Military News

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Flag Officer Announcements

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

Rear Adm. (lower half) Brian L. Losey will be assigned as commander, Special Operations Command, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany.  Losey is currently serving as commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Scott P. Moore will be assigned as deputy chief for operations, Office of Defense Representative-Pakistan, U.S. Central Command, Islamabad, Pakistan.  Moore is currently serving as deputy director for special operations, J-37, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. Robert O. Wray Jr., will be assigned as president, Board of Inspection and Survey, Norfolk, Va.  Wray is currently serving as vice commander, Navy Forces Europe/Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Naples, Italy.

Operational Stress Control Serves as Key Resource for Sailors, Families

From Defense Media Activity - Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Preventing and limiting the effects of operational stress on Sailors is a top priority for the U.S. Navy, a priority being met through the Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program.

Established Nov. 2008, the program seeks to help create an environment where Sailors, commands and their families are able to thrive during stressful operations.

All military services are feeling the strain of war, decreased unit manning, extended deployments, and myriad situations brought on by the country's current economic crisis. These coupled with the normal stresses of household moves, deployments and separations, family issues and job responsibilities, magnify the stress Sailors and their families are experiencing.

"We work cooperatively with other Navy and family, and personal readiness programs to build a foundation of prevention to be able to mitigate and prevent [stress related] injuries and illnesses before they ever affect our Sailors and their lives," said Captain Lori Laraway, OSC coordinator.

The program aims to teach Sailors that asking for help and guidance for stress issues is not a sign of weakness, but is instead a sign of strength. It accomplishes this mission by educating Sailors, families and command leaders to take care of themselves by remaining fit and healthy, to look after one another, and to take action if they see others reacting negatively to stress.

"Leaders are our first line of defense," Laraway said. "Maybe they need a more experienced chief or a senior mentor to help them discover options, or to identify things to mitigate their stress that may not even involve seeing a mental health professional."

The program is improving awareness of stress related illness as well. A survey taken in 2010 revealed a seven percent increase of awareness among enlisted Sailors, and an 11 percent increase among officers. Sailors are also showing more drive to use positive methods to cope with stress, such as thinking of a plan to solve problems or exercising or playing sports.

There are many tools and resources available to aid Sailors in the management of operational stress. These include:

• Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NEHC) Leader's Guide for Managing Personnel in Distress Web page http://www-nmcphc.med.navy.mil/lguide/.

• Military OneSource hot line 1-800-342-9647 and Web site www.militaryonesource.com.

• Navy Suicide Prevention Program web-site: www.suicide.navy.mil.

• Support personnel such as chaplains, medical personnel and mental health professionals can assist leaders in operational stress control functions.

For more information about OSC and its related programs, visit http://navynavstress.com./

Visit OSC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/navstress or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/navstress.

DOD Takes Steps to Combat Childhood Obesity

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – The Defense Department has joined forces with the nation to combat a childhood obesity epidemic that not only is a matter of health or nutrition, but also is a national security issue, a Pentagon official said.

“When the nation as a whole lacks in this issue, it’s pervasive,” Barbara Thompson, co-chair of DOD’s working group to combat obesity, told American Forces Press Service, noting obesity’s impact on everything from recruiting to the nation’s health system.

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama marked the one-year anniversary of her “Let’s Move” campaign, a nationwide initiative to promote making healthy food choices and increasing physical activity within homes, schools and communities. The aim, Obama has said, is to solve America’s childhood obesity epidemic within a generation.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” Obama said at the Let’s Move launch last year.

America’s childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Let’s Move website. Today, nearly one in three American children and about one in four military children are overweight or obese. This issue has a tremendous impact on the health system, and from a military standpoint, it can affect everything from recruiting and retention to the force’s ability to fight, said Thompson, who also serves as the director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy, children and youth.

Thompson cited a report called “Too Fat to Fight,” which states that 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 are unable to join the military for various reasons, with being overweight or obese the leading medical cause.

“When you take into account that 50 percent of military youth enter the military or consider entering the military, that’s a huge pool we need to be focused on,” Thompson said.

Spurred on by the first lady’s efforts, the Defense Department formed a childhood obesity working group in August, with a committee of nearly 30 helping professionals from a variety of military backgrounds and expertise, Thompson said. The group includes pediatricians, family medicine physicians, dietitians, nurses, public health professionals, military and civilian personnel experts, family and child and youth professionals, and representatives from the Defense Commissary Agency, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

To tackle a daunting task, the group divided into four subcommittees: nutrition and health for children from birth to age 18, the Military Health System, food and fitness environments and education and strategic communications.

The committee then set out on a mission to improve the health and nutrition of military families, Thompson said.

“We’re developing a strategic action plan that cuts across the DOD’s food environment,” she explained. “We have to look at our food courts, our school menus, how physically friendly is the installation so children can walk to school and bike to school to increase their physical activity, for example.

“It’s a very comprehensive look at what we can do as a department to help our families make the right choices for their families,” she added.

