Military News

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

General Officer Announcement

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

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey has been nominated  for appointment to the rank of general and assignment as chief of staff, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C.  Dempsey is currently serving as the commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Monroe, Va.

This Day in Naval History - Feb. 09

From the Navy News Service

1799 - USS Constellation, commanded by Capt. Thomas Truxtun, captures the French warship l'Insurgente.
1943 - The organized Japanese resistance on Guadalcanal ends.
1947 - Carrier USS Wright (CVL 49) is commissioned.
1978 - A new era in naval communications begins with the launching of the first satellite of the Navy's Fleet Satellite Communications System.
1984 - Destroyer USS Moosbrugger (DD 980) fires approximately 150 shells at Syrian artillery positions east of Beirut.

Decreased Funding Reduces Orders Timeline

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Citing the impact of reduced funding, Navy announced Feb. 8 that Sailors should expect to receive orders with shorter lead times and based on operational priority.

NAVADMIN 049/11 informed the Fleet of the impact to permanent change of station (PCS) orders while operating under a continuing resolution (CR), which is a Congressional budget authorization that allows for continuous normal operations while a final budget is approved.

"Due to the way resources are phased and allocated under a CR, Navy currently does not have sufficient funds in our manpower accounts to allow for normal lead times for Sailors to receive PCS orders," explained Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel. "The measures we are taking are absolutely necessary in order to remain within budget. Our goal remains to mitigate the impact to Sailors and their families as funds become available."

Navy Personnel Command's (NPC) ability to release approximately 10,000 orders at the end of fiscal year 2010 minimized the impact of the CR until now. To date, NPC has received 40% less funding than planned and is currently releasing priority orders for members with detachment dates between February and May 2011. Sailors detaching in the next few months who have not yet received orders will likely have less than two months lead time when the orders are released.

Navy has utilized this prioritization strategy in previous PCS funding-constrained periods with the intent to minimize impact to Fleet readiness, career timing, and families. Emphasis will remain on global support assignment rotations, career milestone billets, critical readiness fills, minimizing gaps at sea for deployed units and those working up to deploy, and keeping the training pipelines moving.

Anticipating a heavy volume of Fleet questions and concerns, Navy leadership reminds the Fleet that the Sailor to detailer ratio is 1500:1 which means there may be a delay in response to individual questions. When seeking more information on this topic, Sailors are asked start with the PCS "Frequently Asked Questions" on the NPC website at http://www.npc.navy.mil or to contact the NPC call center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (1-866-827-5672).

"We remain committed to providing Sailors with as much information and lead time as possible," said Ferguson. "Thank you for your patience as we work through the continuing resolution funding challenges."

To read NAVADMIN049/11, visit http://www.npc.navy.mil/ReferenceLibrary/Messages/>
For more information from the chief of naval personnel, visit www.navy.mil/cnp/.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

Top Doctor Cites Importance of Psychological Health

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2011 – Psychological health is among the military’s most critical and most promising areas of medical treatment, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for health affairs said today.

Speaking at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s Warrior Resilience Conference in Arlington, Va., Dr. Jonathan Woodson said nearly 10 years of war has caused an “immense” emotional toll on service members and their families.

“The work is heartbreaking and difficult, and progress is uneven and slow,” he acknowledged to an audience that included health care providers, researchers, officers and noncommissioned officers, and family members.

But, Woodson said, the military has made unprecedented gains in the treatment and prevention of “the invisible wounds of war,” and offers promise for more gains.

Woodson, a brigadier general in the Army Reserve, is a medical doctor and combat veteran who recently assumed his duties as the Pentagon’s top medical official. Since taking the post, he said, he has become even more optimistic about the military’s ability to prevent and treat psychological and emotional disorders in the future.

“My enthusiasm and commitment has only deepened since I’ve been in office and have been able to interact with people on a daily basis who are committed to solving these problems,” he said. “You’re professional, creative, and fresh, … and working to find answers. And your work is vital to our national security.”

Woodson noted the enormity of the effort to tackle psychological issues. “No nation in history has ever put forth more resources and attention to understanding how to treat psychological health,” he said.

The military is increasingly “getting at the heart” of the problem by questioning how to increase resilience in service members before they are deployed for combat, and trying to figure out if resilience can be measured, Woodson said.

“You in this audience and those like you are uncovering some of the keys of what strengthens us,” he said. “Coming at this from the point of view of the individual, how do we strengthen what they already possess?”

