Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, March 31, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on operations in Libya at in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on operations in Libya at in room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey

testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Department of the Army in review of the defense authorization request for fiscal 2012 and the future years defense program at in room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz testify at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the fiscal 2012 defense appropriations request at in room H-140, Capitol.

Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander - Europe, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis and Rear Adm. William Brown, director of logistics, U.S. European Command, testify at a budget oversight hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the fiscal 2012 budget at 10:00 a.m. EDT in room HT-2, Capitol.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at at the annual Rostov Lecture on International Affairs at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in the Kenney Auditorium,
1740 Mass Ave, Washington, D.C.
  Media interested in attending should contact JCS PA at 703-697-4272.

This Day in Naval History - March 30

From the Navy News Service

1944 - Torpedo squadrons from carriers are used for the first time to drop aerial mines - Palau Harbor in the South Pacific.
1972 - The Easter Offensive began in Vietnam.
1942 - The Pacific theater is divided into two zones to clarify command relations. Adm. Chester W. Nimitz commands the Pacific Ocean Area and Gen. Douglas MacArthur is over the Southwest Pacific Area.

Misawa Air Base Reopens Valued Services

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (NNS) -- Even as Misawa Air Base personnel are fully engaged with recovering from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked most of Japan, the installation continues to reopen important base services, March 29.

The installation's post office, various entertainment and recreational services along with food locations are one again meeting the needs of service and family members, thus increasing morale and bringing much-needed stability to Misawa.

Today was the first day the Richard Bong Theatre opened its doors since the recent earthquake. Capt. Justin Kindle, general surgery physician assistant with the 35th Medical Group, said that he and his family are among many on base who are happy that the theatre is open for business.

"This gives us good a opportunity to spend some time together, and enjoy some much needed entertainment as a family," said Kindle. "It is nice to see things getting back to normal on the facility."

Potter Fitness Center has opened its weight room and basketball courts which are filled with Sailors and Airmen happy to once again have an indoor venue in which to work out.

"I know a lot of guys who have been working long hours with no days off since the earthquake, it is great to get some time off and work out," said Aviation Aerographer's Mate 1st Class Johnny Anderson, a Kailua, Hawaii native assigned to Naval Oceanography Anti-Submarine Detachment at Commander Task Force 72. "The gym is a great way to relieve stress after a long day. Right now, many people are taking advantage of it being opened again."

Outdoor recreation, which leases outdoor equipment, has also reopened its doors, along with the Weasel's Den, a popular indoor play area for children and parents.

Inside this Weasel's Den, which is a free facility, service and family members can bring their children to enjoy a playground with matted floors, a rock climbing wall, miniature golf course, arcade games, and an indoor track and batting cages.

Harry Bullock, a DoD civilian from Rocky Mount, N.C. said he is happy the Weasel's Den is open so his daughter could get some needed time outside of the house.

"After the shock of the earthquake, reopening this facility is great for the children," said Bullock. "Children have a great time here and it's a place for them to relax, have fun and interact with other children."

VA Works to Break Disability Claims Backlog

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 30, 2011 – Former Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tyrone Allen is part of a growing legion within the Veterans Affairs Department striving to make good on VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki’s pledge to “break the back of the claims backlog.”

Allen understands firsthand the frustrations many veterans feel as they wait for VA to adjudicate their disability benefits claims. An electrician’s mate aboard USS Wasp as it operated off the Djibouti coast in 2004, he suffered a cracked skull, traumatic brain injury and compressed spine when a hatch came crashing down on his head.

The VA claims process took far too long, Allen said, noting that he’s still awaiting adjustments as his back condition worsens.

But today, Allen is part of VA’s fix -– he’s a VA claims assistant working at the Huntington VA Medical Center in West Virginia. He’s among a legion of more than 3,500 new employees VA has hired to expedite claims processing as it introduces other systemic improvements.

“It is really unacceptable that the backlog is as big as it is and it takes as long as it does for veterans to receive their claims,” Deputy VA Secretary W. Scott Gould said during an interview here with American Forces Press Service.

VA’s goal by 2015, he said, is for veterans to wait no more than 125 days for a decision on a claim, with a 98 percent accuracy rate.

Gould spoke about the claims process while participating in the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, an annual event that this year brought together more than 350 disabled veterans, including Allen.

VA completed 977,000 claims in 2009, but took in, for the first time, more than a million new ones. In 2010, VA completed 1 million claims, but received 1.2 million new ones. By the end of 2011, officials expect to receive 1.45 million claims –- a double-digit increase over the number of claims received in 2000.

