Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Soldier Saves Friend from Committing Suicide

By Stephenie Tatum
Fort Bragg Public Affairs

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Aug. 31, 2011 – On the outside, Army Spc. Josh Brown looks and acts like an average 22-year-old paratrooper serving in the 82nd Airborne Division here.

Brown’s dark hair is close-cropped against his skull, and he prides himself in the jump wings he’d earned. He also smiles often, revealing the sense of humor he’d often used to mask the growing, gnawing pain in his life.

Yet, no one knew what Brown, whose name is fictitious to protect his privacy, was feeling on the inside. Brown said that a multitude of things led him to want to kill himself. For the past six months, Brown said he was feeling unhappy with himself and the path his life was taking.

He suffered from family and financial issues, relationship problems, constant physical pain from a jump accident, insomnia and poor adjustment after arriving at a new duty station.

If that was not enough, Brown’s 1980 Chevrolet Camaro -- his most-prized possession -- had been vandalized and the process to get it fixed through his insurance company was not going well.

When Brown quit calling and making plans to socialize with his close friend, Army Spc. Christy Sawyer, she’d thought nothing of it and figured he just wanted to spend more time with his other friends.

Sawyer, a medic in 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, had no idea until the morning of Aug. 7 that Brown, also a medic in the 82nd Division, had been withdrawing and for the past two weeks was planning to commit suicide.

Brown said his issues caused him to become overwhelmed and feel like his world was caving in on him.

The night he decided to end his life had started out like many previous nights, Brown said.

“I went to the club and started drinking,” he recalled. “Part of my plan was to take the $100 I had, and drink as much as I could and then go wreck my car to make it look like an accident.”

After leaving the club and going to another bar, Brown ran into a friend who knew something was not right with him. After some time, she persuaded him to talk.

“I have things I need to do tonight and you’re not going to stop me,” Brown told the friend.

The friend then contacted Sawyer, a coworker and mutual friend, for help.

The eight missed phone calls and two text messages that night from Brown, and her conversation with their mutual friend told Sawyer that something was very wrong with Brown.

“I had just got back from block leave and had forgotten my phone in the barracks when I went to pick up some friends who were having car trouble,” Sawyer said. “He actually left me a message telling me goodbye. I still have not listened to it. I can’t do it.”

After speaking with her friend, Sawyer drove to the bar to get Brown. When she arrived, Brown was sitting in his car, distraught and unreasonable. Sawyer said she reached in and took the keys out of his ignition. They talked for a long time; Brown continued to tell her he was sticking to his plan to end his life that evening.

Sawyer said she tried to talk Brown out of taking his life.

“I tried to explain to him that I can’t live with that kind of guilt,” she said. “I just kept telling him, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ I was trying to wake him up.”

At one point during the evening, Brown decided to run. He threw himself over the hood of the car, but his friends caught him before he got very far. After the chase and multiple failed attempts to get Brown to calm down and listen to reason, his friends decided to contact the unit chaplain.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team chaplain called Brown’s unit, which then sent staff duty personnel to get him. Sawyer met the staff duty members at an elementary school parking lot in Fayetteville near here, where Brown once again tried to run away.

After being caught a second time, Brown was taken to the barracks and placed on a 24-hour, three-day suicide watch. He was referred to Womack Army Medical Center here for mental health evaluations.

Sawyer credits her concern for Brown for taking action to save him.

“I think mostly, for me, it was the fact that I care about him so much. He is like my baby brother,” she said. “There was no way I was leaving him. I would not have let him go regardless. I was ready to do whatever it took.”

Sawyer said she’d applied her suicide prevention training to save her friend.

“I see [suicide] a lot differently now,” she said. “I think suicide training is something soldiers need to have and it needs to be emphasized.”

Yet, Brown had attended suicide prevention training at his unit just three days before he’d threatened to kill himself.

“I understood the point of it and I saw the briefing, but I guess I just did not want anyone to stop me,” Brown said. “I was not looking for help.”

Brown said his turning point came the next night when the adrenaline wore off and he realized he was still alive.

“Once I got some sleep and woke up the next day, I felt depressed and empty,” Brown said. “Knowing I wasn’t supposed to be here felt weird. For about two days afterwards, everything felt so unnatural. I honestly didn’t expect to be where I was. It was like everything just hit restart.”

