Military News

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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

Undersecretary of Defense (Policy) Michele Flournoy and Commander, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Army Gen. David Petraeus testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on developments in Afghanistan at in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Chief of Staff, Army Gen. George Casey testify at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the fiscal 2012 Army budget at 10 a.m. EDT in room H-140, The Capitol.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos testify at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee on fiscal year 2012 Navy budget request at in room SD-192, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) James Miller and Commander, U.S. Cyber Command Army Gen. Keith Alexander testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on fiscal 2012 budget request from U.S. Cyber Command at 3:30 p.m. EDT in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building.

NAVADMIN Announces NWU Pattern Gore-Tex Foul Weather Trouser

From Chief of Naval Personnel

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy Working Uniform (NWU) now has a matching foul weather trouser made of Gore-Tex for wear during inclement weather, as announced in NAVADMIN 081/11 March 11.

This uniform change is a result of fleet input requesting a waterproof foul weather trouser to match the look and performance of the NWU Type I parka.

The proposal was endorsed by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, recommended by the Navy Uniform Board and approved by the chief of naval operations.

The NWU foul weather trouser is classified as organizational clothing and is intended to be worn with the NWU parka during inclement weather or during the performance of duties requiring protective clothing, as directed by the commanding officer.

Organizational clothing is defined as any clothing loaned to an individual by a naval activity, for which there is a requirement above and beyond authorized navy uniforms. The trousers will remain the property of the Navy and Sailors must return the trouser upon transferring. As with all organizational clothing, the trousers will be worn with working uniforms only while performing duties.

The NWU Gore-Tex foul weather trouser is manufactured by Tennessee Apparel Corp and is available to commands through GSA Advantage.

This Day in Naval History - March 15

From the Navy News Service

1865 - In the largest amphibious operation of the war, Union forces capture Fort Fisher, N.C.
1943 - The Numbered fleet system is established.
1957 - Airship ZPG-2 lands at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla., after an 11-day non-stop flight across the Atlantic.
1966 - River Squadron 5 is established in Vietnam.

Official Notes Readiness Challenges in Pacific

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – The U.S. military response following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan highlights the importance of a forward troop presence in the region, a senior defense official told Congress today.

Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, testified today before the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee on long-term challenges in the Pacific region.

“Our forward presence in Japan and throughout the Asia-Pacific region has allowed us to respond to Japan’s urgent needs quickly,” Schiffer said.

The U.S. military is contributing humanitarian assistance and helicopter search-and-rescue operations in Japan, Schiffer said, while U.S. Navy ships are providing water purification, medical teams and hospital beds. The military services will continue to provide “whatever assistance our Japanese friends require,” he added.

U.S. service members in the Pacific region are ready to meet any challenges they may face in the near, medium or long term, Schiffer said.

The Asia-Pacific region represents $1 trillion annually in U.S. trade and holds more than half of the world’s population, 15 of the world’s major ports and six of its largest armies, Schiffer said: “China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan and, of course, our own.”

Schiffer discussed U.S. military readiness in the context of the rise of China, North Korean provocation and the evolving U.S. regional posture.

China offers cooperation and partnership on certain regional challenges, he said, but also poses regional challenges.

“Areas such as its military modernization efforts, its opaquely defined long-term strategic intentions, and questions about the development of its anti-access and area-denial capabilities [cause] concern,” Schiffer said.

Long-term readiness requires the United States to work with its allies and with China to “positively shape China’s rise both within the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” he said. U.S. strategy must be flexible enough to capitalize on the potential of the nation’s relationship with China, while managing the risk inherent in China’s rise, he added.

As China’s military capabilities continue to increase, both nations benefit from a healthy military-to-military relationship, Schiffer said.

The United States will continue to strengthen its posture, presence and capabilities in the region and to build its alliances there, he said.

North Korean provocations represent a complicated security threat, Schiffer said.

“The United States and our ally, the Republic of Korea, are enhancing our deterrent capabilities and so ensuring that we are fully prepared to meet any threat from North Korea,” he said.

The U.S. must maintain a forward-deployed military presence on the Korean peninsula, he said.