Gould attributed many of the new claims to the new wave of combat veterans with complex medical issues just entering the VA system. However, he acknowledged, 65 percent were resubmissions from veterans already in it.

“We have been experiencing a growth in new claims, even as our overall production has been increasing,” he said.

So to reach its goal, VA has attacked the challenge on three fronts, Gould explained.

The first involves people: hiring new claims processors and improving the way the VA trains them.

But “merely hiring more people to handle claims won’t let us get ahead of the incoming surge, let alone cleave the size of the backlog,” Shinseki has often said.

So VA is working to improve its systems and automate as quickly as possible. Its second major focus in reducing the backlog involves “reinvesting and re-engineering the business process we use to complete the claims,” Gould said. This includes accepting online applications for initial disability benefits, initiating an innovation competition and launching more than 30 pilot programs and initiatives to identify best practices.

Finally, VA is investing in new technology to support these efforts. Gould said he’s particularly excited about one recent accomplishment, the result of a pilot program for the paperless Veterans Benefits Management System that VA plans to deploy in fiscal 2012.

“We completed our first all-electronic claim in just 47 days,” Gould said of the pilot that’s being conducted in Rhode Island. And although the claim involved was relatively simple and straightforward, Gould called entirely automated processing capability it proved a major step toward VA’s goals.

VA’s fiscal 2012 budget request includes $2 billion to support these claims-processing initiatives, up 19.5 percent over fiscal 2010.

“So we are very optimistic that we can achieve our goal of no claim taking longer than 125 days with 98 percent quality,” he said. “And right now, we are just not meeting either of those standards.”

Gould said he’s confident VA is on the right track in reaching Shinseki’s goals to end the claims backlog by 2014. “We think we can get there,” he said. “It is something we have got to fix together.”

Allen said he’s proud of the role he’s personally playing in helping to reach these goals -- scheduling hearings, contacting veterans and helping to process their applications.

“I’m helping to make sure veterans get what they need, and that when they apply for something, everything goes through without delay,” he said. “I have been where they are, so I understand the importance of trying to make things happen as speedy as possible.”

USS Barry Promotes Tobacco Cessation during Great Barry Smokeout

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4 Public Affairs

USS BARRY, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Barry (DDG 52) made an attempt to give up the use of tobacco products during the Great Barry Smokeout (GBSO) March 17.

GBSO is a spin off of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO), which is held across America, and designed to encourage tobacco users to kick the habit.

According to a 2008 Department of Defense survey of health related behaviors, nearly 31 percent of Sailors smoke cigarettes.

Chief Hospital Corpsman Michael Young said the term "smokeout" seems to confuse some people.

"It's a catchy title, but it's a little misleading,"
said Young. "I just want to make sure that people know that this initiative, whether on Barry or elsewhere, focuses on all tobacco products not just smoking. When you hear the Great American Smoke-out you automatically think about people just quitting smoking."

Yeoman Seaman Michael Rawles said GBSO is a good way to motivate Sailors and give them the extra push they need to quit.

"I figured if I quit for one day, then why not two, three, four and so on," said Rawles. "In my experience, people do things better when they have a challenge."

Fifty-five percent of Barry's tobacco users participated in the GBSO, and nearly half of the participants enrolled into a tobacco cessation program and decided to quit permanently.

"When I was working out the other day I just didn't feel very good," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Damian Landreth. "I decided it's time to make self improvements, and quitting smoking is my first step in the process."

There are many resources available to tobacco users interested in quitting, including military treatment facilities and clinics that offer tobacco cessation programs and support groups.

Barry is on a routine deployment conducting maritime security operations in U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Family Matters Blog: TRICARE Continues Web-based Counseling

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2011 – TRICARE officials are extending a state-of-the-art program that’s intended to ease the path to mental-health services.

The TRICARE Assistance Program will now run through March 20, 2012, to give officials more time to measure the program’s effectiveness, a TRICARE release said. Through the program, TRICARE health care beneficiaries use the Internet and a Web cam to speak “face-to-face” with mental-health counselors around the clock and from anywhere in the United States.

People can log on from home to receive short-term, nonmedical counseling for situations that may arise from life circumstances such as deployment stress, relationships, personal loss and parent-child communications.

These services are available in the United States to active-duty service members, active-duty family members who are at least 18 years old, beneficiaries using TRICARE Reserve Select and beneficiaries covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program, the release said.