The services need a more comprehensive assessment of service members, including their emotional health, Woodson said. That begins, he added, with educating everyone, including families, about the signs that a person may be in distress.

“This begins with watching out for each other,” he said. “It begins with the buddy on your left and the buddy on your right.”

Woodson recounted the case of a soldier with whom he was deployed. While she was happy to communicate with her family over the Internet, he said, she also was becoming increasingly stressed by events back home.

When she learned her young son had been in an accident, “the guilt and stress took a significant toll on her,” even though the boy made a full recovery, Woodson told the audience. That case, like so many, he said, required the watchful eyes and ears of her battle buddies to see the soldier through it.

“The mutual support we give each other is critical,” Woodson said, adding that clinicians need to support each other, too. “We need all of you, and we need you to be healthy.”

During a question-and-answer session, an Army National Guard colonel noted the increasing suicides in the Army Guard’s ranks and said she is concerned that “we’re not getting at which soldiers actually are at risk.”

Recognition of those at risk is, indeed, critical, Woodson said.

“It will come down to us, as a community, understanding what is the profile of people at risk and acting on our suspicions of someone at risk,” he said. “That’s why we need to train families, as well.

“I don’t see this it as developing tools as much as changing a culture, and educating about this multifaceted approach to mental health,” he added.

One of his challenges as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs is to be a good steward of public funds by determining which programs work well and which don’t to determine priorities, Woodson said, ensuring funding isn’t wasted on programs that are duplicative or ineffective.

Hawaii Legislature recognizes Commander Navy Region Hawaii employee

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

HONOLULU (NNS) -- A DoD employee at Commander Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) received recognition for his dedicated community service from the Hawaii House of Representatives, at the State Capitol, Feb. 4.

Stanford Yuen, CNRH special assistant for intergovernmental affairs, appeared at the State Capitol to be recognized with a plaque of appreciation presented by Rep. Rida Cabanilla and Rep. Corrine Ching during a regular session of the House.

"Stanford Yuen has received many awards for his accomplishments, dedication and leadership and has contributed his time, efforts and leadership and expertise as a volunteer in numerous community activities," Cabanilla said during her remarks on the House floor. "The extensive training, assignments and education undertaken and achieved by Yuen improved military engineering, governmental relations and business affairs vital to our nation's defense."

Yuen began his federal career in 1975 as a mechanical engineer at Hickam Air Force Base. He later joined CNRH as a facilities engineer in 1993. In 2000, he became a special assistant to the admiral.

Today, Executive Assistant of Intergovernmental Affairs Yuen works closely with Navy leadership, Hawaii government officials and local businesses.

"I deal with the community," said Yuen. "A lot of time, the work involves relationships, making sure they understand the Navy and what we are doing and how the Navy benefits the State."

Yuen, who resides in Honolulu, is a member of the Chinatown neighborhood board and is involved in the city master planning efforts. Yuen has held positions in over a dozen community organizations in Chinatown.

Yuen said that it is a very gratifying feeling to be recognized by the State legislature, but stresses that he is only the tip of the iceberg.

"It's an accumulation of teamwork and a lot of people who have been involved with the project that I have been involved," said Yuen. "This recognition represents their efforts also."

For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.

Chairman’s Corner: 2011 National Military Strategy

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2011 – Today, I released the 2011 National Military Strategy, which provides a vision for how our Joint Force will provide the military capability to protect the American People, defend our Nation and allies, and contribute to our broader peace, security and prosperity.

While we continue to refine how we counter violent extremism and deter aggression, this strategy also rightfully emphasizes that our military power is most effective when employed in concert with other elements of power. This whole-of-nation approach to foreign policy, with civilian leadership appropriately at the helm, will be essential as we address the complex security challenges before us.

This strategy also acknowledges that while tough near-term choices must be made during this era of broader economic constraints, we will continue to invest in our people and our families. Working with our government and interagency partners, and our friends and allies, they, most of all, will bring this strategy to life as we meet our 21st century responsibilities in a dynamic, yet uncertain, future.

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Receives Battle "E" Award

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan C. Delcore, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

GULFPORT, Miss. (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 received the Battle Efficiency (Battle "E") award, Feb. 4., for outstanding operational performance.

The 1st Naval Construction Division (1NCD) announced the winners of the 2010 Battle "E" Award, Dec. 21, in Virginia Beach, Va.

NMCB 133 was recognized as the Atlantic Fleet's 'best of type' active duty Naval Mobile Construction Battalion for 2010.

