Military News

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, May 06, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

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

This Day in Naval History - May 05

By the Navy News Service

1944 - USS Comfort is commissioned in San Pedro, CA; first ship to be manned jointly by Army and Navy personnel.
1948 - VF-17A becomes first carrier qualified jet squadron.
1961 - CDR Alan Shepard Jr. makes first U.S. manned space flight. Flight of Freedom 7 (Mercury 3) which lasted 15 minutes and 28 seconds reached the altitude of 116.5 statute miles with a velocity of 5,134 mph.
1980 - USS Robert E. Peary (FF 1073) rescues 440 Vietnamese refugees from disabled craft south of Thailand.

Committee Picks Giunta to Light Warrior Games Torch

From a U.S. Olympic Committee News Release

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 5, 2011 – Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will light the torch to start this year’s Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here May 16, officials of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, announced today.

Deloitte, an international accounting and consulting firm, is sponsoring this year’s competition, which runs May 16-21 and will bring together more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and special operations forces to compete in seven sports.

"I'm really excited that I was asked to do this,” Giunta said. “It's truly an honor for me to kick off such an amazing competition with so many amazing people. All of the competitors have faced adversity in some shape or form, and the fact that they have overcome it to not only compete at this event, but live full, quality lives, is awesome."

Giunta, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years and is stationed at Fort Collins, Colo., became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the nation’s highest military decoration for valor. He saved the lives of members of his squad in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2007, exposing himself to enemy fire to pull a soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack.

"It is a privilege to have Staff Sergeant Giunta as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games," said Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "He is a true hero who is a role model not only for those taking part in this competition, but for all people in the United States."

The Warrior Games are one component of the overall U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military Program, which is focused on providing daily physical activity as an important part of rehabilitation at the community and installation levels. The program isn't about elite performance, officials said, but rather focuses on assisting service members with a physical disability to find enjoyment in activities that are instrumental in their rehabilitation.

In collaboration with the Defense Department, physical activity and sports participation rates at warrior transition units, wounded warrior battalions and detachments and other wounded warrior programs throughout the United States have increased by 23 percent in the past two years, U.S. Olympic Committee officials said.

Navy Lawyer Keynotes Asian Pacific Heritage Celebration

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A Navy lawyer was the keynote speaker at a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage month, hosted by the Geico insurance company at the company's world headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md., May 3.

Lt. Janelle Kuroda, a member of the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps, opened her address with Geico employees and family members with a reference to the recently published book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,", about strict parenting in an Asian-American family.

"My Japanese father was my Chinese mother," Kuroda said. "My father taught me many valuable lessons in life and there are two I'd like to share with you today. One, never give up; two, remember where you came from".

Kuroda told how, after many unsuccessful attempts at running for student office year after year in grade school and high school, she was finally elected as secretary and vice president of the student body and head delegate of the model United Nations team, and then president of the political science club at the University of Hawaii and president of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association at Boston College Law School.

"So, as my father said, 'Never give up'".

Kuroda's relatives arrived in Hawaii from Japan 120 years ago.

Growing up only half a mile from the sugar plantation where they worked, "I was always reminded of the sacrifices that they made so that my brother and I could have more opportunities," she said.

Tony Nicely, Geico's chairman, president and chief executive officer, thanked Kuroda for her service to the nation and presented her with a certificate of appreciation from Geico.

Members of the audience were treated to a Vietnamese musical performance and enjoyed food from Japan, Korea and India.

Obama Lauds Soldier Ride Participants

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 – As 30 wounded warriors on bicycles gathered on the White House’s South Lawn yesterday, President Barack Obama said their participation in a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is a reminder that everyone can do something for the troops.

Soldier Rides began seven years ago when Chris Carney, a civilian who never had served in the military, rode his bicycle more than 5,000 miles to raise money and awareness for the nation’s wounded warriors.

“That’s the difference a single person can make,” Obama said. “Today, there are Soldier Rides all across America, giving our wounded warriors the confidence and support they need to recover.”

Obama told the riders they represent a generation that has written its own extraordinary chapter in the American story and has earned its place among the greatest of generations.

“Our nation has been at war now for nearly 10 years,” he said. “Tour after tour, year after year, you’ve done your duty. You’ve met every challenge, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan. You’ve risked everything. And you’ve carried in your hearts the memory of fallen heroes who gave everything.”

The riders carried the extra challenge of coming home from one battle and beginning another one -- the battle to recovery, Obama said.