For some people, the online services aren’t an appropriate level of care or video services aren’t accessible. In that case, a licensed professional will refer the beneficiary to the right organization.

To find out more about this program, beneficiaries can go to TRICARE’s website

If you’ve used the program and would like to comment on your experience with it, don’t hesitate to write in.

DOD Announces Stationing of Two Combat Aviation Brigades

The Department of Defense announced today the stationing of two Army combat aviation brigades.  The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade will be split-based and established at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Fort Wainwright, Alaska, using existing aviation units not currently assigned to a combat aviation brigade.  A new brigade will be activated at Fort Carson, Colo.

The 16th CAB stationing action realigns existing assets resulting in an increase of approximately 1,400 new soldiers and 44 helicopters at JBLM.  This action for the split-based CAB at JBLM will begin in fiscal 2012 and is expected to be completed by fiscal 2014.

The Army recognizes Alaska as a strategic location and will continue to maintain a significant aviation presence there.  This stationing increases the invaluable medical evacuation strength in Alaska by three additional aircraft in fiscal 2013.  It also validates the Army’s commitment and support to the aviation infrastructure through military construction programmed for replacement and upgrade of the aviation facilities.

The new combat aviation brigade activation at Fort Carson, Colo., will result in a total growth in Army forces and equipment by approximately 2,700 soldiers and 113 helicopters.  Fort Carson establishes the new brigade beginning fiscal 2013 and is expected to be completed by fiscal 2014.

The activation of these brigades will increase the capabilities of the active component of the U.S. Army and increase dwell time for aviation units between deployments in support of overseas contingency operations.  These combined force structure actions represent integrated changes that support the Army’s transformation requirements.

For more information, please call Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff, Office of the Chief, Public Affairs, Media Relations Division, 703-697-7550.

New Family Gram Highlights Youth Programs

By From Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- NAVADMIN 102/11 was released March 24, in conjunction with April being designated as Month of the Military Child.

The NAVADMIN is part of a bi-monthly series of family grams that highlight various personnel programs. This family gram highlights programs that support Navy children and youth.

"Sailors need to know that their children are being taken care of, not only when they are on deployment, but also every day," said Greg Young, CNIC Child and Youth Programs (CYP) director. "We provide a wide range of services to assist them."

Navy CYP provides developmental child care and youth recreational programs and services for eligible children and youth ages 4 weeks to 18 years of age. Programs and services are specifically designed and operated to meet the unique needs of the military mission and service members and their families.

CYP programs and services include:

- Child Development Centers (CDC) that provide full and part day child care for ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age.

- Child Development Homes (CDH) that provide full and part day and night and weekend child care for ages four weeks to 12 years of age.

- School-Age Care (SAC) that provides before and after school and day camps for ages 6 years to 12 years of age.

- School Liaison Officers (SLO) who serve as Navy subject matter experts for K-12 education issues. SLOs work to connect commanders, educators and parents.

- Youth Sponsorship Program provides access to positive peer groups and social activities, helping Navy children feel connected at their new duty station.

- Youth and Teen Programs provide sports programs, leisure classes, youth internet labs and teen programs for ages 6 years to 18 years of age.

For more information about Navy Child and Youth Programs, visit your local Fleet and Family Support Center.

NAVSUP Echelon III and IV Command Names to Change

From Naval Supply Systems Command Corporate Communications

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) announced an initiative to provide customers and stakeholders a clearer understanding of the capabilities of all NAVSUP organizations, March 28.

"'ONE NAVSUP, One Enterprise' connects our Global Logistics Support Network construct where each activity executes its mission as a node of the network, vice an individual entity," said Rear Adm. Mike Lyden, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command. "As a result, new names are being given to our activities, better emphasizing their specific role in NAVSUP's support of the Fleet around the world. In addition, the names emphasize the capabilities in our weapon system support and global logistics support business lines, helping customers easily navigate the products and services available within our organization."

While transition actions will be ongoing, the new names will become effective July 1.

The new names for the NAVSUP Echelon III activities will be:

- NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (formerly Naval Inventory Control Point – NAVICP)
- NAVSUP Business Systems Center (formerly Navy Supply Information Systems Activity – NAVSISA)
- NAVSUP Logistics Operations Center (formerly Naval Operational Logistics Support Center – NOLSC)
- NAVSUP Global Logistics Support (Formerly Commander, Fleet & Industrial Supply Centers – COMFISCS)

The new names for the NAVSUP Echelon IV activities, formerly known as Fleet & Industrial Supply Centers, or FISCs, will be:

- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Jacksonville (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Jacksonville – FISC Jacksonville)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Norfolk – FISC Norfolk)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Pearl Harbor – FISC Pearl Harbor)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Puget Sound (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Puget Sound – FISC Puget Sound)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center San Diego – FISC San Diego)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Sigonella (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Sigonella – FISC Sigonella)
- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka (formerly Fleet & Industrial Supply Center Yokosuka – FISC Yokosuka)

NAVSUP's primary mission is to provide U.S. naval forces with quality supplies and services. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance.