“The Department of Defense is evaluating U.S. global posture on an ongoing basis, to better position us and our forces to meet the demands of the myriad emerging threats and provocations in the region,” Schiffer said. The U.S. defense posture in Asia is shifting to one that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable, he told the panel.

Schiffer said the United States and Japan are working closely to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from its present location to a less-populated area on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

“Indeed, events in the region have conspired to remind us all of the importance and the necessity of Marine forces on Okinawa, and the vital role [U.S. forces play] in both deterring potential conflict and responding to crisis in Japan,” he said.

America has deep roots and enduring interests in the Asia-Pacific region, and DOD remains focused on “protecting American interests and allies against the range of threats and challenges we will face together in the 21st century,” Schiffer said.

USS Barry Corpsmen Teach Crew How to Save Lives

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) medical team provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to crew members March 9.

Training included situational awareness, victim rapid evaluation, automated external defibrillator techniques, first aid and basic CPR.

The training was designed to train Sailors on what to do and how to react in a situation where someone might need immediate medical attention.

"Barry's medical team aims to be at the forefront of the new training initiative, which states all watch standers must be basic CPR qualified," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Michael Young. "This initiative is an attempt to foresee new requirements from Afloat Training Group for all top-side rovers and watch standers to be basic CPR qualified."

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), CPR is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions delivered to a victim in cardiac arrest. CPR can support a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to "buy time" until normal heart function is restored.

The CPR program aboard Berry is sponsored by the AHA, which provides Barry's medical team with materials they need to train and inform Sailors.

"There are new changes to the AHA curriculum that Barry has implemented into the shipwide course," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Michael Brandy. "It's our job to make sure that Sailors are properly trained, informed and aware of new changes in the procedure."

Current Navy standards require only certain ratings, such as electricians and medical staff, to be CPR qualified. Electricians have to qualify annually, but all other ratings will remain certified for two years.

"CPR is an important skill for all of our Sailors to learn," said Ensign Luke Freeman, Barry's assistant training officer. "Not only can it be used in an emergency aboard the ship, but our Sailors can use it to help civilians ashore as well."

AHA developed the first CPR guidelines in 1966. During the past 50 years the fundamentals of early recognition and activation, early CPR, early defibrillation and early access to emergency medical care have saved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.

Barry is on a scheduled deployment conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Air Force Flies More Egyptians Home

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – The Air Force today airlifted 175 Egyptians home from Tunisia to Cairo in the latest U.S. transport of refugees fleeing the turmoil in Libya, a Pentagon spokeswoman said today.

The Egyptians had been in Libya and fled to Tunisia when violence broke out last month between groups seeking political reforms and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. They stayed several weeks in camps in Djerba, Tunisia.

Two Air Force KC-130 aircraft flew the Egyptians from Djerba to Cairo today. Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft now have returned more than 1,100 Egyptians to Cairo at the request of the Egyptian government since March 5, Navy Cmdr. Wendy Snyder said.

The Air Force KC-130s are based out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, but are staging at Naval Station Souda Bay, Crete, for transporting the evacuees, Snyder said.

More than 250,000 people have fled the fighting in Libya since it began last month, United Nations officials said, with about 6,000 people leaving Libya each day.

COMUSNAVSO, C4F Hosts Command Open House

From U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Vic Guillory, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) hosted a command open house event for the local Jacksonville, Fla., community at Naval Station Mayport, March 9.

The command open house provided the local community with information about some of the many deployments and missions COMUSNAVSO/C4F performs in the U.S. Southern Command's area of responsibility.

"This open house gave our local community an opportunity to become familiar with our mission here at Fourth Fleet and to understand and see first-hand how we conduct our daily business fostering partnerships to maintain security and stability throughout the region," said Guillory.

Along with the familiarization, the distinguished guests were given a tour of the various office functions throughout the headquarters. Afterwards, the guests were treated with a banquet-style lunch and continued on with the social event.

COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing sea-based forward presence, to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

For more information, please contact COMUSNAVSO/C4F Public Affairs by email at comusnavso-c4f_mypt_pao@navy.mil, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, or on Twitter at twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

Senior Leader Stresses That Seeking Help is ‘Sign of Strength’

By Sarah Heynen, DCoE Strategic Communications

The importance of suicide awareness and prevention is the focus of the annual Department of Defense (DoD)/Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Suicide Prevention Conference. This year’s conference, “All the Way Home: Preventing Suicide Among Service Members and Veterans,” began yesterday in Boston with more than 1,000 active-duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserve, veterans, military family members, researchers and clinicians from federal and non-federal agencies in attendance.

Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs and TRICARE Management Activity director, opened the conference with a focus on accountability. He stressed that leadership has the responsibility to ensure service members and veterans know how to seek help. “Getting help is what real warriors do,” said Woodson.

During the four-day conference, participants will gather to discuss ideas and learn more about suicide prevention. Sessions will also focus on the vital role of community efforts – ranging from peer-to-peer support groups to clinical interventions – in preventing suicides among service members and veterans.

“Progress will be measured by the leadership at the squad level, in the airmen’s dorm, and down at the deck plates where it will become accepted that seeking help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness,” Woodson said.

Learn more about the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and VA cosponsored event and download presentations at http://www.dcoe.health.mil/Training/UpcomingConferences.aspx. The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury is Tweeting live updates from the event --follow the conversation online at http://twitter.com/DCoEpage.

Last Doughboy’s Burial Marks End of Era

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., March 15, 2011America recognized the end of an era today as it bade a solemn farewell to Army Cpl. Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery here with full military honors.

President Barack Obama paid tribute to Buckles this afternoon as he lay in repose in the chapel beneath Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater stage. Buckles died Feb. 27 at age 110.

Obama was the last of a long line of mourners who began filing past his flag-draped casket early this morning to pay their last respects to Buckles, and a whole generation of combat veterans he came to represent.

The visitors paused in quiet reflection within the stark grandeur of the white-marble chapel. Its most striking adornment is a gold-leaf “Winged Victory” figure the Chinese government presented to President Warren G. Harding when the unknown soldier of World War I was buried at Arlington on Nov. 11, 1921. Today that figure, along with a single soldier from the 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard,” kept a constant vigil over the last “doughboy” to serve in World War I.

As they streamed from the chapel, the mourners – a mix of families, school groups, veterans, even a Canadian air cadet group – said they were honored to be able to say a final goodbye to a generation of American heroes.

“I felt like it was my duty as an American to come here and give him my respects,” said Ray King, who took time during a family trip here from Houston to pay homage to Buckles. “It’s because of him, and those he served with, that we have the freedoms we have today.”

King’s wife, Marilyn, said she felt privileged to be able to personally honor Buckles and those who served alongside him in World War I. “What we are doing here today is a statement, and to be able to be part of it is just awesome,” she said. “We will carry this home in our hearts, and it is going to change us. I don’t think we will go back to Texas the same way.”

At this afternoon, members of The Old Guard transferred Buckles’ casket to a horse-drawn caisson and made the slow, solemn trek to his final resting place.

The soldiers, too, recognized the significance of Buckles’ passing.

“What we are seeing here is history,” said Army Spc. Athiambo Onyango, who supported today’s funeral activities. “To me, this feels like the passing of an era.”

Although he’s participated in more funerals than he can count – Arlington typically conducts more than two dozen every weekday -- Onyango said he felt particularly honored to be a part of Buckles’. “I think this is probably one of the most important ceremonies I’ve been in,” he said, holding it right up with Obama’s inauguration as an experience he’ll never forget.

Army Sgt. 1st Class William Cramer, another Old Guard soldier, said he, too, felt honored to render honors to Buckles and the whole lineage of World War I doughboys he came to symbolize.

“But this is not just about Mr. Buckles,” Cramer said. “It’s also about what he represents … This is the end of that lineage for that generation, a recognition of everyone who stepped forward and volunteered… and a way to thank them for their sacrifices.”

After brief remarks at Buckles’ gravesite, an Old Guard firing party fired three rifle volleys and a U.S. Army Band bugler sent the wail of “Taps” across the burial grounds. Buckles was laid to rest in Arlington’s Section 34, slightly down the hill and within view of Army Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing’s gravesite, and site of Arlington’s World War I National Memorial that bears Pershing’s words.