"Competition for the Battle 'E' this year was exceptionally close, highlighting the superb performance of naval construction forces in meeting the continually elevated demands of today's operational environment," said Rear Adm. Mark A. Handley, commander, 1NCD. "Both active and Reserve component units provided outstanding support of worldwide combatant commander requirements."

Preparations for NMCB 133's successful year began with numerous exercises that allowed the battalion to identify and evaluate areas the command needed improve upon.

A communications exercise (COMEX) was completed to sharpen the skills of the battalion's communications team. The COMEX helped the NMCB 133 communications team complete two communication electronic turnover procedures (CETOP) and inspections without any discrepancies. Also, the battalion had an overall outstanding assessment while on deployment. This training helped the radio operators to gain a better understanding of radios, antennas, and satellite equipment.

Many of the battalion's Seabees attended courses that gave them the skills required to complete their homeport projects and accomplish critical missions while on deployment in Afghanistan.

NMCB 133 saved three U.S. bases a total of $642,169 in labor costs by providing Seabees for construction projects.

The battalion deployed to U.S. Central Command's (CENTCOM) area of operation in Afghanistan, as part of the troop surge, where they displaced 13 Details that completed more than 400 construction projects valued at $100 million. Additionally, $53 million worth of civil engineering support equipment and 10,000 tons of materials were used to complete 1.6 million square meters of forward operating base (FOB) expansions.

The FOB expansions were done by pushing out the defensive berms, which eliminated threat areas by gaining ground previously used by insurgents to attack the FOBs with indirect fire.

NMCB 133 conducted mine proofing missions not commonly done by the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The battalion pioneered this task and set the standard by creating a standard operating procedure that used an up-armored dozer to clear landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO).

For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb133/.

U.S., French Defense Leaders Sign Space Agreement

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2011 – U.S. and French defense leaders consulted on a wide range of mutual interests and signed an agreement on space situational awareness at the Pentagon today.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and French Defense Minister Alain Juppe discussed Afghanistan, restoring NATO, containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and defeating international terrorism, and also addressed the situation in Egypt.

Gates hosted Juppe and his party last night at a restaurant that once hosted John Quincy Adams and Marquis de Lafayette in 1824.

On Egypt, both men emphasized the need for a peaceful transition. Gates said the Egyptian military “has conducted itself in an exemplary manner” through the protests.

“They have acted with great restraint, and frankly, they have done everything that we have indicated we hoped they would do,” Gates said. “They have made a contribution to the evolution of democracy that we’ve seen in Egypt.”

Egypt needs an orderly transition, but it needs to continue to move forward in a way that allows people to see “a steady pace in implementing a number of the reforms that have been announced and which the Egyptian government has committed,” Gates said.

Juppe stressed that both the United States and France want free and fair elections in Egypt.

“It’s up to the people of Egypt to decide about that,” he said through a translator. “We are ready to support whatever decisions they make.”

Juppe said Arab leaders always have told the West that “it was either us or Islamic chaos.” He said the countries need to let opposition parties form and should not let anyone “confiscate the democratic process.”

Gates called the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt a “spontaneous manifestation of discontent on the part of people who have both economic and political grievances.” The United States has been aware of the problems, he said, and has spoken to governments in the region on their need to address these problems.

“I would hope that other governments in the region, seeing this spontaneous action in Tunisia and Egypt, would take measures to begin moving in a positive direction,” he said. “In this way, we can have an orderly transition toward greater democracy.”

The two men also signed a bilateral statement on principles for space situational awareness. Gates said the agreement will go a long way toward addressing one of the key security challenges of the 21st century.

“As the new strategy puts it, space is becoming increasingly congested, contested and competitive,” he said.

A growing number of nations are using space for a growing number of purposes: manned spacecraft, satellites, the international space station and more. This increases the odds of accidental collisions.

In addition, many space technologies undergird civilian and defense capabilities such as precision navigation, climate monitoring, secure communications and natural disaster warnings.

“These agreements help us mitigate situations by sharing information and pooling our varied capabilities,” Gates said. “Our arrangement will foster safety and reduce the chance of mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust. Such cooperation is a key aspect of our National Security Space Strategy.”

Juppe emphasized the high level of confidence the French have in their military relationship with the United States. He said the close cooperation between the two nations allows their militaries to work together from Afghanistan -- where France has more than a brigade of troops working with American forces in Regional Command East -– to space, which the minister called one of the most challenging domains.

He assured Gates that France is a reliable partner despite budget constraints that all nations are facing.

“I want to stress that we will safeguard the operational capability of our armed forces,” Juppe said.