They’ve already made considerable progress, Thompson noted. With the Army taking the lead, officials are creating standardized menus for child development centers to ensure the centers are meeting children’s nutritional needs. They’re also working with vendors who supply the centers’ food to ensure they’re getting the freshest vegetables, lower-fat cuts of meat and less processed food laden with fats, salt and sugar.

Since children receive about two-thirds of their daily nutrition requirement while in military child care centers, these efforts are poised to have a significant impact, Thompson said, also noting that military youth and child development centers serve about 700,000 military youth on any given day.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to impact the way they think about healthy lifestyles,” she said.

Additionally, the committee is working to develop community gardens, healthy cooking classes and classes on the relationship between finances and food. Eating at home, for example, generally is less expensive than eating out, Thompson said.

Thompson also cited progress within the civilian sector that the military can adopt. The first lady is working with a major “super store” chain to reduce the number of products high in fat, salt and sugar and to boost the number of fruits and vegetables it offers, she explained, and commissary officials are looking into this as well. Commissaries already have increased the sales of fresh fruits and vegetables, she noted.

Additionally, the department is working to offer more healthy choices in vending machines, schools, dining facilities, clubs, bowling centers, food courts, and any other on-base locale that offers food, she said.

These changes not only will affect children in the short term with better stamina and well-being, but also will have a significant impact on their long-term health, Public Health Service Cmdr. (Dr.) Aileen Buckler, working group co-chair and TRICARE population health physician, told American Forces Press Service.

When a child is overweight or obese, particularly obese, she explained, they’re at a much higher risk of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, as well as increased blood sugars, which can lead to higher rates of Type 2 diabetes at younger ages than what was seen in the past.

Weight issues often follow children through the years, Buckler noted. Studies show that about 85 percent of children ages 10 to 15 who were overweight became obese by age 25, she said. And children who are obese before age 8 are more likely to have more severe obesity as an adult, which can lead to greater risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis and even infertility, she added.

To keep these health issues from snowballing, Buckler’s Military Health System subcommittee is taking action within health care offices nationwide. Members are working on a policy memo aimed at helping pediatricians, family physicians and civilian health care providers properly diagnose overweight and obesity in children, track trends and offer parents ideas of how they can help at home.

They’re also evaluating civilian and military toolkits on childhood obesity so they can develop a standardized toolkit for military and civilian providers, she added. This will ensure they reach the widest scope of children, including those of National Guard and Reserve families.

Along with new initiatives, the committee is taking current, effective programs into account, Thompson said. The committee has gathered an inventory of current service programs to learn from effective practices with an aim to expand those programs across the department, she said.

But the department can’t accomplish this alone, Thompson noted. “It takes a village to make good change,” she said. “We need to bring the message to the important adults in their lives. And as adults, we need to be good role models for our children.”

Thompson summed up a healthy family goal with the aid of a few numbers: five-two-one-zero. People, she explained, should aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

About 40 percent of children’s calories are empty ones, she noted. “That is a real concern that they’re not getting enough vitamins and fiber,” she said.

The working group is factoring in the additional challenges military families face, Buckler noted, such as multiple deployments and frequent moves. During a deployment, for example, the at-home parent may find it more difficult to find time to shop for healthy foods or take children to physical activities such as soccer or basketball, she said.

“It probably makes eating healthy and getting activity into your life harder,” she acknowledged.

But military parents can take smaller steps toward change to start, she noted. They can choose skim milk instead of whole or reduced-fat milk or take a family walk or bike ride after dinner rather than turning on the TV.

“You can go play kickball or throw a ball around,” she suggested. “The goal is to get out of the house, get moving and away from the television.”

Thompson said she’s optimistic about the changes that have occurred and what is yet to come.

“The committee’s members are very passionate and committed to making positive changes,” she said. Thompson said the group plans to publish a full report with the group’s progress and recommendations in the spring.

Meanwhile, for more information on a healthy lifestyle, people can visit a service health and wellness facility, check in with a base fitness center or visit the Let’s Move campaign website at http://www.letsmove.gov or Military OneSource at http://militaryonesource.com/.

Seabees Support Tradewinds Exercise

By Equipment Operator 1st Class (SCW) Lori Roberts, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 Public Affairs

CAMP CRABB, Antigua (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 Det. Gold, based in Shreveport, La., are completing barracks renovations and constructing a Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training facility in Antigua.

The renovations will eliminate unsafe electrical conditions and prevent leaky plumbing causing water damage. Interior lighting will also be improved, and more electrical outlets will become usable again. With the plumbing repairs and improvements, the camp will be able to manage a larger group during training evolutions.

"The repairs and renovations we are making are a tremendous quality of life improvement for the ABDF," said Lt. Matt Lopez, officer in charge of the mission. "With the funds that Southern Command is providing for the Tradewinds Exercise, we will improve certain base facilities to nearly 100 percent of their intended function and allow the ABDF to increase their training capabilities."