Today, Brown is receiving treatment as he continues to serve in the 82nd Division. Brown is thankful, he said, for the help and support he’s received from his fellow soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers in his unit.

Sawyer said she finds herself getting upset whenever she thinks about the night Brown wanted to take his life and worries about what could have happened if she hadn’t been there.

“I want him and other people who are thinking about doing this to understand what you are doing to the people in your life -- your friends, your family and your spouses and your relationships,” Sawyer said. “This devastates people. I am still so upset.”

USS George H.W. Bush Sailors Honor Fallen with 5K Run

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Greg Wilhelmi, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) participated in a 5K 'Run for Remembrance' on the ship's flight deck Aug. 26 in honor of fallen service members.

Race organizers felt compelled to host the event to honor the 30 service members who lost their lives in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Aug. 6. The crew was equally inspired as shown by a registration line that stretched across the width of the flight deck.

In all, more than 700 Sailors, including the coordinators, Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (AW) Nancy L. Richardson and Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW/AW) William R. Agoras, ran the ten laps around the ship's flight deck.

"Someone asked me why I run," said Agoras. "I run to honor the sacrifices of those before us have made, and to keep them in my thoughts always."

Originally, Richardson wanted to promote a ship-wide work out session. However, after talking with Agoras and Scott A. Benning, the ship's Fitness Boss, they decided to do a shipwide run.

Sailors took time out of their day to run the course on the ship's flight deck that was outlined with cones, all bearing names of the service members who died in the helicopter crash.

"My mom knew the father of one of the victims," said Navy Career Counselor 2nd Class Matthew A. Mitchell. "So it's a little personal for me."

Some Sailors ran against one another; some ran at their own pace; and some, like the chief selects, ran in formation.

"We're out here to show our support for the junior Sailors, the command, and the fallen service members," said Chief (Select) Aviation Maintenance Administrationman (AW) Dawn Collier. "It's important for all the chief selects to be out here to lead from the front."

In addition to remembering fallen service members, Richardson hoped to show support for those on the front lines every day.

"It's a sacrifice we could all end up making one day," said Richardson. "I'm proud to serve with each and every Sailor on this ship."

George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Special Ops Forces Will Remain Essential, Official Says

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Aug. 30, 2011 – The nation’s special operations forces are experiencing heady but somewhat perilous times, the Pentagon official tasked with overseeing them said here today.

“The skills and capabilities of America’s elite special operators have never been more recognized by the nation – sometimes, frankly, more than I like,” Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict, told hundreds of people attending the National Defense Industrial Association’s Joint Missions Conference here.

Operations since 9/11, culminating in the May strike that killed Osama bin Laden, mean special operations forces are more active and more integrated across the military than ever before, Lumpkin said, with Defense Department and other agencies’ senior leader ranks now peppered for the first time with generals and flag officers raised in the special operations community.

Public awareness of special operators may fade over time, Lumpkin said, but the demand for their skills likely will remain.

As the nation faces severe budget constraints, he noted, it remains critical to train and equip a special operations force that has more than doubled in size over the past decade. Across-the-board defense spending cuts could mean the military loses capabilities it would then have to rebuild at greater expense later, he said, adding that the key challenge is to identify capabilities that must be sustained and institutionalized to prepare the force for the kinds of conflicts the nation is going to face in the future.

Trends shaping the national security environment include the growth in power of nonstate actors, increasing instability in fragile states, and ever more readily available advanced technologies, Lumpkin said.
These threats mean the intensity of operations over the last 10 years likely will be sustained for the next 10, or even 20 years for special operations forces, he said.

“We need to be cognizant of the future and current fiscal climate while ensuring special operations forces retain their edge,” he said.

In Afghanistan and other regions, he noted, criminals and insurgents are nearly indistinguishable.

“Arguably one of the most important lessons we’ve taken from … Iraq and Afghanistan is that success in counterinsurgency, counterterrorism and post-conflict stability, he said, depends upon the integrated efforts of both civilian and military organizations in all phases of the operation, from planning through execution.

The complexity of likely future operations, Lumpkin added, will require special operators to work “fluently” with agency representatives across the defense, development and diplomacy aspects of government.

