Military News

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, February 21, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Enterprise, CVW-1, CCSG-12 Earn Retention Excellence Award

From USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW 1) and Carrier Strike Group 12 (CCSG 12) earned the fiscal year 2010 Retention Excellence Award, Feb. 18.

Enterprise, along with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), were the four aircraft carriers under Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic to receive the award.

Award-winning commands must pass the annual Career Information Program Review with a score of 85 points or higher, meet or exceed reenlistment rates of 55 percent for Zone A Sailors (Sailors with zero-to-six years in service); 60 percent for Zone B (six-to-10 years in service); 71 percent for Zone C (10-to-14 years in service), and achieve a Zone A attrition rate of 5.5 percent or lower for fiscal year 2010.

"Your successes represent your command's commitment to the growth and development of your Sailors and will serve as the foundation of fleet readiness; congratulations and well done," said Adm. John C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

Enterprise will once again be authorized to fly the Retention Excellence Award pennant and will be authorized to paint the carrier's anchors gold.

"Developing Sailors' careers and improving retention rates are extremely important to the Navy, and we couldn't be more proud to receive an award that illustrates Enterprise's commitment and success in this program," said USS Enterprise Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Keith G. Oxley. "This award is for all of our mentors and career counselors who dedicate their time and efforts toward educating our Sailors, and advising them to make smart career choices."

Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW/AW) Ramous Fleming, USS Enterprise command career counselor, said the carrier's third-straight Retention Excellence Award was due to a combined team effort from Enterprise leadership.

"The name 'Enterprise' is associated with a proud legacy that Sailors want to be a part of," said Fleming. "Sailors who reenlist here do it not only because they enjoy the Navy, but because they are proud to be a part of this ship's history. We have won this award three years in a row now, and we are on track to do it again."

In addition to the air wing itself, three CVW-1 squadrons, the "Red Rippers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, the "Knighthawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 and the "Checkmates" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, each individually received the Retention Excellence Award as well.

"Winning the Retention Excellence Award means we're doing something right," said CVW-1 Command Master Chief (AW/SW) John T. Lery. "Leaders and career counselors are proactively ensuring the personal and professional growth of our Sailors, and this award is the proof."

Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on a routine deployment to conduct maritime security operations and to provide support to operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, log onto http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn65 or visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

CNO Attends BEYA

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Petty Officer Stephen Watterworth
Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) attended the Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) Stars and Stripes dinner, Feb. 18 in Washington, D.C.

CNO, Adm. Gary Roughead honored John H. James, Jr., Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, and many others as recipients of the 2011 Stars and Stripes Award during the 2011 BEYA Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Global Competitiveness Conference.

While speaking at the dinner, CNO expressed the importance of STEM in the Navy and how organizations like BEYA contribute to the success of the Navy.

"Navy participates with BEYA and other activities that stress STEM and diversity because we really believe that as a Navy, we will be a better Navy if we represent all of America," he said.

Roughead said it's key for the Navy to team up with BEYA and to look for opportunities to reach out and mentor the young men and women throughout the country and inform them of the benefits of the Navy.

"We are a technological Navy," he said. "We operate at the very high end of technology. We operate in every domain of the planet whether its under the sea, on the sea or above the sea, and now more than ever in cyberspace and the sailors and the young men and women who come into our Navy if they have that STEM background, they are going to be much more natural fits for who we are and the world in which we are going to operate."

"There are just a variety of activities that we participate in and we are always looking for new opportunities to be able to present what the Navy does to the young men and women of America," Roughead continued. "We have programs, for example, StarBase Atlantis and we have a STEM academy at the Naval Academy."

The BEYA conference and award program recognized young men and women from around the country who demonstrate outstanding performance in a technical field and show great potential for shaping the future course of engineering, science, math and technology.

Sailors Learn to Overcome Stress, Anger

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardel Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-West

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to various commands on Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island attended a stress and anger management class at the Nor'Wester Fleet and Family Support Center Feb. 17.

The class covered ways of controlling and overcoming physical effects of stress and anger through the changing of one's thoughts and attitudes.

"The big thing I try to do in the class is to make sure they have resources," said David Thomason, master trainer, and education services facilitator at Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. "We look for all kinds of books (Quick Series), different publishers who have all kinds of insight and different methods of handling and managing stress."

Some people may experience sleep disruption, loss of energy, loss of appetite and feelings of guilt when dealing with stress and anger, according to Thomason.

"My job is to teach the very core of what stress is and how it affects us, and how anger plays [a role]. I give them the very basic tools on changing their body chemistry," said Thomason. "The way they think, the way they respond to stress, so they can improve their lives."

Signs of stress also include feelings of sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable activities.

"I came here today because I was having difficulty dealing with the day-to-day stresses of the job, and to learn more about what causes it," said Sonar Technician 3rd Class Meosha Jefferson, a San Diego native assigned to Naval Ocean Processing Facility at NAS Whidbey Island. "The examples the instructor gave were very helpful. [The way] he included his own personal stories made it easier for everyone to relate to."

