partnership engineering projects by using advance fly-in teams of U.S. Navy Seabees.

Combined, the Pacific Partnership 2010 team – made up of professionals from all four U.S. military services, 10 partner nations, seven embarked NGOs, and 10 supporting NGOs – treated 109,754 patients, performed 859 surgeries, issued 60,883 glasses, completed 22 engineering projects, participated in 86 community service projects (COMSERV), and treated more than 2,800 veterinary patients.

"It is fitting that we bring Pacific Partnership 2010 to a close here in Rabaul, as the sight of Tavurvur smoldering above the harbor and the ash covering our boots every day are visible reminders of the importance of this mission and of preparing in the calm of a nice sunny day like today to respond in the dark days of crisis following a natural disaster," said Pacific Partnership 2010 Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti, at the mission's closing ceremony, referring to the twin volcanic eruptions of Tavurvur and Vulcan that destroyed the capital city of Rabaul in 1994.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), operated by a crew of 65 civilian mariners visited four of the six PP10 countries. Mercy provided extensive surgical capabilities and, combined with her "Band-Aid" utility boats and two embarked MH-60S helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 Detachment 4, supported a large cadre of medical and engineering professionals moving to and from their work sites ashore each day.

Several ships from other nations joined Mercy during Pacific Partnership 2010. While in Vietnam and Cambodia, Mercy operated with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ship JDS Kunisaki (LST 4003), which hosted an embarked medical team and Japanese NGOs. Medical professionals from Kunisaki joined with those from Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) Mercy at medical and dental civic action programs (MED/DENCAPs), while her Sailors enjoyed participating in COMSERVs alongside personnel from Mercy.

During the Indonesia phase of PP10, conducted as a disaster relief exercise which lasted 22 days and visited three separate areas, MERCY was joined by KRI Dr Soeharso, Indonesia's hospital ship, RSS Endeavour, with its own embarked medical team, as well as two Royal Australian Navy heavy landing craft (LCHs) which provided logistic support to Mercy and her teams. In addition to moving supplies to and from the shore, HMAS Labuan (L128) and HMAS Tarakan (L129) were used in a new and innovative way: as afloat staging bases for distant MED/DENCAP teams. Each ship embarked 21 medical and dental providers, veterinarians, assistants, and translators. The vessels transported medical teams to remote areas, where they would work ashore during the day and come back to the ships each night to sleep on the open vehicle decks on cots with mosquito netting. This unique concept significantly expanded the reach of the Pacific Partnership 2010 mission to 13,000 patients seen on remote islands and villages that have very little access to professional medical care. After demonstrating the success of this effort in Indonesia, the Australian ships were called upon to support two similar teams during the mission to Timor-Leste, visiting the isolated Oecussi enclave and the distant coastal town of Lautem.

Unique to this year's mission was the addition of two additional stops supported by other ships under the Pacific Partnership umbrella. While Mercy provided care in Indonesia, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visited Palau, providing medical services and enhanced COMSERV projects to that island nation. Then on Aug. 24, over 60 people from Mercy, including Destroyer Squadron 21 staff, Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 Seabees, MTF Mercy, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band transferred to HMAS Tobruk (L50) and set off for the final mission port of 2010: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. This transfer marked the first time that a partner nation's vessel was utilized as a flagship for a Pacific Partnership mission. Tobruk, which embarked additional Australian Defence Force personnel and members of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force on the way to Rabaul, was joined in Papua New Guinea by USS Vandegrift (FFG 48).

Throughout the mission, Pacific Partnership 2010 coordinated with host nation officials and U.S. embassy teams to identify the areas that would benefit most from assistance. Often, these areas were very isolated. Using a combination of cargo aircraft, helicopters, landing craft, and good old-fashioned driving, Pacific Partnership 2010's medical teams were able to successfully reach these remote locations. In a key example of partnership, an USMC C-130 landed a MED/DENCAP team onto a dirt runway in Ratanakiri, Cambodia, 320 miles from where Mercy was anchored.

"Landing in Ratanakiri, I knew that this mission was unique," said Lt. Cmdr. Sandy Kimmer, physician officer in charge of the Cambodian MED/DENCAPs in Ratanakiri and Kampong Cham. "We lived and worked alongside the RCAF (Royal Cambodian Armed Forces) and other Cambodian physicians, allowing for host nation referrals and continuity of patient care. This fostered relationships and helped to build the capacity of the Cambodian medical system."

Cambodia also benefited from the unwavering commitment of the RCAF engineers, U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 and Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Australian engineers from the Second Combat Engineer Regiment based in Queensland, who drilled three water wells that are now bringing clean and safe water to local communities.

Despite the environmental challenges faced in Southeast Asia, the engineers were able to use their unique skills to complete useful engineering projects and, perhaps more importantly, build the capacity of the host-nation engineers to complete similar projects on their own in the future.

"Having to stand in the smoldering heat is challenging enough for anyone visiting any of these countries. Now, imagine having to work under these conditions in many cases outdoors, and the times you may find yourself indoors there is no air conditioning," said ACB 1 Commanding Officer, Capt. Scott R. Lister. "That's exactly the endurance and commitment every single engineer – from host nation military engineers and civilian volunteers to Australian Sappers - brought to the sites to help transform clinics, schools, and laboratories that serve beyond their intended uses as many of these facilities are used by their communities on a much larger scale than their name leads you to believe."

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this week celebrating the completion of repairs to a health clinic that had been damaged by fire at the University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) Vudal campus, UNRE's Vice Chancellor, Professor Phillip Siaguru, summarized what Pacific Partnership represents.

"Pacific Partnership 2010 has truly changed my childhood impression of soldiers and armies, and I am sure many others of my age or older…who also had the impressions that soldiers cannot take up saws and hammers or needles and medicines…only guns," said Siaguru.

"(These efforts) will leave a lasting impression on East New Britain, certainly this University and indeed, for me personally, I also know the army can play soccer, volleyball, and yes, they have a jazz band and can play music and dance as well as pose for a photograph with my daughter."

Siaguru's observations were echoed in Timor-Leste, where the Pacific Partnership 2010 team was augmented by soldiers from the Timor-Leste Defence Force, or F-FDTL. Using Pacific Partnership 2010 as an opportunity to participate and to learn the mechanics of setting up and running a MED/DENCAP, the Australian Defence Cooperation Program is working with the F-FDTL to plan and run their own MED/DENCAP later this year.

As Pacific Partnership 2010 comes to a successful conclusion, preparations are already well underway to build on the relationships and achievements of the previous five missions. Planners, host and partner nation representatives, and NGO leaders will meet in San Diego later this month to refine plans for Pacific Partnership 2011.

"The formative stage of Pacific Partnership 2011 has already begun, and I wish everyone who will participate in that mission much success, as they will be part of something really special," said Franchetti.

"I am very proud of the PP10 team and all that we have accomplished during our deployment this year. It was incredibly rewarding to watch this diverse group of individuals come together to support a common goal – to bring assistance to those in need," said Franchetti. "Their infectious enthusiasm and creativity enabled us to reach out and build relationships and skills that will be sustained long into the future, ensuring a more effective response to a natural disaster in the region. I am already a bit envious of those who will have the chance to be involved with PP11 – it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."