Narcotics trafficking, transnational organized crime and terrorist networks form a nexus that increasingly requires an interagency and coalition approach to combat effectively, Lumpkin said.

“These networks are challenging the character of the battle space, and thus forcing us to adjust our approaches in combat,” he added.

Lumpkin said new, multi-use tools and technologies linking U.S. forces, allies and police organizations are needed to counter such hybrid threats. “Picture a … digital, coalition joint task force sharing information, including forensic and biometric data, properly controlled, but without current obstacles to sharing,” he said.

Interagency and international approaches to acquisition are inherently beneficial to special operations forces, Lumpkin said, noting that his office oversees the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, commonly known as CTTSO.

CTTSO staff members work closely with representatives of more than 100 other state and national government, law enforcement and first-responder agencies “to gather front-line requirements and leverage the resources of multiple users for … rapid prototyping,” Lumpkin said.

As special operations forces and even regular forces face future missions likely to require small teams operating in remote locations around the world, Lumpkin said, new technologies to enhance communications, mobility and surveillance capabilities top the list of needs.

“Picture the great distances of Africa,” he told the audience. “And then consider what new technologies might be needed … to rapidly move and tactically maneuver.”

Light and rugged ground vehicles and aircraft that can be used with existing systems are critical, Lumpkin said. “Integrating new technologies with aviation support is a necessity to maintain our effectiveness in the current war and the small wars of tomorrow,” he added.

Small wars create shortfalls for the nation’s high-end defense aviation capabilities, he noted. “Mobile, rugged, high-endurance, quiet-loitering, persistent systems that can be embedded with and operated in close proximity to the user are necessary to meet warfighter needs,” he said.

Future operations will require mobility systems that can transport sensors, cargo and medical equipment to remote locations, he said, and surveillance capabilities will remain increasingly important.

“Acoustically quiet, long-dwell surveillance aircraft are critical to prosecuting high-value targets and sustaining eyes-on for extended periods of time,” he said.

A close air support aircraft that can arrive quickly with the proper ordnance and remain on station for at least four hours to support ground troops also is “operationally necessary in the irregular wars that we will fight,” he said.

“Such low-cost, highly agile aviation systems can be applied not just to special operations overseas, but to protect our borders as well,” he noted.

Innovations in aircraft design can revolutionize how aircraft are used on the battlefield, Lumpkin said.

Other key near-term needs requiring investment include fixed- and rotary-wing systems and vertical-lift capability, he said, as well as “long-range, high-speed infiltration, extraction and resupply to special operations teams in hostile, denied, politically sensitive areas, in the air, on land and on and under the sea.”

The department has established summits to bring together representatives from the military services, research labs and U.S. Special Operations Command to synchronize technology development efforts and speed and streamline new equipment acquisition for special operations forces, Lumpkin said.

“Closing these kinds of seams between Socom and the services’ acquisition processes will likely be increasingly important in the resource-constrained environment of the future,” the assistant secretary said.

Improving synchronization between Socom and the laboratories also will help to identify opportunities to work together, improve speed of transition to the field and ensure appropriate interaction with industry, Lumpkin added.

The key challenge DOD faces today is consistent for every component, Lumpkin said: balancing budget reductions with the need to preserve the “muscle and bone” of core capabilities. Defense industries must therefore be forward thinking and nimble, he said.

“Despite this fiscal climate,” he told the audience, “we need to really think big about the future of our military, and the future of special operations forces.”

Navy Program Employs Innovative Energy to Save Lighting Costs, Energy at USMC Base

By Darrell E. Waller, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy's Energy Efficiency Technology Validation (Techval) program completed the retrofit of an entire building with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Twentynine Palms Aug. 30.

After its retrofitting, the Twentynine Palms Officer's Club, is expected to deliver an energy savings of more than 32,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) and cost savings of more than $9,000 per year in energy and maintenance in contrast to the older, inefficient lighting system. The Techval program is managed through the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center (NAVFAC ESC) at Naval Base Ventura County, California.

"The energy savings gained through the use of LED lighting has the potential to save millions of dollars for the Navy and for American taxpayers," said Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center Commanding Officer Capt. Brant D. Pickrell. "While there are many Techval sponsored LED lighting demonstrations underway at various Navy shore facilities, this is the first time we have attempted the retrofit of an entire building. The results have been promising and most encouraging."