“You are remembered,” it says, recognizing 116,516 Americans killed in World War I. “Their devotion, their valor and their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts of their grateful countrymen.”

Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I -- the “War to End all Wars” -- that 16-year-old Buckles quit school with dreams of becoming a part of. After lying about his age to one recruiter after another, he finally hoodwinked one into enlisting him into the Army in August 1917.

The United States had entered World War I just four months earlier, and Buckles was among fewer than 422,000 soldiers at the time. But within a year, he watched the Army swell to 2.4 million, most of it serving in the American Expeditionary Force.

Buckles deployed to the Western Front, driving an ambulance in France and Germany and earning the rank of corporal before his discharge in 1920.

As he lived out his later years in West Virginia, Buckles worked tirelessly to ensure the sacrifices made during World War I never be forgotten. One of his pet projects was a campaign to refurbish a little-known memorial to World War I veterans from the District of Columbia and rededicate it as a national memorial.

In 2008, on the death of 108-year-old Harry Richard Landis, Buckles became the sole living link to more than 4.7 million Americans who served in that war.

It’s a role he embraced, visiting the Pentagon at age 107 for the unveiling of a World War I veterans’ exhibit. “Whoever views this display will, I am sure, feel a connection to Mr. Buckles and his comrades-in-arms,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during that presentation. “We will always be grateful for what they did for their country 90 years ago.”

Officials Urge Precautions at Yokosuka, Atsugi

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – Officials told personnel in and around Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan today to limit outdoor activities and to turn off air conditioning due to the detection of low levels of radioactivity.

U.S. 7th Fleet officials said sensitive instruments aboard the USS George Washington, docked at Yokosuka, detected low levels of radioactivity released from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

Limiting outdoor activities and turning off air conditioners “are strictly precautionary in nature,” the announcement said. “We do not expect that any United States federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken.”

Officials stressed that these are low-level readings and the public is not in danger.

“According to the instrumentation at Fleet Activity Yokosuka, the levels are very low,” said Navy Lt. Anthony Falvo, 7th Fleet deputy public affairs officer. “For perspective, the additional radiation exposure over the past 12 hours was about 20 millirems –- which is less than one month’s exposure to naturally occurring radiation that one would get from the sun, the earth or rocks.”

Officials will continue the monitoring program and will constantly check the weather and prevailing winds, Falvo said. If anything changes, base officials will immediately notify service members and their families, he added.

NPC Aligns Applications to Navy Standard

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- More than 40 applications on BUPERS OnLine (BOL), the Electronic Military Personnel Record System (EMPRS) and others will be offline from 6 p.m. CDT March 25 to 5 a.m. CDT March 28 as the applications are moved from the Millington Data Center to Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) servers.

"The move is taking place due to requirements from the Navy's information technology and security directorates," said Doug Burgess, director, Information Technology Division, Navy Personnel Command (NPC). "The applications aren't changing, and other than the downtime, users shouldn't notice a difference."

This action is being taken primarily to place the applications behind increased levels of security. Additionally, once the migration to the NMCI servers is complete, there will be more bandwidth available for the BOL and EMPRS applications.

The increase in bandwidth may provide some users an upgrade in performance within these specific applications, said Burgess.

The move will not affect other NMCI programs, such as Outlook and share drives. Currently, applications are being tested prior to the move.

"After the migration, users may experience intermittent outages as remaining bugs are worked out," said Burgess.

Users experiencing issues should contact the NPC Information Technology Helpdesk at (901) 874-4717 or mill_legacyhelpdesk@navy.mil.

Services Meet, Exceed Recruiting, Retention Goals

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – Recruiting and retention remained high throughout the services for the first five months of the fiscal year, according to numbers Pentagon officials released today.

Through February, all four active-duty services and four of the five reserve components had met or exceeded their recruiting goals for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1, officials said. The Air National Guard had met 99 percent of its goal, of recruiting 2,779 new members since the fiscal year began.