In addition, NAVSUP is responsible for quality of life issues for our naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods.

Returning Warrior Workshop Focuses on Psychological Health

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles White, Commander, Navy Reserve Force Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. (NNS) -- Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters and approximately 150 combat-tour veterans and family members participated in a Returning Warrior Workshop (RWW) in Tampa, Fla., March 25 - 27.

Funded by the Department of Defense's Yellow Ribbon program, the RWW focuses on psychological health and is designed to aid in service members' post-deployment, reintegration into family and community life. The workshops are intended for Navy Reservists, but both active duty and reserve members of all services are invited.

A reservist and father of a deploying soldier, McKeague lauded the Navy, its Reserve component and its unwavering commitment to individual and family welfare.

"What I lack in direct connection to the United States Navy, I hope to make up for in my esteem for this great sea service and more importantly, for your heroic service," said Maj. Gen Kelly McKeague, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters.

McKeague applauded Navy Reserve leadership by saying their vision and their conviction for each Navy Reservist and their family members is unequivocal.

RWWs have three key priorities, which are to inform, empower and to thank. They inform attendees by showing them the substantial network of resources available to them as Reserve families. They teach both the warriors and their guests techniques in recognizing stress related illnesses as they manifest. The workshops also teach the steps to gain support in dealing with stress and reintegration issues.

The weekend event empowers attendees by removing the stigma associated with asking for help. It provides the attendees examples of the greater personal and professional successes attainable when there is an established support structure. This is especially true when that support structure is aided, in part, by mental health professionals. A psychological health outreach team is on hand at each RWW to evaluate and refer interested attendees for additional assistance.

"If you had a broken leg you wouldn't hesitate to get help, but if you have a broken heart or a broken mind, for some reason we hesitate to get help," said motivational speaker, Capt. Wyman Winbush.

"You are who you are because of what you've come through, not because of what you avoided," Winbush said. "Asking for help is not a way to avoid anything, but rather a healthy way to address and move past certain sticking points in life."

RWWs show thanks to the warriors and their spouses at an appreciation banquet and dance that is considered the apex of the weekend. They are treated to a four-star meal and many times, as was the case here, they enter the banquet hall to a standing ovation by appreciative event organizers, table facilitators, presenters and even hotel staff. After the meal the guest speaker, usually a flag officer, delivers his remarks, which, more than anything else is meant to be words of thanks.

"I recognize that in serving you have made inordinate sacrifices … and that goes for your family members who have sacrificed beyond measure. Each of you should be applauded and saluted for that," McKeague said. "Thank you."

An important part of the weekend is an hour at the opening of the workshop dedicated to sharing one's story. Attendees are grouped together in cruise ship fashion, by table, and they remain with their tablemates for the entire weekend to build rapport. For one hour they are encouraged to speak in depth about their deployment experience. In many cases, whether as a family member at home or as a warrior overseas, attendees are struck by the similarities between their experiences. They often discover their experiences are not unique to them. It is a designed result and a strengthening one, as attendees now know specific examples of people who are going through what they are, and those people are ones with whom they can communicate and directly relate.

Another benefit of sharing one's story is the improved understanding between family members.

"I never spoke [to my daughter] about my experiences over there," said Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist David Charnley, referring to his 2009 deployment to Afghanistan. "She was working a full-time job, going to school full time, and taking care of my finances. It was an incredible amount of pressure. I didn't want to add to it."

Charnley's daughter, Ashley, was surprised by, and empathetic towards, the immense amount of stress endured by her father during his mobilization.

"I learned so many new details that he just never shared before," she said.

Closing the weekend is an interactive presentation called Improving the Process. Attendees discuss issues with their tablemates and offer suggestions for the improvement of the deployment and mobilization processes. Each table selects a spokesperson who airs the group's number one unsatisfactory issue and their suggestion for its improvement.

Each spokesperson had additional responsibility of presenting in front of a large crowd. McKeague's presence meant they had an indirect line to the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, to the Congress, and even the President of the United States. McKeague promised to represent them and their issues to the best of his ability.