This project will showcase the potential that LED technology can provide with indoor lighting throughout a variety of capacities and scenarios. The scope of work for this project included replacing MR-16 halogen lamps, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), 2x2 parabolic fluorescent fixtures, and incandescent landscape lighting with LED lamps.

Among the many benefits of LED lighting are energy savings from reduced lamp wattage and air conditioning energy savings due to reduced lamp heat. LED lighting systems enjoy a longer service life than incandescent or fluorescent lamps, further reducing maintenance costs.

Moreover, since LEDs do not contain mercury, they are a tremendous improvement over the older fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) which contain that element and require proper disposal to prevent mercury from poisoning landfills. LED lighting does not emit infrared or ultraviolet radiation, making them ideal for illuminating artwork or other sensitive displays.

MCAGCC Twentynine Palms was selected to host this technology demonstration due to expensive electricity costs prevalent in the region. The new lighting will provide immediate relief in the site's energy costs. Given the annual cost savings of nearly $10,000 in energy and maintenance, the total retrofit costs of $80,000 is offset and bolsters the Navy's efforts to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's (SECNAV) ambitious energy goals of increasing alternative energy ashore to 50 percent by 2020; and increase total alternative energy use to 40 percent by 2020. The simple payback of this project is estimated to be 8.25 years.

This building is a showcase for the potential that new energy-related technology can provide to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Mabus laid out five aggressive energy goals in October 2009 to improve the Navy's energy security and efficiency, increase the Navy's energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy. This initiative assists in achieving the energy goal of increasing alternative energy afloat and ashore where by 2020, 50 percent of the total Department of the Navy energy consumption will come from alternative sources.

Face of Defense: Vietnam Vet Regains Long-lost Bronze Star

Don't forget the sacrifices of American heroes; discover these Vietnam Veteran books where our heroes tell you their story.

By Jane Gervasoni
U.S. Army Public Health Command

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Aug. 30, 2011 – More than 40 years ago, Army 1st Lt. Robert C. Berkshire earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor during his service in Vietnam.

On his way stateside following his Vietnam tour of duty, Berkshire's duffel bag was stolen -- in the duffel bag was his Bronze Star. He never saw his medal again.

After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1971, Berkshire never said anything to his family or friends about the loss of his award. However, about a year ago, the subject of his military career came up while he was talking with David Kurk, a friend and fellow civilian employee in the laboratory at the U.S. Army Public Health Command here.

Berkshire told his friend about the loss of his Bronze Star and showed him the award certificate.

Berkshire explained that in June 1970 he and his platoon had flanked and destroyed an enemy position. Under heavy enemy fire, he’d also directed a medical evacuation of two wounded platoon members. Kurk was determined to see if he could help his friend be recognized for his heroic actions during the operation in Vietnam and replace his stolen medal.

Working with Berkshire's daughter, Alyson Berkshire, Kurk took action to have his friend recognized.

"No one in the family had heard about Dad's Bronze Star," Alyson said. "My parents have always been my heroes, and I wanted to make sure Dad could be honored as one."

Working with Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald C. Ecker, the Public Health Command’s command sergeant major, Alyson and Kurk provided the paperwork necessary to secure a replacement Bronze Star. Lovetta Britton, the command’s protocol officer, arranged a surprise award ceremony.

On Aug. 17, Army Brig. Gen. Timothy K. Adams, commander of the Public Health command, hosted the award ceremony to honor Berkshire's heroism. Berkshire was told his daughter was receiving an award, and that he was invited to participate in the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Adams turned to the Army veteran. "I understand you were in the Army and served in Vietnam,” he said, “and I heard that you also lost something."

Berkshire, still unaware of the surprise presentation, thought Adams was referring to his recent hip surgery and replied, "Yes, I lost a piece of my hip." Adams then told Berkshire he’d receive a new Bronze Star Medal to replace the one stolen from him more than 40 years before.

"Your service to our country should be remembered and celebrated," Adams said. "It is my privilege to give you this award for your service."

Berkshire said he was stunned by the commander's words and the standing ovation from friends, family and co-workers at the award presentation.