Here’s where the active-duty services stand for fiscal 2011 recruiting through February:

-- Army: 28,112 accessions, for 102 percent of its goal of 27,500;

-- Navy: 12,795 accessions for exactly 100 percent of its goal;

-- Marine Corps: 9,681 accessions, exceeding 100 percent of its goal of 9,656; and

-- Air Force: - 11,728 accessions for exactly 100 percent of its goal.

Here are the reserve component fiscal 2011 recruiting figures through February:

-- Army National Guard: 22,694 accessions, 104 percent of its goal of 21,777;

-- Army Reserve: 12,708 accessions, with a goal of 11,427, for 111 percent;

-- Navy Reserve: 3,297 accessions for exactly 100 percent of its goal;

-- Marine Corps Reserve: 4,310 accessions, for 113 percent of its goal of 3,820; 113 percent;

-- Air National Guard: 2,770 accessions, 99 percent of its goal of 2,779; and

-- Air Force Reserve - 3,762 accessions, exceeding its goal of 3,748.

All of the active-duty services and reserve components are on target to meet their fiscal-year retention and attrition goals, officials said.

Field artillery conference in Green Bay a booming success

By 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard

In artillery parlance, a two-day conference of National Guard field artillery leaders - aimed at improving already strong bonds between the active duty Army, reserve components and Training Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, and finding solutions to common artillery challenges - hosted by the Wisconsin Army National Guard recently in Green Bay was right on target.

"We met all of our goals and objectives," said Sgt. 1st Class Chard Heron, an operations noncommissioned officer with 1st Battalion, 426th Field Artillery - a teaching unit at the Wisconsin National Guard's 426th Regional Training Institute at Fort McCoy. "These conferences are a communication tool for everyone in the field artillery community."

Maj. Gen. David Halverson, commander of the U.S. Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Okla. - in essence, head of the Army field artillery - was on hand to address the nearly 200 artillery Soldiers from National Guard units across the nation at the conference.

"Field artillery in the Guard has been very important," Halverson said. "The tightness we have now is such that nobody knows the difference between active duty, National Guard and Reserves. Our reliance on the National Guard field artillery is going to be greater than ever."

He pointed out that President Harry Truman was a National Guard field artillery officer who served in World War I, and brought that experience to bear in the closing days of World War II.

"Fort Sill grounded him for the most important decisions," Halverson said.

Halverson and Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commandant of the Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, paid a visit to what some in the Wisconsin National Guard like to refer to as "Fort Sill North" - the 426th RTI, which has three National Guard Bureau field artillery subject matter experts and has been certified a center of excellence for artillery instruction.

"Our goal was to meet or exceed Fort Sill standards," Lt. Col. Kerry Morgan, commander of the 1st Battalion, 426th Field Artillery, said during his briefing to Halverson and Vandal. He detailed how the 426th works closely with Fort Sill and that 426th instructors have taught at Fort Sill to underscore what the Wisconsin National Guard facility can provide.

"As they face challenges, they can see us as an additional resource," Morgan explained after the official visit. "We have these phenomenal resources and Soldiers out here available to them."

Col. Richard Borkowski, commander of the 426th RTI, added that it was important to show Halverson and Vandal that active duty artillery Soldiers would receive the same standard of training at the 426th RTI as at Fort Sill.

"They are the movers and innovators in field artillery," Morgan continued. "This is an educational process so they can see another tool in the toolbox."

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard is also the deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard at Fort Sill's Field Artillery Center. His role there is to advise Vandal and the active duty field artillery community about the capabilities of the National Guard field artillery community as well as regional training institutes in Wisconsin and other states.

"This is a great opportunity for Wisconsin to showcase the collective work of the Soldiers assigned here at the 426th RTI," Anderson said, "the capabilities they bring to the field artillery and the U. S. Army."

As Halverson prepared to leave, it appeared that message had been received loud and clear.

"You have all the skill sets here," he said. "I'm very impressed. The question now is how do we integrate?"

Red Cross Website Links Japan-based Troops to Home

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 – In the wake of Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami, Red Cross officials are encouraging U.S. service members and families posted there to register with an online resource intended to keep family and friends back home informed of their welfare.

Military members and their families overseas can relay their status and pass on messages to loved ones through the American Red Cross-sponsored “Safe and Well” website at http://redcross.org.