The MOUT facility will consist of four, two-level block buildings that will be used for cross training multi-national military groups during the Joint Task Force Tradewinds Exercise hosted by the ABDF.

The Seabees will also benefit greatly from the training involved in this project.

"This is a great opportunity for our Seabees to put their construction skills to use," said Lopez. "For some this is a new trade they are learning for the first time, but it is one that is a great tool for their personal toolbox because CMU block wall is a construction activity that Seabees perform around the globe."

The projects are expected to be completed before the end of February, and the Tradewinds Exercise will begin in March 2011, featuring at least thirty military, law enforcement, and governmental agencies from at least twenty-two different partner nations.

NMCB 28 is expected to be deployed as part of the Southern Command until August 2011.

For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb28/.

Website Links Unemployed Vets, Spouses to Jobs

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – Unemployed veterans, wounded warriors, reserve-component service members and their spouses searching for jobs can find one-stop shopping at a Web portal designed just for them.

Operated by the Army Reserve, the military-friendly Employee Partnership of the Armed Forces at http:www.EmployerPartnership.org lends assistance not only to those looking for a job, but also to public and private employers who are ready to hire former service members and help to support the troops, said Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, deputy chief of the Army Reserve.

“It’s all about connecting supply and demand,” Thurgood said.
Employers are attracted to veterans because they are highly skilled leaders from the finely tuned military atmosphere, the general explained.

“That’s the crux of the program,” Thurgood said. “It’s a mutually beneficial program where the employer gets someone who’s drug-free, understands collaboration, [and] can think strategically and act at a tactical level to get the job done.”

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a longtime advocate of hiring veterans.

“Veterans bring a maturity. They bring leadership. They bring a life experience,” he said last year. “They bring a dedication they may not have had when they were 17, 18 or 19 years old, when they were coming out of high school or in the first couple years of college.”

Thurgood said the portal, launched on Veterans Day, still is in its infancy, but already has 7,500 registered users.

“We’ve got over 1,300 [employers with job openings], including 95 Fortune 500 companies,” he said.

While many job websites exist on the Internet, Thurgood said, veterans should know EmployerPartnership.org offers a personal touch, such as a resume-building feature that translates military language into civilian terms. Deciphering “military speak” is a common concern for human resources people in the corporate world, the general added.

“We take [a military specialty] and translate it into something an HR professional can understand,” he said. “That’s a very important piece of what we do.”

And it’s not just about the military, Thurgood said.

“It’s about a national program we need to put in place to share this great resource that we call people, because if you look at the unemployment rate, and the demographic of 18-to-24-year-olds, and then break that down into veterans, it’s higher than the national average.”

And sometimes, he added, the rate of unemployment among veterans is twice of the rate among civilians.

“We have ability to reach out to you personally to help you get your resume right, help you through the interview process, and make the right connections with employers,” the general said. “The personal touch is something we provide that nobody else does.”

The portal also has advice for veterans who want to start a business, Thurgood noted, offering training that explains how to become a smarter business person and entrepreneur.

“It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a great way for us to connect the great skill sets that we bring to corporate America,” he said. “In my opinion, our great military does two things well: it delivers results and grows leaders. That’s exactly what America needs.”

Congressmen Visit USS George H.W. Bush At Sea

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Misty Trent, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Six Congressmen on the House Armed Services Committee visited USS George H.W. Bush(CVN 77) Feb. 6-7, as part of the Navy's Distinguished Visitor (DV) Embark program.

Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA), Rep. David Wu (D-OR), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), Rep. John Runyan (R-NJ), and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) toured the ship, watched the Super Bowl with the crew, and had breakfast with Sailors from their home states.

The Navy's DV Embark program is designed to increase the public's understanding and appreciation for the Navy by providing a rare opportunity to see Sailors in action.

During the tour of the ship, DVs interact with Sailors from all departments to get a snapshot of what a day at sea is like aboard the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. Visitors, led by officer escorts from various departments, receive briefs from Flight Deck Control and have the opportunity to watch flight operations on the flight deck and night flight operations from Vulture's Row. Additionally, they tour the Pilot House, Doro Bush Koch Library, Combat Direction Center, an arresting gear machinery room, Medical, and the foc'sle, among other places.

Guests typically have no prior exposure to the Navy and often include educators, small and large business owners, community leaders, and elected officials. They are often active in their communities, and influential in businesses and government.

"Probably the greatest benefit of the DV Embark program is it affords our guests an opportunity to share their experiences with their friends, family, and co-workers ashore," said Lt. Ken Radford of Medical Department, an escort officer for the ship's DV Embark program. "The public has a vested interest in seeing their tax dollars at work and the GHWB DV embark program provides them that opportunity."

"I really hadn't thought about this prior to being on the ship, but the logistics of how water and food are provided, how solid waste and wastewater are disposed of, how the crew is cared for in their medical and dental needs, and how the ship has its own police force and jail, judge and legal staff were all very interesting," said Sanford Minkoff, Lake County Attorney and a member of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners in Tavares, Fla., who visited the ship Feb. 5-6.