"For you and everyone else to work so hard in replacing the medal that was so precious to me and that I thought I would never see again, I was basically speechless," Berkshire said to the general. "Please accept my deepest gratitude for your gracious act."

Ecker summed up the event’s purpose.

"When an act of selfless service to our nation has been fulfilled, it is never too late to render honors and gratitude for the service," he said.
Don't forget the history and sacrifices of American heroes; discover these Vietnam War books where our heroes tell you their story.

Manage Your Off-Duty Risks During Labor Day Weekend

By April Phillips, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, also marks the end of the Naval Safety Center's (NAVSAFECEN) annual summer safety campaign, "Live to Play, Play to Live."

Statistically, during the last five years, the Labor Day holiday weekend has not been any more dangerous than any other Friday to Monday period. Nonetheless, one Sailor and one Marine were killed in off-duty mishaps last Labor Day weekend. This is a tragedy for their families and friends, and also for the fleet as a whole.

Rear Adm. Brian C. Prindle, Commander, NAVSAFECEN, said he, unfortunately, understands this better than most. In his recent Labor Day message to the fleet, he tells the true story of a car wreck that took the lives of two teenage girls and caused significant injuries to the 15-year-old boy in the back seat. While the injuries were extensive, the reason the boy survived was because he was wearing his seatbelt; the girls were unrestrained. That boy was Prindle's youngest son, now 18.

"Life gets hectic, and we have days where we're not as focused on driving as we should be. At these times, we need every 'good habit' risk management tool available," Prindle wrote in his message. He went on to say that habits such as buckling seatbelts and planning a designated driver must be so ingrained that Sailors, Marines and their families do them automatically.

"They will go a long way toward protecting us from our own momentary inattention, and from bad decisions we or other drivers make at a time we can never predict. The results can be life-changing in a very positive way," he said.

While many may use the long weekend to drive long distances to visit family and friends, the road is not the only risk Sailors and Marines will face this weekend. In addition to the two fatalities, last Labor Day weekend there were also 52 reportable injuries. Some of these were the result of motor vehicle mishaps, but many others were caused by sporting activities, misuse of alcohol, and other off-duty activities. While most of the mishaps were minor, some were serious and nearly all could have been prevented with solid risk management practices.

Prindle said the goal for this Labor Day - and every day - is zero preventable mishaps. While this summer will fall slightly short of last year's achievement of safest on record, a fatality-free Labor Day holiday weekend will end the summer campaign on a high note.

Northern Command Continues to Aid Relief Efforts

From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Aug. 29, 2011 – U.S. Northern Command is continuing to support relief efforts in the aftermath of a powerful hurricane that struck the East Coast over the weekend, causing extensive flood and wind damage.

Northcom is coordinating the Defense Department’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state and local response efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Northcom officials said today.

Northcom is providing numerous DOD assets and personnel to support relief efforts, officials said. For example, air and space power experts are helping to synchronize air operations with Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard aviation resources in support of FEMA air operations.

Northcom officials also have:

-- Designated Fort A.P. Hill, Va., as a FEMA federal teams staging facility to support disaster operations in Virginia;

-- Provided aircraft for federal operations support to assist in transporting key personnel and supplies to support disaster operations in North Carolina;

-- Activated the U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region III in Virginia;

-- Designated Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass., as an incident support base to stage asset movement to impacted counties in North Carolina and South Carolina;

-- Designated Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., as an incident support base to stage asset movement to impacted counties in Region II and III;

-- Activated the Region IX U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region I regional response coordination center;

-- Activated U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region I;

-- Activated U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region II-New Jersey and New York;

-- Designated Westover Air Reserve Base as an incident support base to stage asset movement to impacted counties;

-- Activated U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region II-Puerto Rico;

-- Activated U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support FEMA Region IV-North Carolina;

-- Activated U.S. Army North’s defense coordinating officer and defense coordinating element to support the FEMA National Response Coordination Center and to provide assessments and coordination as required;

-- Activated emergency preparedness liaison officers to support the National Response Coordination Center.

-- Activated and deployed transportation specialists to the FEMA movement coordination center to augment and assist in strategic-level movement and logistics planning; and

-- Designated Fort Bragg, N.C., as an incident support base to stage asset movement to impacted counties in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Northcom officials also are providing FEMA with pararescue and 18 rotary wing aircraft in anticipation of search and rescue operations.