There were 18 tables and 18 issues, two tables of which were filled with Marine Corps Reservists. McKeague heard issues ranging from professionalism at Navy mobilization processing sites, to pay delays and medical redundancy during the mobilization process. The most common issue was the lack of communication between commands and families of deployed service members.

Speaking on behalf of his table, Cmdr. Dennis Rieke, commanding officer, Navy Operational Support Center, Charleston, S.C., suggested establishing spousal support groups for spouses of deployed Sailors.

Ultimately, the attendees' response to the weekend was positive. Each attendee had an opportunity to complete a critique of the RWW process. Many couples reported a mutually improved understanding of their mobilization experience. Many of the Sailors, Marines and family members left feeling their well-being, and that of their family, is truly of national interest.

Care Coordinator Links Service Members with TBI Support

By Karyn George, national manager, Office of Care Coordination, Defense & Veterans Brain Injury Center

After service members have sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), they may not know where to go or what to do to find services that address the residual symptoms of their injuries. As a regional care coordinator who works frequently with active-duty service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I find it very satisfying when I can link a service member with services that they didn’t know existed.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) Regional Care Coordination Program was developed as a support and resource for active-duty service members and veterans as they transition through the recovery stages after a traumatic brain injury. The program specifically seeks to identify service members, and in particular members of the Reserves or National Guard who may return to remote areas that lack the resources, whether within the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs or civilian health care systems.

DVBIC regional care coordinators are located throughout the United States including all four Department of Veterans Affairs polytrauma facilities, some of the larger military treatment facilities and at two civilian sites. Coordinators conduct intakes and follow-ups with service members and veterans who are symptomatic after a diagnosis of mild, moderate or severe TBI at three-month, six-month, 12-month and 24-month intervals via telephone or in-person. To ensure service members, veterans and their families have access to appropriate medical care, support and available resources throughout the recovery process, follow-up schedules can be adjusted to contact service members and veterans more or less frequently as needed.

I find it very rewarding to answer questions, provide customized information, and to hear how service members are progressing positively and adapting even if things didn’t turn out as they planned. In general, service members are very courageous and resilient, and I’ve learned a great deal from our interactions.

For more information about DVBIC Regional Care Coordination Program locations and points of contact for each region, check out or call 800.870.9244.

Women & War: Critical Issue Addressed by Soldiers Project Conference

The 2nd National Conference of THE SOLDIERS PROJECT, on April 15-16 in Los Angeles, illuminates the increasingly significant roles women play in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts.

WOMEN AND WAR: HIDDEN STRENGTHS, HIDDEN WOUNDS explores the unique psychological challenges faced by women service members and the women at home with loved ones who serve.

FACT: More women service members are fighting in Iraq/Afghanistan than in any other American war in history. Yet, because only 1 in 10 service members is female, they often find themselves painfully isolated and subject to military sexual trauma. Homelessness among women vets is increasing at a disproportionately alarming rate.

THE SOLDIERS PROJECT provides free, confidential, easily accessible psychological services to active military personnel and veterans who have served in the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts, and to their extended families and loved ones. We also educate the community on the psychological effects of war and provide in-depth training on combat trauma and military culture to our volunteer therapists.

More information about the conference:

Doctor, Patient Urges Others to Get Help for Brain Injury

Posted by DCoE Strategic Communications on March 29, 2011

In a public service announcement, Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) James Hancock, shares his experience as a shock trauma platoon doctor and a person who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when the armored vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device.

Hancock discusses the importance of getting checked out if you have sustained a brain injury, whether in a blast, a car or fall. Resources such as the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) are available to help and support those who’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury. The center has an extensive network that provides health care and education for service members and veterans with TBI.

Not only does the DVBIC website connect military members with information on care and recovery, but their families and friends can find information that relates to the caregiver. For clinicians and providers, check out training information, clinical tools and educational materials.

To learn more about TBI and find out how to get help near you, go to or call 800-870-9244.

USS Whidbey Island Welcomes the 22nd MEU

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Desiree D. Green, USS Whidbey Island Public Affairs

MOOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (NNS) -- Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) March 28 to join Bataan Amphibious Group (ARG) for their deployment.

Led by amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD) 5, the Bataan ARG-MEU deployed ahead of schedule to relieve units attached to the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU in the Mediterranean Sea, currently supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn.