Navy Adjusts Selective Reenlistment Program (SRB) Levels

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In response to retention requirements for critical skills, the Navy has made adjustments to the fiscal year 2011 Selective Reenlistment Program (SRB) in NAVADMIN 048/11.

SRBs are a dynamic market-based incentive designed to retain Sailors in the Navy's most critical ratings and Navy Enlisted Classifications (NEC). Changes to the 135 skill and zone combinations reflected in the FY11 plan include 19 reductions and 12 eliminations; 105 remain unchanged.

"Competition for opportunities to stay in the Navy has increased," said Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, director of Navy's Personnel, Plans and Policy Division. "We have a portfolio of force shaping tools, including SRB, to retain the Sailors necessary to execute mission requirements. SRB is a program that is used exclusively to retain Sailors with critical skills. As reenlistment requirements are met, SRB award levels are adjusted to ensure we remain within end strength and fiscal controls."

The message also adds a provision to allow Sailors to submit SRB precertification requests prior to PTS approval; however SRB requests will not be approved until PTS confirmation is received. SRB requests must be submitted no later than 35 days prior to the requested reenlistment date.

"The SRB program has become more targeted, dynamic, and efficient," said Kurta. "Enlisted community managers continuously monitor the health of their communities and make recommendations to adjust the SRB award levels."

Sailors are encouraged to work with their command career counselors, command master chiefs, and chain of command to discuss timing of reenlistment and procedures well in advance of their End of Active Obligated Service (EAOS).

For complete information on the SRB adjustments, see NAVADMIN 048/11 at www.npc.navy.mil.

For more information from the chief of naval personnel, visit www.navy.mil/cnp.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.
AFRICOM Commander Visits Sailors, African Partners
By Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

LOME, Togo (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spoke to African partners and U.S. Sailors aboard USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) Feb. 7, during the first of many port visits of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West.

Gen. William E. "Kip" Ward spoke about the importance of the APS mission during an all-hands call aboard the Robert G. Bradley flight deck.

"I cannot stress enough the importance of the job you are doing with all of the partners involved in the APS mission," said Ward. "The work you do here embodies the true meaning of 'partnership' and the relationships we are building with African nations. I thank you for your commitment, your hard work and dedication to making this a successful start to the APS mission."

Ward closed his speech by talking about the positive effect APS has on bilateral relations between the U.S. and African countries.

Before departing, Ward met with senior leadership, toured the ship and presented two USS Robert G. Bradley Sailors with awards.

"On behalf of the crew, I would like to thank General Ward for taking the time to visit Robert G. Bradley," said Cmdr. Darryl Brown, USS Robert G. Bradley commanding officer. "His enthusiasm for the APS mission was very motivating to all on board and shows that the hard work we are putting in APS West is being noticed."

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.

Face of Defense: Band NCO Gets Grammy Nomination

From a West Point Band News Release

WEST POINT, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2011 – The West Point Band's newest audio engineer, Army Staff Sgt. Brandie Lane, was nominated for a Grammy in the category that will recognize last year’s best-engineered classical music album.

Awarded by the Recording Academy, the Grammy honors excellence in the recording arts and sciences.

The album, "Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works," also is nominated in two performance categories: best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra and best chamber music performance. Lane also has engineering credits on "Sarah Schuster Ericsson: 20th Century Harp Sonatas," nominated in the best instrumental soloist performance without orchestra category.

Before she joined the Army in July, Lane was the head audio engineer at Sono Luminus, a record label in Virginia that specializes in classical and jazz music. These albums were completed during her time there.

"It was truly an honor to be part of such a special project," Lane said. "The album was a fantastic melding of research and performance involving many world-class engineers, producers and performers.

“Many thanks to them, and the rest of the team at Sono Luminus for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of it. I feel proud to be representing the West Point Band and the Army Band program in such a positive way," she added.

Lane also has engineering credits on the 2008 Grammy-nominated album, "Ronn McFarlane:
Indigo Road
," which was in the classical crossover category.

The engineering and classical portions of the award ceremony will be streamed live at http://www.grammy.com before the live telecast Feb. 13. Lane will attend this event and the televised ceremony.

NEXCOM Provides Internet Service to Military Members at Camp Lemonnier

By Kristine M. Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (NNS) -- The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) began offering new Internet service plans Feb. 4 to service members stationed at Camp Lemonnier in the Horn of Africa.

The NEXCOM program manager for unofficial telecommunications assisted in finding a local provider for the Internet service inside each container living unit which serves as living areas for residents on the base.