Navy Extends Family Accounting Order in Wake of Hurricane Irene

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Maria Yager, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Officials said the Navy has updated the geographical areas of interest (GAOI) affected under an order to account for Navy personnel and their families following Hurricane Irene Aug. 30.

The updated order released in NAVADMIN 258/11 expands the GAOI to include Vermont, New Hampshire and two additional New York counties, Albany and Greene.

The order requires commanders to conduct a personnel accountability muster of all Navy personnel and families in the following areas:

North Carolina counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Martin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pinder, Tyrrell, and Washington.

Virginia counties: Accomack, Charles City, Chesapeake, Essex, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Gloucester, Hampton, Hopewell, Isle of Wight, James City, King William, Kings and Queen, Lancaster, Matthews, Middlesex, New Kent, Newport News, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland, Petersburg, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Prince George, Richmond, Southampton, Suffolk, Surry, Sussex, Virginia Beach, Westmoreland, Williamsburg, and York.

Maryland counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne's Somerset, St mary's, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester.

Delaware counties: All

New Jersey counties: All

Pennsylvania counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, and Wayne.

New York counties: Albany, Bronx, Columbia, Duchess, Greene, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester.

Connecticut counties: All

Rhode Island counties: All

Massachusetts counties: All

New Hampshire counties: All

Vermont counties: All

This order includes active and Reserve component Sailors, Navy government service employees and family members.

Command representatives must muster and account for all affected personnel, including family members within the area. Commanding officers are responsible for ensuring the muster is entered in the Navy Family Accountably and Assessment System (NFAAS).

NFAAS standardizes a 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.

Navy personnel and families severely impacted by the storm must log into NFAAS at at their earliest convenience to update contact information and complete a needs assessment.

Individuals who are unable to contact their command should log on to NFAAS and muster on the Navy Family Members section. Impacted personnel unable to contact their command or the NFAAS website can call the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) at (877) 414-5358.

Additionally, NPC has established a Hurricane Irene emergency information page on its website,, which will be continually updated with guidance, resources and contact information as it becomes available throughout the storm and recovery period.

‘Dot-edu’ Migration Promotes Language Training

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 29, 2011 – A pilot program that gives students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center unprecedented access to language training resources is proving so successful that it’s being expanded throughout the school.

The pilot, launched Feb. 1, enables 200 students studying Dari -- a dialect spoken in Afghanistan -- to tap into materials and capabilities offered through the educational, or “dot-edu”, network, said Jonathan Russell, the language center’s chief technology officer.

Instead of operating in the dot-mil domain that’s often hampered by security and bandwidth restrictions, students in the pilot use the same network that supports accredited civilian colleges and universities.

The Naval Postgraduate School, also in Monterey and one of the few military institutions operating in the edu domain, provides the access through an agreement between the two schools.

“We physically connected 200 students to the NPS network, and we gave them access to mobile devices, a robust wireless network, more bandwidth … [to improve] network speeds and access to some open-source technologies,” Russell said.

This includes a wealth of material about Afghanistan and its most widely spoken language, including al-Jazeera and Voice of America broadcasts, foreign-language newspapers and tools such as Skype and Google Earth.

“All of our curriculum is audiovisual-based, so it involves lots of large-file formats and tons of storage,” as well as access to authentic materials, Russell said.

But the military network simply wasn’t designed to accommodate that. For example, prohibitions on external drives made it all but impossible for students to download material from classroom “smart boards” onto their computers, or to electronically submit homework assignments. The center’s work-around was to position stand-alone computers not connected to the network around the school, used by both students and their instructors to exchange files.

“The military network is an operational network that’s security-focused,” Russell said. “We are very much like a university.”

The transition to the dot-edu network has been revolutionary, students told Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta during his visit here last week.

“It’s been night and day,” said Army Spc. Eric Morales, who like other students in the pilot, spent his first semester at the center studying under the dot-mil network before the pilot program kicked off.

“This innovation lets us go on to open-source websites in order to quickly gather the information we need and link up with websites that have our target language on them,” said Army Sgt. Noah Mott, another Dari student. “We as a military unit have been able to use them in a way that better helps us understand our foreign language.”