Radford recently escorted a group of educators on an overnight visit to the ship, and shared one teacher's feedback.

"She made a point that teachers should never give up on a student that may appear as if he or she is not headed directly to college after high school. Many of these high school graduates may enlist in the military and perform jobs that require very high levels of responsibility. In particular, she was amazed at the aircraft maintenance that was being performed on the jets and how some of these Sailors were probably in high school just last year," said Radford.

While the visitors are often most impressed by the activity they watch on the flight deck, the interaction with the crew is what leaves the most lasting impression.

"A business leader made a comment towards the end of his DV embark at how impressed he was with the pride and professionalism of the crew," said Radford. "After he finished his tour, he specifically said he would look at naval service on a resume as a huge benefit when hiring potential employees."

"The two most interesting things to me were learning about the crew and the actual operation of the 'city at sea,'" said Minkoff. "I was impressed by the crew composition, both in the number of women in the crew including leadership positions, as well as the young age of the crewmembers. At each stop on the tour, one could not help being impressed by the dedication of these young crewmembers, particularly their ownership in their work and equipment."

Guests typically arrive via a carrier onboard delivery aircraft, or COD, and have the opportunity to experience both an arrested landing and a catapult-assisted take-off with the "Rawhides" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40. The average embark is approximately 24 hours, and the DVs pay for all associated costs of the visit, to include food, lodging and travel.

For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.>

VA Provides Benefits to Veterans’ Caregivers

From a White House News Release

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – The Veterans Affairs Department is launching the first of a series of new and enhanced services supporting family caregivers of seriously ill and injured veterans.

President Barack Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 legislation in May, authorizing VA to establish a wide range of new services to support certain caregivers of eligible post-9/11 veterans.

“Caregivers make tremendous sacrifices every day to help veterans of all eras who served this nation,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “They are critical partners with VA in the recovery and comfort of ill and injured veterans, and they deserve our continued training, support and gratitude.”

In addition to the new benefits and services for eligible veterans who were disabled in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, VA also will begin providing enhanced benefits and services to caregivers of veterans of all eras who already are enrolled in VA care, including:

-- Access to VA’s toll-free Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274;

-- Expanded education and training on caring for Veterans at home;

-- Other support services such as counseling and support groups and referral services; and

-- An enhanced website for caregivers.

Some of the new benefits of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act are restricted by law to the caregivers of the most seriously ill and injured post-9/11 veterans. Those additional benefits include:

-- A monthly stipend;

-- Health care coverage;

-- Travel expenses, including lodging and per diem, while accompanying veterans undergoing care;

-- Respite care; and

-- Mental health services and counseling.

VA will report to Congress in the future on the feasibility of expanding the enhanced services to family caregivers of veterans of all eras, officials said.

While some of these enhanced benefits are available now, many of the other significant newly enacted benefits will require the issuance of regulations. These additional benefits include monthly stipends, pay for travel costs, medical coverage, training, counseling and respite care designed to prevent institutionalization of veterans whenever possible.

The law requires detailed regulations for determining eligibility, designating and approving caregivers, and providing stipends and health care coverage to primary family caregivers. The complex process required to implement these regulations will provide veterans, caregivers and the public the opportunity to provide comments before those regulations are finalized.

“VA has supported caregivers of veterans of all eras for almost eight decades,” said Deborah Amdur of VA’s Care Management and Social Work Service, “and we know from our experience and research that veterans are best served when they can live their lives as independently as possible surrounded by caring family and friends.”

Each VA medical center has designated caregiver support coordinators who will assist eligible veterans and caregivers in understanding and applying for the new benefits. VA also has a caregiver support website, http://www.caregiver.va.gov, which will provide general information once final regulations are published, officials said.

Exceptional Family Member Liaison Welcomed in Jacksonville

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The Fleet and Family Services Center (FFSC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville announced Feb. 7 that it is now one of five centers across the Navy to provide a full-time Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) liaison.

The program helps meet the needs of families with dependents that have physical, mental and/or emotional disabilities.

"Our goal is to give Sailors the opportunity to excel in their careers by addressing the special needs of their exceptional family members – such as chronic medical conditions, mental health, developmental or educational requirements, adaptive equipment or assistive technology devices and services," said EFMP Coordinator Wayne Hamm.

In addition to Jacksonville, EFMP liaisons are now located at Fleet and Family Support Centers in San Diego; Bremerton, Wash.; Washington, D.C. and Norfolk, Va.

"One of my concerns is misinformation concerning EFMP. There is absolutely no reason for a Sailor to fear disclosing his or her family's special need to their command. Raising a child with exceptional needs will not have a negative effect on your naval career," said Hamm.

"In fact, EFMP is designed to enhance a Sailor's career by ensuring the Department of Defense and Navy provide resources that travel with the family to new assignment locations. EFMP enrollment information enables Navy detailers to consider a family member's special need requirements during the assignment process and select a duty station with appropriate resources that address special needs," said Hamm.