“[You learned] to stand again. To walk again. To relearn, in some cases, the simple things that are the true pleasures of life -- dancing with your spouse, or holding your children,” he said. “In many ways, this might have been the toughest battle [you’ve] ever fought.”

The president singled out ride participant Nickolas Edinger. “He was serving in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blast cost him one of his legs,” Obama said. “But he’s here today as part of his journey to recovery.” Next, he pointed out veteran Corey Kent.

“I met Corey during one of my visits to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] last year,” Obama said. “And it was my honor to pin a Purple Heart on him. He’s lost both legs. But he’s working hard to recover, and he’s here today, ready to ride.”

Obama told the riders they inspire him.

“You represent the very best in America,” he said. “And in your fight to recover and in the ride that you’re about to begin, we see the values and virtues that make our country great.

“We may take a hit,” he continued. “We may endure great loss. But we are a strong and resilient people. We push on. We persevere. We’re confident in our cause. Like generations of Americans before us, we will emerge stronger than before.”

The president said Americans again witnessed the strength and courage of U.S. troops with the May 1 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

“Thanks to the courage and precision of our forces, the terrorist who started this war and who took so many innocent lives learned that America does not forget. America will ensure that justice is done,” the president said.

Joined by supporters from all branches of service who turned out for the ride, Obama sounded an air horn and the Soldier Ride began, with three laps around the South Lawn and a crowd cheering them on.

The Soldier Ride initiative provides adaptive cycling opportunities across the country to help wounded warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being. Wounded Warrior Project provides equipment and support to participating injured service members at no cost to them.

Navy Hosts Suicide-Risk Workshop

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Mental health and other professionals gathered at Naval Hospital Lemoore, Calif., April 21, for the first of more than 20 workshops the Navy plans to hold across the country, focusing on assessing and managing suicide risks.

The Lemoore workshop was conducted by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization Suicide Prevention Research Center (SPRC) in support of a Navy-wide effort to reduce suicides among Sailors, Marines and their families.

"The Navy is committed to strengthening the core competencies of mental health and medical providers to assess and manage the suicidal behaviors of those they serve," said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Chavez, Personal Readiness and Community Support Branch, which coordinates suicide prevention awareness, operational stress control, sexual assault response and prevention, and family readiness programs. "We are taking serious interest in what nationally recognized experts have to say."

In the near future, workshops will be held aboard Navy and Marine Corps installations in South Carolina, Rhode Island, Washington and Texas. By Sept. 30, 700 to 1,000 psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses and other professionals will be trained during the workshops.

The Suicide Prevention Research Center was created following publication of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention in 2001, and is supported by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Since 2007, it has trained nearly 20,000 mental health clinicians, including 1,300 in the Air Force and 450 in the Marine Corps.

"If you ask mental health clinicians what kind of training they received in graduate school for dealing with suicidal patients, most will say, 'None,' " said Laurie Davidson, SPRC manager of provider initiatives. "So it's extremely important to ensure that the mental health workforce knows what the risk factors and warning signs are for suicide and how to assess the level of risk."

Participants in the Lemoore workshop said they found the training helpful.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Gina Buffaloe, Naval Hospital Lemoore Mental Health Department, said she learned "assessment skills needed to identify people who have suicidal ideations and how to get them to appropriate help."

Lt. Pon Chanthaphon, Naval Hospital Lemoore command chaplain, hosted the April 21 event. Participants included mental health professionals from the hospital as well as chaplains from NAS Lemoore, counselors from Lemoore's Fleet and Family Support Center and representatives of the Veterans Affairs hospital in nearby Fresno.

Lt. (Dr.) C. Christopher Schultheiss, Naval Hospital Lemoore Mental Health department head, was the principal military speaker, covering factors that have been seen in Navy suicides and attempted suicides, as well as demographics and other topics including Navy policies and commanding officers' responsibilities.

Schultheiss said men are more likely than women to be suicide victims, and enlisted members are more likely than officers, but there are no significant statistical differences by age group, pay grade or length of service.

"Anyone can become at risk," Schultheiss said.

He said that while a majority of suicide victims had not seen medical professionals in the 30 days before their deaths, half had family members or significant others who knew they were suicidal or having problems. It is for this reason that it is essential to encourage service members to ask for help, and for friends and family members to know about and follow the "Ask, Care, Treat" model.

According to OPNAVINST 1720.4A, commands must have suicide prevention coordinators and written crisis intervention plans, he said.