"We worked with the Commander, Naval Installation Command's official network group at Camp Lemonnier to create a contract with the local Djiboutian phone company, Djibouti Teleco," said Mary Morse, NEXCOM program manager, Telecommunications Program Office. "This allowed for pay-for-service inside each container living unit, similar to the standard Internet service in the United States."

Djibouti Teleco created a special department within their phone company, Multivision, to handle this project and hired engineers from local countries to design a solution that allowed for Internet in the container living units.

"NEX Djibouti, working with Multivision, collects the Internet fee from the customer," said Morse. "The customer then contacts Multivision for the start up of their service as well as any issues with accessing and maintaining an Internet connection."

Cost for the Internet service varies depending on the length of time purchased and the speed of the connection. Prices start at just $15.

"Under industry standards, customers typically buy one or two different speeds on a monthly basis," said Morse. "However, due to the unique situation in Djibouti and the mission changes, customers have the flexibility of purchasing only what is needed during their stay."

The speed of the Internet service is also fast enough to perform voice over Internet protocol or VOIP which allows the service members to not only speak to their loved ones but actually see them from their computers.

In total, nearly 400 service members have signed up for the service since sales began.

"Overall consensus (of the plans) was very favorable," said Vonda Hensley, branch exchange manager, Navy Exchange Djibouti. "We're averaging over 100 sign-ups for the service a day. The availability of Internet service here in Djibouti is a huge quality of life service. Service members appreciate being able to contact their loved ones back home."

Camp Lemonnier provides, operates and maintains superior service to meet the needs of regional tenant commands, and facilitate operations in the Horn of Africa, while promoting positive relations between the United States and African nations. It is the only U.S. military base located in Africa.

For more news from Navy Exchange Service Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nexcom/.>

Building Resilience Must Start at Basic Training, Mullen Says

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 – Leadership that builds resilience in service members and their families starting with the first day of basic training is essential to the U.S. military’s future, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

“That kind of investment up front will prevent us from the expenditure of a huge number of resources down the road,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the audience of 600 people at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s third annual Warrior Resilience Conference in Arlington, Va.

The conference’s “Total Force Fitness” theme supports a joint strategy to build resilience for service members’ multidimensional and holistic fitness.

“This is as important as who we are, where we are and what we need to do with respect to the future as anything we have,” Mullen said.

The need for resilience emerged over time, the chairman said, and it’s only going to grow.

“We’re going to see a set of problems we’ve been stuffing away in compartments that we didn’t want to deal with that are potentially going to rise dramatically in terms of severity and sheer numbers,” he said. “We need to attack that issue, not just wait for it to show up.”

Mullen noted that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has talked about leadership taking care of service members when they’re home, “which is something we haven’t been focused on in a long time.”

The chairman said he recently visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., noting that the 35,000 troops there represent the largest number of service members stationed there in a long time.

“It struck me that the only ones who knew anything about [that kind of leadership] were the E-8s and E-9s. … They took care of that leadership at a time when we hadn’t done that kind of leadership for almost a decade,” Mullen said.

But that group eventually will rotate out or retire in the next few years, he added.

“We are in a race to provide garrison leadership that is critical to our future to those soldiers and airmen, there [and] across the board,” the chairman said.

Service members who now are home between deployments for twice as long as has been the case over the last decade will present challenges that “deeply penetrate” them and their families, Mullen said, calling it a fundamental change that also alters the meaning of total force fitness.

A mental health assessment team that has gone into the combat theater about a half dozen times to look at the troops’ mental health recently briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chairman said.

“The message that came out is we’re better than we’ve been, and in some ways significantly better,” he said. “We have been able to build resilience in ways a couple years ago we didn’t understand an awful lot about.”

And while much still is unknown, he added, the services will be “in the ad hoc world with respect to that until we systematically approach ‘This is one way to do that.’”

Mullen told the group he frequently addresses mental health and resilience and feels passionate about it is because the military’s future is at stake. He noted that over the next few weeks, the fiscal 2012 defense budget will be a hot topic in the nation’s capital.

“We’ll talk about our people, but oftentimes the conversation gets dominated by the ‘stuff,’” he said. “If we don’t get it right for our people and put together the kind of capabilities we have, … it won’t make any difference what we get.”

Many good people are leaving the military, the chairman said, and the nation can’t afford for that to continue. “The impact of that will be long-term, significant, and it won’t matter what kind of [budget] we have coming,” he said.