Hamm works in partnership with Naval Hospital Jacksonville EFMP Coordinator Galya Taborn to increase awareness of the program with tenant commanders, executive officers, command master chiefs and ombudsmen throughout the installation.

Taborn, the station's EFMP coordinator since 2002, welcomes Hamm for his experience in education, training and development.

"Wayne is a retired chief (Damage Controlman) as well as a licensed special education teacher – so he understands both the challenges of our Navy lifestyle and the stress that comes with an exceptional family member," said Taborn.

Recently, Hamm and Taborn teamed up to present an EFMP indoctrination to inform military personnel that EFMP is open to active duty family members who are:
• Enrolled in DEERS.
• Has a chronic medical, psychological or special education needs.
• Resides with sponsor. Exceptions include family member receiving inpatient care or if sponsor is a geographical bachelor.

Hamm said that EFMP enrollment is mandatory, as outlined in OPNAVINST 1744.2, and must be done when special needs are identified, or at lease nine months prior to the sponsor's projected rotation date. This is to ensure that duty station assignments match the needs of the family member.

"We also network with local organizations and experts outside the gate to provide collaborative assistance to special needs families," said Hamm.

For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasjax/.

Face of Defense: Barbershop Quartet Creates ‘Buzz’

By Air Force 2nd Lt. Bernie Kale
Alaska Air National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska, Feb. 9, 2011 – When Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Tillman of the Alaska Air National Guard deployed to Southwest Asia last fall, he went with the goal to start a barbershop quartet. But how it fell into place, and the impact his deployed quartet is making, has created quite a buzz.

“Whenever I hear the national anthem played at ceremonies with instruments only and no words, I offer to sing it the next time,” Tillman said. “I feel the words of our anthem are important and need to be heard.”

Tillman volunteered to be the worship leader during the Protestant chapel service, and had been in the position for a few weeks when he heard Air Force Senior Airman Chris Barajas sing. Tillman knew then he had the second member of the group.

“I knew it would be difficult to find a tenor,” Tillman said. “But as soon as I heard Chris sing, I recognized that he would make a great fit as a tenor.”

Soon after the service, Tillman approached Barajas and asked him if he had sung with any barbershop quartets.

“He responded positively and started listing off his favorite barbershop quartets,” Tillman joked. “I knew then I was well on my way to starting the group.”

Soon rehearsals began when two more deployed airmen -- Air Force Capt. (Chaplain) Sean Randall and Air Force Col. Mark Danigole, wing vice commander -- joined the group, forming “For God and Country.”

“The reason we named it that is because we were all serving our country and volunteering our free time in the chapel’s music programs,” Tillman said.

Tillman next used his connections as a member of an Alaska quartet to assist in training his deployed quartet. The group responded by sending music, helping the newly formed quartet to learn tracks and come together as performers.

With a little practice, the group began singing the national anthem and other music at several events.

“To say the least, wing members were amazed that we could produce the sound that we did,” Tillman said. “At one event, the crowd wanted us to sing more, even after we sang all the songs we knew. So we ended up singing a few songs twice, and they loved it.”

DOD Must Train for ‘Degraded’ Environments, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – The military needs to do a better job of training to conduct operations in less-than-perfect conditions, the chairman of the Defense Science Board said here today.

Paul G. Kaminski told the Defense Writers Group that given the cyber and space threat environment that exists today and likely will grow in the future, commanders must be ready for these types of operations.

Kaminiski spoke in advance of the Science Board’s summer study that will be released shortly.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agrees. In the National Military Strategy released yesterday, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen wrote, “Our ability to operate effectively in space and cyberspace, in particular, is increasingly essential to defeating aggression. The United States faces persistent, widespread and growing threats from state and nonstate actors in space and cyberspace.”

The chairman said the U.S. military, “must grow capabilities that enable operations when a common domain is unusable or inaccessible.”

Building workarounds, isolating or cauterizing a cyber attack are things that commanders should learn in an exercise, not on the battlefield, Kaminski said.

“We think we are falling way short in what we need to be doing to look at degraded operations,” he said.

Degraded operations are caused by unanticipated changes in the environment and unanticipated changes in how systems perform. They affect a number of Defense Department capabilities, including command, control and communications systems and “all of the netcentric activities that we are dependent upon that certainly going to be attacks in active cyber ways,” the former defense undersecretary said.

Degraded operations also will affect U.S. dependence on both orbital and airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, Kaminski added.

An enemy could attempt to degrade the environment and attack the U.S. military’s reliance on electronic navigation and the American dependence on electronic warfare in general, he explained, and this could reach to trying to disrupt supplies through the U.S. critical logistics infrastructure.

The Defense Science Board looked at what the department is doing to prepare for degraded operations at four levels: the strategic level, the operational level, the tactical level and the individual level.