Mott called the transition a huge benefit, particularly in light of the highly compressed training cycles at the center. The basic course for Dari, one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn, runs just 47 weeks.

“We have these students for a short amount of time and are trying to get them to very, very high proficiency levels in their target languages,” Russell said. “So if I can get them just two minutes a day extra as far as getting them time on task, that is huge.

“And that is at the base of what the edu network is,” he continued. “We are trying to optimize the network so they can have access to the information they need very fast in the manner in which they want to get it.”

Officials at the center are so impressed with the pilot program that plans are under way to expand it to the entire institute.

The transition required an extensive review by a panel of Defense Department, Defense Information Systems Agency and service representatives, who gave their official go-ahead to the plan in April, Russell reported. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, which oversees the language center, approved funding for the project in July.

Now, the school is in the process of procuring the required equipment so it can begin building out the network and data center this fall.

If all comes together as planned, Russell and his staff plan to begin migrating students off the global information grid

“By fall 2012, we should be fully migrated to the edu network,” he said. “At that point, we will be giving students the same tools the leading universities are using -- giving them connectivity and putting them at the forward edge of learning.”

Veteran’s Battle with PTSD Inspires Unique Service Dog Organization

Paws and Stripes, Official Charity of NAPPS, help military veterans obtain service dogs

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., August 30, 2011 – Imagine a brave soldier facing the trials and hardships of war – putting his life on the line to serve his country – only to return home facing a new battle: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). With the aid of man’s best friend, military veteran Jim Stanek is receiving unique therapy that only a dog can provide thanks to Paws and Stripes, a nonprofit organization formed by his wife, Lindsey, in 2010.

From War Hero to Recovering Veteran
Jim Stanek, a Long Island native and 9/11 clean-up volunteer, began his military career in February 2003 serving in the 82nd Airborne Division, F CO 51st LRSC, and the Big Red One. He returned home early, however, after sustaining injuries during deployment. While being treated at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, the Army began the process of medically retiring Jim for his multitude of injuries and chronic severe PTSD and TBI. After only six and a half years in the Army, Jim’s military career came to a close. 

The Search for a Therapy Dog
Following nine months of treatment at Brook Army Medical Center, Jim discovered that the most comfort and relief he found was in the presence of therapy dogs. In May of 2010, Lindsey and Jim tried to obtain a trainer for their rescue dog, Sarge, and soon discovered the tremendous difficulty and expenses associated with this process.

An Idea is Born: Paws and Stripes
After being either turned down or unable to pay for service dogs from multiple organizations, Lindsey and Jim decided to start their own organization assisting veterans in the process of obtaining a service dog. In June 2010 their idea came to fruition, and Lindsey and Jim incorporated Paws and Stripes.

Unfortunately, Jim Stanek is not alone in his experience. With an increased number of military troops returning home, many veterans soon discover that the trials of war do not end abruptly. Instead, a staggering number of veterans experience ongoing struggles with the effects of PTSD and TBI. Paws and Stripes, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Rio Rancho, N.M., works to provide service dogs for veterans of the United States military suffering from PTSD and TBI. The service dogs are obtained exclusively from shelters, and are trained by professionals at no cost to the veteran. Paws and Stripes allows the veteran to select the service dog and participate in the weekly training from the first day, providing a unique form of therapy for the veteran.

Partners in Success: the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
Recognizing the tremendous need for service dogs among veterans of the United States military, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) recently announced Paws and Stripes as its official charity.

Through the partnership, NAPPS members will have the opportunity to designate funds to Paws and Stripes, at membership renewal, participate in several fundraising activities throughout the year – including a charitable auction benefitting Paws and Stripes at the NAPPS Annual Conference and Small Business Forum– and foster greater public awareness of the vital importance of service dogs for veterans through grassroots initiatives.

“Veterans of the United States military have made incredible sacrifices – both physically and emotionally – to protect our country, and NAPPS is grateful for the opportunity to support these heroic women and men with Paws and Stripes,” explained John D’Ariano, President of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. “We applaud the bravery of our military veterans, and respect the efforts of Paws and Stripes to assist in the emotional healing by providing service dogs.”