“It’s a great online tool,” Deanna Swanier, senior director of service delivery for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces, told American Forces Press Service yesterday. “Family members back here can visit the website and look up loved ones to see if they’re safe.”

Hours after the earthquake and tsunami struck March 11, officials confirmed U.S. military personnel and their families were accounted for. Still, family and friends back home were seeking information.

One woman turned to Misawa Air Base’s Facebook page for information that day. Misawa is about 400 miles north of Tokyo.

“Not sure if anyone can find out anything,” she wrote, “but my brother is on base and we’re trying to figure out if everything is OK over there. Does anyone know?”

To register for Safe and Well, people enter their name, contact information and then choose from a list of standard messages –- “I am safe and well,” “Family and I are safe and well,” or “Currently at shelter” –- or they can type a customized message.

While many service members may turn to e-mail or, if available, a phone call to contact immediate family members after a disaster, Swanier encouraged them to also register on Safe and Well so extended family members and friends can find out about their well-being.

“It offers another avenue of communication,” she noted.

Family and friends back home can access the messages by entering the service member’s pre-disaster phone number or complete home address. They can’t, however, register themselves on the site. The site is intended to facilitate communication from inside the disaster-affected areas to families outside, Red Cross officials explained.

While the site offers a quick and easy way to pass on a person’s current status, not everyone chooses to register. In this case, officials encourage people to try calling, texting or checking online to see if their loved one is updating their social media page, such as Facebook or Twitter. People who have a loved one with a serious health or mental health condition can initiate an Emergency Information Request by calling their local American Red Cross chapter or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Along with Safe and Well, Red Cross officials also passed on a few other ways to contact U.S. citizens living or traveling overseas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched a special “Family Links” website to help people seeking to re-establish contact with family members and friends. People in Japan and other countries in the Pacific can register at http://www.icrc.org/familylinks to inform their family and friends that they are safe and provide their current contact information.

People in the United States looking for loved ones can check the list for information. They also can register the names of family members and friends, encouraging them to get in touch.

Additionally, people can contact or locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan by calling the State Department’s office of overseas citizens’ services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.

Wisconsin Airmen inspired to 'Live the Dream'

By Tech. Sgt. Don Nelson
115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Acknowledging the impact deployments and other stressors can have on service members and their families, leaders at the 115th Fighter Wing took aim at increasing Airman resiliency  promoting awareness and the tools available to help military families through tough times.  National-level motivational speaker Curtis Zimmerman headlined the "Wingman Day" event at the fighter wing and encouraged more than 800 Airmen of the 115th to take control of the "scripts" in their lives and take care of one another.

This day is about making smart choices and looking out for each other," said Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl, 115th FW commander. "We must continually strive to improve the wellness of our organization, ourselves and our families...resiliency, unit wellness and being good wingmen are the themes of the Wingman Day."

Zimmerman explained that everyone is the star of their own show the stage is theirs and they have control of who and what happens in it.

The event was created to strengthen the morale and welfare of units and its' members by devoting time to building relationships between co-workers and discussing topics like suicide prevention, responsible drinking behavior, financial management and identification and intervention of troubled Airmen.

Zimmerman's message was intermingled with games such as juggling and coordination exercises in an effort to induce a message of hope and optimism with a dose of realism that encouraged all in attendance to, Live the Dream.

Curtis Zimmerman, guest speaker for the 115th Fighter Wings Wingman Day, helps Staff Sgt. Brian Young, fire team member for the 115th Security Forces Squadron, learn to juggle on March 6. Wingman Day promoted living the dream, and taking care of fellow Airmen. 115th Fighter Wing photo by Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bell Wisconsin Army National Guard photo 

I use the metaphor that encourages people to be the star in their own life, said Zimmerman. Too many of us let our show be dictated by outside influenceswe need to give those people less lines in our own show and by doing this our life can get better.

Growing up in Los Angeles, Zimmerman learned to perform as a mime, juggler and fire eater before taking his talents to television and cruise ships. His presentation incorporates the juggling to demonstrate a message he calls, failing successfully, that includes bringing someone up in front of the large audience and teaching them how to juggle.