Commanding officers must refer service members for treatment swiftly if they appear to be at risk of suicide and must put in place safety measures that restrict their access to means of suicide, according to the instruction. They also should communicate with mental health providers and reintegrate service members into their units after treatment.

The workshop was among 26 one- and two-day workshops scheduled by the Personal Readiness and Community Support Branch of the Office of the Chief of Naval Personnel, for 19 medical treatment facilities this fiscal year. The workshops are part of a comprehensive effort by the chief of naval personnel to reduce suicides.

For information about the Navy's suicide prevention efforts, go to http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/suicide_prevention/Pages/default.aspx.

Links are available on many personnel-related websites. Immediate support for Sailors in emotional distress can be found by calling 800-273-8255 or online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/.

Proposal Would Save $3.2 Billion in Health Care Costs

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 – The Defense Department’s proposal to reform the TRICARE health plan and the military health system would save at least $3.2 billion between 2012 and 2016, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer told Congress yesterday.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee, Robert F. Hale said the initiatives would support President Barack Obama’s debt-reduction plan, which calls for reducing the federal budget $4 trillion by 2023.

Obama’s plan includes a reduction of $78 billion in the Defense Department’s fiscal 2012 budget and an additional $400 billion in national security cuts through 2023.

Hale stressed that although $3.2 billion is only modest savings toward the president’s overall goal, the savings are “substantial” within the Defense Department.

“The federal government as a whole would save money under this plan -- not a lot, but there are modest savings,” he explained. “The department savings from this proposal would be very substantial. We’re looking out over the whole career of an individual and setting aside money to pay for it, so you immediately see major effects.”

The fiscal 2012 budget request calls for $52.5 billion to support the military health system’s 9.6 million beneficiaries, which include retirees, active duty members and their families. The department’s health care bill has more than tripled from $19 billion in 2001.

“We’ve got to find ways to maintain the quality of health care but slow the growth in cost,” Hale said.

Meeting that challenge begins with streamlining operations at the health affairs headquarters, he said, which means cutting more than 700 civilian contractors from the TRICARE staff. The proposal also calls for reforms for beneficiaries, including a maximum $5 a month increase for working-age military retirees under 65, raising the co-payment for prescription drugs, and regulatory changes that would eliminate special subsidies for community hospitals that serve beneficiaries, Hale said.

Hale noted that TRICARE enrollment fees have not increased since Congress appropriated funds for the program in 1994. Families pay an estimated $460 annually for TRICARE Prime coverage, but had the fees been indexed today to meet the growth in per capita national health expenditure, those fees would now be more than $1,000 per family each year, he said.

Beginning in 2013, future enrollees would pay fees based on the national health expenditure if the proposal is enacted, Hale said, and that, he added, still would be significantly less than what beneficiaries would pay in the private sector for health insurance.

The proposals would save an estimated $430 million over the next five years and would stabilize cost sharing in TRICARE at a level much more favorable than what Congress envisioned in the 1990s, Hale said.

Reform proposals in pharmaceuticals include incentives for allowing the department to prescribe generic drugs and deliver prescriptions by mail, saving $2.5 billion by 2016, he added.

Hale told the panel that the rates the Defense Department pays to “sole community hospitals” that serve military beneficiaries are substantially higher than the rates it pays to other hospitals. Sole community hospitals are determined by Medicare rules that factor in distance from other hospitals, capacity and other criteria.

Federal law requires that the department adopt Medicare rates when practical, and combined with lower rates paid to sole community hospitals, the proposal would save the department $395 million through 2016, Hale said.

“We will phase in this change slowly, at least over a four-year period, in order to avoid adverse effects on care provided at these hospitals,” he added.

Hale also discussed the department’s proposal for equitable treatment for all Medicare-eligible military retirees. Under current law, he said, some Medicare-eligible enrollees are allowed to remain in the U.S. Family Health Plan, a TRICARE Prime option that provides care to active duty family members and all military retirees regardless of whether they participate in Medicare Part B, which covers doctor services, outpatient care and home health services that Part A does not.

The Defense Department, Hale added, seeks legislation that requires those who are part of the U.S. Family Health Plan to join Medicare, as all other retirees must. This, he added, will ensure that TRICARE does not pay claims that exceed Medicare rates when military retirees qualify for both programs.

“We will make these fee changes very gradually, very slowly, and ‘grandfathering’ all those who are currently over age 65 and in the Family Health Plan, so it will take place over a number of years,” Hale said. “I particularly ask the committee’s support for the provisions affecting the sole community hospitals and for legislation to permit changes to the U.S. Family Health Plan.”