“We find differences in the services at the individual level,” Kaminski said. “The Marines still turn off GPS systems and use a map and compass to find their way by dead reckoning. Special operators also do some good training.”

But the farther up the chain, “the worse it gets as far as training that we do,” he added.

When the Air Force first put electronic warfare into its Red Flag combat training exercises, Kaminski said, “they decided not to do it again, because it ruined the whole exercise.”

One way to conduct degraded-environment exercises, Kaminski said, is to introduce the environment and grade people on how they react. Another is to keep pushing the envelope until the system breaks. A combination of the two scenarios is necessary, he told the defense writers.

“You need to conduct the break-the-system exercises and put it into the training where we grade people,” he said. “This is not a high-cost thing to do. It is a high-opportunity cost, because to do this right, you need to have senior leaders in place to participate so it does place demands on people’s schedules. But this needs to be addressed.”

Women Learn to Fight Stress from Home Front

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – During a week in which the White House pledged a vigorous, whole-of-government approach to supporting military families, 11 women worked diligently a few miles away to learn to cope with the stresses of their husbands’ multiple deployments and the post-traumatic stress that affects many of them when they return home.

Ten military wives and a fiancée met in a quiet place the week of Jan. 24 without the distractions from ringing phones, kids' schedules and work projects. They learned coping skills through resilience training. They learned meditation, tried acupuncture, talked, laughed and cried.

The “significant others,” who found out first-hand that post-traumatic stress affects entire families, came to the support group with more questions than answers. But they left armed with a battery of tools to cope with the everyday stresses of military life in a time of war.

The Significant Others Support Group is an offshoot of the Specialized Care Program their husbands completed following a diagnosis of combat stress or post-traumatic stress, or because they had difficulty readjusting to home life after war. Both programs are based on resilience and strength-building education conducted by the Defense Health Clinical Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called post-traumatic stress “the military health issue of our era.” He and his wife, Deborah, are well-known advocates of taking care of the military family, taking every opportunity to make it known they want war veterans and their families to get all the help they need to cope with war’s invisible scars.

For five days, the Significant Others Support Group charter class studied family roles and relationships, how combat affects service members, how to raise children during a stressful time in a lengthy war, and how to communicate about and deal with control issues when the deployment is over. They also learned the how to take care of themselves, an often-overlooked need.

“We don’t ‘cure’ people here,” said Dan Bullis, director of administration and operations at the clinical center. “It’s the start of their journey to cope with symptoms.”

Because it affects the entire family, efforts to confront post-traumatic stress must be include a family care plan, he said.

“[It’s] is not a level playing field for them,” Bullis said, adding that he believes the support group will become even more successful as word spreads to new attendees and sponsors.

“In a weeks’ time,” he said, "12 to 14 [significant others] are equipped with tools to cope with life. It’s their lesson plan to take home so they can deal with the chronic symptoms. They’re so overwhelmed.”

The idea, Bullis said, was spawned from the husbands in the Specialized Care Program who began saying, “If only my significant other could get this support.” A pilot program that launched with five or six women progressed to the charter class of 11 last month, he added.

Thanks to a $35,000 donation by the nonprofit Walter Reed Society, the 11 women were brought to Walter Reed on per diem travel, housed in a nearby hotel, and attended the training and education, all expenses paid.

Designing the support group for women came from a tried-and-true approach.

“We had a lot of input through the years from service members to help their families and significant others,” said Victoria Bruner, the center’s director of clinical education and training, who also is a social worker and expert in traumatic stress, with a background as a registered nurse. “Whether it's a mother, brother, sister or adult child, we built the group on the basics of what helps people heal.”

A holistic approach, Bruner said, is important in an environment that promotes comfort, healing and peacefulness.

“The [significant others] need a sense of safety to feel comfortable to tell a story, and to connect to other people so they know they’re not alone,” she said. “It’s important to be in a safe environment, where people are assured their stories are honored and respected, so they can go as far as they want about their situation, or not.”

Late in the morning on their final day together, Bruner conducted a session with the women, seated in a circle in a comfortable room adorned with plants, a wall quilt and subdued lighting.

“What has this week been like for you?” she asked. Answers circulated in a flurry of optimism from the participants, whose identities are not included in this article to protect their privacy.
“I feel less isolated, I made close friends,” one of the women said. “We understand each other.”

“I feel empowered, refreshed -- a partner with my partner,” another said. “I’m inspired to work as a team.”

“It’s refreshing,” said a third. “I learned skills to regain my energy. I feel whole again.”

Bruner said the women in the support group see signs of strength in themselves to keep going -- to bounce back and realize they’re not “crazy.” They learn how to practice patience, be more tolerant and supportive of their military family in a balanced manner, she added.

Bruner, who lost her husband in Vietnam, said it’s critical for the women “to get the support they need, to reduce the cost of war.”

Post-traumatic stress is not new –- it’s just another name for a phenomenon that’s been recognized since the Civil War. “Melancholy,” "shell shock" and "battle fatigue" are among the names it’s had when it’s been observed in service members in past conflicts.