Another concern the chairman discussed is what he calls an “unwillingness to reach out to the best there is.”

“Many of us think we are the best there is, and I understand that and want professionals who think that way,” he said. “But the best there is needs to listen to somebody else who’s the best there is. Too often, we’re far too limited in our willingness to look in other places [or] to listen to breakthroughs that occurred somewhere else [that] may apply to us.

“This has to do with the speed, the openness and the urgency to get at the challenges that exist,” he continued. “We cannot rest on our status quo, no matter how good we think we are or somebody else says we are. There’s change that’s constantly occurring [that is] particularly invigorating and a difficult challenge.”

Change must be led by leaders to make a difference, Mullen said, noting that with the active involvement of leaders, the best practices can be extended into the Veterans Affairs Department and into the communities where veterans live.

Mullen acknowledged that more work needs to be done to improve the transition for service members’ care when they separate from the military.

“We have a system that’s incredibly stovepiped -- that says while you’re on active duty or while you’re wearing a uniform, the Department of Defense takes care of you. After that, the VA takes care of you. And after that, the VA turns you over to communities and says, ‘Have a nice life,’” Mullen said. “So we take our most precious resources, [the] people we care about so much while they’re here, and we turn them over to other stovepipes and hope it goes well.”

Breaking down those stovepipes is essential, the chairman said, so veterans “who made such a difference, who sacrificed incredibly, are well taken care of for the rest of their lives.”

Total fitness through individuals to their families and their experiences really is the message of today, the chairman said. “Building that to the best possible level we can possibly build it is absolutely required,” he added.

Mullen urged the audience to tackle the issues, understand solutions that might exist, and adopt the best practices until something else comes along – keeping in mind those whose lives are changed forever and the families of the fallen.

“As one surviving spouse told me, ‘On Monday, I was in the Army. On Tuesday, I was gone,’” the chairman said. “We need to make sure that does not happen anywhere. They sacrificed too much, and they’re too special.”

Theodore Roosevelt Sailors Help with Extreme Makeover Home Edition Show

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Wilyanna Harper, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- While conducting an extreme overhaul of their own nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Sailors of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) took time out to assist in an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition Feb. 3 for a Hampton Roads family.

For the last two years, Theodore Roosevelt Sailors have been tearing apart and reinstalling everything from small electrical cables to steel doors and tile floors on their 1,092 foot-long ship. So, for these Sailors, helping to build a home for Beverly Hill and her daughters was just another ordinary task. The Sailors donated roughly 100 man-hours to building the house for a mother raising six adopted school-aged girls.

Wearing white hard hats and the trademark blue Extreme Makeover shirts, Theodore Roosevelt Sailors jumped right into work. Personnel Specialist Seaman Kenneth Perkins and Yeoman 3rd Class Michael Wahl ripped flooring to create an opening for an upper level loft, while Electrician's Mate Natalia Cyngier and Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Lacey Frye began cutting floor boards.

The Sailors worked until sunset, alongside several other handy professionals and volunteers. They hauled dry wall and cabinetry up and down the stairs, prepared window trimmings, and shoveled rubble.

While waiting for their assignments, the Sailors got an extra boost of inspiration from Hill's mother, Ms. Adell Joyner.

For the second day, Joyner was watching her daughter's new chocolate-earth tone home being built from a neighbor's yard across the street. With bright eyes and a smile, Joyner told the Roosevelt Sailors how much she appreciated their help.

"It's an honor to know that the Navy is willing to take time out from what they are doing to come out and help build this home," said Joyner. "It really shows the caring hearts of people."

Joyner explained how the failing construction of the original home made things difficult for the family. She said that the new home will mean a lot more for her daughter and the girls.

"This is a great thing. It's life changing for us, and it will give my daughter and her family so much opportunity. Beverly is always helping others," said Joyner. "Now this will help her continue her passion of giving back."

Over the last 15 years Hill has cared for 35 foster children, six of which she adopted. In addition to providing love to children without families, Hill regularly gives to the poor and hungry. Twice a month she cooks and delivers meals to homeless men and women around Hampton Roads.

"She never turns anyone away," said Joyner. "She makes it her mission to feed those who do not have. She just loves to share her blessings with others."

Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Robie Matthews said that it's moments like these that make volunteering so worthwhile.

"Listening to Ms. Joyner tell a little about the family's story, was very rewarding," said Matthews. "You could just feel that she was genuinely thankful for all of the help. It feels really good to know that the fruit of your labor can be someone's joy."

For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.