The proposals are more than reasonable, Hale said, and strike a solid balance between bringing savings and maintaining quality health care for veterans and their families. None of the proposals would affect active duty troops, he emphasized.

“These proposals generate savings that will help us pay for needed training and equipping of the armed forces,” Hale said. “If we don’t get authority to do this, we’ll face major holes in the military budget, and it will be very hard to handle in difficult budgetary times. But most importantly, these proposals will lay the groundwork for a sustainable future of the military health care system.”

USS Constitution Sailors to Participate in New Orleans Navy Week

From USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution will participate in New Orleans Navy Week in New Orleans May 5-14.

Sailors will kick off their participation with two days of interacting with spectators of the N'awlins Air Show 2011.

In keeping with tradition, the crew will provide naval history lessons at area high schools. They will also support Habitat for Humanity and Beacon of Hope humanitarian projects, and provide color guard services at a New Orleans VooDoo football game and New Orleans Zephyrs baseball game.

"I hope that we are able to further educate the public on the history of USS Constitution as well as our role as modern Navy Sailors aboard America's Ship of State," said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shirley, USS Constitution executive officer, who will be leading his team of five Sailors during Navy Week. "Our Sailors are not only interpretive historians, but also very much involved in the modern Navy's mission of being a global force for good."

Additionally, they will give Navy ball caps to children during a Caps for Kids event at Ochsner Medical Center and meet with members of the Japan Society of New Orleans.

"This event will link the Japan Society of New Orleans with U.S. Navy Sailors to recognize our continued support for Japan overseas, as we help them recover and rebuild from the earthquake," said Shirley. "I served four years in Japan, and I'm anxious to be a part of the U.S. Navy's continued support to the Japanese people."

This is the third Navy Week Constitution Sailors will participate in 2011. They participated in Tampa Bay Navy Week in January, and Austin Navy Week in March.

"We're continuing to do a lot of great things, tying the Navy of the past through history presentations with the Navy of today, being a global force for good through community outreach," said Master-at-Arms Seaman Gary Matthias. "We're a unique command with a role unlike others. It's a responsibility I'm proud to have taken on."

The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. New Orleans Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors first hand.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship welcomes more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Five Military Installations Receive Top Honors

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2011 – Teams from five military installations around the world received top awards today for excelling at their mission despite the demands of war and recent natural disasters.

At a Pentagon ceremony, Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, lauded the recipients of the Commander in Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence.

“Across the board,” Carter said, “the installations that we recognize today have truly led -- led by example, led by setting the standard for excellence. Their respective accomplishments are the finest examples of military innovation and dedication.”

Receiving the awards were teams from the U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany; the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; and the Defense Logistics Agency-Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio.

“The very criteria that we use for the commander in chief’s award reflect a broad scope of installation responsibilities,” Carter said.

Criteria include supporting military missions, providing a high quality of life for service members and their families, ensuring the health and safety of service members and their families, interacting with surrounding communities, exercising sound business and communications practices and demonstrating responsible environmental stewardship.

In an April 29 note to the recipients, President Barack Obama congratulated the awardees on their achievement.

“Your installations are being honored for exceeding all standards, and I hope you take pride in the example set by your continued commitment to excellence,” he wrote. “As our nation rises to meet the challenges of the 21st century, I thank you for your stalwart dedication and encourage you to continue striving to be the best of the best.”

Army Garrison Wiesbaden executed the largest military construction program in Europe while supporting the integration of the 5th Signal Command, the deployment and redeployment of 1st Armored Division headquarters, and the upcoming U.S. Army Europe headquarters move.

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center set the standard as the Marine Corps’ premier combat training installation, providing state-of–the-art instruction to more than 44,500 Marines and sailors as they prepared for deployments.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam provided superior support to mission and family readiness while enhancing service quality, business processes, facility management, resource conservation and quality of life as it transitioned to a joint base.

Spangdahlem Air Base created and sustained the largest flying hour program for U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with 18,350 flying hours, 8,343 sorties and 3,162 simulations.

Defense Logistics Agency-Land and Maritime provided unsurpassed supply-chain logistics management, awarding more 872,000 contracts, supporting more than 1,600 weapons systems, and processing more than 6 million orders in support of DOD customers.

“The installations we recognize today demonstrate leadership and a positive influence, creativity, commitment and decisive action,” Carter said. “They embody courage, integrity and initiative as they protect our citizens and strengthen our military.”