"We are proud and excited to be embarking units of 22nd MEU," said Cmdr. Eric Conzen, commanding officer, USS Whidbey Island. "This ship was built for Sailor and Marine integration and it feels like we are just now completing our full crew compliment now that elements from 22 MEU are coming aboard."

Bataan ARG consists of approximately 4,000 Sailors and Marines. The ARG is prepared to conduct a variety of missions, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, as directed by Fleet and Joint Task Force commanders.

"We expect to complete whatever tasks we are assigned successfully and come back safe. The ultimate goal is mission accomplishment and troop welfare," said 22nd MEU Gunnery Sgt. Patrick McClung. "I'm excited and happy to be here. This is what we do."

For many Marines, this will be their first time on board a Navy ship.

"This is my first time deploying on a Navy vessel and I think it will be a good learning experience," said 22nd MEU Cpl. Jordan King. "We are all really close and working alongside the Navy is part of heritage and tradition for a Marine. I am excited that we get to open up and form bonds with the crew."

Conzen is confident in the Sailors' and Marines' ability to work together as a unified team and accomplish whatever mission they are called upon to perform.

"The Navy and Marine Corps have been operating together for a long time in the ARG/MEU construct. As a mobile force, we can go almost anywhere we are needed, on short notice," said Conzen. "The 'Blue-Green' team is one of the most flexible tools the U.S. has to use."

Bataan ARG-22 MEU are comprised of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its command element; and the Navy's Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6, which includes Bataan, Whidbey Island, amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU-4 and Naval Beach Group.

FY-13 Olmsted Scholar Program Seeking Applicants

By Ed Barker, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Career-minded line officers interested in developing language skills and regional cultural knowledge are encouraged to apply for the Olmsted Scholar Program, announced in Naval Administrative message (NAVADMIN) 098/11 on March 21.

The Olmsted program is a unique scholarship opportunity offering two years of graduate study using a foreign language while providing overseas cultural and travel opportunities and often leads to a graduate degree at a foreign university. Applicants for the fiscal year 2013 (FY-13) program should be available to start language training in summer/fall 2012, begin study at a foreign university in 2013 and complete study in 2015.

The Navy is looking for young leaders who display the qualities of dedicated career officers and aspire to command as line officers. Applicants must have demonstrated strong leadership qualities, solid overall performance, strong promotion potential, and superior demonstrated scholastic ability. Candidates must have three years of active duty commissioned service - but not more than 11 years of total active federal service as of April 1, 2012 - to apply for the scholarship. Specific designator eligibility is listed in the NAVADMIN.

Historically, Olmsted Scholars have benefited from the program and continue to promote to senior leadership positions, including 12 past Navy scholars that achieved flag rank. There are currently three Navy Olmsted Scholar flag officers serving on active duty, including Rear Adm. James G. Foggo III, deputy commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. Foggo was an Olmsted Scholar from 1987-89 at the University of Strasbourg in France, where he received a Diplome d'Etudes Approfondies (DEA) in Defense and Strategic Studies.

"Few experiences in my naval career can be compared to my time at the University of Strasbourg made possible by the Olmsted scholarship," said Foggo. "Having served in various positions such as the executive officer to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and commander, United States European Command, to my current role as the director of operations and intelligence for U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the Olmsted scholarship has greatly shaped my perspective of European affairs and France in particular."

Olmsted scholars interact daily with locals and immerse themselves in the culture of their host country. A background in a specific foreign language is not a prerequisite to selection. Scholars are expected to live on the local economy, travel widely when not in class and be affiliated with U.S. embassies or consulates for administrative purposes only. Olmsted scholars receive their normal pay and allowances, and if married, are normally accompanied by their families.

The Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) is currently accepting applications from regular line officers for the FY-13 Olmsted program. Applicants are required to meet a list of qualifications and prerequisites and submit a command-endorsed nomination package that must be received by CPPD in Pensacola no later than Sept. 2, 2011. In October, the applications are reviewed and a list of Navy-sponsored nominees is selected. Up to 10 Navy scholars may be selected for the FY-13 program.

The Olmsted Foundation, named in honor of Gen. George and Carol Olmsted, and the Department of Defense have jointly sponsored this scholarship program since 1959. Since its inception, the foundation has focused on educational and charitable purposes.

Retired Rear Adm. Larry Marsh serves as president and chief executive officer of the Olmsted Foundation and was an Olmsted Scholar from 1968-1970 in Munich, Germany. Marsh believes the success of the program is a direct result of the vision of the man for which the foundation and the scholarship program is named.