Students learned to evaluate and deal with problematic situations as demonstrated in video presentations, and through class discussion, slides, and reading materials.

The class was an open forum encouraging students to learn and interact on a variety of potentially stress-causing issues.

"There were a lot of things discussed in the class that I can relate to. The examples given and the videos shown on anger and stress were helpful to me," said Aviation Electronic Technician Airman Trevor Voshell of Pullman, Wash., assigned to Naval Hospital Oak Harbor.

Keeping fit, eating right and learning to relax are all helpful in overcoming stress Thomason added.

"Stress impacts our health, our relationship, jobs, stress and anger impacts who we are," said Thomason. "Managing it does not require equipment or medications; all we have to do is teach people the skills and help them learn them and they can totally improve their quality of life."

FFSC provides service members and their dependents with many personal and professional support services. Whatever the need, FFSC offers the tools necessary for success.

"The biggest thing is that they have a new perspective," said Thomason. "When they start getting stressed and angry, they can employ the basic tools I gave them and see success. Productivity improves, accidents go down, and illness goes down; all the good things happen."

For more news from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/naswhidbey/.

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwpacen/.

Leaders Outline Improved Health Care Services

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2011 – The Defense Department has taken a number of recent steps to improve health care and family support services for military members and their families, the department’s two top leaders told a Senate panel yesterday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee about several areas of improvement during a hearing about the department’s fiscal 2012 budget.

Gates said he has made quick implementation of the shift to electronic medical records for service members and veterans one of his top priorities. The issue is important enough, he said, that he and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki met one-on-one two weeks ago to discuss how to push the change faster. They will meet again in March and follow up with a staff meeting in April on the issue, he said.

“I have found with these huge bureaucracies, whether it’s DOD or VA, that things don’t move very fast unless they get high-level attention,” he said. “We’re committed to getting fast progress on this. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s not fast enough as far as Secretary Shinseki and I are concerned.”

Officials also have stabilized programs, particularly in mental health and family support services, by removing them from the supplemental war funding budget to the base budget, Gates said. In the past three years, he added, “we’ve moved virtually all of it to the base budget, so long after the war funding ends, we’ll still be able to sustain these programs.”

The Defense Department has improved the delivery of mental health services by hiring 6,000 mental health care workers since 2001, when the department had only about a thousand, Mullen said. “There have been extraordinary efforts to address this within the services,” he said, noting that civilian health care also is short of mental health practitioners.

Because of that and education and outreach campaigns, officials have a better understanding of problems like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, the chairman told the senators.

“Early on, there was a great deal of focus on spouses in terms of their stress, but there’s been an increasing awareness and understanding to address the whole family, including kids,” he said, noting that today’s military children have had parents at war most of their lives.

Public awareness campaigns such as the one President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama announced last month about the health of military families also go a long way in helping service members and their families, Gates said.

The White House campaign “is a huge step forward in giving this visibility in a way we just haven’t had before,” he added.

USS Blue Ridge Arrives in Hong Kong

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Melvin Orr, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- Seventh Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Hong Kong on Feb. 20 for the ship's first port visit since March 2010.

In addition to participating in community service events, more than 70 Blue Ridge, 7th Fleet embarked staff Sailors and Marines from Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Pacific, will experience the hospitality of 18 families who will host them in their homes for lunch or dinner through the "Meals in the Home" program.

"Meals in the Home" is an exchange program designed to connect local Hong Kong residents with U.S. Navy Sailors to encourage cultural differences and experiences in a domestic setting.

"I'm looking forward to meeting new people and having new experiences," said Yeoman 3rd Class Ashley Laws.

Sailors will also participate in community service projects at Fu Hong Society and Hong Chi Pinehill Village where they plan to clean rooms, playgrounds, and roofs, and to perform landscaping in the surrounding areas.

The crew will also have the opportunity to experience Hong Kong through Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours to visit nearby Chinese cities Guangzhou and Shenzen, Ocean Park and Disneyland Resort theme parks, China's gaming city of Macau, and Victoria Peak to see "A Symphony of Light," an exterior building light and laser display presented every night.

"Hong Kong is a favorite port of many Sailors, one rich with culture and history," said Blue Ridge Command Master Chief David A. Unnone. "Over the next few days, our Sailors will enjoy the warm hospitality and vibrant city landscapes this international city so proudly embraces. We look forward creating new and lasting friendships while participating in community service and while on liberty."

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the command ship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. CTF 76 is headquartered aboard White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan; with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

California Business, Community Leaders Visit USS Makin Island at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andrew Wiskow, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Twenty-one business and community leaders embarked ampibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Feb. 15-17.

The California-based leaders embarked the ship for one-day embarks as part of the Leaders to Sea (LTS) program.

Through the LTS program, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) provides an opportunity for leaders from business and civic organizations to experience the daily operations on board a Navy warship and to become familiar with the capabilities of the surface force.

Lynn Reaser, chief economist for Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, said she was thrilled to be chosen to tour the Makin Island.

"I wish that every single American citizen could participate in this experience because it truly gives you an appreciation of the equipment, the technology and the capabilities that we have to defend our nation," she said.