Air Force Announces Criteria for Basing of Security Forces Training Center

The Air Force announced today criteria for basing of a consolidated security forces regional training center.

The basing criteria were approved by the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force and considered factors such as mission requirements, training requirements, facilities and infrastructure, support capacity, environmental impact and cost.

"The Air Force uses a deliberate, repeatable and transparent process to address our basing needs," said Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations.  "These criteria will help to ensure that all aspects for basing of these units have been considered."

These criteria will be applied to all Air Force and select Army installations in the continental United States.   The Air Force is making plans to consolidate its regional training locations in the United States.  Currently the Air Force conducts security forces training at six U.S. bases:  Creech Air Force Base, Nev.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Wolters, Texas; Camp Guernsey, Wyo.; Fort Dix, N.J.; and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The release of the candidate bases for the security forces regional training center is expected in summer 2011.  After the release of the candidate bases, the formal environmental impact analysis process will begin, allowing communities around each candidate base to participate and provide input.

For more information about these criteria, media may contact the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office at 703-695-0640

‘Real Warrior’ Finds Path to Physical, Emotional Healing

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2011 – Black-and-white photos of Vietnam-era veterans line the wall at a Veterans Affairs center. Some are smiling and others are gazing at a distant point, but in all, an unseen light catches the emotion in their eyes.

The photographer, Stacy Pearsall, a veteran of the more recent wars, strove to capture the character and the experience etched in their faces while listening to their recollections of war.

“Their stories are amazing,” she said.

This line of photos on a wall in a VA center in Charleston, S.C., serves not only as Pearsall’s veteran tribute, but also a milestone in her recovery from physical and emotional wounds of war.

Just a few months earlier, Pearsall had nearly given up hope of working as a photographer again or of taking photos that didn’t serve as a haunting reminder of a painful past.

Pearsall’s photography career took off while she was in the Air Force. As a combat photographer, she took thousands of pictures over the course of her Air Force career, earning her accolades and awards from leaders at all levels of her chain of command.

She traveled extensively for her job, so she felt prepared when she was tasked to deploy to Baghdad in September 2003.

As part of her duties, Pearsall documented a school rebuilding process, and when the school marked its opening with a ceremony in February 2004, she attended. After the ceremony, as the unit prepared to head out, the Humvee she was riding in was making a tight turn on a dead-end street when a roadside bomb detonated.

Pearsall was sitting behind the driver’s seat. The impact threw her forward, and her head hit the back of the seat. But more concerned about her ears, which were bleeding from the concussive sound, she didn’t feel the neck pain until hours later. She was seen by a doctor who chalked it up to whiplash, and she was back out on a mission the next day.

Months later, the headaches and vertigo lingered, as did the severe neck pain. But concerned about her Air Force career, Pearsall didn’t seek treatment. Her deployment ended in March, and she became a student at Syracuse University for a year to hone her photography skills.

She had become accustomed to hiding her pain and the emotional after-effects of combat from others, but was unable to keep them from a friend -- a fellow photographer and Vietnam veteran -- who recognized the signs of post-traumatic stress. He connected her with a Vet Center, where she began counseling.

“It definitely helped me work through a lot of emotions and stress,” she said. “I knew whatever I said to [my therapist] wouldn’t go back to my active-duty command. There was no threat of losing my career.”

After school, Pearsall went on back-to-back deployments, first to Africa, then to Lebanon and finally, back to Iraq. The difference between her first and second Iraq deployments was like night and day, she said. In 2003, she never fired her weapon, but in 2007, she fired it constantly.

Her unit experienced heavy casualties in Diyala province. Pearsall saw bodies of Iraqis who had been executed and mutilated, and comrades shot just a few feet away, which she later had to photograph. People getting wounded or killed was a daily occurrence, she said.

A series of back-to-back events took their toll. Pearsall lost three teammates, and a day later, her video partner was wounded and evacuated. Another friend had been shot in the head right in front of her. “Nothing prepares you for the death of your friends,” she said.

Her photos from that time are haunting.

In one photo, three soldiers are gathered in a dimly lit room, faces downward as if in reflection, a single light shining through a window. Two days before, their teammate had been shot in the head just 10 feet away from where they were standing. In another photo, two soldiers are comforting each other, one close to tears, after the loss of a friend the day before.

“I’m eternally tied to the photographs that I made and those soldiers who were in those photographs,” she said.