Lindsey Stanek, CEO of Paws and Stripes, continued, “We appreciate the efforts of NAPPS members in supporting the shelter and rescue dogs, and think this partnership is such a neat idea. We truly believe in the power of service dogs, and look forward to working with NAPPS to serve veterans in this critical endeavor.”

To learn more about Paws and Stripes, please visit

About NAPPS:
NAPPS is the only national nonprofit trade association dedicated to serving the needs of professional pet sitters. The Association aims to help the pet owning public, those interested in pet sitting, and professionals engaged in the in-home pet care industry by fulfilling its vision statement, serving as “the most respected authority in professional pet sitting.” It does so by providing the tools and support to foster the success of its members. Additionally, pet parents can benefit from NAPPS’ free resources including a disaster preparedness guide, tips on how to select a pet sitter, and a nationwide referral service,. To find a pet sitter in your area, check out NAPPS’ nationwide “Pet Sitter Locator” at For more information on NAPPS, please follow @TheNAPPS on Twitter or join us on Facebook at

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

This Day in Naval History - Aug. 29

From the Navy News Service

1861 - U.S. squadron captures forts at Hatteras Inlet, N.C.
1862 - Union gunboat Pittsburgh supports Army troops in landing at Eunice, Arkansas. (Check out these American Civil War books written by military authors!)
1915 - Navy salvage divers raise F-4, first U.S. submarine sunk in accident.
1916 - Congress passes act for expansion of Navy but most ships not completed until after World War I.
1964 - USS Boxer (LPD 4) and two LSDs arrive off coast of Hispaniola to give medical aid to Haiti and Dominican Republic, which were badly damaged by Hurricane Cleo.

Marine Unit to Practice Disaster Preparedness

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2011 – Fleet Week-San Francisco is more than just a chance for liberty in a world-class city, it’s also an opportunity for Marines to practice their disaster-response capabilities, said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, the commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Spiese’s Camp Pendleton, Calif.,-based unit will practice providing disaster response and humanitarian aid as part of Fleet Week activities Oct. 6 to 11.

In September, the brigade will board the ships of the Expeditionary Strike Group 3 to take part in Exercise Dawn Blitz. “It will be a largely amphibious and conventional war scenario, where we’ll be working landing plans and projecting power ashore,” Spiese said in a recent interview.

“We will transition from that into San Francisco Fleet Week,” he said. “The 1st MEB’s flag will sail north and we will be the headquarters running all the Marines who are participating in Fleet Week.”

The city has been using Fleet Week to exercise military support to civil authority in the event of a national disaster.

San Francisco is on a peninsula right along the San Andreas Fault. The entire area is earthquake country.

“I think a significant earthquake in San Francisco could be catastrophic,” Spiese said. “The road networks could become easily problematic as well as significant infrastructure problems. The ability to pull people out is going to be difficult.”

Getting help downtown will be a problem -- a problem the Marines could help with using their amphibious capabilities. “We’re unique in that we can bring capabilities in to the disaster to help bring relief, but without bringing a significant footprint adding to the problems,” Spiese said.

This year, the Marines are demonstrating a medical surge. “We’re going to be moving north our surgical companies and our shock-trauma platoons,” the general said. “Not only will they be part of the table-top exercise, but we will be putting them on display during Fleet Week at Mission Green near the piers in San Francisco.”

Fleet Week also will highlight the medical capabilities aboard the amphibious ships. The USS Bonhomme Richard will be on display.

In the past, San Francisco was laced with active duty bases, which closed as part of the base realignment and closure process. Today, local officials don’t really consider the help active duty forces could bring to a situation, Spiese said. Active duty forces have been used countless times in support of natural disasters inside the United States.

The exercise allows authorities “to understand what they can leverage and access out of the active duty force -- in particular, the Navy and Marine Corps team in Southern California,” he said. “In the event of a disaster, they know quickly what they can start looking for and planning on, as well as the process by which they gain access to those federal resources.”

The Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Spiese said, is primarily a warfighting organization. The Fleet Week humanitarian aid and disaster response exercise is focused mainly on combat service support and logistics.

“It’s going to force us to think through the problem differently,” the general said. “It will force us to exercise a different part of the military brain.”