Makin Island Sailors gave the guests an in-depth tour, including a trip to the ship's medical and engineering facilities and introductions to different mission-centric spaces throughout the ship. They learned about Navy jobs, watchstanding procedures and the responsibilities placed on young Sailors.

"We hope that the embarked guests take away with them a feeling of satisfaction that they've seen an example of America's best fighting force, and that they've seen the pride and professionalism that our Sailors have in what they do, day in and day out, in defense of their country," said Capt. Jim Landers, Makin Island's commanding officer.

Makin Island is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, which currently conducting training exercises off the coast of California. The ship is preparing for a deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation later this year.

March 4 is Final Day to Claim ‘Stop Loss’ Pay

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2011 – People whose military service was involuntarily extended or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, have until March 4 to file for retroactive payments of $500 for each month of their extended service under the “Stop Loss” policy.

The deadline ends the second extension for eligible people to apply to receive the retroactive pay.

“This is a timely payment for services already rendered,” said Lernes "Bear" Hebert, the Defense Department’s director of officer and enlisted personnel management. “It’s a no-strings-attached program -- one where they fill out a simple form and attach a few documents [to show] their service.”

Each service branch will work with potential applicants to determine eligibility, he added.

The program also applies to beneficiaries who lost loved ones in the ultimate sacrifice during their service, Hebert said.

Applying through the Internet or by mail is easy, and usually takes less than 30 minutes, Hebert said, adding that once eligibility is established, the money “just shows up in your bank account.”

“There’s nothing more to it,” he said. “You probably won’t hear from the military again unless you initiate contact.”

Applications sent via computer or postmarked by March 4 for delivery by mail will have met the deadline, Hebert said.

“This unique program for Stop Loss special pay is to recognize servicemen and women and the sacrifices they made to their country without hesitation,” Hebert said.

An estimated 145,000 people are eligible for the special pay, Defense Department officials said, noting that 77,000 claims have been paid. Other applications are being processed, and officials strongly recommend that all potential applicants apply before the March 4 deadline, even those who received a bonus for voluntarily re-enlisting and those who think they’re not eligible because they extended their service.

“The program is to make sure service members receive the recognition that the nation appreciates their service, and for serving beyond their initial contract,” Hebert said.

An outpouring of support for service members to receive money they’re due has come from the government and the community -- from President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other senior military leaders, to veterans organizations and others trying to reach those who likely are eligible, Hebert said.

“The services have done a tremendous job at getting the word out,” he said.

“In all my years of service, I’ve never seen a program in both the government and [veterans service organization] communities that’s been such a tremendous effort,” Hebert said, adding that he has received many notes of gratitude from those who’ve received their Stop Loss pay.

Hebert asks service members to spread the word to others who have served, and beneficiaries, to make sure no one is left out before the March 4 deadline.

“We don’t want people to wake up March 5 and decide that’s the day they plan to apply,” he said.

FY 2010 CNO Environmental Award Winners Announced

By Katherine M. Turner, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Winners of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Environmental Awards competition, sponsored by the CNO Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, were announced Feb. 17.

The annual CNO Environmental Awards program recognizes exceptional environmental stewardship by Navy ships, installations and people. Twenty-seven winners were selected in ten award categories. The winners, listed alphabetically within each category, are provided below.

Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation Award:
- Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
- Naval Base Coronado, Calif.
- Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.

Cultural Resources Management, Installation Award:
- Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.
- Naval Base Guam

Environmental Quality, Industrial Installation Award:
- Fleet Readiness Center East, Cherry Point, N.C.
- Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.
- Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif., including Detachments Corona and Fallbrook

Environmental Quality, Overseas Installation Award:
- Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan
- Navy Region Center, Singapore
- U.S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain

Environmental Quality, Small Ship Award:
- USS MOMSEN (DDG 92)
- USS STERETT (DDG 104)
- USS THACH (FFG 43)

Sustainability, Individual or Team Award:
- Environmental Sustainability Team, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
- Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.
- PMA-231 Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health Team, Naval Air Systems Command, Md.

Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation Award:
- Naval Base San Diego, Calif.
- Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill.
- Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Environmental Restoration, Installation Award:
- Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, Calif.
- Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va.
- Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition, Small Program, Individual or Team Award:
- Battle Force Tactical Trainer In-Service Engineering Agent Design Team, Naval Sea Systems Command Combat Direction Systems, Dam Neck, Va.

Environmental Planning Team Award:
- East Coast Range Complex Environmental Planning Team, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command
- Southern California Range Complex Environmental Planning Team, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
- Undersea Warfare Training Range Environmental Planning Team, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command

Vice Adm. William R. Burke, deputy chief of naval operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, commended the winners.

"Bravo Zulu to all award winners, and to the many other nominees," said Burke. "You exemplify the Navy's steadfast commitment to protecting and sustaining the natural environment as a global force for good."

The CNO award winners will be honored June 7, in a ceremony at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, DC.

For more news from the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division visit http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/environment/.

For more news from Ocean Stewardship, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/oceans/.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.