The photographer said she had to keep her emotions in check, for her teammates and for the troops who served under her. “I think I handled things pretty well by just not addressing the emotions at the time,” she said.

Pearsall was injured again -- further damaging her neck -- when a roadside bomb detonated during a mission. A few months later, her unit was ambushed. She was running out to help a wounded soldier in the street when a cord attached to her helmet snapped her back. Her head slammed on a Stryker vehicle, again injuring her neck.

The next morning, she felt neck pain unlike anything she had felt before, and she knew it was time to get help. The doctors did an X-ray and she was on a helicopter that day. Her neck injury had grown so severe, the doctors told her, that if she had jolted her head one more time, it would have severed her spinal cord.

Pearsall’s greatest fear -- losing her career -- was now at hand, she said. And her husband, a strong source of support, was deployed at the time. “It was a really ugly time in my life,” she said.

The years of wearing 85 pounds of gear had wreaked havoc on her neck. The doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to work as a photographer or pursue another passion, riding horses, again.

But Dr. Patrick Lovegrove, an Air Force flight surgeon at the time, offered her hope through prolotherapy treatment -- which involves insertion of a 4-inch needle down to the bone -- that lasted for more than two years. Pearsall was able to get off of the pain killers and finally on the road to physical recovery.

Invested in her recovery, her doctor separated from the Air Force, but continued to donate his services to her until the therapy ended in 2009 and she switched over to the VA system.

“I’ll always owe him a debt of gratitude,” she said. The therapy enabled her to ride horses and take photos again, but she knew she’d always have some degree of pain from her degenerative condition.

“It was either adapt to life or shrivel up and die,” she said. Pearsall chose to adapt.

But the loss of her Air Force career affected her, as did the emotional wounds of war that she had pushed aside to focus on her physical recovery. She started seeing a mental health therapist about a year after her deployment.

“The military told me I couldn’t be a photographer for them anymore,” she said. “Mentally, that put me on a roller coaster. What am I good for?”

Pearsall found an answer at the VA medical center in Charleston. While she sat for hours in waiting rooms, she began to notice the men and women around her. Most of the veterans there were from the Vietnam era, and she reached out to hear their stories. She felt inspired to bring her camera and take their portraits, leading to the project that now fills a wall there.

“Just because I was disabled, didn’t make me unable,” she said. “Once I wrapped my own mind around that, I could do more.”

Pearsall plans to keep up her veteran portrait work at VA hospitals in Georgia and North Carolina, then here, and to Maryland and Virginia as well. In another effort aimed at helping veterans, Pearsall provides horse therapy to veterans through a nonprofit group.

Most recently, Pearsall offered to have her story documented for the Defense Department’s “Real Warriors” campaign in hopes of encouraging other veterans and servicemembers to seek help. The campaign in sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, and it features stories of service members who sought psychological treatment and continued successful military or civilian careers. Her profile is now posted on the Real Warriors website, http://realwarriors.net/.

“My hope is that if they watch my story, they’ll find a way to offload their burden,” she said. “Everyone wears a different amount, but it’s not necessary to carry it around with you all the time.”

Pearsall said the stigma that kept her from getting help has been greatly reduced through projects such as the Real Warrior campaign and through efforts by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

For servicemembers still leery about getting care, Pearsall recommended online support networks, blogs and forums where people can go and shed their burdens. “You’ll see you’re not alone,” she said. “The loss of sleep, nightmares, anxiety, road rage -- they’re products of war.”

Pearsall also hopes leaders will gain a greater understanding of mental health issues and, above all, avoid judgment.

“Be positive and supportive,” she said. “You’re the first in line for that service member.”

While it’s been difficult to discuss, Pearsall said, she believes it’s important to share her story.

“If I get one person to get help if they’re having issues, then I feel like I’ve been successful,” she said.

Navy Conducts Maintenance and Modernization Performance Review

From Navy Regional Maintenance Command (NRMC) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC) and the Executive Director of Surface Warfare for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA-SEA 21B) participated in the Navy's inaugural maintenance and modernization performance review (MMPR) in San Diego, April 26-27.

Capt. David Gale, commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center; and Bilyana Anderson, executive director, NAVSEA-SEA 21B; spoke to more than one hundred military, civilian and contract personnel who are involved in all facets of surface ship maintenance and modernization.

"The failure point for us is anyone here today who doesn't see they are a part of this important effort," said Gale. "Whether you are a member of ship's force, a commanding officer of a ship or regional maintenance center (RMC), a type commander representative, contractor, or port engineer; we all play a critical role in getting maintenance right."