That lucky participant was Staff Sgt. Brian Young, 115th Security Forces Squadron. While Young was not able to perfect the skill, he did drop the balls many times en route to nearly perfecting the art; thereby illustrating Zimmermans message.

"Obviously it was frustrating, but the point of me struggling through something also gave the same message across to everybody  no matter how many times somebody fails, you still have to try to pick them up or the lesson is never going to be learned."

"I think the message he was trying to get across is that 'You are the only person that can make yourself successful, but if you're surrounded by people that support you than it helps you is important,'" Young said.

Zimmerman talked about his personal story of childhood illness, poverty and family challenges. When asked what about his story helps him communicate his message, he said that everyone has a story not unlike his.

I give 100 speeches a year and none will be as important as the one I give today, said Zimmerman. I want to help people understand what it means to Live the Dream.

Zimmerman stated he is happy when his audience gets the message.

The process to learn is to believe that I can do it, said Zimmerman. Once you believe you can do it, the next step in the process is to drop the ball, knowing that you have to fail to succeed.

Zimmerman shuns the idea of lack of natural ability as a reason why people can not do certain things and says it is often used as an excuse. He explained that he dropped the ball thousands of times until he was able to succeed at juggling.

Young seems to have grasped the message of "failing successfully."

"I think when it came to the juggling, it's probably easier than I was making it," Young said. "I'll pick them up from time to time and I'll just keep practicing."

Mild TBI Awareness: 13 Symptoms to Help Identify a Concussion

Courtesy of Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. View DVBIC TBI PSA on American Forces Network 1.

A mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as a concussion, is the most common form of TBI. It happens when a person experiences a brief change in mental status or consciousness as a result of a blow or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury. There are also moderate and severe forms of TBI, where an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after injury can occur.

Individuals who sustain a concussion usually see their symptoms improve rapidly, within a few hours to a couple days, and have complete recovery within one to three months. However, the rate at which an individual recovers depends on many factors, including their age and the general health at the time of injury. Getting appropriate evaluation and medical care soon after the injury may often reduce the side effects and lead to a successful recovery.

Below are 13 common symptoms to help recognize a concussion:

1) Headaches that do not go away
2) Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions 
3) Thinking, speaking, acting or reading slowly 
4) Getting lost or easily confused 
5) Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation 
6) Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason) 
7) Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping) 
8) Light-headedness, dizziness or loss of balance 
9) Increased sensitivity to light, sound or distractions 
10) Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily 
11) Loss of sense of smell or taste 
13) Ringing in the ears

It's important to know the signs and symptoms of a concussion both on and off the battlefield. A TBI can happen because of trips or falls, assaults, motor vehicle crashes or sports-related injuries. You can find additional information about traumatic brain injury from the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) at dvbic.org or call 800-870-9244.

USS Nebraska Helps Celebrate State's 144th Birthday

From USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) (Gold Crew) Public Affairs

LINCOLN, Neb. (NNS) -- Trident ballistic-missile submarine USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) (Gold Crew) celebrated Nebraska's 144th statehood birthday March 5 with the state's governor and other dignitaries at the capitol building in Lincoln, Neb.

Navy Cmdr. Mike Fisher, Nebraska (Gold Crew) commanding officer, and Senior Chief Electronics Technician (SS) David Turley, Nebraska (Gold Crew) chief of the boat, were among the honored guests at the birthday celebration hosted by Gov. Dave Heineman and his wife, Sally Ganem.

"It was a great honor to be able to celebrate Nebraska's statehood with the governor, first lady, the honorees of the dinner and the people of the great state of Nebraska," said Fisher. "The fact that the official birthday cake for the state had both the Nebraska state seal and the USS Nebraska seal is a testament to the strong ties between the state and the ship."

Among other dignitaries attending the birthday event, part of the NEBRASKAland Foundation Honoree Dinner, were Teresa Scanlan, the reigning Miss America; astronaut Clayton Anderson; and U.S. Olympic bobsled gold medalist Curt Tomasevicz. All are natives of Nebraska.

"Not everyone gets to enjoy dinner in a state capitol building," said Turley. "I enjoyed the evening with the chief justice of Nebraska and two Nebraska state senators."

Nebraska is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.