"Gen. Olmsted, our benefactor and founder, certainly had great vision when he said that the world's greatest leaders must be educated broadly," said Marsh. "For the past 52 years, our programs have educated young officers in foreign language fluency and foreign cultures, which are becoming more and more important in today's world, and in supporting the Maritime Strategy."

With the selection of the 53rd Olmsted Scholar Class in March, 2011, 545 scholars have completed, are completing or are preparing for two years of study abroad. Their studies to date have been in 37 languages, in 178 different foreign universities, spanning 59 countries worldwide.

The Navy nominations are submitted to the Olmsted Foundation Board of Directors, along with nomination packages from the other services. During a comprehensive personal interview, the foundation staff examines the nominee's academic and professional background, motivation to be a scholar, choices of foreign universities, proposed course of study, language aptitude and career goals. Taking all this data into account, the interview panel makes its recommendations to the board for final decisions on the nominees at their meeting in early March 2012.

Specific guidelines and details for applying for the Olmsted Scholar Program can be found in NAVADMIN 098/11.

All eligible and interested officers should visit the Olmsted Foundation Web site at for additional details, including important information regarding selection of countries/cities/universities for their scholarship education preference.

Millersville Man Pleads Guilty to Posing as a Retired Army Special Forces Colonel

Lied for 12 Years About Special Forces and Terrorism Experience to Gain Teaching Employment

BALTIMORE—William G. Hillar, age 66, of Millersville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to lie about his military experience and academic credentials in order to gain employment for teaching and training.

The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service - Mid-Atlantic Field Office.

“William G. Hillar lived a lie and based his teaching career on military experience he did not have and credentials that he did not earn,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “He was never a colonel, never served in the U.S. Army or the Special Forces, never was deployed to exotic locales, and never received training in counterterrorism and psychological warfare while in the armed forces.”

“Mr. Hillar’s fraudulent representations came to the FBI’s attention from concerned citizens, including former members of the Special Forces community. This investigation is an example of the difficulty the public faces trying to verify the accuracy of information on the Internet,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to supporting America’s warfighters and protecting the interest of the American taxpayers,” said Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge for the DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “The service members that comprise the Department of Defense’s elite special warfare units have undergone years of specialized training and sacrifice to be called Special Forces. To misuse their titles for personal gain is unconscionable and discredits those that served and continue to serve the United States of America.”

According to Hillar’s plea agreement, from around 1998 to 2010, private and public sector organizations paid Hillar at least $171,415 for teaching, leading workshops, giving speeches, and conducting training on counterterrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and related topics. Hillar conducted these activities through a business named “Bill Hillar Training.”

In order to secure these employments, Hillar falsely represented in resumes, biographical statements and on the Internet that: “William G. Hillar is a retired Colonel of the U.S. Army Special Forces. He has served in Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America, where his diverse training and experiences included tactical counter-terrorism, explosive ordnance, emergency medicine and psychological warfare.” Hillar also represented that he received a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.

Hillar never served in the U.S. Army or the Special Forces and never attained the rank of Colonel. Hillar never served in Asia, the Middle East, or Central and South America, and did not acquire in those locales training and experiences in counterterrorism, explosive ordnance, emergency medicine, or psychological warfare. Hillar did serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve as an enlisted sailor from 1962 to 1970, achieving the rate of Radarman, Petty Officer Third Class.

Hillar faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Hillar has agreed to pay restitution of $171,415, and perform no less than 500 community hours at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. scheduled sentencing for July 20, 2011 at

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leo Wise, who is prosecuting the case.

Disabled Vets Discover Miracle on Mountain

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 30, 2011 – Sheila James threw her arms up in joy, flashing a smile that stretched from ear to ear as she celebrated a personal victory during the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic here yesterday.

A motor vehicle rollover in 2009 turned the former Air Force senior airman’s life upside-down, landing her in a wheelchair and leaving her unable to do some of the simplest things she once took for granted.

Encouraged by the staff at the Audie Murphy Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Antonio, where she receives care, James decided to give this year’s winter sports clinic a whirl.

The clinic, sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Department and Disabled American Veterans, introduces disabled veterans to a full range of winter sports activities to help them put their fears behind them and press their limits to accomplish what many thought they never could.

James’ decision wasn’t an easy one; the last time she attempted skiing, before her accident, she had turned tail and run before ever hitting the chairlift. Yesterday afternoon, James resisted leaving her wheelchair for a high-tech-looking adaptive ski bucket. Her instructors, Andrea Hanson and Richelle Dube, persuaded her into the ski bucket, and kept her laughing as they loaded her onto the chairlift.