Bullis, a former Army medic who served in Vietnam, said that during and after the Gulf War deployment in 1990 and 1991, 100,000 service members complained of what became known as “Gulf War syndrome.”

“It came from out of nowhere, and they had symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome,” he said. Eventually, with no real medical cause found, it was called “medically unexplained physical symptoms.” And service in the Gulf War, he added, was never linked to it.

Bullis added that 20 percent to 30 percent of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan can develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress, but treatment can be successful if it is caught in its early stages. And medical staff members at military clinics worldwide are catching signs of the disorder at a rapid pace through routine screening, he added.

Yet, the average time it takes a service member to seek help after the onset of symptoms is a staggering 12 years, Bullis noted.

“It’s an invisible wound,” he said, “and it’s always a part of war.”

The Significant Others Support Group provides sessions on topics such as “Dealing with Adrenaline Overload,” “Understanding Triggers” and “Dealing with Things You Can’t Control.” It also provides relaxation and focus classes featuring Yoga Nidra, QiGong and acupuncture, as well as a massage donated by a local spa.

Robin Carnes -- a local mind and body skills instructor who teaches relaxation tools to the Significant Others Support Group -- said the techniques can be used at home in five minutes a day. Her methods teach the women to relax and refocus by “putting back life energy and storing it,” she said.

“If you want to change your life,” she added, “change your practice. It's a healthy addiction if done every day.”

The charter class of 11 significant others gathered one last time on the final day in a small ceremony. As they received certificates of completion, some quietly said, “Thank you.” But one Army wife, also a veteran, dropped to her knees, tearfully gesturing to the group, thanking everyone for the support she now has, and for her husband’s success in the Specialized Care Program.

“This program," she said, "gave me my husband back.”

Sailors and Marines Depart Colombia With Knowledge and Friendships

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian S. Finney, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

COVENAS, Colombia –- (NNS) -- The amphibious dock-landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) departed Colombia Feb. 6 after eight days of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with Colombian sailors and marines.

Gunston Hall and embarked Marine Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF) are deployed for Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 (A-SPS 11). A-SPS 11 is intended to provide a sustained, visible presence in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility through combined and multilateral cooperative missions.

Colombia is the first of four countries scheduled to host Gunston Hall and A-SPS 11, which also includes scheduled stops in Belize, Guatemala and Jamaica.

Throughout the week, Gunston Hall Sailors and Marines from the embarked SCTF participated in a variety of SMEEs. Areas of engagement included small boat maintenance, land navigation, range live fire, damage control, convoy operations, visit board search and seizure (VBSS), individual field techniques and non-commissioned officer leadership exchanges.

"This was a great opportunity for both Colombian and United States Marines to build on our already strong partnership," said the SCTF commanding officer of troops Lt.Col. Paul D. Baker. "The 220 Marines we had ashore learned so much from Colombia's combat proven warriors. We have both benefited greatly from this exchange, and have developed lasting friendships as a result."

A-SPS 11 Sailors and Marines also found time to participate in a local community relations project. More than 60 Sailors and Marines worked alongside parents, students and teachers to renovate the Bella Vista elementary school in Covenas.

"The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the Colombian school children through our COMREL projects was incredibly rewarding," said Gunston Hall commanding officer Capt. John F. Meier. "The generosity of the Sailors and Marines who performed the work alongside the parents and children reinforced the shared values of our two countries. Beyond the basic needs of food, shelter and medical care, education is the finest guarantor of peace, prosperity and the rule of law."

As part of the community relations event, the children at Bella Vista School were treated to "Loving Hugs" stuffed animals and backpacks courtesy of "Give a Kid a Backpack" through the U.S. Navy's Project Handclasp program. They also received soccer balls from Destroyer Squadron 40.

A-SPS11's visit to Colombia concluded with a reception aboard Gunston Hall, a visit by Brigadier General Luis Gómez Vásquez, commandant of the Colombian marine corps, a closing ceremony, field meet, and barbeque.

"The engagement with Colombia helped strengthen an existing regional partner nation relationship, said Capt. Brian C. Nickerson, A-SPS 11 mission commander. "The visit also provided an opportunity to share expertise and improve interoperability. The importance of continuing theater security cooperation exchanges such as Southern Partnership Station cannot be over emphasized. As recently as Operation Unified Response, U.S. and Colombian forces worked side by side in a real world crisis."

A-SPS 11 is a U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM)-directed operation implemented by Commander, United States Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO), supported by United States Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) and carried out by Commander, Destroyer Squadron Four Zero (CDS40), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and a Marine Corps Security Cooperation Task Force.

For more information, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, visit www.marines.mil/unit/marforsouth/Pages/Home.aspx.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

USAA Launches Alliance with Naval Aviation Museum Foundation

USAA Named Preferred Financial Services Provider

SAN ANTONIO– Like a jet catapulting off a carrier flight deck to protect the fleet, USAA and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation (NAMF) are launching a new alliance to serve the financial needs of NAMF members.