Gale and Anderson encouraged all MMPR participants to engage in frank and open discussions during the event in an effort to better identify performance gaps that were discernible during maintenance availabilities and to, in turn, provide solutions for RMCs' and ships' respective challenges.

"As the end-to-end process that is surface ship maintenance and modernization continues to evolve, we need to standardize and align our practices," said Gale. "From the way we train our workforce to the way we identify maintenance work, we need to work together to support ships and sustain their service lives."

Program managers and port engineers from each of the RMCs were among those who briefed detailed data on their recent maintenance availabilities.

Among the multitude of topics discussed during the course of the MMPR were the successes and challenges of various ships' maintenance availabilities, the surface ship maintenance initiative, total ship readiness assessments, multi-ship/multi-option contracts, and NRMC's development of a standardized workforce development program.

Between briefs, Anderson spoke to the MMPR attendees about program changes within Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and the ways those changes would impact funding for future surface ship maintenance work.

Anderson also encouraged the use of valid and reliable metrics, along with well-defined and standardized practices to improve the likelihood of proper funding and contract coverage for maintenance availabilities.

"We are completely aligned; we have resources available to support your efforts," said Anderson. "I'd like to ask for each of you to share in our sense of passion and urgency, and acknowledge there should be an agreement among us about the best ways we can support each other in sustaining our surface fleet and commit ourselves to moving forward."

Gale concluded the conference by reinforcing his message encouraging quality through partnership, alignment and quantifiable performance.

"We want to work together in a standardized, repeatable way to ensure our engineering and work certification processes are uniform," said Gale. "We want to ensure our ships are ready to go to sea on time, with the right degree of quality at the right cost.

"Our work here at the MMPR is about laying bear to our individual and collective maintenance issues, and identifying ways to mitigate and resolve them in the most expedient and efficient manner possible," said Gale.

The next MMPR event will be held in Newport News, Va., in November 2011.

Soldier Missing in Action from WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Pfc. Robert B. Bayne, of Dundalk, Md., will be buried on May 7 in his hometown.  On March 28, 1945, while patrolling the Rhine River in an inflatable raft, Bayne, a lieutenant and two other enlisted men were attacked near Schwegenheim, Germany.  Bayne and the officer were wounded, forcing all four men into the swift waters of the river.  The lieutenant was rescued but the enlisted men were not found.

Between 1945 and 1946, Army Graves Registration personnel exhumed remains of three men from two different locations when German citizens reported the graves contained remains of American soldiers recovered from the river in March 1945.  Among items found with the remains were military identification tags.  Two of the men were identified as enlisted men from the raft -- Pvt. Edward Kulback and Pfc. William Gaffney -- but due to limited forensic science of the time, the remains of the other individual could not be identified and were interred at the U.S. Military Cemetery in St. Avold, France as “unknown.”

In 1948, the remains of the unknown soldier were exhumed to compare them to available records for Bayne.  After several years of analysis the remains could not be identified and were reinterred as unknown at the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in Draguignan, France, in 1951.

More than 60 years later, analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) developed case leads, evaluated records and determined that modern forensic technology could offer methods to identify the remains.  In 2010, the remains were exhumed once again for analysis.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA -- which matched that of Bayne’s brothers -- in the identification of his remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 74,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

Korean War Soldiers Receive ‘Hall of Heroes’ Induction

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011 – The nation’s two most recent Medal of Honor recipients were added to the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes roster today in what Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said is a tribute to their enduring valor.

The Hall of Heroes induction followed yesterday’s White House ceremony in which President Barack Obama presented the nation’s highest military honor posthumously to Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and Henry Svehla, both Army privates 1st class when they were killed in action in the Korean War.

Kaho’ohanohano was honored for his actions of Sept. 1, 1951 when he led a machine-gun squadron with the 7th Infantry Division’s 17th Infantry Regiment, Company H.

“Kaho’ohanohano will always be remembered for the lone assault that saved his comrades, and then inspired their counter attack,” Lynn told the gathering of families, friends and dignitaries. “His last words -- reportedly, ‘I’ve got your back,’ -- are a creed our soldiers carry with them today whenever they go in harm’s way.”

Svehla’s medal was for his actions of June 12, 1952 when he served in Korea as a rifleman with the 7th Infantry Division’s 32d Infantry Regiment, Company F.