Then they led James on the trip of her lifetime -– swooshing down Snowmass Mountain and leaving a trail of hoots, hollers and unabated glee in their wake.

“I feel like I am floating!” she exclaimed after conquering the mountain. “Right now I feel like a big balloon. This is so awesome! I can’t believe that I actually did it!”

James experienced what Sandy Trombetta, founder of the winter sports clinic, calls the “Miracle on the Mountainside.”

It’s that moment when a disabled veteran suddenly stops focusing on what he or she can’t do and realizes a whole new world of possibilities. And it’s a regular occurrence at the winter sports clinic.

“The miracle is something that happens within individuals,” Trombetta said. “It manifests itself not just here, but also after the veterans return home. … What they learn here truly changes their lives, and it lasts forever.”

For Elden Miller, a former Army sergeant blinded during a truck explosion at Fort Carson, Colo., the miracle comes while blazing independently down the wide-open spaces of Snowmass Mountain.

“At home, I stare at the wall and can’t even drive,” Miller said. “But here, I’m totally free. It’s an unbelievable experience.”

For Stephen Bruggeman, a Coast Guard veteran whose leg was amputated after he was shot during a training accident, it’s learning to “think outside the box” and find new ways to tackle the challenges he confronts.

“I can do the same things I used to do. I just have to do it in a different way,” he said. “Being here, you see that the possibilities for us are endless as long as we have an open and positive attitude and don’t dwell on the disability.”

For P.J. Pennington, a former Marine Corps sergeant rendered an incomplete paraplegic after being hit by an errant gunshot last year, the miracle means rising above self-imposed limitations.

“This helps me realize there’s so much I can still do,” Pennington said as he unstrapped his helmet after a run down the mountain. “I can’t walk, but there’s still so much I can do. Walking is just 10 percent, but I’ve still got 90 percent. It’s really a mental thing, and recognizing that is what makes all the difference.”

For Army veteran Mark Thornton, paralyzed while refueling a truck at Fort Knox, Ky., it’s being released from his disability.

“When you’re skiing, you don’t feel disabled. You forget about your disability,” he said. “It totally frees you because you are doing something you love, out of your chair.”

As they discover the miracle on the mountain, the veterans say they have a great time doing it.

“You get a natural high of ‘Oh, wow! I just did that!’” said former Air Force Staff Sgt. Claudia Perry, who returned this year for her second winter sports clinic.

“There’s so much to do here, what could you not love about this?” agreed Navy veteran Matthew Robinson.

“It’s the skiing that brings me back, but it’s also the people here –- the camaraderie of the other vets and the volunteers,” said former Army Warrant Officer 1 Anthony Radetic.

“I’m loving it!” agreed former Army Spc. Alejandro Calvo as volunteer instructors Steve Wanovich and Bryan Wood helped him navigate the deep powder at the top of the mountain.

Jake Hipps, a Vietnam-era Marine Corps lance corporal, returned this year for his eighth winter sports clinic.

“What keeps me coming back is the miracle of the mountain,” said Hipps, paralyzed by a gunshot wound.

“It’s so rewarding to come here and be able to experience that, but [also] to help share it with the younger veterans,” he said. “It’s the chance to give back what older veterans freely gave us, and to see them realize that if they can do this, they can do anything.”

Your home is flooded and you're called to state duty — are you prepared?

By Lt. Col. David May
Deputy Director of Domestic Operations

Odds are pretty good this year that we will experience flooding in Wisconsin.

If there is a silver lining, it is that state agencies, counties and municipalities have done a great deal of preparation for floods. The Wisconsin National Guard has been part of those preparations, including our own flood threat analysis, force package assignments — what combination of Guard members and equipment goes where — and planning in the event the National Guard is needed. Without a doubt, our partners in the emergency management community and the people of Wisconsin are counting on us if things get bad.

But if you get called to help fight floods, are you prepared? Will you be able to drop everything and comfortably leave your family behind as you report for duty? Consider:

·    How vulnerable is your home to a flood? Is flooding forecasted in your area? Are there roads and intersections nearby that often flood? Do you live in or near a flood plain? Have you considered flood insurance?
·    Do you have a go-kit? If so, what's in it? How about a weather radio programmed for your area?
·    Do you have a plan? If so, does everyone in your family know it, and are they ready to follow it?
·    How do you plan to stay informed?

Having problems answering any of these questions? Check out, and

Being ready at home is key as we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. What have you done to get ready?