The agreement gives thousands of NAMF members access to USAA’s top-rated financial services, including banking, a co-branded credit card, investments and financial planning. NAMF members who meet USAA’s eligibility requirements may also take advantage of USAA’s insurance products.

According to retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Townes, USAA senior vice president for military affairs and former carrier task force commander, USAA’s newest relationship expands the organization’s efforts to be the provider of choice for people who served in the nation’s armed forces and are committed to protecting the heritage of the U.S. military.

“The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation supports the Museum’s mission of preserving and promoting naval aviation history, and USAA is pleased to join forces with them to help serve their members by providing them top-rated financial services products,” said Townes.

Retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Gerald Hoewing, President and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, said the alliance between the foundation and USAA is a natural fit.

“USAA’s mission to serve the financial and insurance needs of the military and veterans and their families aligns closely with our continued support of the museum mission to collect and preserve naval aviation history and display the proud legacy of the men and women of the naval services and the airplanes they flew and maintained in defense of the nation,” said Hoewing.

In 2009, USAA opened its membership to veterans who have honorably served and their eligible family members.

To learn more about USAA, call 1-877-498-6263 or visit usaa.com/namf. To learn more about NAMF, call 1-800-327-5002 or visit http://www.navalaviationfoundation.org/.

About NAMF
Founded in 1966, the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation Inc. is the nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational and fundraising organization that supports the development of the National Naval Aviation Museum. With nearly 10,000 dues-paying members, the Foundation is financially self-sufficient. Through the management of various revenue-generating operations – such as the IMAX® Naval Aviation Memorial Theatre and the Flight Deck Store – 100 percent of all donations are used for the development of the Museum and its associated educational programs.

About USAA
USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 7.8 million members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving or have honorably served our nation in the U.S. military – and their families. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit usaa.com.

Contact: Michael Kelly                                                                                                       
michael.kelly@usaa.com
210-913-9309
USAA on Twitter: usaa

USS O'Kane Returns to Pearl Harbor

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- USS O'Kane (DDG 77) returned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Feb. 8, following a scheduled seven-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command and western Pacific regions.

O'Kane was deployed as a part of Commander, Task Force-Iraqi Maritime, supporting maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

"The deployment was wonderful," said Cmdr. Derek Trinique, USS O'Kane commanding officer. "The crew did an outstanding job in every mission, ranging from the 5th Fleet to the 7th Fleet. It feels great to be back in Hawaii and to be in command of this ship, and this crew is a real honor for me."

Trinique also spoke about some of O'Kane's operational activities while on deployment.

"We spent five of our seven months in the (Arabian Gulf), and while there, we helped protect Iraqi oil infrastructure, provided maritime security for coalition efforts and partnered with our allies to further enhance maritime security," Trinique said.

As the ship moored at Bravo Pier, Sailors were happy to be home as they were greeted by their families.

"It's great to be home," said Yeoman 3rd Class Jorge Cuellar-Lopez. "This homecoming experience almost feels surreal for me. Overall I think we did a great job on deployment. We went to some good ports, and now it's capped off with our return home."

Guided-missile destroyers like O'Kane provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently, or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups and underway replenishment groups.

O'Kane is a part of Destroyer Squadron 31 and Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.

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

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

OPERATION HOMEFRONT RECEIVES “A” RATING FROM WATCHDOG GROUP

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS– Operation Homefront, the national non-profit that provides emergency financial and other assistance to military families and wounded warriors, announced today that it has received a prestigious “A” rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP).  AIP’s ratings are widely considered to be the most stringent in the sector concerning financial stewardship.

“An ‘A’ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy tells our supporters – and potential supporters – that a contribution to Operation Homefront is a wise investment,” said President & CEO Jim Knotts.  “Charitable dollars donated to this organization go right where they belong: to deserving military families and wounded warriors, and to programs that make their lives easier.”

Ninety-five percent of Operation Homefront’s total revenue goes directly to programs that assist military families and wounded warriors.  Financial assistance programs for the families of deployed service members include emergency grants for paying utilities and other bills, car and home repairs, mortgage payments, and food assistance.  Three Operation Homefront Villages provide housing for wounded warriors and their families.  Operation Homefront also conducts morale programs including school supply and holiday toy drives and events for military spouses.

In the nonprofit world, having 85% of total revenue going to program is considered excellent.  Operation Homefront exceeds those expectations with 95% of total revenue going to programs.

AIP rates charitable organizations with a letter grade rating and other statistics on the financial performance after conducting in-depth analyses of audited financial statements, annual reports, IRS Form 990 filings and other data to give consumers a clear picture of how a charitable organization actually uses its funding.

Operation Homefront has been given a four-star (highest) rating from Charity Navigator the past three years, which is an honor achieved by only 13% of rated nonprofits.

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