“Svehla, similarly, put the security of his fellow troops above his own life,” Lynn said. “His courageous counter attack after being fired upon during a reconnaissance mission saved his unit from defeat. And throwing himself on a grenade, he gave the last full measure of his devotion to his men, and to the country he swore to defend.”

With their names now inscribed on a wall, the legacies of Kaho’ohanohano and Svehla are enshrined in the Hall of Heroes, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said.

“The courage, resilience and tenacity of Anthony and Henry and those they fought alongside and protected every day in one of our more difficult wars, contributed immeasurably to our unmatched legacy as an army, as a force that stands against tyranny, protects the weak, and champions freedom,” Dempsey said.

Army Undersecretary Joseph Westphal said the soldiers’ actions continue to make contributions today.

“The actions of Kaho’ohanohano and Svehla,” he said, “are a timeless inspiration for soldiers who are, once again, fighting America’s enemies in faraway places, and under very challenging conditions.”

Dempsey presented Hall of Heroes induction plaques to family members Eugene
Kaho'ohanohano and Sylvia Svehla at the end of the induction ceremony.

This Day in Naval History - May 04

By the Navy News Service

1917 - First Navy ships, Destroyer Division 8, arrive at Queenstown, Ireland, to provide convoy escorts against German U-boats.
1942 - Battle of Coral Sea, first carrier vs. carrier battle, begins.
1945 - Japanese attempt to land on Okinawa repulsed; kamikaze attacks damage 6 U.S. Navy ships.
1961 - Cdmr. Malcolm D. Ross, USNR, and medical observer Lt Cmdr. Victor A. Prather Jr., ascended in two hours to over 11,000 feet in Strato-Lab 5, a 411-foot hydrogen filled balloon launched from the deck of USS Antietam. This was the highest altitude attained by man in an open gondola. Tragically, Prather drowned during the recovery.
1994 - Operation Restore Hope begins in Somalia.

SECNAV, VCNO Address Senior Leaders, SARCs at Summit

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christine Hannon, Navy Public Affairs Southeast – East

ORLANDO, Fla. (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) and vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) addressed Navy and Marine Corps leaders and sexual assault response coordinators (SARCs) at the second annual Department of the Navy (DoN) Sexual Assault Prevention Summit in Orlando May 3.

Secretary Ray Mabus identified three areas of improvement that senior leadership throughout the service needed to address in order to break the back of sexual assault.

"Prevention, intervention and 'help seeking' behavior; those are the three things we have to stress," Mabus said. "We've got to improve our prevention. We've got to make sure people know they should, and need to, intervene. And we've got to strongly support our survivors and strengthen post-assault investigations."

Mabus went on to discuss the role and responsibility of leadership in the efforts of combating sexual assault. He stated that he would hold commanding officers accountable for their command's sexual assault prevention programs and demanded that they properly train their personnel.

The SECNAV concluded by stressing the necessity of ridding sexual assault from the Navy and Marine Corps.

"If we are to remain the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known, we cannot allow this to continue," Mabus said. "If we are going to protect our shipmates, we cannot allow this to continue. If we are going to remain the Navy and Marine Corps people look up to, and should look up to, this cannot continue."

Sexual assault is a criminal offense, incompatible with DoN's core values, Navy ethos and high standards of professionalism and personal discipline.

"Sexual assault is a crime, not just an unfortunate incident," said Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert. "It hurts a Shipmate and affects the readiness of the entire unit. Ultimately, our challenge to eliminate sexual assaults will be resolved by leadership - at the unit level."

Greenert encouraged Navy senior leaders set goals for preventing sexual assault.

"We've made progress in the care and treatment of sexual assault victims," Greenert said. "Our focus should shift to prevention. Commands need to set measurable goals, track progress locally and treat sexual assault as an untoward incident at the unit level."

Many commanding officers in attendance will take what they have learned at the summit back to their respective commands to apply new leadership strategies.

"The biggest take-a-way for me, from this summit, is the power of bystander intervention," said Capt. Lou Cariello, commanding officer, Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC)/commander, 20th Seabee Readiness Group.

"We're going to talk a lot more about the importance of figuring out how you go about having the courage to stand up and do what's right to prevent something bad from happening in the future," Cariello said. "And to applaud people for doing things that are smart and courageous."

This year's summit focuses on sexual assault prevention and the impact of alcohol on sexual assaults.

The DoN Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) is responsible for oversight of the DoN's sexual assault policy. SAPRO works hand-in-hand with the services and the civilian community to develop and implement innovative prevention and response programs.